Thursday, September 28, 2006

Breast is messed!

Thursday, Sept. 28:

Flybaby is three weeks old today!

He really is a great little baby. Sometimes JP and I still look at each other and say, "We have a baby!" I can't believe it. This is the kind of good stuff that seems like a dream. Like maybe I'll wake up or come out of a coma and find Flybaby was too good to be true.

Don't get me wrong. He cries and gets cranky aplenty. Which is good, because that's normal, I suppose. But I'm just so taken in by him.

The hardest part of taking care of Flybaby is the breastfeeding. My life revolves around my boobs. Three weeks in, and I'm wondering when it starts getting easier. I am so inept that I can't even answer the phone (as when my friend Star needed help with a flat tire) or go to the door (as when I was griping to Star that of all the gifts people have brought for Flybaby, no one bothered to bring chocolate, and lo and behold she comes by with some dark chocolate raspberry goodness and rings the doorbell, which I ignored) when I'm feeding Flybaby. The lactation consultant has me on a regimen of pillows that I've been complaining about so bitterly that my friends have started teasing me about all my pillows and supports just to hold and feed Flybaby. When do I get to discreetly feed Flybaby at the mall or at a restaurant like an ol' pro? Heck, even in my own home so I don't have to retreat to the other room when we have people over and it's time for Flybaby to eat? I end up practically taking my top off just to feed him. (And yes, I realize chocolate is one of those foods you're supposedly not supposed to eat while breastfeeding, but our pediatrician said to keep the same diet I've always had.)

It kind of started in the hospital, when a lactation consultant was supposed to come by but never did before we were discharged from the hospital. We came home on a rainy Saturday afternoon and suffered a loooong weekend of relatives, some of whom came by without so much as a phone call. And everyone brought so much food I didn't know what to do with it. One day, people kept us so occupied that JP and I missed lunch altogether. And we ate dinner at 10 pm two nights in a row. One night, JP's parents asked what they could bring us for dinner (and they live a half-hour away), which was worth two 20-minute conversations between JP and me about dinner options. I finally told JP I didn't have time for this kind of "help," and if his parents wanted to bring dinner, they'd have to figure out what to bring themselves because it was taking precious time out of our day just to decide what people could do for us. I know it might sound selfish and ungrateful, but by Monday night, I was ready to break down and tell everyone to go home. It was too much stress.

Then when Flybaby was five days old, I called my Ob to ask if chest pain was normal after birth. It started during labor, I said.

Get to the hospital, my Ob said.

JP kept Flybaby in the car in the parking lot for hours while I was in the emergency room. I called him on my cell phone and pleaded with him to take Flybaby home. He finally did around midnight. Meanwhile, the hospital staff were running every imaginable torturous test on me to see what could be wrong. They thought I could have developed a blood clot in my lungs during labor -- which happens -- or that I was having a heart attack. They pulled out every bag of tricks that kept me awake all night long. JP didn't tell me but got his parents to come watch Flybaby so he could be with me in the hospital -- that was around 2 am. In between tests, I cried because I knew Flybaby needed to be fed. But a doctor told me some of the tests and drugs they had given me wouldn't allow me to feed Flybaby. I'd have to "pump and dump."

That just made me cry more because I realized I need Flybaby more than he needs me. Anyone can take care of him, feed him the formula samples the hospital sent us home with, make sure he's clean and happy. But no one could replace Flybaby for me. Maybe it was the postpartum hormones. I just wanted to go home. But the Er doctor got all scary on me and said if I wasn't admitted to the hospital, Flybaby might not have a mother. That's not the kind of thing you want to hear less than a week after giving birth.

I finally got a room around 4 am, and a nurse brought in a pump for me. She didn't really know how to use it, though, and the pump was set at the maximum speed -- and I had been storing milk for almost 12 hours now. The nurse and JP practically held me down while they pumped me because it was so excruciating (and humiliating). (Later we found out about the pump speed having been set on maxiumum. Nice.)

In the end, the hospital staff found nothing wrong with me. And they sent me home that afternoon. Still with the chest pain. I went in with chest pain and went home with everything on me aching -- and still no solution.

And I couldn't feed Flybaby.

I mean, I'm glad there's nothing wrong with my heart, lungs or blood. But I'm so frustrated by the whole experience. The pain finally went away a few days ago, praise be.

It took several days of calling people, but we finally got a lactation consultant to come to our home. She was concerned I was losing my milk supply. And apparently I have flat nipples (sorry if that's too much information), which makes it hard for me to get Flybaby to latch on. Everything was adding up -- or subtracting -- to my quitting breastfeeding.

But I followed the LC's regimen. I hate pumping, but I did it. I hate using all the pillows, but I'm doing it. I hate "fighting" with Flybaby's fingers in his mouth and coaxing him endlessly to get him to latch on properly. Sometimes, it takes an hour just to feed him a few ounces. I hate breast shells and nipple shields. And that gucky lanolin ointment.

I don't want to ruin it, but things have seemed a little better in the past couple days. Breastfeeding is still hard, though. If it doesn't get less painful and easier soon, I really do think I'll just give up. I don't want Flybaby to pick up my anxiety over it. Part of me says he'd be better off with a happier feeding time, something easy and simple from a bottle. But I'm just trying it feed by feed, day by day.

All of you breastfeeding moms, I salute you! This is harder than I ever imagined.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Flybaby's birth

Monday, Sept. 25:

Hi, everyone! Thanks for all your kind words and congrats. Flybaby is doing great -- almost three weeks old now and keeping me very busy. I miss reading blogs! Wah! (Now I sound like him.)

So Flybaby was born the day after I blogged about how I was either in labor, or sick from eating too-old leftover Chinese food, on Wednesday.

Unable to concentrate on work projects, I lay on the couch and watched baby-care DVDs. Silly me.... By the time JP came home from work, I had already given up listening to my HypBirth recordings. Every time a contraction came -- about 10 minutes apart -- even the hypnosis tools I had been working on for months didn’t do me any good. And I was a little peeved the self-hypnosis wasn’t working for me.

So what did I do? I made JP dinner. I tried to rest. Around 10 pm, we took a walk down the street. Back home, I took a shower. Tried to rest again.

Around 1 am, contractions were 5 minutes apart. JP called Charlie, our doula. She arrived about a half-hour later. I sat on my ottoman. I kneeled by my bed. Charlie squeezed my lower back somehow -- my back hurt most of all. She decided we should go to the hospital.

JP was ready with his three -- yes, three -- bags of goods. It’s the camper in him, I guess. One bag for each of us (himself, me and the baby). I was so miserable when we got to the hospital that no one even bothered to examine me at the emergency room -- nurses led me right to a labor and delivery room. The nurses automatically put me on an IV saline drip and a belt that monitored the baby.

Charlie helped me get into a hospital gown. She set up her aromatherapy machine right beside my bed. Charlie helped me every time a contraction hit. I’d flip over and grab the head of the bed and rock my hips back and forth, Charlie on one side and JP on the other. The nurses seemed perplexed, but Charlie took charge and let me move the way I wanted -- not easy being tethered to an IV and monitoring belts around my waist. This went on for hours. JP seemed beside himself and kept asking me what he could do for me, saying he wished he could take the pain away.

When the nurses changed shifts, my new nurse announced right away I was going to need an epidural. She came off pretty bossy about it, and other things, too. JP and Charlie exchanged looks. I found out later that Charlie talked with the nurse in the hallway to tell her this is what I wanted to do. Charlie also explained my status to me every time the nurses examined me to see how the labor was progressing. She seemed to think I was going pretty quickly.

“Remember my little red-haired girl theory?” Charlie asked. “You’re already to six centimeters. You’ve gotten through the hardest part.”

I didn’t believe her, that the hardest part was over.

Then the staff -- and Charlie -- talked me into stadol in my IV, and labor slowed down. It was what I was afraid of in taking the drug. Nothing happened for hours. Charlie stepped out for some coffee. She persuaded JP to take a break himself. His parents had showed up, and he went to talk with them in the waiting room.

Meanwhile, I sat in the rocking chair next to Charlie. She thought the rocker might be a good thing.

“You know,” I said to Charlie, “my grandmother had 12 children.” I thought of my father’s late mother who lived near the Mississippi, who married at 16 and started her family almost immediately. I didn’t know her that well, but every time we visited her, she had a little present for me -- some powder, a string of beads, a little trinket. “Come give Grandma some sugar,” she’d say, and I’d crawl into her lap. She was always one of the first women to appear in one of my HypBirth visualization scenarios, in which I imagined powerful women encircling me. “She had her children at home,” I told Charlie.

“All of them?” Charlie asked.

I didn’t know for sure. “Most of them, anyway. I don’t know how she did this.”

Charlie reminded me the first child is the hardest and that subsequent children come easier.

Soon after that, I started feeling the contractions again. Really feeling them. The change happened so quickly, too. One minute, I was talking with Charlie about my grandma, and the next she was admitting I probably was a candidate for an epidural. I asked her how much longer she thought I’d be in labor. She said it could be another four hours.

I couldn’t do this for another four hours. I had already been up practically since 1 am on Wednesday (when I thought I was just ill) with little to eat. I was exhausted. With JP still gone (and he wasn’t gone long), I asked Charlie to get things going so I could have the epidural. Contractions were coming every minute now, or at least they seemed to. When I wasn’t having an actual contraction, my back still ached so that I seemed to be in constant pain.

I had to be absolutely still in order for the doctors to put in the epidural. But with the constant pain, all I could do was writhe -- yes, writhe, which I never would have imagined writhing in pain, but I was. JP held me, then Charlie, then a nurse pushed her way in front of me. She held my head to my chest and firmly held me in place with her strong arms. Crunched down like that, it was all I could do to sit there and take the pain of the contractions. I was so miserable that I yelled as loudly as I possibly could just for some kind of release.

I’m pretty sure that nurse is deaf now.

Apparently, if I had waited any longer, they wouldn’t have been able to give me the epidural. The head anesthesiologist kept coming in to check and me and see if I could wiggle my toes. I tried to smile and thank him each time, but he seemed to have none of it. He’s probably thinking he never hopes to see me, ever, again.

After the epidural, I was able to rest. I don’t know how long my naps lasted. I wasn’t aware of time at all, the whole time I was in labor. But I was able to have conversations with people. It seemed I was watching myself have the conversations -- I don’t know if it was the drugs or my exhaustion. JP, Charlie and I talked about our cell phones. JP and Charlie talked about shooting videos and using editing software to turn them into something worthwhile. (Turns out Charlie is a really good amateur videographer.) All the while, I was there, but not really.

The nurse kept checking on me. Charlie encouraged me with every status report. The baby was moving down, down, down. He was doing all the work.

Finally, the nurse decided it was time for me to push the baby out. I was like, “Really?” A bunch of other women came into the room. They called for my Ob. They wheeled in carts of equipment and tools. Once my doctor showed up, she and Charlie told me conflicting things about pushing while they put my numb legs into place on the stirrups.

JP counted to 10 while I pushed. And again. My Ob had me stop. I rested. Then JP counted to 10 again, twice.

“There’s the baby’s head!” someone told me.

No way.

“I see the head,” JP told me.

I was so excited, I laughed.

“She’s laughing,” Charlie said.

That made everyone happy.

I pushed again. People were saying encouraging things. The baby was coming! I laughed again.

Suddenly, I felt lighter. A gush.

I had a baby!

Everyone cheered.

“Tell her what the baby is,” my Ob said.

JP leaned down to me. “We have a little boy.”

The Ob placed our little boy on a pad on my chest. I couldn’t see him well from my position, but I reached up to touch him. Warm and soft and gooey. He started to wiggle around.

Charlie and the nurses seemed impressed I had pushed for about eight minutes. And laughed while doing it. (Charlie later told me, after being sad over not being able to do the HypBirth thing, to keep Flybaby’s actual birth in mind -- she called it my “silver lining” because it was so calm. And she’s right.) Hurray for epidurals!

However, maybe I was a little too good at pushing. I tore. My Ob took care of me while JP followed Flybaby over to the warming table where he could be cleaned, measured and taken care of.

I looked at JP over on the other side of the room. Just as he had done while I was walking down the aisle to marry him, he mouthed, “I love you.”

And everything was perfect.

Until the following week, when a parade of relatives came to our home, and I had to go back to the hospital because of chest pain ....

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's a BOY!

Friday, Sep. 15:

Flybaby, born Thursday, September 7.

Welcome to the world, little one....

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

How to have a baby

Wednesday, Sep. 6:

People are calling left and right to see if there's a baby yet. And to offer, um, helpful advice about how to hurry things along. I guess they're impatient.

My mother and sister call.

"If I was there, I'd drive you down some bumpy country road!" my mother says.

Gee, sounds relaxing. Thanks, Mom.

My across-the-street neighbor calls.

"Just wait until the next full moon. That's when my sons were born," she says.

"I think it is a full moon," I say. (It's actually tomorrow.)

My next-door neighbor comes home while I'm checking the mailbox and helps me gather up the empty trash cans from the curb.

"Eat jalepenos or play Frisbee," she tells me.

I guess she would know -- she works in administration for some neonatalogists. I like imagining them playing Frisbee in their white lab coats.

A friend calls and thankfully doesn't give any tips on how or when to have this baby. But in the past, she has mentioned probably the most famous method of all: makin' love.

Then my doula, aka Charlie Brown, comes over so she and JP can finally meet. She says she thinks we will be holding the baby within a week.

But it may be sooner than soon anyway. I have been feeling crampy and ill since about one this morning....

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Hope, cheese and the beach

Sunday, Sep. 3:

Motherhood Uncensored suggested coming up with motivational posters for moms a la Successories. So, here's mine. Kinda predictable, I guess. But yes, that is an actual bikini I own. Note I say "own," not necessarily "wear."

- - - - -

My stepmother, Ann, calls me.

"Tell me more about this gouda," she says.

"What?" I'm squinting, as if I can get rid of the blur of what she's saying.

"The gouda," she says again, "For the hospital."

"Gouda is a cheese. You mean the doula?!"

Now I really wonder about those llamas....

- - - - -

JP and I decided if we didn't have a baby yet, we'd spend yesterday morning relaxing. We did two things we hardly ever get to do. We went out to breakfast. And we went to the beach. To try out his new daddy video camera (well, new to us, but actually gently used) because we've never owned one before:

Friday, September 01, 2006


Friday, Sept. 1:

I made it to September! I made it to September!

I am so silly that way. Holding out for a September baby.

Now just continuing the nesting. And waiting.

And expanding my vocabulary. Imperfect Mommy came up with a new word -- a sniglet, if you remember those -- nanodilated. That's her state. Mine, too, right here at my due date. (Although you know I have always thought it would be later.)

My friend Star, due in November, asked me what it's like here at the end. The best way I could describe it to her at the time was like facing an important final exam. You've been studying all semester. You've done everything you can to prepare. At some point, you realize there's nothing more you can really do until you actually take the test. The test is coming, whether you like it or not, and you're either going to pass or fail.

Star said she thinks I'll pass.