Friday Reads

The most hilarious tumblr ever – stock photos with sarcastic captions.

How decisions are made and the happiness quotient, a fascinating read that certainly provides insight into my marriage!

Breast is best…some of the time.

Two Weeks Later

Today is my official due date and I’m celebrating with a two week well child checkup and follow up with Junior’s pediatric urologist. But that’s nothing compared to the seven hours we spent in the ER on Sunday or the two visits to various specialists yesterday. For such a small guy who sleeps so much, Junior is exhausting.

In my week 1 post, I mentioned that we had a visit at his pediatrician’s office after a period of long sleepiness. On Saturday and Sunday he was again really lethargic, hard to wake up and was latching really poorly. On Sunday he had a strange pink color in his diaper and didn’t produce enough wet or poopy diapers. After a call to his pediatrician’s office, we decided to take him to the ER.

The pink in his diaper turned out to be crystals in the urine that is a sign of dehydration. The doctor ordered his blood sugar checked and it was too low. So my tiny baby was pricked and prodded and given an IV with fluids and glucose. His blood sugar didn’t rise rapidly enough so the endocrinologist ordered special labs and they waited for me to feed him to see if that would also help.

A lactation consultant came to help and her immediate theory was that his latch has been poor since birth and his blood sugars were related to poor feeding. The doctor was quick to agree and slowly it emerged that I am the worst mother ever for not noticing that he was getting insufficient nutrition.

Seriously, what mother wants to hear that the reason their baby is dehydrated and has low blood sugar is related to their breast milk and latch technique? Talk about guilt. And then we were sent home with instructions on supplementing and pumping after feeds. Basically, go home and spend all day figuring out how to feed your kid properly.

On Monday we had a follow up at the pediatrician’s office and we’re thankful
he gained weight overnight and he weighed in at 6 lbs. The doctor recommended he be evaluated for tongue tie and tight upper lip, so yesterday he was evaluated by an ENT. Fortunately he didn’t need the procedure but once again it’s up to me to train him to eat properly and use a nipple shield if necessary for a good latch, all the while continuing to supplement and pump after feedings. I am so physically and emotionally exhausted just three days after our ER visit I am THIS close to calling it quits and switching to formula.

Yesterday afternoon Junior had an ultrasound on his kidneys and a procedure called a VCUG that looks for reflux of the bladder. Today I go back to the urologist to discuss the findings of the tests.

I am thankful for modern medicine that has helped Junior in his few weeks of life. I am not thankful for terrible parental leave policies in this country and the fact that my husband has had to continue working throughout most of this ordeal. I am not thankful for the extreme pressure placed on mothers to provide food – not once has it ever been discussed at any of these appointments that formula is an option. Of course I know it is, but it would make me feel so much better if a medical professional said, hey mom, you’re doing the best you can. It’s okay to choose formula.

In the end, I just don’t want to worry whether my son is getting enough to eat and whether we are descending once again into the cycle of not eating and then becoming more tired, leading to low blood sugar. Parenting is a great joy but also a great burden.

The Best Big Brother

Future President is a spectacular big brother. On the day Junior was born, he insisted on bringing him a cake (a large cupcake was a good substitute) and we all sang happy birthday to the baby even before the baby had a name.

He is helpful and runs when I ask him to get something like a pacifier, diaper or blanket. He is very concerned when the baby spits out his pacifier and hates it when the baby cries in the car. He’s willing to sing him songs and lay on the floor with him. He even drives his precious cars near enough for baby to see them.

Much to my happy surprise, so far he hasn’t regressed in potty training and the only jealousy he’s demonstrated is complaining that it takes baby a long time to eat. He has, though, started to act a bit like a baby sometimes, wanting to cuddle more on our laps or imitates some of baby’s movements.

But there are more precious moments than not: he literally coos at the baby and says “he’s so cute” and “he’s so adorable” and “kitchy-coo-coo” (a phrase I think he picked up from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood).

We are incredibly blessed that the transition to two kids has been as easy as it has, despite many hiccups with Junior’s eating (which required a trip to the ER this weekend) and some other health issues. Big Brother has made it as simple as he possibly could.

Delivering at a Baby-Friendly Hospital

I read an interesting article in Slate this week about baby-friendly hospitals and now that I’ve delivered at both a “non” baby-friendly hospital and a hospital trying to get certified as baby-friendly, I will say it was two very different experiences.

In Utah, where I delivered Future President, breastfeeding was encouraged. However, I was still given a gift bag from formula companies and a pacifier was provided to help soothe the new baby. My baby was in the nursery a lot, but that’s because he had a bad case of jaundice. Even if he hadn’t had jaundice, I would have had the option of sending him to the nursery to get a little sleep. Not once did I think these policies were unfriendly to babies or breastfeeding. I had a lactation consultant visit my room and the option to take a breastfeeding class while in the hospital.

Here in the Northwest, I delivered Junior at a hospital that is trying to get baby-friendly certified. That means baby was with me in my room during the entire stay except during his circumcision. Pacifiers are not provided except during procedures like circumcision. I brought my own and the frankly the nurses seemed relieved. One nurse even told me that she thought these new policies made breastfeeding more stressful for new moms and that a pacifier wouldn’t ruin breastfeeding. I agree.

During our stay, my breast was handled by a few different nurses. It was a little weird. As soon as I was in recovery, I had the baby skin to skin and the baby nurse reached over and helped baby get a mouthful. In the moment it didn’t seem weird but looking back, may have been a little aggressive. The same thing happened during one of the daily lactation consultant visits when a nurse reached across my chest while baby was nursing to help him get a “sandwich” amount in his mouth.

When I chose formula over banked breast milk to supplement on the first day, I definitely felt judged. I don’t know why, but the idea of banked breast milk weirds me out. From a friend that I know, no, but feeding my baby a stranger’s breast milk just seems too weird.

I think there has to be a line drawn when hospital policies make new moms feel guilty about their choices, and if a mother does choose to breastfeed it should be encouraged and resources provided to help. I don’t think pacifiers are evil, nor am I opposed to formula. New moms have a hard enough road ahead of them, we don’t need to feel guilty about our feeding choices.

One Week with Junior

We’ve been home from the hospital since Saturday and are slowly adjusting to life with a newborn. I can’t decide if the midnight feeding is worse than the 3am feeding or the 6am feeding is the worst of all since by then I’m so exhausted. Junior won’t really take a pacifier yet so if he’s hungry and I’m busy, it’s stop everything and feed at once.

On Sunday we did have a bit of a scare because after eating at 10:30 he went to sleep and would not wake up to eat or do anything until almost 3. The doctor was worried about jaundice, so I was relieved when he finally woke up and had enough dirty diapers to show he was getting enough milk. On Monday, however, we went for blood work and on Tuesday at our post-partum check, they also tested his levels. Good news: we are in the clear. In fact, he ate so much between his appointments on Monday and Tuesday, he gained over an ounce.

Post c-section tip: the belly band (also called a binder) is amazing but the soft breast binder the nurse gave me at my post-partum visit is 100% better. It’s much more flexible but still pulls everything together, making coughing and laughing more tolerable. The nurse even half joked that after using it as a belly binder, I can wear it as a tube top. AS IF. If you have a c-section, I highly recommend one for recovery.

And I’m going to break my typical no photos of kids stance because, really, how can you resist this face?

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38 Weeks…Not Pregnant Anymore!

Baby boy arrived on Wednesday at exactly 38 weeks. His arrival was fraught with complications and I ended up having an unplanned c-section, the recovery from which is very different than my first pregnancy. And after all my worrying about having a big baby due to gestational diabetes, he weighed 6 lbs 2 oz at birth! Another thing to be thankful for: he was low risk for jaundice during our hospital stay and at his checkup today, continues to be low risk. After Future President’s awful bout with jaundice during the first week of life, these first few days at home feel luxurious without the bilibed.

So far, Future President is enamored with baby brother and has even come around to calling him by his actual name. Future President was set on naming him Thomas Henry Edward – all Thomas trains, for those uninitiated. For those who know me in real life, we settled on a name we hadn’t even discussed prior to his birth, but it fits him, don’t you think? And for my Internet friends, we’ll call him Junior as he is named after his uncles.

While I’m tired, of course, I don’t feel as drained this time around. Many of my friends with more than one child assured me this would be the case. A first baby is disruptive in so many ways, and at least to me, was a shock to the system. I don’t think I put Future President down to nap for the first two months of life! But this time around, I nurse Junior, put him down to sleep, and either try to sleep myself or watch some TV. Or even put a load of laundry in the washing machine!

There are definite setbacks to a c-section delivery, the most annoying of which is not being able to drive for two weeks. The pain is sometimes unbearable and the narcotics have unpleasant side effects. There’s also the strange feeling of being able to accomplish more than the body is actually ready to do, so by the end of the day if I haven’t taken it easy, I am exhausted and ache all over. I have to keep reminding myself that even though I didn’t push a baby out, I just had major surgery and to take it easy. I am so fortunate that my 3-year old is being cared for by his grandmas so I have time to rest with baby.

So the pregnancy ordeal is over. It really did feel like it lasted forever, and when I look at calendar, feel pretty good about making it as far as I did. I was pregnant for the majority of 2014, January to October, which is a long time to put the body through so much. I am so, so glad to not be pregnant any more, and with Junior here our family is complete. And for those of you wondering, no, we aren’t going to try for a girl. It’s me and my boys, forever and ever, amen.

37 Weeks

On Monday I had my last ultrasound before baby comes. According to his measurements, he weighs 6.1 lbs. Future President weighed 7.1 lbs at birth, which happened at 38 weeks and 4 days. If I deliver around the same time as before, I’m hoping baby is a similar size. I don’t even want to think about delivering a baby in the 8 or 9 pound range!

We also got the good news that his hydronephrosis (swelling of the kidneys) is on the mild side and he may grow out of it without any intervention. At two weeks old we’ll see the specialist again but we shouldn’t have to worry in the meantime.

My doctors are hopeful he will give me some relief from latent labor soon. I was in L&D on Friday night for a few hours with painful contractions but I’m still not dilated more than “a dimple.” However, if my cervix is “favorable,” they are willing to induce at 39 weeks. I’m really ready to be done with this – contracting for an hour or two every day is really draining and it’s almost impossible to sleep now. I’m almost ready to say that I’d trade sleepless nights with a newborn with this nonsense my body is going through.

(Anyone else have terrible pregnancy insomnia? Last night I was awake from 1:30 to 4 a.m. and if I still could, I would have been tossing and turning. Instead, I lay on the side that hurts the least, counting backwards, trying to do yoga-like deep breathing exercises, listing baby names and checking Facebook. But Facebook is really boring in the middle of the night and no one is giving extra lives in Candy Crush before dawn. Is insomnia this late in pregnancy the body’s way of preparing for sleepless nights? There has to be some rational biological reason, right?!?)

My biggest concern after this huge 37 week milestone is jaundice. Apparently the longer baby bakes in utero the less likely jaundice will appear or be as severe. That is the only reason I can think of at this point to keep going past my goal of 37 weeks. (Future President had terrible jaundice and was on a bilibed for seven days at home!)

So now it’s a waiting game and I’m tempted to try all of the things to get real labor going. Spicy food. Pineapple. Long walks. But no castor oil!