Saturday, September 28, 2013

Baby Vegas' First Month

I can't believe how fast the first month flew by!  Baby Vegas is 6 weeks old now, but I wanted to try and do an update on his first month home - this blog is partially his baby book after all.

Bright lights of home on our first night!
Baby Vegas is such an easygoing little sweetheart.  The first thing anyone comments about him though is - "THAT HAIR!"  It started out so dark that it was close to black, but I think it has lightened up a little bit in the last month.  It is so silky soft, but if we go more than 2 days without a bath it turns very oily and not-so-cute.  Speaking of oily, Baby Vegas also got an unfortunate case of the baby acne at around 8 days old.  But we were happy that it showed up the day after his newborn photo shoot that the same lovely friend who did my maternity photos ended up doing for us!  If you are in the MD area and looking for a photographer, message me and I'll shoot you her details - she was amazingly patient with our little one and took great photos!
Big blue eyes, silky soft hair, great skin - I'm a little jealous.
Unfortunately it looks like Baby Vegas is a little jealous of his big brother's busy calendar full of doctors appointments.  After his first newborn well-check, his pediatrician noticed his feet were a little turned in.  He assured us it was probably positional from being all scrunched up in my uterus, but wanted to recheck us at two weeks.  Then again at one month.  Although his feet looked better, his pediatrician ended up calling me at home the day after his one-month check and wanted me to take him to an orthopedist for a second opinion.  That doctor also agreed it was positional, but we'll be keeping an eye on his feet for the next six months or so.  

And speaking of eyes, he has a clogged tear duct too!  So we've been massaging his little left eye because it is constantly goopy and watery.  His ped gave us a prescription cream for the eye which he said I can use if I think it is getting out of control, but I'm hesitant to use a prescription cream on a one-month old for a problem that usually can clear itself up.  Every couple of days it clears up and I think it is going away, but then it comes back with a vengeance

3 weeks old - already trying to rush into the teen years with that acne.  Poor buddy.
Enough with the medical talk - let's talk normal baby things.  At his one month check up Baby Vegas measured at 23 inches long (95th percentile) and 10 lbs 6.8 oz (75th percentile).  I figured he must have gotten bigger because this kid seriously eats us out of house and home.  Despite assurances that formula fed babies stay fuller longer, he eats 4 oz every 2-3 hours.  If you try and shortchange him he frantically does this little snuffle sound while whipping his head around violently looking for food.  He's like his momma - he loves his drink.  Bwahahaha.

Are you trying to hold out on me?!
Since he is constantly hungry and eating, he is rarely sleeping.  After the first blissful few days where he slept all the time, he decided that being awake was much more exciting.  He catnaps throughout the day for anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour - but no long stretches until around 5 or 6.  Then he sleeps for about 4 to 5 hours and then goes back to being up and about every two or three hours all night long.  We technically co-slept with a bassinet for the whole first month.  But he really sleeps best if he is laying on his tummy on our chest, or snuggled in our arms.  I'm not ashamed to admit that there have been a few early mornings where that is the only way the two of us are getting a few zzz's out of sheer exhaustion!  The only other time he will sleep?  If he is out on the town in his carseat/stroller - just like his brother!
First big family outing was to the Renaissance Festival! They both slept most of the day.

When he is awake though, he is just so wide-eyed and sweet.  He is trying so hard to control his little head, he can hold it up for several seconds at a time and then ends up wobbling around like a bobblehead.  I am loving watching his progress so quickly through this early development... it is so beautiful.  I try not to compare him to Little Man because even if they were both typical kids I know they'd progress at different rates, but it is very hard not to notice how drastically different his newborn stage is going for both of us.  

Another photo from his newborn shoot.  I love this one, even though Little Man ran away and refused to get in the picture.
I thought about getting the onesie stickers that everyone and their mother is using to mark Baby Vegas' monthly progress in photos.  I'd like to say that I didn't get them because we like to forge our own path or be super creative - but really I procrastinated too much to order them off Etsy or something, and then had no idea where they'd be in a "real" store.  So instead I ended up getting some iron-on numbers from Michael's and making the onesie myself, which I actually think turned out so much cuter than the stickers would have!! Not to mention the added bonus of his pictures being special and really standing out from the mainstream baby crowd.  (HUMBLE BRAG ALERT.)   I did steal an idea from a friend of mine who took her monthly baby photos alongside a Cabbage Patch doll to show how small her little guy was, and we are going to use a koala bear that belonged to Hubs' dad as our size comparison. And as a tribute to my family, we are taking the pictures on our glider - because every early baby picture of me is on this old red recliner that I remember loving to snuggle on as a kid.

Next time I will remember to take these in daylight!!  I am a hopeless procrastinator.

Precious right?  I love it. 
So Happy One-Month Baby Vegas - I will remember all of these wonderful moments forever, how you've been healing my heart and helping me to live that dream I always had of being a typical momma with her new baby.  As your pediatrician says a million times per visit - "love youuuuuu baby!"  Time to go snuggle with you some more before we go pick up your big brother from another fun day at school!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Postpartum Body and Mind

I think it is important to pick up my story shortly after I left off - the delivery room minutes after Baby Vegas was whisked away to the warmer to be cleaned and measured.  I don't think I could properly explain how different I feel after this pregnancy and delivery if I didn't describe my journey post-birth day.  Warning: A few medical details.  Nothing gory, but I do discuss boob-milk.  Your call.


I watched them take Baby Vegas over to the warmer after Hubs cut the cord and the nurse encouraged him to whisper to the baby his full name for the first time, which I thought was kind of sweet.  Then came the hard part where I had to watch everyone coo over the baby while I got fixed up.  My doctor was very efficient and spent a good half-hour putting everything back in its place, and she let me know that the "damage" was not nearly as bad as last time so hopefully I would feel much better faster.  I had figured as much because she had taken much more care with me during labor, encouraging me to take it easy and not rush the baby out.

Watching Hubs and the grandmas hover around the baby while I was being worked on was so hard.  I wanted to grab him out of the warmer and snuggle him more... drink in the first moments of being his mommy.  But another part of me was terrified that during these first moments they would discover something wrong with him they'd missed in all the ultrasounds and tests.  My anxiety was through the roof and I just wanted to hear that everything was going to be fine.  My angel of a nurse stayed with me and kept talking me through the tears and encouraging me the entire time.  I could not have gotten through that first hour without her support.  It was a totally different than the support than Hubs was giving - but he wasn't actually capable of showing me that support.  I wanted that medical opinion, that voice of someone who had delivered dozens of healthy babies assuring me that this was no different than any other delivery and baby.  So even though Hubs would try to come over and reassure me, I kept shooing him back over to the baby and asking the nurse more questions.  I would assume that my nurse's support was something like what a doula or midwife would give, and it makes me want to look into that for future labors - I can't count on being that lucky twice!!

Eventually I got our baby back, and my family and friends all left for the night (err... early morning). I guess sometime during my labor the entire post-partum wing had filled up with mommies and babies, and we got shuffled to the overflow wing.  Worst. Room. Ever.  Instead of the lovely couches and rockers they'd showed us on the tour, we were shoved into a tiny closet of a room with an armchair that had seen better days and a few crappy chairs.  My nurses call button did not connect to the L&D nurse's station because I was in the men's surgery wing, and so it took forever and a phone call for me to even see a nurse.  It was a miserable little room, and poor Hubs woke up in the middle of the night and his back was so contorted from sleeping on the armchair bed that he couldn't even walk.  So here I was, less than 12 hours after giving birth and squeezing over on my bed to make room for Hubby to lay down next to me so he could get a little sleep.  Yeah, someone inform him of how many points I should have earned for THAT one!

We kept the baby in the room with us because I was determined to try breastfeeding.  I wasn't getting him to latch and the lactation consultants weren't at the hospital, so it was really frustrating.  Baby Vegas was so frantic when he'd try to attach that it was alarming to watch, and made me feel like he was starving (Yes, I know he wasn't, but it made me stressed out]. [Sidenote: That is still how he is before he eats, it is just part of his personality.]  We got a pump at the hospital and I decided I would exclusively pump like I had with Little Man.  A little more work, but still the same good antibodies in the boob-juice which is all I cared about.

You're allowed 48 hours after delivery in the hospital per insurance reasons, but by the end of the day we realized that we needed to get home to a real bed and also our Little Man.  So we checked out early and we were home when Baby Vegas was a mere 30 hours old.  We scored 3 packs of diapers, 20 bottles of formula, breast pump supplies, and a couple shirts for the little guy.  Then I got a ton of supplies for aftercare, my favorite being the icy pads - such a lifesaver.  Basically anything not nailed down in the room came home too... seriously, we were a little bitter.

When I got home I felt like I had this huge burst of energy, and was able to walk around and clean up and unpack a little.  Hubs' family came over and we all toasted with champagne (glorious!).  Everything was peachy, til I was late with a dose of my ibuprofen and I thought I would die.  The pain and the cold shakes were awful reminders that I had a baby less than 48 hours ago, and needed to slow down!!  Other than that one bad incident though, I was able to pretty much function as normal. I took medicine for the first week or two very regularly, and then tapered it off.

Pumping went well at first.  I was taking fenugreek, which is an herbal supplement that increases your milk supply.  It really helped me produce plenty of milk, but after three weeks of constant pain from rock-hard engorged breasts and clogged milk ducts I just had to stop taking it.  Pumping round the clock and being in so much boob-pain wasn't working for me.  So one night I skipped a dose, and it was like I had shut off a faucet - I went from getting 12+ ounces at a time to getting less than 2 ounces after a half an hour of pumping.  I was so disappointed that I couldn't maintain a supply on my own, but after several days of trying to bring it back up I decided it was time to stop pumping.  Of course, then my one boob decided it was time to leak constantly for a full day.  I put cabbage leaves on it (weird, I know) and it stopped leaking pretty shortly after that.  Between the daily pumping and what I had saved up in the freezer, we made it to 4 weeks before we switched to formula.  Considering that I'd really only (mentally) committed to 6 weeks, I was alright with the outcome.

As of 5.5 weeks postpartum, I feel like I am at around 95% now, but it really only took me til 3.5 weeks or so to get to this point.  Compared to Little Man's birth, I felt like I was Superwoman being able to walk around and function so well so quickly.  I am already down most of the pregnancy weight, I have only 3 pounds to go.  I have three stretch marks on my belly which I am curious to watch fade since they are fairly obvious from the front.  The only really lingering issues that actually bug me are that I wake up every night so sweaty and gross, which I've never done in my life.  I am really hoping that my hormones settle down soon so that stops happening.  And then secondly I still probably couldn't ride a bike or a horse or a shark... because after a long day of walking around or hiking through the woods I still get twinges of pain.  So there ya go - that's what its like over here in my body today.  Check back soon for a one-month update on Baby Vegas - hopefully I'll finish it before his 2 month birthday!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

IEP Conclusion and the First Week Of SCHOOL!

Little Man's teacher gets better photos of him than I do!

Little Man had his final IEP meeting last Friday!  We received a long list of goals that he will hopefully accomplish at least some of this year, and I was really happy with them!  The goals were all very doable and took into account exactly where he is developmentally.  Two big ones that I am hoping will work out are potty training (!!!) and following a direction when asked without "maladaptive behavior" - aka a huge tantrum.  Even if he only manages to accomplish a couple of the goals on his list, he will make amazing progress this year.  I have high hopes!

During the meeting we discussed the plans for Little Man's next sixty days until we will meet again to make sure we like the direction his therapy is taking.  He will have Speech and PT once a week for 30 minutes each, and OT will be every other week for 30 minutes.  I was a little hesitant to agree to only twice a month on OT because I think Little Man needs a lot of help in the "life skills" kind of areas that OT provides.  But they reminded me that his classroom will basically be OT-type activities all day every day, and so I agreed to it for the time being.  He will also be getting swimming classes once a week in a therapy pool!!  I thought that was awesome, since I'd never even heard of that in an elementary school.  Little Man loves the water so it should be fun for him!

His teacher Ms. M was in the IEP meeting and she was really sweet. She looked to be about my age and was very enthusiastic about Little Man and finding ways to reach him.  To cement the good vibes I was getting, on our way out the door we ran into a former therapist of Little Man's who raved about Ms. M and how great she is with the kids.  Ms. M also  uses a huge Smartboard in her class and loves using music with the kids so I think it is going to be a good fit for Little Man.  She promised to look up some pictures of Little Man's favorite characters (Thomas and SuperWhy!) to use on the Smartboard too, which I thought was a nice idea.

After the meeting ended, they let me know that he could start the next Monday, if I didn't mind driving him until they had time to work out the bus situation (he will get a special bus with a para and a seat with a five-point harness).  We eagerly agreed, since Baby Vegas is not sleeping through the night yet and I couldn't wait to have just one at home so I can "sleep when the baby sleeps."

So he started school, and despite a 20 minute tantrum during drop off the first day... he loves it!  His teacher gives us a daily report of his progress, and he is getting a smiley face every day.  She showed us his daily schedule and it is jam-packed with activities and therapies - I'm not shocked at all that when I pick him up at 3:30 he is exhausted!  Supposedly there is very little time to chew on things and rip books, but it's still early... I am curious as to how he'll be once he is more comfortable.  This week he only went three days because he had an orthopedic appointment on Thursday and there was no school Friday, so next week will be his first full week.

I'll leave you with some awesome pictures from our first week of school!

Mommy and Little Man celebrating our first day of school!
Neurotic mommy worried that Little Man will not be able to eat lunch without her...


Did not want to pose for pictures... not one bit!

Exhausted after his first big day of school!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Grand Finale: Baby Vegas' Birth Story

Baby Vegas has arrived!  Right now I'm enjoying a cool glass of water while Vegas is laying across my lap in a milk-induced coma.  He has a poopy diaper, but I am forgoing changing it so I can update you guys.  I am so generous right?  Maybe by the time I'm finished, Hubs will show up and change it for me!

I'm so excited to share Baby Vegas' birth story - he has completely changed the way I feel about laboring and delivery. The weeks leading up to his birth were so filled with anxiety and fear, the nights I had contractions would have me flashing back to Little Man's birth and being terrified of what was going to happen next.  After his birth I finally understand why women don't mind having more than one child... hahaha.

So it all started on August 17th - Baby Vegas' due date!!  Despite all my efforts and insistence that he might come early, nothing really happened til 9 AM on that Saturday.  I woke up feeling kind of "off" and having very mild contractions.  They stayed 10 or so minutes apart all morning and so I just enjoyed some trashy tv and relaxed in bed.  Hubs brought me breakfast in bed and I warned him that I was absolutely going to force out this baby today.  We called my mother-in-law over to watch Little Man at about 1:30 and my contractions were 7 minutes apart by then, so we sat around and chatted for a bit until we decided there was nothing much better to do than go to the hospital, ya know - just in case.  We figured they'd either check me and send me home, or maybe I'd be SUPER DILATED and just pop out a kidlet.  I was hoping for the latter but betting on the former.

Of course, I demanded we stop at WaWa for one last Slurpee just in case.  Oh, and we took the final belly shot photo, right on time!
40 Weeks and my dry-erase marker kicks the bucket.  Obviously time to give birth!!

So we got to the hospital at 3:00 and plodded over to L&D.  When she checked me out, I was only at 1 cm dilated (out of the necessary 10 cm, for the non-baby obsessed folk), but contractions were 5 minutes apart, and so I was told I needed to walk around the hall in the hopes that I would at least dilate to a 3 or 4 and be in active labor.  They gave me an hour and disappeared.  So Hubs and I walked.  And walked.  And walked.  L&D is a small area, so it got old pretty fast.  I debated getting into the whirlpool tub thing but the room was small and creepy.  Plus my contractions were starting to get a little more intense than they had been at home.  There was not another soul in the ward though, so it was a peaceful and quiet afternoon.

After an hour they came in to check me again and I was only dilated to 2 cm.  Dammit.  But my contractions were strong and still 5 minutes apart.  At this point I told the nurse I had no interest in going home and that I wanted to be admitted. (I know, ballsy right?!)  I told her that the contractions hurt enough that if I were at home, this is the point at which I'd be leaving to come back to the hospital to be checked again - so there was no point in leaving and coming back in an hour.  Luckily when she talked to my doctor they decided I could stay, but warned me that it would be a long boring night for me.  Whatever, I was going to have a baby!!!  So at 5 PM I text all the family and friends to alert them that I was IN LABOR getting admitted!  Then I sent Hubs to go get me some tacos before the doctor put me on an all liquid diet.  This would prove to be a terrible idea later, but was delicious at the time. Hubs was also terrified I'd give birth somehow while he was gone (a 20 minute trip in total), which had me cracking up.  Little Man's birth took 29 hours from when I was admitted to actually having him in my arms, so I wasn't really anticipating a rapid birth.

After our quick dinner, the contractions had picked up to the point where I was no longer enjoying them (you know, as a sign of impending baby) or able to shrug them off.  So they offered me stadol through my IV to take the edge off the pain.  I was eager for a little relief, but instead the stadol just made me feel insane.  I was giggling and crying in laughter, but then my thoughts were very fuzzy and disjointed.  I couldn't speak very well and then to top it all off - it didn't really do much for the pain at all.  Mostly what I remember of the stadol experience was how much I hated every minute of being on it.  I kept asking Hubs to remind me never to take it again.  Repeatedly.  And I begged the nurse to flush it out of me somehow.  She seemed skeptical of my intense dislike of the drug and tried to get me to "accept the feelings and not fight them" - but I couldn't ever get past that awful floaty and out-of-control feeling.

So then at around 7:30 PM they offered me an epidural.  Through the stadol haze I was in I tried to explain that I didn't want to get the epidural too early and slow down my labor.  I'm sure my slow speech and desperate attempts to keep eye contact despite the crazy feelings I was having really helped get my point across.  Anyways, the nurse assured me that an epidural would not slow me down, and besides - if I was planning to get one anyways, why not now?  No need to be in pain if I didn't have to be!  I was skeptical of her logic, having educated myself extensively through other people's birth stories and WebMD. But against my better judgement I told her to go ahead and call the anesthesiologist and let them know to come up "whenever".

All of a sudden during my next contraction I felt - and I swear I heard - a pop like a balloon bursting.  My water had broken (7:56 PM) and it took me completely by surprise.  With Little Man my water had slowly leaked for hours, but this time it happened all at once and felt so strange.  With the next contraction it felt like I got hit by a hammer.  They were coming harder and harder and I was gripping the rails of the bed each time trying to breathe through them.    It took another half hour for the anesthesiologist to show up and by then I was thanking my lucky stars that I hadn't waited like I thought I should...

Hubs held me and supported me through another contraction while I got the epidural.  The first attempt only took on my right side, so the anesthesiologist did some adjustments and then I had absolutely no feeling in my right leg and was numb in my left.  A couple bad contractions later and I was in heaven - I couldn't feel any pain at all.  Score!  I sat back and began to relax and then my family started showing up - my mother and sister arrived first, and then my mother-in-law.  They were all going to stay in the room during delivery, and then my best friend K and her boyfriend were going to be there in the waiting room (there was a limit on how many could be in the delivery room).  At some point, I started to feel very nauseous, and got some anti-nausea medication through my IV when my nurse noticed I looked a little green around the gills.  She scolded me a little for not talking to her about how I was feeling, because I'd been silently suffering through the nausea for over an hour.  That's when I finally started falling in love with my nurse - I seriously could not have made it through labor without her support.

Around 10:30 the nurse came in to check me since I'd had the epidural for two hours.  I was so busy chatting and enjoying time with the family I had dilated to 10 cm without even realizing it!  The nurse then suggested I was ready to push - but I didn't feel any pressure like I had with Little Man and didn't feel "ready".  So she just shrugged and told me she'd come back when I felt like pushing.  I remember sitting there feeling kind of shell-shocked - I just couldn't believe that any minute now I could be a mother of two and yet was still feeling pretty great!

At 11 PM I decided it was time to try pushing, even though I felt no pain and very minimal pressure.  I called the nurse into the room and we did two practice pushes along with my doctor (who I want to note, was the ONLY doctor in my 4 doctor practice that I hadn't met and was so nervous about going through labor with.) After the two painless pushes, both of them told me the baby was still very far up in the birth canal and it would be a long hard road of pushing if I kept at it.  Instead, they suggested I just wait around and see if he floated downstream a little before pushing.  I was all for putting off what I suspected would be a lot of pain, so they left and told me they'd come back in an hour or so.

At 11:30 I knew it was my last chance to try and convince Baby Vegas to be born on his due date.  Doctor G and the nurse came back in and we did two more pushes together before they informed me it was still a long road down the birth canal for Baby Vegas.  Sigh.  Off they went!

Then I just chatted for awhile with the family, dozed off a little here and there, and waited for Baby Vegas to get his bags together and start heading out.  His due date passed us by, and at one am the next morning I was finally feeling enough pressure that it seemed time to push!!

So the doctor and nurse came back in, and we started pushing.  My pushes were only effective about half the time, but they never made me feel like I was "failing" or being difficult - which was another huge difference from my previous labor experience.  The whole time the doctor just encouraged me through contractions but never tried to rush me through the process. My amazing nurse kept assuring me I was doing great and offering me anything I needed.  Hubs stayed at my left leg the entire time holding me and telling me he loved me (even when the nurse offered him a chair and I assured her he definitely did not need a break if I was not getting one!)  My right leg was alternately held by a nurse-in-training, my mom, and my little sister.

Eventually my nausea came back and I puked up those formerly delicious tacos. Ick.  But then I felt 100% better and was able to focus a little more on my pushes.  Unfortunately after an hour and a half of pushing I still hadn't made much progress.  I started getting worried then that my doctor would try to push me towards a c-section, which terrified me.  After every push I insisted there would be no need for a c-section, and bless that doctor's heart she just smiled and said that as long as the baby and I were doing well that there was no rush. And THAT is when I fell in love with my doctor.

Eventually my little guy started having tiny dips in his heart rate, and the nurse let me know that the cord might be wrapped around his neck.  That was the only moment where Hubs and I looked at each other with a little fear, but then she reassured me that everything would be alright and that the doctor would make sure he was okay.  At that point I joked to the doctor and nurses that every time they gave me an update on the baby they needed to end the sentence with "but everything is fine".  So they started doing that and it really helped out with a lot of my anxiety.

Finally at 3:15 AM the nurse suggested that we do a "tug-of-war" technique to help make my pushes more focused and effective.  She held one end of a bedsheet while I held a knot on the other end, then during my contractions I would tug on the knot as I pushed.  All of a sudden my pushes were moving him out - everyone started rushing around getting ready to welcome my little one into the world!   At 3:49 AM Baby Vegas finally arrived as my Hubs and my sister were both by my side.  The doctor immediately put him on my chest because we had decided to do delayed cord clamping (which means we waited until the umbilical cord stopped pulsing before cutting it) which was great because after that it was awhile before I got to hold him again.  Hubs bravely cut the cord, and then they took our little guy off to get cleaned up while I got repaired down below.  (All I will say about that is, that I fared much better than I did with my first birth.)

Baby Vegas was 8 lbs, 2 oz, and a shocking 22 inches long!  They had told us at his ultrasound that he was going to have hair - but holy moly, did he come out with hair!!!  We had our doctors and nurses check and double check everything about him, and he was 100% healthy and typical.  That amazing nurse stayed next to me for awhile while I urged the Hubs and family to stay with the baby, and she just kept assuring me of how wonderful and perfect he was in my ear, and it took everything I had not to dissolve into great big sobs.  I couldn't believe I had made this perfect little boy, that everything was going to be okay, that there was no great big hammer about to drop out from the sky and crush us.

Welcome to the world Baby Vegas - we've been waiting for you!
Check out that hair!!

And that folks, is how babies are born.  Or at least, this one baby, who has already become one of the most precious gifts I've ever received.  Which is why it has taken me three weeks to finish writing this post, because he has thrown us all into a whirlwind of falling in love with him, and being parents to two amazing little boys.  

My next few posts will be Baby Vegas-focused because I want to write about my post-partum recovery and how his first few days home have been... but then its all about Little Man again because we got the final date for his big IEP meeting!!!   Now that I've finished writing this monster of a post, hopefully I can crank these next updates out a little sooner!