Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"...Is This Thing On?"

Here it is, the lazy list o'bullets:
  • Jackson sleeps in his crib at night now, waking me about every 2-3 hours. Fortunately, I hear him on the monitor before the billy goat cry begins, so there's minimal fussing since I only have to climb out of bed and go next door to his room. For his long-lived claims of being a light sleeper, KB sure does seem to snooze through a lot. Including my cursing when a diaper explosion occurs, I stub my toe, or just generally emit an "Oh, for fuck's sake" for general purposes.
  • During the day, the kid is completely unpredictable. I think. I am not doing the greatest job of keeping track of diapers, feedings, naps, whatever so I'm not sure if there's an emerging pattern yet. I do know that he eats about every 1.5-2 hours and usually takes one super long nap in the afternoon. If I let him sleep on me (which confines me to the couch, parked in front of the tv, like the ultimate slob) he can nap for a few hours. My butt has, at times, gone numb. But he's so soft and cuddly and warm and smooshy when he sleeps on me that I can't help it. I'm a sucker for my baby.
  • We go on lots of neighborhood walks and have been to le Target and the zoo. I'm still leery of going to indoor crowded places with filthy humanity, what with flu season upon us. I also have not yet taken the step to nurse in public, which is limiting our travels a bit. I'm not super-self-conscious about it, but it just strikes me as awkward. I mean, I can't carry the Boppy with me wherever I go. I just bought a (I shit you not, this is the actual name) Hooter Hider which is designed for easy-access in public and I like the apron design much better than trying to manipulate a blanket. I'll test it out this weekend when we go to my sister-in-law's for Halloween.
  • Speaking of which...Jack is going to be my little monkey for Halloween. At least for as long as he'll tolerate wearing the costume, and hopefully long enough to get a picture of him not looking all ragey and stabby. KB and I considered pimping him out to get bags o'candy for ourselves ("Don't be stingy, neighbor-lady, the baby loves snack-size Snickers!") but are frankly too lazy to bother. So we'll hang out at the in-law's house for a while and then come home and resume our usual routine: feed, change, and burp the baby, then try to get him to sleep. It's exciting, y'all. Sometimes there's tummy time also. And the occasional, brief, nap.
  • I am frustrated with pumping. I can hardly find the time, and I don't get much. I feed him on demand all day and during the night, and pump to have bottled milk on hand so KB can feed him in the evening. We call that feeding the Milk Bomb. It is constructed to tame the Milk Monster and to induce the Milk Coma. These are the tools to make baby sleep at night. He gets ridiculously hungry around 9PM and no amount of nursing is enough. So, enter the Milk Bomb. We fortify it with some gripe water (which I assume has some magical properties, perhaps made from unicorn tears or something) and his daily vitamin drops, and down the hatch it goes. Then, he sleeps. Usually. I try not to count on our daily routines being too regular, since unpredictability is the only thing constant around here. It's a work in progress. But I do have to start saving some milk and transitioning a little more to bottles since I eventually have to go back to work. Which, boo-hoo. Although I will admit, at the risk of it making me a terrible person and a worse Mommy, that the anticipation of having him in the capable hands of his day school and being able to take a leisurely shower, go work out at lunch time, and have adult conversations (not to mention resume earning my salary) holds some appeal.* So, gotta pump.
  • It's so muthertrucking windy here this week that my front door blew open this morning, and was wide open for at least half an hour, before I realized it. I thought the wind sounded awfully *close* but had a baby on my teat, so couldn't check. When I did get up, I saw a wide-open door and an incredulous-looking dog sitting in the foyer, her eyes shifting back and forth between me and the path to freedom. What flashed through my mind was: shitshitshitshitshit how fast can I get the baby in the carseat and into the stroller to chase after the dog down the street? I told her to *sit* and *stay* and dammit if she didn't listen to me and NOT make a run for it. I thank all available gods that she is either too well-trained and/or stupid to flee. Even though a baby ranks much higher in the pecking order than a dog, I love my puppy. 
* I'm mentally writing a post on my genetic aversion to being a stay-at-home mom versus my social desire to do so. I will actually tap it out with my fingers soon. -ish. For realz.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My How You've Grown

Time(ing) Is Everything

Geez, I miss you guys. Gals. Homies. Bitches. Whatever.

Days and nights are measured out carefully (not with coffee spoons) with caring-for-Jackson activities. Some planned, many not. Like feeding. He wants what he wants when he wants it. And I can never guesstimate how that will go. Breastfeeding is hard work, and it crosses my mind every day to quit and feed a combo of pumped milk and formula. But if I am anything, it is stubborn. So he sometimes wants to eat every hour for half hour periods, leaving me no time to as much as take a piss for hours on end. Okay. So my nipples are a little sore. Okay. But mah behbeh is fed liquid gold. I have no issue with formula, and supplemented with it for a few days while I waited for The Milk to come (in my sleep-deprived state, I was deathly afraid for those days that I was waiting on a lactic Godot). We've used it a few times since when he still seemed hungry after exhausting The Boob and whatever pumped supply I still had handy in the fridge. I just want breastfeeding to work, maybe because it's one of the last few things under my control in this whole getting-pregnant-via-science-and-conceiving-and-gestating-and-birthing-the-baby-with-the-aid-of-drugs-etc process. I've been pumping twice a day every day and not getting much for my effort yet. I feed him approximately every 2 hours (give or take) around the clock. It's exhausting. If the schedule and effort required don't level off soon, say within a couple of weeks, I'm not sure if I can continue at this pace. He has easily demonstrated he can take The Boob and a bottle without getting confused (turns out babies are smart!). He clearly prefers The Boob, even though the bottle goes down the hatch a little quicker. I suppose it all comes down to what I can manage and not be an insane person who never sleeps or has more than 3 minutes to take a prison-quality shower or a relaxing dump without hurrying to go feed a baby who threatens to go nuclear with a hunger meltdown.

So, here's the thing about breastfeeding and lactation consultants. Don't believe everything they say. Like, not much of it at all. They were super helpful with ensuring I knew what a proper latch looked and felt like and offered lots of tips for spotting hunger cues, but they drilled the anti-bottle, anti-formula, anti-pacifier message a little too deeply into my brain for my comfort. It had me in tears for the first couple of days because I was sure that by choosing formula over fruitless (milkless?) attempts at poorly-latched, pre-milk breastfeeding, I was ruining a natural and superior process over the convenience of shoving a bottle in his mouth. WRONG. I chose to ensure he was not dehydrated, and that I could chase his bilirubin down (he was jaundiced until about day 5 post-birth) and get his weight back up (he lost a little over 10% of his birth weight by day 4). And guess what? We've continued to use a bottle 1-2 times each day (now with pumped breast milk) and are trying to introduce a pacifier (he's not yet a fan) and he still happily breastfeeds approximately eight million time each day (see previous notes on frequency of feeding). So all those rules about waiting until 4-6 weeks to introduce a bottle or pacifier are arbitrary. As is any rule about supplementing with formula (although I will say, his poops are a little more foul with formula in the mix; a small but stinky price to pay). So, my assvice is to use lactation consultants for technique and general information, but listen to your own instincts and your pediatrician for everything else related to feeding the baby. I think the consultants are so hardcore because they know how many people give up in the early days when it's seemingly impossible. But if you are determined, you can make up your own routine and stick with it, any way you possibly can, without the pressure of specific and insanely restrictive rules. The first rule of Feed Club is: don't worry about how you feed the baby.

The copious seconds of spare time I have left when not feeding the bambino are spent on personal hygiene, feeding myself, and doing laundry. It's an exciting life, y'all. But I can't even describe to you how my entire heart melts when he smiles in his sleep, or curls up in a ball on my chest and nuzzles into my neck, or grabs my finger tight while I'm feeding him. Every challenging and painful moment, now and before and yet to come, is worth it in every possible way.

Monday, October 11, 2010

AWKWARD: [awk-werd] adj. uncomfortable; difficult to handle or manage

Two weeks! We've survived over two weeks!

The first night home was HARD. The afternoon and evening were a breeze, since Jack just slept like, well, a baby. But then came the night. He cried. And cried. And wouldn't latch for more than 5 minutes, and was obviously getting supercrazyhungry. His lips began to look dry and cracked. And on he raged. After a few hours of this, I was in tears and said, aloud actually, fuck it, I'm giving him formula. Given a choice between ruining breastfeeding from anywhere between one feeding and forever and starving my baby, I opted for the former. He gobbled it down and we both slept. At our first pediatrician's appointment two days later, the doctor applauded me for making that decision and reassured me that breastfeeding would be fine. And then my milk came in that VERY DAY, and once we got past the engorgement that lasted a day and a half (imagine trying to wrap a wee little mouth around an overfilled water balloon -- no-go), thanks entirely to KB making an emergency trip to the medical supply store to purchase a shiny new breast pump, all was well. Now he exclusively breastfeeds, like a champ. Amen.

I have a lot more to say about breastfeeding and formula, but I'll save it for another post. I want to give it its due. 

Last weekend my sister came to visit and was a delight. She's been really flaky in the past, and I had my doubts about whether she would be happy for me or bathe in a stew of schadenfreude. She was fantastic. It was a low-key visit and didn't disrupt our budding schedule at all. It was pleasant and, frankly, a relief. I'm hopeful this is a turned leaf for us. Go, Jackson, go! relationship savior!

And then. My dad and stepmother came to visit this past weekend. They wrote to me (via fb) two weeks ago and asked when they could visit; I told them any time after two weeks, but later would be better (I reminded them I am off work for three months to drive that point home). So they booked their trip for exactly two weeks later. Okay, fine. They also flew my sister in (not realizing she had just driven up from Chicago the weekend before) and she graciously agreed to come so she could, as she put it, be the buffer. And then I heard NOTHING from them about their arrival time, plans, where they were staying, whatever. NOTHING. I had to get this info from my sister. And she had only the minimal inkling, as they didn't share much with her, either. So they showed up Saturday and Sunday afternoons, we fed them lunch and dinner, and they sat around our family room for hours barely talking to us and just holding the baby. They took pictures of each other holding him, but none of my husband and me with him. They didn't let my sister hold him, either. The only conversations consisted of my stepmother telling us about her daughter's son (the one who celebrates birthdays at Hooters; some can't-miss stories: at three years old, he plays video games all day! he went to a gun show and got to "play" with a sniper rifle -- pictures up on fb! they're taking him to a monster truck show!). Exciting. If you're into shotgunning warm cans of PBR and NASCAR. They didn't change one diaper, never asked to see his nursery, and basically just loitered around our house so they could admire our baby for a couple of days, with no respect for our schedule. It was, in a word, awkward. Extremely. They even left without saying goodbye to me (I was just down the hall in the nursery feeding the baby). Then I got a text message later saying "thanks for having us." Yeah. Super. I found out from my sister that evening that they had bailed in a hurry to get to happy hour at their hotel. They were more interested in getting their drink on (mind you, they did the same thing the first night) than spending any more time with us, or even bothering to say a proper goodbye. I was actually pretty relieved the visit was over, though, abrupt as it was.

It makes me wish that I had never bothered to try and develop a relationship with my father. It's just so much effort for so little in return. *sigh* They were making cryptic suggestions that we should come visit them in Virginia so Jack can play with their other grandson (at Hooters? or the gun show? or the monster truck rally?), and about wanting to take the grandkids (not us, mind you) on a Caribbean vacation. Uh, no. While they are teaching their other grandson to play video games, we are interviewing at the Montessori school for daycare (where Jack will learn Spanish and music at the tender age of 3 months!). (I tried to explain the concept of Montessori schools to my stepmother, and eventually gave up and changed the subject. She also asked me outright, rather rudely I think, how much we will be spending on daycare. So I told her. The look on her face was priceless.) There's just an ocean of difference between how we live, what we believe, and how we intend to raise our child. It's a huge gap that can't be bridged.

It bums me out that my family is so batshitsuperfuckingcrazy. Not just for my sake anymore, but for Jackson's. But as KB likes to remind me, and I try often to remind myself, we have our own family now and it will be -- is -- exactly as we want it to be. Happy.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Day Laborer

Or, A Hard Day's Night

On Wednesday (9/22/10) I woke up with the nasty-named mucus plug still making its way out, only the nighttime cramps had produced the beginning of the bloody show. I didn't think it meant much, but I called my OB nurse hotline for a professional opinion. She agreed it was the baby cork and told me to go to L&D if it continued and became copious and/or clear (aka, amniotic fluid). So. I carried on with work and prepared for my 2PM "knowledge transfer" meeting to transition project work to my backup. I was planning to start my leave the following Monday.

And then. Just before I started the meeting, contractions began in earnest. Real ones. About 10 minutes apart. So I soldiered on and conducted the teleconference, pausing now and again to breathe through a contraction. That was seven shades of awesome. When I hung up at 3PM, I called KB to tell him I was packing my hospital bag and that he might want to consider maybe possibly perhaps coming home a smidge early since I thought we ought to go the hospital. Oh, and my supposed ute stopper/bloody show had turned to clear mini-gushes. Sweet. KB got home around 4-ish as I was throwing the last few things in my hospital bag, we packed up some things for the dog to drop her off at the kennel on our way, and off we went. And p.s. having contractions in the car SUCKS. If you can manage to have someone airlift you or be carried on a soft bed atop the shoulders of eunuchs or something, do it.

While in the car, we continued timing contractions to find that they were now 4-5 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute each. Perfect. I had ridden out the early stage of labor at home without much ado and felt pretty proud of that. We checked into OB triage at 5:30PM and waited. And waited. Contractions were now 3 minutes apart and STRONG. The midwife came to check on me and they confirmed I had a slow amniotic leak, even though they could see the bag o'waters with an internal exam (and here's some simple math for you: active labor + dilated and effaced + speculum exam + pelvic exam = excruciating pain => want to punch midwife in the face). I was dilated to 4 cm and 75% effaced. And I thought, naively, AWESOME. I will have this baby soon! Right. As in, no time soon.

So I was moved to an L&D room and asked if I wanted an epidural. Yes, please. The contractions were now about 1-2 minutes apart, and STRONG, and pain relief sounded pretty good. I had just put in a full day of work while laboring, goddammit. The anesthesiologist came within about half an hour and, three pokes later, I had a warm fuzzy feeling take the place of contractions. Oh, hells yes. I bathed in this miraculous relief for about an hour when they came back to break my water. Done. Then we continued waiting, the blissful numbness joined by fentanyl itchiness (crackhead Tyrone-style scratching ensued). Around 10PM or so, I was checked and was....wait for it....a 5. A mutherfucking 5. I had only progressed by 1 cm in all that time, even with my water broken. And so....

Pitocin. Dammit. I was hoping to progress on my own, but since we suspected my water had been leaking slowly all day (and possibly the night before), we were "on the clock" to get labor started and finished before infection became a worry. They were running three different antibiotics into my iv just to be on the safe side (also, my dirty whore vag tested positive for group B strep). The lower doses of pit didn't bother me much. The pressure of contractions increased, but I was still pretty comfortable. And then. We hit a higher dose that, like flipping a switch, sent contractions into rolling mode accompanied shortly by a desire to push (it feels like you need to shit an 8 lb turd, for your reference). I was in a physical tug-of-war between breathing through these constant overlapping and intense contractions and holding back the desire to push (since I didn't know whether I would tear myself a new asshole if I did, and still had a foley catheter in place that would surely destroy my future of urinary continence if too much pressure was applied). After who-knows-how-long of this, I told KB he had better get a nurse in here NOW because she was either going to turn the pit down or get an OB to check me and see if we were ready to push. Or find me a kitten to kick in the nuts. Something. Fortunately, I was checked about 20 minutes later and was fully dilated and ready to rumble. Fucking pitocin, man. It's brutal but effective.

And all I can say about being told you are fully dilated and ready to push is, don't get your hopes up that this means it's really time for anything to happen. At all. I got this news around 11:45PM or so, and we didn't have the table o'instruments and OB "team" (my doctor, a resident, and a third year med student -- don't get me started on this, as I was NOT thrilled to have a newbie staring down the barrel of my poor exhausted cooch, although he was helpful with holding up my left leg when called upon) assembled until 1AM. No one is in a hurry but YOU. So we started pushing a little after 1AM, and this went on for over an hour. At about this point, I had given up hope of ever having any shred of dignity ever again (having your vagina on display to a room full of people with your legs in the air, and knowing full well you are shitting while you are pushing, takes care of that, no problemo). I could tell how close we were (or weren't, as was the case) by how often my OB poked his head in the room. Not often. The resident even left for long periods of time. And then. Around 2AM, KB took a peek and everyone could see the tiniest patch of baby head. Just a little bit. I declined a mirror view since I worried that in my tired and weary state, it would just discourage me that that was ALL you could see. After each attempt at pushing, I collapsed and declared I was done. DONE. Can't do any more. Seriously. And then another contraction came and I pushed again. And again. At some point, the med student started some conversation with KB (practicing his bedside manner, I suppose, or just trying to distract himself from the contorted bleeding and pooing horror show in front of him). I said to them, sort of sternly, HEY! I hate to break up your party but I'm ready to try and push this baby out again. And so I kept pushing, with a room full of people cheering me on (each of them had a catch phrase: push!push!push!, you've got this!, get angry at it! -- that last one was the least effective, and frankly sort of bewildering).

And then. At 2:34 AM, Jackson was born. His head being delivered wasn't the least bit painful, or even that uncomfortable -- I had to be told it had happened. Getting the rest of his wee little body out was a different story. He was apparently turned slightly to the side, so his shoulders were stuck. What felt like eighty pairs of hands applied an insane amount of counter-pressure to my ladybits to try to create more space for him to be delivered and this led to the longest minute of my life. The OB and his crew were barking orders at me and each other, and I had no idea what anybody was saying, but I kept trying to push and yelled at them to STOP applying so much pressure JESUS CHRIST PLEASE, and then as soon as I thought I would pass out or die from the pressure, he was plopped on my chest and heaving and beautiful and I didn't care about anything else anymore. The baby was here. And pink. And crying.

I asked no one in particular whether I was holding a boy or a girl, and the OB said to KB, well, Dad, which is it? KB leaned over me (baby was facing the other way), lifted his leg like a newborn puppy, and announced rather proudly, it's a boy!

And then I was poked and prodded to deliver the placenta, stitched up (grade 2 tear, not that bad, already healing nicely), and given my son to hold. KB and I were completely stunned, in awe, exhausted, and in love with this little creature. He was, and is, perfect.

I can't quite believe he's here. I totally can't believe I delivered a baby. But he is. And I did. And I will never stop being grateful to the universe for this little boy. My little boy. My son.

And that is how Jackson Elliot, named for his Grandpa Jack, came into the world. Which is officially now a better place.