Monday, August 25, 2008

I've gone "back to school" every year for the past 27 years. Really truly since Kindergarten - I had my first teaching job right out of college. I love clean desks, school supplies, school clothes, and those first day flutters that even the teacher gets.

I'm not going back to school tomorrow. It feels really weird to me, weird in a bad/sad way. I'm missing things. I'm having a hard time letting go of my classroom and letting the long-term sub take over. I find myself wanting to get the kids started on the right foot.

I don't have anyone else to admit this to. I wish I was going back to school tomorrow.

I'm ashamed that I would rather be in my classroom than home with my baby. But today was my first day as a SAHM (C. went back to school today) and it was hard. Really fucking hard. He cries a lot. He fusses all day. He doesn't nap during the day. Eating is the only way to calm him down - and nursing is still a long process for us, followed by a bottle. I don't know how women do this and like it. I'm not enjoying my baby right now. There, I said it.

I love my baby, I'm just not enjoying him. Don't flame me. Seriously, I'll cry.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How do you politely tell strangers that no, you cannot hold my baby? Um, awkward...

And just for fun, we went blueberry picking! I think Theo likes it. He'll probably like it better when he can actually eat the blueberries, though!

Monday, August 18, 2008

My "Birth" Story--sorta/kinda

S. wanted me to post my version of the birth story. She claims I remember way more. (Which is actually true--now and then I'll be like "remember when you..." and she'll be like "no, I don't.") I suppose that is your body's brilliant biological/psychological reaction to massively painful experiences like childbirth--the end-product makes you forget about all the labor it took to get there.

I won't post my whole version--it obviously cannot possibly compare to S.'s--but I will say a few things about being there from start to finish as a birth partner. First of all, it is the most bizarre thing I have possibly ever seen, watching S. give birth. She has a very low pain threshold, so I knew a natural birth was going to be rough, but I had no freaking idea how she was going to do it. Doubted her? No, not doubted, because I knew how committed she was to having a natural birth. I just didn't understand how it was all going to actually happen.

So what was so bizarre? Well, I guess the fact that she was actually doing it, and watching her go through the most painful thing she has/will ever experience. She seemed like a different person, so close and so far. She needed me and our doula to be there, but at times I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I was there, helping her, but my other self was floating above, watching with disbelief as S. experienced each contraction.

Then it came time to push. As soon as our midwife said "OK, it's time for you to get on your back and push your baby out!" my knees just about buckled under me. The adrenaline pumping through my body made me quiver so hard I could hardly help hold S.'s legs up--or fan her!--but somehow I did it. And again, I watched in disbelief and S. did the most amazing thing I will ever see happen.

So basically, I came out of Theo's birth with a new perspective on S. She wowed me with her strength (even though she doubted her own strength many times throughout the labor) and stamina and most of all, the ability to tolerate all that pain. Maybe tolerate is an understatement, but she did it! I am so, so proud of her, and I look at our son and see her there, and remember all the hard work she did (and continues to do) for him and for our family.

And I won't say anymore about the actual birth, because there are pregnant women and partners out there who will just have to wait to experience those parts (the kind of yucky ones) for themselves!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

3 weeks ago today

At long last, my birth story. I'll warn you now - it's long. And not very artfully written. It's a simple account of what happened. I wrote some details down the days after birth and some have come to me over the last several weeks. I would love for C. and Stacey to write/publish their versions. The whole story still shocks and amazes me. I did that.

Birth Story

On Monday, July 21st we headed to Hospital for an 11am ultrasound. We planned to check in on the baby who was now 10 days overdue. The ultrasound tech (our favorite) found a pretty low level of amniotic fluid and suggested a call to the midwives. They proceeded to send us to the Birthing Center for a non-stress test, to make sure the baby was not in any type of distress.

When we arrived Nurse Brian asked if we would like a small, medium or large room since we’ll be here for awhile. Convinced he had us confused with another patient, I told him that it didn’t matter because we were only here for a non-stress test. He was a little more insistent and I told him we’re not staying. Adamantly, “we don’t have any of our things and the dog is home all alone”. Oh, okay then.

Hooked up to the EFM, Liza (the midwife) comes in around 2:00 and informs us that the amniotic fluid levels are too low to let us leave. She would like to see me attached to the EFM from now on. Liza explains that Cerv1dil will ripen my cervix tonight, I will get a good night sleep and Pit0cin will be administered in the morning. Another midwife will deliver me tomorrow/tomorrow night/the next day. This could be a long process. I begin to realize my birth plan is out the window. C. calls Stacey, our friend/doula, who is on her way back from NH and then heads home to get our birthing things. Things are not going as planned….

At 6pm Cerv1dil is inserted, with a 2nd dose planned for 6am. Liza notes that my cervix is high and hard, not at all ready for birthing. Not planning on delivering me, she fails to read the birthplan and cordblood things. Stacey, C. and I eat a pizza and plan to watch some Bravo, maybe play Dominoes. But cramps begin within a half hour. I start to feel yucky and wonky and tired.

By 7pm the cramps are bad and I am attempting to rock them away in the rocking chair. Stacey begins timing some things because they seem so repetitive. They are 4-6 minutes apart. But remember, these are just cramps that sometimes accompany the Cerv1dil. I say to C., “If the cramps are this bad, how will I ever be able to stand contractions?” Our new nurse, Tina, comes in and notices that I seem to be deteriorating and things are tough. She gets Liza, who offers Morphine for sleep. What? I refuse, because I hate the way I feel when medicated. She assures it is safe and will be out of my system before the baby comes. She really wants me to sleep. I don’t see how that will be possible.

Between 8pm and 11pm the painful cramping continues. When I throw up the pizza, Tina worries that we have over stimulated my uterus and gets Liza. Liza agrees and wants to remove the Cerv1dil. When she does that – surprise – I’m 5 centimeters dilated. Not cramps after all, contractions – and I’m half way there! She removes the Cerv1dil and my body continues on its own.

From 11pm to 3am I labor in bed. I am very uncomfortable. In fact, that’s what I keep saying to everyone, “I’m very uncomfortable”- umm, understatement. Liza repeatedly offers an epidural even though my birth plan states “I will ask, please don’t offer.” Annoying, but tempting. I never commit. The next time she checks my cervix it’s 7 centimeters. The tub is contemplated, but I don’t think I can move to another room.

My water finally breaks in the bed, and things get really hard. I turn to my side, helping the cervix to fully dilate. Hard and tough and painful and constant. I can’t seem to get my body to stop convulsing, even as I realize this is the transition. I try to ride them out, but I feel like I’m just hanging on for the ride, clenching until it’s over. It’s like being under a giant wave, and not being able to reach the surface. And then you’re slammed onto the shore, take a breath and another wave overtakes you. This was definitely the worst for me. In fact, I relive it for the next day or two – shuddering each time.

The need to push comes sometime before 4am, but Liza is not ready for me to push. My body is not ready so I have to hold them back. This is so difficult, impossible even. My body says “PUSH” and I feel powerless to stop it. Poop.

Around 4am, true pushing beings. It’s better because there are longer breaks between the contractions. I’m trying to follow directions, but everyone seems irritated that I can’t do what they’re saying. Just because my eyes are closed (which they were for almost the entire birth), doesn’t mean I can’t hear you. I am so unbelievably hot. “Hot”, I keep repeating. Even with the A/C at full blast, I’m “hot.” C. and Stacey fan me with a Chinese handheld fan from Stacey’s doula bag that she got at Pearl River Mart. It was an invaluable tool! Between fanning, they are also holding my legs which are so tired and heavy.

Around 5am, the baby is in the birth canal and Liza wants me to go slow. As the baby moves further down, I feel like my bottom is exploding. I know she’s trying to help me stretch slowly but I have to get the baby out. Like, right now. C. can see hair as the baby comes down. I feel like if I look or touch, I will lose focus – so I take her word for it. I’m taking the deep breaths, and bearing down 2 to 3 times per contraction. I’m so thankful for the breaks between.

5:20, I feel the tearing/stinging, but I don’t care. I’ve got to push this baby out.

At 5:26 the baby comes out and is placed straight onto my belly. I’m surprised by all the blood. I look to C., “What is it?” and she says, “I don’t know!” What? The baby’s body was turned away from her and she couldn’t see the parts. Taking a peek over, she says, “A boy, I think” and Liza nods. The nurse wipes him up and I hear little cries and moans and I realize – I did it. It’s over, and I did it. C. and I have our family.

It takes awhile for Liza and Tina to figure out the cordblood banking. The baby lays tired on my chest. Birthing the placenta is so relieving. We all take a look at what it was that sustained our son for so long. Really amazing.

Around 6ish Liza begins repairs on my third-degree tear while the baby is cleaned and weighed. I birthed an 8lb 10oz, 20 ¾ inch long, baby boy. Woh. Liza has Dr. Loebel, and ob/gyn surgeon, come in to take a look at the tear and do the stitches. The stitches are done from front to back – ow – but are superficial (no muscles), thank goodness. It takes awhile and I keep thinking about how I can’t wait to close my legs. They are so tired and shaky.

Around 7ish we are finished and I can breastfeed for the first time. He takes it easily. C. begins to call people, who are surprised - remember we weren’t even supposed to be put into labor until this morning? My mom and dad are here within a few hours. C.’s mom and sister come later in the day. It’s a whirlwind of a day as we introduce Theo to his new family.

I ended up with the Birth Story I wanted. Surprisingly. No one thought this is how it would go. I wouldn’t have done it without the support (and fanning) of C. and Stacey. And I trusted my instincts. I trusted my body. It was hard.

We Heart Poop

Obviously the novelty of this will wear off, but Theo seems to be pooping more regularly now. This is only exciting because he was going 5+ days with nary a poo in sight, so poop = good, because poop = Theo's getting enough to eat!

Ummm, I don't think two years ago I would have ever been so excited about changing a poopie diaper. Oh my, the times, they are a changin'...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cow for hire

Anyone ever use a breast milk from a milk bank? I'm trying to figure out logistics/cost, but the info is not that easy to find. I'm not even sure if there is one local enough to western MA. I know 'breast is best' but I have to admit I'm a little creeped out about the idea of using a strangers breast milk.

This is probably not the way we'd go, but I like to explore all my options...

Do people still hire wet nurses? :)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ignorance is bliss

I yearn to be ignorant. I want to be that woman who doesn't understand how her body works - because she doesn't have to - it works and that's all that matters.

I don't know why I'm always surprised by the inadequacies of my body. Why do I have to become an expert about conception? about IVF? about ways to make an overdue baby come naturally? about breastfeeding? Part of me knows it's just my personality - I seek out the knowledge. And part of me is just bitching about the women out there who have no interest in breastfeeding but are still leaking 6 months down the road.

Theo is getting about an ounce from me every time he feeds. Obviously, nowhere near enough to sustain him. So, supplementing with formula. I am also pumping after every feed and getting about half an ounce. He gets that too. urgh. I've done everything and I know that now. 4 lactation consultants, fenugreek, domperid0ne, a tongue-tie surgery, J@ck Newman's book from cover to cover, pumping every two, a hospital pump, a good latch and a *perfect* sucking baby. I think I have insufficient glandular tissue - this is all it has to give.

I've kind of made peace with it. I will continue to breastfeed and pump as long as there is some milk there. It' s not what I envisioned, but I've done everything and I feel content that there's nothing else to be done, so it's time to move on. Hell, I was a formula fed baby and I'm smartish and have always been healthy, allergy and asthma free.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Another exciting day of screaming today. We went to the hospital to get Theo's kidneys ultrasounded (is that a verb? it is now!). They are still dilated and have some fluid in them, so our next stop is to go to a pediatric urologist where they will figure out the cause. It's probably just going to be a minor procedure that isn't a big deal, but it's one more thing to deal with when it feels like we're dealing with many other things over here--like, is Theo eating enough? Will S. ever make enough milk and, if she does, will Theo figure out how to get to it? Will he ever gain weight? Why isn't he pooping? Will he ever stop screaming?

To try to answer these questions, we will head out again tomorrow to meet with yet another lactation consultant. At his weigh-in on Friday, we will decide once and for all whether this breastfeeding thing is going to be for him, and whether we will throw in the towel in bring in the bottle.

But at least he's cute...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Rise n' Shine, Campers!

Today our darling dog Ringo decided he'd love to try one of Theo's poopie diapers. Ugh is just about all I can say about that. Did I mention Ringo is a white dog? Double ugh.

All this diaper tearing ensued while we were out of the house this morning. We did what I am fairly certain is a complete and total lesbian first: we are very likely the first lesbian couple to travel 45 minutes to a lactation consultant who also happens to be the nurse for a Catholic summer camp for two weeks. She's really good, obviously, and she didn't have a problem with us coming up there this morning, so we rose early, woke up Theo, and headed out the door around 7 a.m. to meet her at 8 at the camp. It felt a little weird being the lesbian breastfeeding couple in the nurse's sleeping quarters at the Catholic camp, but the lactation consultant didn't seem to care, so we eased up eventually, too, and just let her give us her wonderful guidance and advice.

She thinks Theo's latch is not quite right yet. We did a LOT of work on it this morning, and all day long. Hopefully he's getting it and getting more milk so S. can make more milk. Whew. Still hard, but maybe we at least have a cause now of the low supply. We weigh in again on Friday. It feels so far away!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore

Well, it makes occasional stops. Like, weekend service or something. S.'s milk is still not all there, but there is milk, so that is the positive thing, and Theo is getting some breastmilk right now. We're going to the camp where our hospital lactation consultant is working right now (yes, we're so desperate we're driving to her) to check things out. In the meantime, by the graciousness of a wonderful close friend of ours, S. has started taking an rx that is supposed to increase milk supply. We're all crossing our fingers hoping this will be it, that she just needs a little boost and Theo and Mamas will be happy. Because no one is really very happy at the moment. I am happy to say, though, that while he may be restless and scream his head off during the day, he's been pretty good (cross fingers, knock-on-wood) at night, giving us a 3-4 hour stretch before we hear his little lips smacking after his last feeding.

I just don't want my baby to be hungry, or my baby mama to feel inadequate, because her dedication to Theo and breastfeeding is so amazing. So many women would have just thrown in the towel by now. Even though it's emotionally and physically draining, she's hanging in there hoping things will work out. And if not--we will resign ourselves to it, pick up the pieces, and move forward.