Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thoughts on the Royal Wedding

1. I recorded the thing so I would be able to watch it sometime. I ended up watching a lot of it live because of nighttime feeding.
2. I liked Kate's dress. I'm glad she didn't do something supermodern like what some fashion experts were predicting (a trumpet or mermaid style dress is what I heard often). I think what she chose was more timeless.
3. I love fanfare. I love tradition. I love hullabaloo. I love occasions to wear hats practically. However, I do not love some of the hat choices made. I'm looking at you, Princess Beatrice!
4. A lot of people are making a big deal over the fact that Pippa, Kate's sister and maid of honor, wore white. They compare it to the American tradition of no one ever wearing white to another person's wedding. I've heard commentators suggest that she was trying to steal the show from her sister and that she'd committed a major faux pas. Here's the thing: don't we think that someone approved this dress beforehand? Don't we think that - like most sisters - Kate would know what Pippa was wearing before Kate stepped out of the car at the Abbey? Does anyone actually think Pippa picked out her own dress without running it past anyone first?
p.s. Gorgeous dress, Pippa!

5. I think THE KISS could have lasted a second longer and not crossed t
he line into inappropriate. I wanted a smooch! Not a tight-lipped mouthpress!
6. Do you think the Prime Minister's wife purposefully didn't wear a hat even though the invitations specifically said to wear one? Do you think she did it because she just hates wearing hats that much? I don't care whose wife you are, if you consciously decide not to abide by the dress code of one of the biggest weddings of your time, that's a statement.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Birthday Buddies

You might remember from past posts that I have a friend, Lyndsey, who was also pregnant. She was due 4 weeks after me and you'd never believe what happened - our babies were born on the same day! I was a week overdue and her baby boy came 3 weeks early!

So when the babes were 2 weeks old we got together to see each other and introduce the little ones. They were so precious!
Matteo and June, birthday buddies.
And the two proud mamas.
June was thrilled with the photo shoot by this time, you can tell.

It's funny, our moms are friends, too, and they had plans on the 5th to have dinner with a woman who was in town for the night. I guess the woman got a phone call from Lyndsey's mom saying, "Can't make it! Lyndsey's in labor!" and shortly thereafter got the same phone call from my mom! So the poor woman ended up dog-sitting alone at Lyndsey's house with a glass of wine! Ha! I know the woman and she's a delight, so I know she didn't mind.

It'll be so fun to watch these two grow up!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Baby's First Easter

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! We certainly did. June celebrated her first Easter in a new outfit!
I can't decide if she looks more like an Easter egg or a baby chick.

She had a good rest on her grandpa's belly. I keep telling her she needs to relax more but she's just so tense, as you can see:
We had a little egg hunt for the kids. Since Kai was the only "kid" actually aware that there were any eggs (or that he had hands with which to find them, for that matter), he was the main hunter. I was so impressed! We asked Kai if he would mind finding eggs for June since she couldn't do it herself (instead of me going head-to-head with Kai for the Grand Prize Egg on her behalf, for example). I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd wanted them all for himself (asking a 4 year-old to give up his eggs is asking a lot, I think), but he was happy to give half of the eggs to June. What a sweetie!
Finding the Grand Prize Egg:

Hope you had a great holiday!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rope Swing Challenge

The challenge: jumping out to the rope swing, not falling off, and swinging back to land on the launch platform again.

The contestant: up for the challenge.
The flight:

(not to brag, but this is an awesome action shot considering I was holding a baby at the time.)

The results:

So what if you end up with rope slivers in your hands for the next 24 hours? So worth it.

Does June look impressed?

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Rocky Road of Breastfeeding, and I'm not talking about ice cream

Everyone said labor would be hard. And it was, but it's over.

Everyone said I wouldn't get any sleep. And I don't get much, but it's manageable.

What I wasn't prepared for was breastfeeding and the struggles that come with it.

Let me first say that it's very important to me to breastfeed. I know not everyone does it. I know it doesn't work for some people for medical or physical or back-to-work reasons. I know that we now have other options (formula) and that perfect babies are raised all over the world with formula. But I've chosen to breastfeed my baby because of the health benefits of it, and I'm having such a hard time.

In the short 3 weeks of June's life we have tried many things. A hospital lactation consultant who observed our struggles and was SO KIND, but had us thinking that struggling this hard was normal. That it was normal to be stuffing your baby into your boob while she screams for the entire feeding. Weight loss that was on the "Warning: Possible Danger Soon" side of "Normal." Milk not coming in. Another lactation consultation with a new woman who had me bawling the entire drive home. ("Your baby is hungry, and has been hungry." "Your milk just might not come in. That happens." "Let me tell you what type of formula you need to pick up on the way home from this appointment.")

Nipple shields. Pumping. Nipple cream. Bottles. Expressed milk. Is this enough? Not enough diapers. How many diapers are enough? Is she crying too much? Is she sleeping too much?

There was a time when my feeding routine took an hour and a half. It consisted of trying June on the breast. When she got frustrated and failed, I'd feed her pumped breastmilk from a bottle that I'd pumped a few hours before. Then I'd pump for 10 or 15 minutes, set it aside for the next feeding and obsess about how much I was able to get. Then I'd clean all the bottles and pumping parts. And I'd start over again in an hour. (Michael helps, of course.)

Sure, giving birth was no walk in the park. And yes, sleep deprivation is tough too. But nothing, NOTHING, compares to the feeling of guilt and constant worry that you are not feeding your child as much as she needs. Not because you aren't willing to do anything, withstand anything (peeling nipples, anyone? Thanks, nipple shield.) to give her the best nutrition possible, but because you can't physically.

I never thought I'd wish grotesquely long nipples upon myself, but I want them if they'd trigger her suck reflex. And I'd welcome engorgement back if it meant I knew she was getting plenty of milk.

I've since met with a new consultant and she is great. A non-sensationalist, which I need. She's got us feeding consistently from the breast with a shield, sometimes without, which is so much nicer than the pumping dance. I'm still worried about supply, but things are much better now that we've got a non-stressful routine.

This is the toughest lesson of motherhood so far.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Birth Story Part Three: She Arrives!

I labored with my eyes closed most of the time. I sat on the birthing ball, stood up, leaned on Michael. He was so good. He was as good as I can possibly imagine a husband being. Eyes closed, I would just say, "Michael" at the start of a wave and he would be in front of me to lean on. Later he wiped my forehead with a damp cloth. As things progressed, I only wanted to be able to hold peoples' hands with my own. Michael stayed at my left side with a comforting hand firmly pressed on my shoulder while I gripped him with my own hand.
Listening to a Hypnobabies track:
The biggest part of Hypnobabies that I used was the understanding of the function of contractions and using relaxation to work with them. When one would come on, I would imagine my cervix getting wider and wider apart. I kept picturing the roses on our rose bushes back home as they bloomed open so wide. "" I would say to myself. Later, Michael said it for me. Instead of recoiling from the pressure wave, I would try to bear down into it, willing it to do its work and bring the baby down. I could feel June's head moving down through the birth canal with each wave.

Michael reading a Hypnobabies script to me:
On the birthing ball:
At around 1:30 pm I felt like I was very close. I felt like I probably could start pushing if I really tried. Lylaine checked me to see how far along I would be bad to waste energy pushing if I wasn't far enough along. I was 7, maybe 8 cm dilated. It was pretty crushing to hear that. I really felt like I was closer than that - the waves were so close together! How could I still have 3 cm to go?!

It's funny, the next three hours passed both incredibly slowly and very quickly for me. I lived one wave to the next. It seemed like only 15 minutes had passed after being checked that I felt the urge to push. I believe this was around the time that I called Remi over to me and asked her if this was normal, and what happened next. This was the only time I questioned what was happening in my body. It was interesting. A pressure wave would start, and at the peak of it, another sensation would come on, like a concentrated version of what had been happening all day. Pressure Wave 2.0. Despite the discomfort of the wave, it felt good to push. It felt like I was finally getting somewhere! I was making progress! She was close! She was coming!
The pushing seemed to last forever. I do envy those people who say "Two pushes and the baby was out!" I must have pushed for 2 hours. This is when I got very tired. This is when I let out one exhausted and frustrated "I can't," to be quickly corrected by my birthing team that I could. I tried a different position - squatting - but as much as I thought it helped, it was a little too intense for me and I couldn't find a way to comfortably relax between waves. Although the waves were maybe a minute apart, I had a couple of instances where I fell asleep between them. It was weird, because I would feel like I had slept for 20 minutes and wonder if it had really been that long, or if it had just been 20 seconds.

My birthing team was so great. I loved how Remi came over to me at one point and said, "See how they're laying out that table? You know it's close when they lay out the table." I loved that Michael was what I needed when I needed it - he came in and nuzzled me until I needed to be left alone, said "No more kisses" and then he just continued to comfort me the way that worked. Lylaine was such a calm and reassuring presence.
I later found out that the baby's cord was wrapped around her neck when she came out. This isn't the emergency situation that they make it out to be in the movies - it actually happens in a large percentage of births. They were able to unwrap it while the rest of her body was still inside. Another big push and she was out.

She was placed immediately on my chest. She was a little blue and wasn't crying, but I was never worried. Her eyes were open and she was looking around which tickled me even then. She did start crying a minute later and she really tested out her lungs! I was so overthrown when I saw her and held her for the first time. I couldn't touch her enough. Even newly born I felt like she was so big - how could she have been in my belly only moments before? She was moving and crying and beautiful and perfect. I looked up into Michael's face for confirmation that it was real and saw pure joy on his face.

I was such in a daze during transition that I wondered vaguely if I'd even remember the whole thing. I was so exhausted that I worried I wouldn't be present when June was finally here. I needn't have even considered it. Yes, I was tired and my face was swollen and my arms were shaking from exhaustion, but I remember every moment. I was filled with a rush of euphoria, a shining disbelief and wonder. She was here! We'd waited so long and she was here! And she was still her and we were still us, but different somehow. And it was good.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Birth Story Part Two: A Long Early Labor

First, all the pictures (except the last one) are courtesy of the wonderful Remi. I'm so blown away with all the great pictures she took. Wait 'til you see the ones for the next post!

Checking in was slightly awkward because all of the staff seemed to not understand that I was there to give birth. I don't know if it was because my pressure waves had slowed down slightly or if it was because I was so calm (thanks, Hypnobabies!), but I thought it was weird how I kept having to answer the question, "What are you here for?" "Well, I'm at the labor and delivery registration desk with a big labor bag and a 41 week baby belly, so...?"
I arrived at the hospital at 6:30pm. I was admitted and shown to my labor and delivery room. Michael was with me, as was my wonderful friend Remi, who would be our birthing photographer slash birthing assistant. We three timed pressure waves as the hours went by. I was anxious for things to get started again because they were slowing down. Remi gave me some advice for which - looking back - I am very grateful. I didn't know if I should really try to do the things to bring on labor - like walk the halls for a few hours or so - or if I should just rest. Remi suggested that I rest in case the next day ended up being a long one. This was so important in hindsight. I didn't sleep well - having pressure waves every 6 minutes will do that to you. I did listen to Hypno tracks and manage to doze off in between waves. At 5:00am my Foley catheter fell out, indicating that I was fully effaced and 4 cm dilated. However, shortly after this my pressure waves were very irregular and widely spaced. This is when Lylaine came and talked to me about options. My water had already been broken for 24 hours and my body wasn't giving any indication of getting itself into gear. Lylaine's suggestion to me was to put me on Pitocin.

Oh, Pitocin. Pitocin is a synthetic version of a hormone that occurs naturally in our bodies (Oxytocin) which helps labor progress. However, since it is artificial, it is said to make the pressure waves even stronger, intenser and faster than pressure waves would normally be. Pitocin is the biggest player in that dance I was most afraid of - cascading interventions. People get induced all the time with Pitocin because they want their labor to start already, but then they can't handle the crazy powerful contractions so they get an epidural. Differing reactions to the drugs leads to the slippery slope toward bad reactions and c-sections. Lylaine explained to me that this wasn't the case here. It was sort of a special case because my water had already broken and we really did need labor to start soon...we weren't just telling a body at 37 weeks to get the baby out, my body was obviously somewhat ready because my water broke on its own. But being on Pitocin meant constant fetal monitoring and an IV, things I hadn't had yet, so I would be more limited in my mobility.
We thought about it and talked about it. I didn't want to give up my med-free childbirth. I felt that I was strong and could try to handle the new challenge in front of me, but who knew just how powerful things could get? I remember comparing labor to a marathon that could start any minute. Now I felt like I was 3 miles into the marathon and was told, oh yeah, we're tacking an extra five miles on this thing. And we'll be putting little rocks in your shoes.

I had a therapeutic cry session in the shower and then decided to get the Pitocin. This was around 9:00 am. The pressure waves came almost immediately. They were strong. They were close together. There was no stopping the train now.

This little one wants you to stay tuned for the next part of the story!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Birth Story Part One: Did your water just break or are you just happy to see me?

I woke up on Monday, April 4th at 6 am and started getting ready for work. I was a little blue because I hadn't had any sign of labor starting (no intense pressure waves yet, no lost MP) and I was starting a whole new work week with no baby.

As is my usual routine, I took a shower, brushed my teeth and stood around talking to Michael in my birthday suit. It happened so fast that I hardly registered what happened. My water broke without any sensation, just a ton of liquid. I gasped a huge gasp and had the sense to step back off the bath mat onto the tiled floor. Michael demanded, "Is it your water?! Is that your water?!" before running off and grabbing the bad towels. I stood around in wonder and felt so very thankful that this was it. I knew my birthing time and my baby were near!

While I washed up a little and sent an email from my phone to my boss that I wasn't coming in, Michael grabbed the steam mop and decided to clean the bathroom floor. But Lord, I love that man and his crazy ways.

I called my care provider when their offices opened. I wanted to check in because I still wasn't having contractions and I knew that you're sort of put on a time clock once your water breaks. Once it happens, your baby is more susceptible to fever and bacterial infection without the amniotic sac there to protect it. Since I'm also GBS+, I knew I had to make sure I got to the hospital with enough time to get the penicillin before birth. The midwives suggested I come into the office to get checked out to finally see my progress.

Bad news. I wasn't very far along. My cervix was maybe 2 cm dilated, but more worrisome was the fact that it was far back and not at all effaced - still very hard and thick. In order to hopefully get things moving without using chemicals, my midwife Lylaine inserted a Foley catheter. This is how it works: something that looks like a deflated balloon animal balloon is inserted into the cervix. It is inflated in the tip so the baby's head presses down on it and it puts additional pressure on the cervix to dilate and efface. As soon as this was done, I felt my first real pressure waves. On this note, I was told to go to the birthing center when my pressure waves were 4 minutes apart for an hour or so - or if 8:00 pm rolled around - in order to make sure I got the GBS+ meds in time.

That afternoon passed peacefully. Michael and I picked up lunch at Paradise Bakery. (I had to pause in the parking lot in response to a pressure wave and heard some woman say, "That girl looks about ready to go." I wanted to tell her that she had no idea.) We went for a walk. I listened to my Hypno tracks. I sat on the birthing ball. Michael sort of took over my birthing day project of making brownies for my birthing team/nurses.
I helped a little just so I could say that we made them without feeling guilty. Once the pressure waves were consistently 4 minutes apart for almost 2 hours, we went to the hospital.

I took this picture before we left - my last day with the belly and an inside baby!
And because I can't help but post some pictures of our angel, here she is in all her burrito glory:

Stay tuned for another painfully long volume of my birth story!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Introducing June

Hello, blogosphere. My name is June.
Picture courtesy of Mommy's camera phone.

This is when my parents first saw me:

One of these days I'll get the chance to sit down and write out our birth story. For now, let me give you the highlights. My water broke at 6:30 am on Monday when I was getting ready for work in the morning. June came into this world with deliberation and patience... she wasn't born until 4:27pm the following day.

A beautiful, perfect, healthy baby girl. Born on April 5th weighing in at 8lbs, 9 oz!

It was monumentous. It was beautiful. It was exhausting. It was exhilarating. It was a lot more, but I can't sit down and write it all out just yet. Though I can see no better way to spend a few minutes at 3:03 am than with a baby asleep on my chest and my laptop open on my lap, it's time for a feeding.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

One Week Overdue

And no baby. Our June seems content where she is.

Must be patient.

Must be positive.

Must not get down.

Must repeat Hypnobabies affirmations to myself. "My baby knows how and when to be born." "Babies come on their birthdays, not when doctors decide."

Must not think about the end of this upcoming week like a hammer waiting to fall, when even my crunchy, granola, wonderful midwife says we should look to non-chemical methods of induction.

My boobs feel weird. Like they know there was supposed to be a little milky baby latching on to them by now.

Can't wait to hear what everyone says at work when I walk in tomorrow.

Must stop crying inconsolably at country music lyrics.