Baby J

…and then life happened.

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Sick baby ūüė¶

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Remember a couple weeks ago when I blogged about a new schedule, and how I was going to start it this week? And how I said I wanted to start a regular blog feature? I was all set, even had an editorial calendar planned out. I got a couple of blog posts ahead, then went on vacation. I figured this past Monday, I’d schedule a quick Tuesday post and finish a half-complete Thursday post.

And then life happened.

We were in Lapland last week (blog posts and photos coming soon!), and arrived home Monday morning about 9:30. Baby J had had a slight cough during most of our trip, and Friday afternoon it developed into a deep, phlegmy cough. By Sunday he was moaning with every breath. He had been sick like this back in December, so I wasn’t too worried – he seemed fine otherwise, even pausing the moaning and coughing fits to flirt with strangers sitting nearby.

However, by Monday afternoon he had stopped nursing. He wouldn’t take milk or water or solids – nothing was getting past his lips. Then he became rather listless. I called the doctor and was able to get an appointment for 3:30 that afternoon.

The doctor listened to his chest and immediately recommended we take Baby J to the hospital. In Pori, an hour away, because our local hospital doesn’t have pediatric facilities. In fact, he said, I’m going to call an ambulance to take him, just in case. Cue parental panic attack.

We spent Monday and Tuesday night in the hospital, where Baby J was hooked up to a heart rate/blood oxygen monitor and oxygen. We were able to go home Wednesday, with a promise to administer a breathing treatment every 2-3 hours and bring him back in if he took a turn for the worse.

One of the issues with being ill in a country where you don’t speak the language is that you don’t always fully understand what’s going on. You’re never really sure if things are lost in translation, if the words you say are understood, or if you understood what they are saying correctly.¬† I had the same issue while in the hospital after having Baby J. One nurse kept using “she” instead of “he,” which is a simple mistake and not a big deal, but what if she was saying “do this” instead of “don’t do this”? You really can’t be sure sometimes, and it requires you to place absolute trust in the hospital staff. You get minimal information, because they can’t do in depth explanations about what’s going on. He needs this medicine, but they can’t tell you why or what it’s for. Please understand that this isn’t a gripe about the Finnish medical system, its just a fact of life, living (or even traveling) anywhere where you don’t speak the language and requiring medical care. It can be scary and confusing. We’re so used to being able to know everything about a diagnosis, googling for any additional information we feel we need, knowing what questions to ask the doctor. It’s difficult being so helpless, especially when it’s your baby that’s sick.

We know Baby J didn’t have the flu or a viral infection. Other than being told his bronchial tubes were¬† inflamed, I have no idea what the official diagnosis is. Hopefully the breathing treatments we’re giving him will make him all better.

And in the meantime, Baby J is getting lots of cuddles.

 

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Categories: Baby J, Parenthood | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

On hoarding, slang, and cookies, plus an insight into my mind

I admit to having hoarding tendencies. Not 30 dining room chairs and newspapers to the ceiling hoarding, but yes, I have a hard time getting rid of things sometimes, and I will not eat the last ice cream sandwich because then there will be none left. Combine the hoarding with a bit of a competitive streak (not competitive with anyone in particular, just “grrr, must have more”), and what happens? I have frozen 6 liters (just over 200 ounces) of breast milk, just in the month of October. It’s not something I planned, it just kind of…happened. (Isn’t that what all hoarders say?) So why have I done this? A few reasons. Because of my previously mentioned tendency of Must Have More. Because I can – whatever other issues I may have had with childbirth and motherhood, my boobs are milk producers. And because I actually give away¬†the bulk of my milk, and I love that I’m able to help another little guy get some additional breast milk. It’s a small thing for me to do, but the benefits are great. So I’ll continue to freeze as much as I can while I can.

I speak with and email a lot of people whose native language isn’t English. I’m usually pretty careful about how I say things – I try to speak slower (though am rarely successful), I try not to use contractions, slang, etc. The other day I was speaking with a French lady, and I said, “I haven’t seen so and so in a coons age.” …yeah…

I’ve been on a cookie streak lately. I made snickerdoodles a few weeks ago, and this week made Nutella cookies and brown sugar cookies, both pinterest pins that have been on my board for a long while. The verdict? Eh. Although several others raved about the Nutella cookies and that they should be outlawed, I only found them to be okay. I’d still rather just stick a spoon in the jar and eat it that way (which is why I don’t keep Nutella in the house). And the brown sugar cookies were fairly blah without the frosting, but the frosting made them exponentially better. Butter and powdered sugar have a tendency to do that…. Have you tried any cookie recipes lately that were spectacular?

Insight to how my mind works: We dressed Baby J up as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man for Halloween. It got me thinking about next year’s costume. I thought it would be fun, while we can, before he gets into spiderman and Shrek and the store-bought costumes, to dress him with 80s pop culture in mind – so we did Ghostbusters this year, maybe he could be Judd Nelson at the end of Breakfast Club next year. Or, wait! He’ll be old enough to “entertain on command,” how about we give him a mini boom box and tell him to hold it over his head (a la Say Anything). Then I got to thinking about how we wouldn’t get to trick or treat in Finland, but what if we were in the US and someone gave out pencils instead of candy. (Did anyone else ever get pencils or erasers in their bucket?) And then he could say, “I gave her my heart, she gave me a pencil.” And voila, I’ve thrown myself into a fit of giggles. Yeah…that’s what Stephen has to deal with. Feel sorry for him yet? ¬†ūüėÄ

It’s unfortunate I’m against posting photos of Baby J on this blog, because trust me, he was SO DARN CUTE as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. ¬†But here’s a picture of the costume – I used the Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit, then made the bib and the hat, and stuffed the hat with some saran wrap:

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man  Costume

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Costume

Categories: Baby J, Food, Random | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

On spam, sleep issues, and making fun of people online

After 6 spam comments in 4 days, I’ve changed my comment settings to not show up unless I approve. ¬†This is just the spam that’s getting through – I shudder to think of the spam that wordpress is catching…

For your enjoyment:  Newborn Bad Lipreading:

And for your further enjoyment: there are few things in the world happier than this pup:

Aaaannnddd….on to the Baby Stuff.

We’ve been struggling with establishing a schedule/routine for Baby J. ¬†I’m amazed at people who can say, “Baby takes a nap at 11 every day” at four months. ¬†I have a friend who does this. ¬†The best I can tell you is that when Baby J wakes up at 10:30 from a nap, he’ll be back down for another nap around noon. ¬†Each day is different, because his wake times/nap times are different every day. ¬†I sometimes feel like I’m doing something wrong, but then I figure there are moms who are worse off. ¬†At least Baby J can put himself to sleep (most of the time) without me rocking him or nursing him. ¬†I realize part of the problem is just that his brain is maturing. ¬†He was on a set schedule for a couple of weeks, then a Wonder Week/Growth Spurt hit (combined with a couple of vaccinations) and it got shot to hell. ¬†Now we’ve got the four month sleep regression looming (or here? ¬†He’s gone from sleeping 7-8 hours through the night to waking every 2-3), so I’m not even trying to figure out his schedule for a few more weeks. ¬†(And please understand that when I say “schedule” I mean more of a routine, and fully baby led, lest anyone start yelling at me for putting too much structure on my child. ¬†Then there are those who will tell me I *should* put that much structure on him…can’t win in the parenting game.)

I’ve also been struggling with the late afternoon nap/bedtime issue. ¬†I would like to put him to bed around 8-8:30, but if I follow the whole “no naps after 6pm” guidelines he may end up having been awake for four hours. ¬†Then I have people tell me his bedtime should be 6-6:30. ¬†Which would be awesome, except then when the hell would he see his father, on the weekends? ¬†Seriously, how do working moms get to spend any time with their babies, if they’re putting them to bed that early? ¬†Figure get off work at 5, pick up from daycare, get home, and you’re looking at half an hour of bonding time. ¬†That’s not enough, not in my book at least. ¬†Once again, I’m so glad I don’t have to work (although that doesn’t help out Daddy with bonding time…). ¬†Besides, babies don’t have any concept of time, so what does it matter if they sleep from 7p-7a or 10p-10a? ¬†I’m struggling to understand that.

Ugh, I spend way too much time looking up baby sleep advice. ¬†And right now, it changes so fast. ¬†Like I said, I’m waiting a couple of weeks to get past the four month mark, then starting fresh. ¬†I’ve got the Magic Merlin sleepsuit coming from the US (thanks to a friend with an empty suitcase, bringing everyone here whatever they can’t get here) to try to break Baby J of the swaddling (currently not technically¬†swaddled, but his arms are pinned inside a sleep sack). ¬†I’d like to eventually wean him off the pacifier, but his habit isn’t too bad at this point. ¬†It calms him when he first lays down, but he often spits it out within a couple of minutes and doesn’t need it to fall asleep. ¬†And he doesn’t use one very often when he’s awake, so maybe I should just let it go. ¬†*shrug*

On to other topics…

I’ve done my share of laughing at people – not in a super mean way, but in a *side-eye* “Look what *that* guy is wearing” way. ¬†I had a big change of heart last year, though, after reading about a Reddit user posting a photo of a Sikh woman with facial hair, and her¬†response. ¬†The guy who posted the photo ended up posting an apology, and these are the words he used: ¬†“Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you’re making fun of.” ¬†He says the photo was “an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post.” ¬†Suddenly, everyone I had ever made fun of, even in my head, popped into my mind. ¬†How incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant of me. ¬†Now, don’t get me wrong – I still think certain things when I see people, and I sometimes voice those things to those close to me, but I really try hard not to. ¬†I try to think of what reason they have to wear what they’re wearing, look how they look, or do what they do. ¬†Because here’s the thing — there very likely is a reason. ¬†For example: ¬†“I am the woman you laughed at on the internet.”¬† Same basic thing happened to this woman – someone took a photo of her and made fun of her, shaming her to the world, without knowing the why. ¬†Why do we do this? ¬†Does it make us feel better? ¬†Have you ever done or worn something and thought, “I hope people know I’m just doing this for *x* reason.” ¬†What if someone had taken a photo of you like that and posted it online with the express purpose of making fun of you? ¬†Remember, everyone on the internet is an actual person, with feelings and emotions and reasons for what they do. ¬†When this happens with teenagers, it’s called cyber-bullying, so why isn’t it the same thing when it happens with adults? ¬†I challenge you, the next time you see a photo of someone that was taken with the intent to make fun of them, think about what might have happened the moment before that photo was taken, think about the why.

Whew. ¬†Off soapbox. ¬†Now, I’ll leave you with this –

I love her thoughts on the messaging in the US about what a mother should do and the remessaging that needs to happen. ¬†I needed the reminder that only I can make myself happy, and I need to work on that more these days. ¬†I just hope it will get easier as Baby J gets older, because what would have made me happy today was to finish my cup of tea without microwaving it four times to rewarm it. ¬†*sigh* ¬†I don’t think it applies to babies who can’t take care of themselves. ¬†How long until Baby J is able to occupy himself?

Categories: Baby J, Random | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Wanna see my nipple?

I have a photo of each of my nipples at their worst.

I’m not going to post them online, of course. ¬†But if you go to this link – that’s pretty much what my bad nipple looked like.

Yeah, really.

Luckily, my “good” nipple wasn’t quite that bad. ¬†And yes, I continued to breastfeed. ¬†Did it hurt? ¬†Not nearly as much as you might expect. ¬†As I told my husband, it didn’t hurt any more when I was breastfeeding than when I wasn’t. ¬†Not really sure that’s a good thing…

I had several people look at it, and tried to search everything I could online.  The possibility of it being thrush kept coming up, but neither I nor Baby J exhibited any symptoms.  Other than, you know, the torn up nipple.

I think I know how my nipple got so bad, and it’s something I haven’t found anywhere online. ¬†So I thought I’d share it here. ¬†Maybe it will help someone.

At one point, I had this white dot on my nipple (the bad one), and I thought it might be a milk bleb.  I read that you could try scrubbing it lightly with a washcloth to loosen it up.  I think in the scrubbing, I ended up taking off the scabbing that had formed over my nipple, leaving fresh new raw skin exposed.  And it never scabbed over again.  And never fully healed because of it.

Baby J’s nurse suggested Bepanthon cream¬†– it¬†contains Vitamin B to aid healing, and is normally used for diaper rash. ¬†It didn’t help.

I tried to find the ingredients for DIY APNO, but couldn’t get Polysporin here. ¬†I asked my mother-in-law to bring some when she came, and I feel like I did see a bit of improvement in my “good” nipple after four days of use.

I made an appointment to get tested for thrush, but I had to wait three weeks to see the doctor. ¬†When I finally went in (on day 4 of using a Polysporin/Hydrocortizone cream), she said it wasn’t thrush, and prescribed an uber-cortizone cream and some sort of liquid for liquid bandages. ¬†She said if it wasn’t better in a week to come back in.

This past Monday morning I was begging for an appointment. ¬†A week of the prescribed cream (and using the DIY cream) and the “good” nipple was fully healed (which was wonderful!), but I didn’t see much difference in the “bad” nipple. ¬†I saw another doctor, who agreed it wasn’t thrush and prescribed a super-cortizone cream for me to use for a week – stronger than hydrocortizone, weaker than the first prescription I was given. ¬†“It should spontaneously heal,” he said. ¬†You know, because it’s had about five weeks to do so at this point…. (bitter? ¬†me? ¬†noooooo…..)

I don’t know. ¬†I’ve been using this new cream for four days now, and sometimes I think the nipple looks better, and other times I think it looks the same. ¬†Like I said, it normally doesn’t hurt (too much) to breastfeed, but there are times when it’s all I can do to psych myself up to latching Baby J on. ¬†I think about quitting every couple of days.

I posted previously about my breastfeeding issues. ¬†That was July 25th, and nursing has become easier, as I thought it would. ¬†Mostly, it’s better because Baby J has more control and coordination, so he’s not just dive-bombing my chest and hoping to get lucky. ¬†He knows what he’s looking for now, and is pretty good at finding it. ¬†I’ve started using the My Brest Friend pillow again, occasionally, rotating it with the Doomoo, random pillows, and no support at all. ¬†I found that the advice I read online, to put the MBF pillow just below your boobs, was NOT working for me, so I put it around my waist, at my belly button, as I think it was intended, and it works better. ¬†Now that the one nipple is healed, I’m able to do laid-back nursing and side-lying nursing, which is great, but I don’t want to subject my bad nipple to that.

In that first link I posted, the one with the picture of the nipple – the author asks if breastfeeding helps with bonding if your nipple is this torn up. ¬†Honestly…I don’t feel like breastfeeding has helped me bond with Baby J any more than I would have. ¬†It’s certainly caused a fair share of anxiety and both mental and physical anguish, starting in the hospital and up until today. ¬†I realize it would be easy enough to still give Baby J breast milk, without actually risking the loss of my nipples. ¬†But I like the ability to feed him anywhere and any time he becomes hungry. ¬†Especially since where we live, certain stores aren’t just up the road a few minutes like in the US, but an hour or more away. ¬†You can’t really plan around feeds (or pumping schedules) in that case.

One day, I hope to not have a bad nipple…

(can’t wait to see the hits that title brings…)

Categories: Baby J | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Can I finish a post?

Baby J has been napping for shit lately (20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours or so), so I’ve had less time than normal. ¬†He’s been sleeping great at night, though (generally 7 hours, though we’ve gotten an 8 and a 9 hour stretch out of him), so I guess I shouldn’t complain about the naps? ¬†Except, he’s cranky as hell during the day because he’s tired. ¬†So, yeah, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. ¬†Mix one part 12-week Wonder Week, one part round of vaccinations, and one part 3 month growth spurt, all within 3-4 days of each other, and what do you get? ¬†One tired and cranky Mom. ¬†Oh, and a tired and cranky kid, too.

He had been breaking free of his swaddle, so I had been attempting to not swaddle him. ¬†We’ve switched him to a sleep sack with one arm out (sometimes two, if he can wrangle it free). ¬†Today, I gave up the battle and swaddled his cranky a$$. ¬†And you know what? ¬†He’s been napping for over an hour. ¬†Score one for Mom.

Except, I know he’s going to wake up any minute now, and I’ve known that for the last 45 minutes, so I’ve been in this limbo, not wanting to start anything I can’t put aside at a second’s notice. ¬†I scarfed down a lunch, even though I wasn’t very hungry, because I didn’t know if I’d get another chance.

So much to do. ¬†But instead, I’m just waiting for the *grumblegrumble* “Waaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!” that will come. ¬†Any minute now…

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Best Photo Ever

We have this photo from our wedding:

Wedding

That’s not the “Best Photo Ever,” although I love it – it’s one of my favorite photos from our wedding. ¬†I was pooped, and sat down on the couch, and Stephen came over and kissed me, and cameras started flashing.

I wanted to recreate a photo from our wedding with Baby J, and this one immediately popped into my mind. ¬†It was completely doable, and didn’t seem odd. ¬†Like, say, holding him while feeding each other cake. ¬†So when we finally got around to taking some family photos – or, more to the point, when we finally had someone around to actually take some family photos (thanks, Sis!) – we took several with me on the couch holding Baby J, and Stephen bent over, kissing me.

And then magic happened.

07202014 Family Picture 4

Just look at the look on Baby J’s face! ¬†Could it have been any more perfect?!

Categories: Baby J | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Breastfeeding sucks

TMI warning – talk of boobs and nipples and other things, I’m sure. ¬†Might be some graphic language. ¬†Read at your own risk.

Baby J and I had some breastfeeding¬†issues early on. ¬†I had some minor complications after birth (I’ll post on that soon), so¬†although we got some immediate skin to skin contact and he did breastfeed right after birth, we were separated for several hours afterwards. ¬†I can’t help but wonder if that hindered our progress, or if we would have had issues, regardless. ¬†I know some women/babies simply don’t take to it, so maybe that was the case here.

While in the hospital, we had a really rough time latching. ¬†Baby J would come on and off the breast multiple times – it seemed we just couldn’t get him to stay on. ¬†The nurses would come in and help, and we would get a great latch, but then a couple of minutes after they left, Baby J would come off and we’d be back to square one. ¬†It was so frustrating, especially at night when Stephen wasn’t around to help. To make matters worse, Baby J had to be put on blue lights for jaundice, so we had to start bottle feeding him, because I couldn’t feed him in the allotted time he was allowed to be off the lights. ¬†Luckily I was able to pump, and I was told by multiple nurses that I had “beautiful milk.” ¬†So at least I had that going for me…

After we left the hospital, we continued to have some issues, but it got better. ¬†Or so I thought. ¬†Yes, Baby J was latching on, but he wasn’t latching well, and my nipples were paying the price. ¬†It got to the point where I was crying before each feeding session, just from anticipation of the pain. ¬†He would latch on, and I would feel nauseous, my toes would curl in pain (I would actually need to brace my feet against the coffee table), and I would lose my breath, sometimes for a full minute. ¬†It was excruciating.

Then I watched a video that changed everything. ¬†Bam, just like that, Baby J was latching, and I felt no pain. ¬†It was wonderful. ¬†Except, I had a hard time doing it myself. ¬†The technique involves holding the baby’s head right at the ears and pushing the baby’s back with the heel of your hand, causing the head to tilt back. ¬†But I couldn’t hold the head and push the back at the same time with one hand, my hand just wasn’t long enough. ¬†So Stephen would position Baby J while I did the nipple sandwich, and it worked great – except that Stephen is gone 10 hours a day, five days a week. ¬†So then I started using both hands on Baby J and just aiming my nipple in the right place, and that seemed to work out okay, for a while. ¬†But then Baby J’s neck got strong enough to fight the head tilt.

In addition to the nipple pain, I had a lot of back pain, mainly in the space between my shoulder blades, and I know it’s from my breastfeeding position. ¬†I have a doomoo pillow, which is kind of like a boppy but longer. ¬†So long that it’s really cumbersome sometimes, and it, like the boppy, gaps at times. ¬†I finally broke down and ordered the My Brest Friend (worst product name ever) from Amazon.uk, then waited a month for delivery (thanks so much, customs). ¬†I was so excited when I finally received it, and my back was instantly happier. ¬†But my nipples didn’t like it. ¬†I’m not sure why. ¬†I haven’t heard of anyone else having a problem, but when I started using the pillow, my nipples took a definite turn for the worse. ¬†My bad nipple stopped healing, and my “good” nipple got bad. ¬†And to be honest, I find the MBF pillow to be difficult to maneuver – it’s hard to burp Baby J, and hard to switch sides (mostly the covering and uncovering of the boob part). ¬†I keep trying the pillow, but I’m back to using the doomoo most of the time.

So we’re back to, if not excruciating nipple pain, at least unpleasant nipple pain. ¬†Yesterday¬†morning I was on the verge of giving up, throwing in the towel and going the expressed breast milk route. ¬†My nipples hurt, my boobs hurt, and although we’re better at latching, we still don’t do it¬†well very often. I’ve tried Lanolin, I walk around the house topless most of the day, I’ve rubbed expressed milk on my nipples. ¬†I’ve seen the LLL leader in my “area” (an hour away), and she said the latch looks good and Baby J isn’t tongue tied. ¬†“Just keep working on it,” she said. ¬†To my knowledge (based on online reading) I don’t have a blocked milk duct or mastitis or thrush. ¬†I just have tender, raw, flat nipples and Baby J has no coordination.

But I continue to persevere. ¬†Some days are better than others. ¬†Baby J is 7 weeks now, and I’ve read that the 6-8 week mark is the turnaround, the time when things start getting better. ¬†So I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. ¬†And in the meantime, I’ll survive. ¬†I’m lucky in that I have plenty of milk and am able to feed my baby. ¬†Despite anything else, Baby J is thriving – up 3.5 pounds since birth to 11 pounds at his six week checkup. ¬†He got a clean bill of health, has perfect skin, and is growing well. ¬†When the nurse measured him at 57cm, she did a double take and remeasured, because she didn’t think it was right that he had¬†grown that much.

I don’t plan to stop breastfeeding at this time. ¬†I just wish it was easier.

(While writing this, I stumbled across this post and thought it was great.  I can certainly relate to the inability to move my hand/arm fast enough to shove Baby onto the boob while his mouth is open wide enough!  And I did find some new advice that I plan on trying.)

Categories: Baby J | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Baby J’s Birth Story

I think it goes without saying, but here’s your official¬†TMI alert.

I can’t complain too much about my labor. I think it was fairly easy and quick, all things considered.

A week before my due date, I woke up about 1:20am for one of my usual pee breaks. When I went to the bathroom, I notice my pantyliner was soaked through. Odd, I thought. Could it be amniotic fluid? ¬†I smelled it (I know, that sounds gross, but according to what I read online, amniotic fluid smells sweet), but it didn’t have a particular odor, so I figured maybe I had peed a little, or maybe had some heavy discharge. ¬†I checked the bed when I went back, and it was dry, so didn’t think too much about it. ¬†About ten¬†minutes later, though, I got up again with what felt like “poopy cramps.” ¬†A trip to the bathroom yielded nothing, so I went back to bed, only to get up again a few minutes later with the same feeling. ¬†I ended up sitting up on the couch, suffering through these mild cramps for a while, searching online for what labor pains felt like. ¬†Everything I read said, “you’ll know it when you feel it.” ¬†Well, I wasn’t sure these were labor pains, so they must not be, right? ¬†Sure, my belly was tight, but I felt like it was tight most of the time over the previous couple of months, so nothing felt unusual…

I started timing my “cramps” anyway, as they seemed fairly regular, and I figured there was no harm in timing them, just in case they were contractions. ¬†They were about 4.5 minutes apart and lasting about two minutes each, over a 60 minute period. ¬†I kept thinking of the 5-1-1 rule, thinking, if this is labor, it’s time to GO! ¬†But the pains were still not very strong – just crampy feeling. ¬†I still wasn’t convinced I was in labor.

Around 3:30am, I emailed some friends to get their advice (“Is this labor?”), then went to the bathroom again.When I wiped the toilet paper came away red. ¬†“Hmm, bloody show,” I thought, and made a mental check mark. I knew that didn’t necessarily mean labor was imminent, but it was a sign. I went to the bathroom again around 5am, and definitely lost my mucous plug. ¬†Check. ¬†Feeling kind of gross at this point, I decided to go ahead and take a shower. ¬†I figure the shower might¬†help with the cramps, if that’s what they were, and if it was labor, at least I’d be clean.

While in the shower, the “cramps” definitely started getting worse, so when I got out I woke Stephen. ¬†“I think it’s time.” ¬†I finished packing my hospital bag (all the last minute items) while he showered. I tried to keep timing my “contractions” using an app, but I kept losing track, so when Stephen got out of the shower I handed him the phone and just started telling him when to start and stop the timer. ¬†Brain wasn’t functioning on all cylinders at that point.

We left the apartment about 6:45am, me in the back seat with my gut in agony by this time, one foot up on the center console, as there was no leg room in the back. ¬†My cramps, now contractions, were coming every two and a half minutes and lasting just over a minute each. ¬†The normally 45 minute drive took half an hour, with Stephen speeding moderately, as I didn’t feel “bat out of hell” speed was quite necessary. ¬†Luckily there was little traffic at that time of day, so he was able to pass slower drivers (and avoid the speeding cameras by dodging into the oncoming lane).

We arrived at the hospital at 7:15, and they hooked me up to monitors to check my progress. ¬†I remember telling Stephen how I was going to be pissed if this was a false alarm, but I was admitted at 7:45, so I was, indeed, in labor. ¬†I had measured 2cm dilated a month before, so I figured I’d be a bit further along, but no, I was still at 2cm. ¬†I started to worry that I’d have a long labor, and the “cramps” were definitely contractions at that point, although I still felt very much like I just needed to poop. ¬†In my birth plan, I had decided against an epidural, but around 10am, at 4cm, I was very quickly started to rethink my decision. ¬†I couldn’t seem to get comfortable. ¬†I jumped at the chance to use the birthing tub, since I haven’t had the luxury of a bathtub in months, but after ten or fifteen minutes I wanted out. ¬†The tub was huge, so I could never get traction in it. ¬†I kept wanted to brace my legs against the tub when a contraction came, but the tub was too big for that. ¬†I tried the rocking chair, and the birthing ball, but I found that any sort of sitting or squatting position was very uncomfortable, like everything was being compressed. ¬†The best “relief” I found was simply standing and bending over the bed when a contraction came. ¬†I had access to laughing gas, but I couldn’t really get a good breath once the contraction started, and I didn’t feel that it did much good. ¬†That is, until I had a monitor hooked up and could see the contraction coming. ¬†Once I could see the contraction start, I’d huff on the gas, so that by the time I felt the contraction the gas actually did take the edge off a bit. ¬†Not a lot, mind you, but a bit.

So I had some bad labor pains from about 8-11am. ¬†Bad being really really bad menstrual cramps. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I was begging for it to stop, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I expected. ¬†By¬†11am, I had dilated to 8cm, so things had progressed fairly quickly, from 2cm to 4cm to 8cm. ¬†The doctor came in and gave me a paracervical block, which was actually pretty painful – but again, more in a cramping way than sharp pain. ¬†Once it was done, however, I felt so mellow. ¬†Stephen was watching the monitor and was like, “How does that feel?” and I was like, “How does what feel?” ¬†It was awesome. ¬†I was told the block would only last about two hours, so at that point my eye was on the clock. ¬†The last thing I wanted was for it to wear off right before I really needed it!

I hit 10cm around noon, and the midwife told me I could go ahead and start pushing if I felt like it…then she left the room to help with another birth! ¬†I was like, I ain’t pushing if she’s not here. ¬†What if the baby came and there was no one around? ¬†So I “pushed” but not really. ¬†Then she was back, and it was time. ¬†The baby wasn’t quite in the right position, so she had me lay on my left side to help with that, then it was time to push. ¬†I spent about 30-45 minutes in active pushing, and I can remember wishing I had a diagram of where he was minute to minute. ¬†“He’s almost there” is meaningless – show me a picture of where he is so I can visualize. ¬†Give me numbers. ¬†His head is through the pelvis, it’s now x far down the birth canal – I desperately wanted something tangible other than, “Almost.”

Pushing was rough, but not particularly painful.  It was uncomfortable, and took a lot of effort, but I was groaning and grunting more from that effort and the pressure I could feel than from any pain.

But then.

Just the day before, I had read about a woman who tore. ¬†Up. ¬†Not down. ¬†It was something I had never heard of, and it freaked me out. ¬†So when I started feeling pain radiating upward, I was terrified of it happening to me, too. ¬†It made me scared to push. ¬†I wanted to take it all back, hit rewind, not let anything more happen. ¬†But you can’t do that. ¬†So I just hoped for the best and resigned myself to the worst. ¬†Luckily, I didn’t tear that way. ¬†I did tear a bit, but only needed three stitches, so I figure it wasn’t that bad.

Random thought #1: the shoulders actually were more uncomfortable coming out than the head, which surprised me.

Random thought #2: ¬†those people who say you don’t know/care that you poop while pushing? ¬†They’re lying.

Baby J was born at 12:58 pm, 3.425kilos (7 pounds 9oz) and 50cm (19.5 inches). ¬†I was in labor just under¬†twelve hours, and he barely squeaked through the paracervical block timetable. ¬†All in all, labor wasn’t too bad, considering what I was expecting.

In fact, the after birth was far worse. (More on that soon…)

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a month on

I think it goes without saying that it’s been a difficult month. I spent five days in the hospital, followed by five days of home health visits three times a day (more on all that later), while trying to also deal with a newborn. Then we spent a week packing, then a week moving, then a week unpacking. I was hoping this week would be the start of some normalcy. Maybe it is, if “normal” includes 1 free hour in a 24 hour period to do housework/chores/something other than deal with a hungry or screaming baby.

I knew my life would change, but I had some hope of having more time than I do. Time, at least, to write in a journal or blog or just have a bit of Me Time. Instead, I haven’t even had enough time to take all the photos I wanted to take, and believe me, I’m hearing about that from the grandparents.

We’ve had some rough times with feeding and sleeping, as all new parents and babies have, I’m sure. ¬†Some latch issues early on, and some serious nipple pain on my part, and of course the hours of inconsolable crying in the evening (not all of it by Baby J) have taken their toll, but I have some hope that things will be turning around soon. ¬†Heck, the fact that I can even finish this blog post (after working on it for a week in short bursts) tells me something has improved, even if it’s only for a day. ¬†With luck, it’ll last.

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