Monday, November 28, 2011

Neptune's Toxic Bottom

Jason told me that I need to curb the cursing with the baby around, hence the title of this post. However, she cannot read yet, so fuck that! I love my Neptune, but he is kind of a gross dog. He is the most gaseous creature I've ever encountered. He is constantly belching and farting and sometimes his burps sound like a bullfrog who just did a record-breaking keg stand. I have learned to deal with his gas. What is harder to live with is his ass juice. His anal glands. And the fact that his breath constantly stinks of ass because he's a dog and dogs lick their buttholes. This is not to be confused with Levi's breath which smells like the inside of a dumpster. Yes, I need to brush their teeth, don't I? Anyway, I do not accept face kisses from Neptune, which is kind of sad, because he loves nothing more than giving kisses and he is just about the sweetest dog on the planet. Jason took him to the vet last weekend for his annual visit and the vet didn't really have much advice for us. I guess he just needs to work it out, so to speak. Unfortunately, he works it out on the carpet in the nursery or on the couch slipcover. Thank goodness for slipcovers!

But nothing compares to what happened the other day. Now that I am pretty much home all day with Elsa, the dogs have turned into total slugs. Jason lets them out in the morning, but Levi doesn't even leave the porch. Following breakfast, they run back upstairs and into bed. In bed they stay all morning, snoozing away. I walked into the bedroom the other morning and was hit in the face with that familiar smell of Neptune's ass juice. Great. I inspected under his butt and found a freaking puddle of the stuff on our bed. GROSS!!! I immediately stripped the duvet cover off the duvet and threw it in the wash. This incident combined with Lola's nonstop screaming was just the push I needed to leave the house.

When I told Jason about the incident that evening, we went up to inspect. Not only had the juices soaked through the sheet we keep on top of the bed to protect our nice (ha) bedding, it had soaked through the duvet cover, the duvet, the blanket, the top sheet, the fitted sheet, the mattress pad, the cover we put on the mattress to keep the dust mites out (or in?), and into the mattress. That is some potent shit. Jason febreezed the hell out of the mattress. The worst part was that I has just done about eight million loads of laundry just days before when we swapped out the summer bedding for the winter bedding. And tell me what is more tedious than stuffing a duvet into its cover? And for the record, it took THREE washes to get the smell out of the duvet. I can only hope that Neptune's anal glads are drained for the time being and that the next time they let loose, he is not on our bed. Or on any of our furniture. I just love snuggling with the little guy so much, I don't have the heart to kick him out. How can anyone possibly resist these faces?

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Elsa: One Month

It’s so hard to believe it has already been a month since Elsa came into our lives. On the one hand, it seems like just yesterday that we met our sweet baby. On the other hand, it feels like ages have passed. She has grown a lot in this last month. She weighed 8lb at birth, dropped to 7lb3oz while in the hospital, but was back to her birth weight at 1 week. I stepped on the scale with her earlier this week and though not as exact as a doctor's scale, mine showed her weighing a whopping 11lb!!! She looks gigantic now to me. How can a baby simultaneously have no chin and 10 chins? I guess that means breastfeeding is going well.

My little peanut in her going home from the hospital outfit.

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To the chunker she is now!

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I have asked everyone if a breastfed baby can be too fat, and they assure me, that no, she cannot.

Elsa's activities are pretty limited right now since she is so young. There are the obvious things like eat, sleep, and poop. During her awake times, I put her on her activity mat and she looks at the toys dangling above her. Or, she sits in her bouncy chair and stares out the window. I spend a lot of time talking to her, which she seems to like. I swear I have gotten a smile out of her a few times. The changing pad is her "smiley" place. She also enjoys looking around her nursery, especially finding the light coming in through the window. Both Jason and I have worn her in theMoby Wrap, which she likes for the most part. Sometimes she doesn't like her head covered because she just wants to look around (Some of these photos aren't great quality because I took them with my iPod. I email Jason a picture of Elsa every day when he's at work).

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Since she's too young to be on a schedule, we're just letting her dictate how the day goes in terms of eating and sleeping. I am breastfeeding her, which has been going smoothly so far other than a few episodes of clogged ducts. I love our time together during our breastfeeding sessions and cherish those quiet moments snuggling. I know she is getting enough to eat because of her incredible weight gain and her chipmunk cheeks. I have pumped a few times to start a small freezer stash so I can do things like get my hair colored or go out to dinner with Jason. She is sort of iffy on the bottle right now, so we will just have to keep at it.

Sleep is going...fine. It's just as I would expect with a newborn. Once we left the hospital, we kept her in our room where she slept in the newborn napper attachment of the Pack N Play. We swaddled her up tight (Jason is the master of swaddling) and that first week, she would only get up once or twice/night. Now some nights are better than others. She will typically get up after 2.5 hours max, but she has had two five-hour stretches when we first put her to sleep in the early evening. I wish she would do one of those in the middle of the night! Sometimes she goes back down easily and sometimes it's an hour or more of soothing. She is also the noisiest little sleeper ever and grunts loudly, which keeps us up. It can be rough.

I got so exhausted and run down one day that I was too weak to carry her around and take care of her, so sadly, my own mom had to come over and take care of me so I could take care of Elsa. There is nothing like real food and a two-hour nap to make you feel like a new woman. You just nap so much better when you don't have a baby or a dog or a baby monitor in the room and know someone else is taking care of the baby!

In the last week or so, we've been putting her in her crib to sleep. I know some people think that's a terrible thing to do to a baby so small, but honestly, she sleeps better in there. All of her long stretches have been in her crib. She doesn't have to listen to us making noise during the night and most importantly, doesn't have to listen to Neptune snoring away! Since the dogs are still sleeping in our bed, it's been very easy to resist the temptation to bring her into bed with us!

During the day, she sleeps pretty much anywhere-in our arms, in her Rock N Play, in the Moby, in her crib, etc. She is very easy to soothe, so I have really not felt overwhelmed at any point. If she cries, it's usually caused by an easy-to-identify factor: she wants to be picked up, she is hungry, she is overtired, or she wants you to walk around because she likes the movement. There has never been a time (knock on wood) in which we haven't been able to soothe her pretty easily. That being said, she will fight sleep, so while she's not crying or fussing, she won't go to sleep and we can't put her down while she is awake.

After her cord fell off, we were able to give her her first real bath, which she LOVED. Now we bathe her every other night in the evening and give her a little massage with lotion before we put on her jammies and get her ready for bed. While I don't believe in scheduling for a newborn, I do think it's not too early to start routines with her. I also think she sleeps better on nights when she has her bath, but I'm afraid if I give her one every night, her skin will dry out.

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We started cloth diapering almost immediately after getting home from the hospital and I can't say enough good things about it! We are using Green Mountain Diaper prefolds with eitherThirsties or Bummis covers. I think she's getting close to being big enough for the one-size diapers. We are also using baby washcloths as wipes and just using water with a few drops of Dr. Bronner soap in the bottle for wiping her down. I love doing cloth and find it very easy. I just do the laundry every other day (we use Nellie's detergent), no big deal. With the sheer number of diapers we go through, I can't imagine using disposable and creating the waste that goes along with that. I know cloth diapering isn't the perfect ecological solution since you use so much water to wash them, but it's a nice alternative. And since my sister gave us a box of newborn sized disposables that we used at night for the first few weeks, we have not had to spend one penny on disposable diapers.

Elsa has been so spoiled by all of our loved ones. She has been given so many lovely gifts, including books, clothes, toys, and a friend from school even made her a beautiful blanket. It's so touching to see how many people already love our little girl! My sister has also passed on an eye-popping amount of clothing. Elsa is one stylish baby. I admit I love choosing her outfit every morning and am sad to say that some of her newborn clothes are already too small. Sob. I blame it on the extra-cushioning from the cloth diapers. It's not because my tiny little peanut is getting big, right?

This outfit just shrunk in the dryer, I'm sure.

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Some of her other stylish outfits, including her Halloween attire.

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I confess I am loathe to leave the house with her and probably spend way too much time cooped up inside. I was not permitted to even take a walk until two week postpartum and then the weather got cold, and I got lazy, and sometimes it's just easier to stay at home. I am making more of an effort these days to leave the house with her. We have seen her cousins multiple times and it is wonderful to see how much they love Elsa already. My oldest nephew has a magic head-rubbing technique that makes Elsa purr like a cat. It's hilarious. Elsa is gaining on my niece who is a mere 4.5 months her senior. Their size difference was laughably enormous in the beginning, but it won't be long before they are playing together and making mischief. Elsa also visits with both her grandmas every week and my mom even stayed with her on her one-month birthday so Jason and I could go out to celebrate his 33rd birthday. And Elsa survived without me for two whole hours!

Elsa and Eve shortly after Elsa's birth.

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Elsa with her other cousins.

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Practicing the magical head stroke;

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I guess that about sums up life with little Elsa in the first month! I want to do two more posts about my physical recovery and how the dogs (and birds) are coping with all of the competition for our attention. We love our little girl so much. I can't stop staring at her and am in total disbelief that I am now responsible for this little person. It's scary and exhilarating at the same time. I can't wait to watch her grow and get to know her little personality. Hopefully I don't fuck her up too badly. She's such a clean slate in a way, I just hope I can raise a relatively well-adjusted person that doesn't need therapy in 15 years because of my parenting skills or lack thereof. Luckily, I have already found that I have stores of patience I never knew I had and my heart has grown larger than I ever thought it could. I am so thankful for every member of my family, even, er, Lola, and I am eager to see what life brings us in month two!

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Elsa's Birth Story

It only took me four weeks to write it up! It's the longest story ever, lol. I know I haven't been blogging much, but we're all doing really great! Elsa is the sweetest and most wonderful little girl everJ

Warning: this post contains words like cervix and talks about bodily fluids and labor and delivery. If you are offended by such words or if you are a family member who doesn't wish to imagine my cervix opening, feel free to close this post and wait for another one with cute baby pictures.

The day before Elsa's due date was Monday, October 17th. I had an appointment with my OB that day in which an internal was performed to check my progress. Just like my last few internals indicated, no progress had been made-zero dilation and zero effacement. I was prepared to keep cooking this baby until at least 41 weeks, so I wasn't too disappointed. Nonetheless, we discussed our plan of action for the next week: schedule an ultrasound for Friday and another appointment for the following Monday to check for progress. If I was dilated, we would induce that day, but if I still wasn't dilated, we would try to wait a few more days in order to attempt induction when my cervix would be more favorable.

I felt pretty crummy that whole Monday. Jason had been sick with a cold the previous week and it was clear that I was now coming down with it. I spent most of the day resting and in bed and noticed that Levi was absolutely on top of me all day. In fact, here is proof. This picture was taken just hours before my water broke. Here we are, hanging out on the couch with my giant belly! At this point, I thought this baby was days, if not at least a week away. It's impossible to say for sure whether he sensed some sort of hormonal change in me, but all I can say is that I do believe dogs can have a sixth sense about such things.


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I went to bed at the usual time, between 10-11 and did my usual pee shortly thereafter routine. I woke up really sweaty. At 1:30, I woke up again to pee and noticed that the thin pad I was wearing was soaked. Not wanting to get my hopes up, I thought it could just be from being so sweaty all night. So, I just kind of hung out in the bathroom to see what would happen next. I kept having little episodes of wetness and eventually couldn't deny the fact that my water was leaking, though not exactly gushing.

I woke Jason up and told him it was time! Since I was positive for Group B Strep, I had been instructed to go to the hospital immediately if my water breaks so that I can start the first course of antibiotics. While it would have been nice to labor at home, it wasn't possible in this case. So, I took a quick shower and packed my hospital bag. Jason was very business-like about everything. Neither of us was jumping for joy, just sort of going through the motions, likely in disbelief that we would soon be meeting our baby. I couldn't be 100% sure that my water had broken since it wasn't gushing and I was nervous that we would get there and they would tell us to go back home.

Our plan was that if I went into labor in the middle of the night, we would just put the dogs in their room and call my mom first thing in the morning to go over and feed them/let them out. They were really confused why we were getting them up in the middle of the night. I kissed and loved on them one last time before we were off to the hospital.

When we arrived at L&D around 2:30am, we checked in before being taken to an intake room. I was instructed to get naked from the waist down and I waited in bed...where my water REALLY broke. It gushed and it felt really weird and kind of gross. The nurse came in and confirmed that yes, my water had broken and I would not be leaving the hospital without a baby. Okay, this was the real deal. She also observed that there was meconium in my water, another strike against me in the labor process. My IV was put into place and pitocin and the antibiotics to treat the GBS were started at 3:00. At this point, we went to the room I would labor in and Jason and I tried to process that this was really happening!

I was hooked up to two monitors that essentially went around my belly: an external monitor that measured the baby's heart rate and another monitor that indicated when a contraction was occurring, but not the strength. The fetal HR monitor was so annoying because it would not stay in the same place and we constantly had to readjust it to ensure it was doing its job.

My OB was actually at the hospital delivering a baby when we checked in. She came by to see me and I was disappointed that Tuesday was her off day and that neither she nor the other doctors in the practice would be on-call that day. Instead, their associate whom I had never met would be delivering the baby. She assured me that the doctor is very nice and I was good hands. Little did I know I would STILL be pregnant in that room over 30 hours later and my OB would deliver my baby after all! She ordered few internals due to be GBS+ and indeed I did not have one when I checked in.

The night was rather uneventful. We tried to sleep, but how do you go to sleep in that situation? As soon as it was acceptable, I made phone calls and texts to a few friends to let everyone know that our baby was on its way. Then I finally had my first internal at 11:30 am, 10 hours after my water broke. Guess what? No progress! At all. Great. Not to mention the fact that the internal was incredibly painful. The ones I had at the doctor's office weren't bad at all, but it felt like the nurse had two fists up my vadge and was rummaging around in there searching for my apparently shy and posterior cervix.

I braced myself for another equally painful internal at 3:00pm. Still no progress, but the baby had at least dropped. I was really frustrated. I had been working through all my contractions with Jason's help. I sat on the ball, got on all fours, walked around my room, etc. I was so proud of myself for dealing so well with the "pain," but considering I hadn't dilated at all, there was really no reason for bragging. After the 3:00 internal, my OB's partner came in to discuss options. I stressed my desire for a vaginal delivery, but I knew that we were on a schedule of sorts because my water had broken. Often times, doctors will only give you 24 hours to deliver after your water breaks because of the risk of infection. At this point, I was doing great and so was the baby, as measured by its heartbeat.

The doctor suggested I get an epidural, but I was hesitant because I know they can slow down labor. When I expressed this fear, she told me that I wasn't in labor (womp womp) because I wasn't dilated and that we had to try something different because all of this pitocin wasn't working. She said that getting the epidural might allow my cervix to relax and also allow me to rest and help move things along. Well, I would try anything at this point, so we called for the epidural at 4:00.

I was extremely nervous about getting the epidural. I wasn't in that much pain, so it's not like I welcomed the relief it would give me. The anesthesiologist came in at 5:00 to set it up. I was very scared, but my nurse was very reassuring and held my hands and talked me through everything. First they give you a shot to numb the area and then they thread the epidural in. You can feel everything sort of tingling as it goes in. I was very happy when she finished, but wasn't thrilled about being confined to the bed so early and not being able to get into different positions.

After the epidural, I was able to sleep a little bit. I would watch the monitor to see when I had a contraction. And lo and behold, at 6:30 I had another internal that showed I was dilated to 1cm! Three hours later, at 9:30pm, I was finally at 3-4 cm! I was hopeful at this point that I would be able to achieve the vaginal delivery I wanted. They put an internal monitor in as well so that they could measure the strength of my contractions.

At 11:00 pm, I had yet another internal. Progress again! They estimated me to be 5-6cm dilated. However, the baby's heart rate was a little erratic with contractions, so they turned down the pitocin and gave me oxygen. Here I am nearly 24 hours after my water broke.

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I went back to sleep for a bit and woke up to suddenly being in excruciating pain. I mean, the worst pain I've ever had. Since I have never been in labor and had nothing to compare my experience to, I didn't know if it was normal to experience this kind of pain even with an epidural. I called my nurse and told her about the pain and how I was really able to feel the right side of my body. The way the epidural works is it runs through your body with gravity, so if you feel pain on the right, you roll onto your right side to get the pain meds over to that side. But nothing was working. Not only was I have horrible pain with the contractions that were practically on top of each other, but I was having pain in one spot in between contractions, therefore getting no relief. I dreaded the start of each new contraction, knowing the agony it would bring. I was crying now from the pain and clutching the hand rails of the hospital bed. Pitocin makes your contractions stronger than ones you would have with natural labor. I admire the women that make it through labor without drugs because there is no way I could have managed the pain I was feeling.

The nurse called for the anesthesiologist to come and I think about an hour passed where I was feeling every awful contraction. She came at 2:05 and found that my epidural had come out. So, I got to have an epidural placed all over again in a different spot. Lucky me! She said that since I don't have a ton of fat around my spine, there just wasn't as much padding to hold the epidural in place. I was definitely not as nervous to get the epi this time around because my pain was so intense. I felt incredibly relieved as the tingling and numbness began running down my legs.

Jason was taking all these detailed so that I could write up my birth story, but they become a little less detailed at this point. Sometime between 2:30 and 7:00, I started feeling the same intense pain again, but only on my right side. I just couldn't believe the epidural was failing me again. I was so exhausted and in so much pain. The anesthesiologist came back again and found that the second epidural had made a turn in my spine, so it was only hitting one side of my body (the left). She thinks the second anesthesiologist pushed the catheter in farther in order to prevent it from coming out, but the catheter then went sideways. I didn't have to have it completely redone, but she pulled it partially out and then reinserted it. Relief again came.

At some point in the night, another internal showed I was 7cm. I knew my doctor was coming back on-call within a few hours. I was hitting the shit out of the button in order to manage my pain. When another internal showed I was at 9cm, I was so excited! I would be ready to push soon and put this very long ordeal behind me. The nurses told me to let them know when I felt pressure during contractions. Eventually I did and then they told me to let them know when I felt pressure in between contractions. Well, that never happened.

My doctor came to see me at 9:00 and checked me again: I had been at 9cm for four hours, and my contractions weren't getting stronger or closer together. Although I was doing well in terms of my HR and not running a fever and the baby's HR was good, she recommended a C-section. It just wasn't worth it to keep going and risk distress to the baby or myself and end up in an emergency C-section situation in which I'm knocked out completely. I cried. A lot. I had really wanted a vaginal birth and I had worked so hard and been through so much since my water broke 32 hours before. I didn't want to have a C-section and deal with the recovery. My doctor listened to all of my concerns and she was incredibly empathetic and in this moment, I was so happy that she was my OB and that she was there to do the surgery. She rules. I agreed it was the right thing to do.

I think Jason was relieved that I finally "gave in" to the C-section. He had been really supportive, but I think he just couldn't stand to see me go through this anymore. I could not have asked for more in a partner or labor coach. He said all the right things at all the right times and I could not have gotten through all those hours without him. Once we decided to go with the C-section, he suited up for the operating room.

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To say I was terrified of having the C-section is an understatement. Since they push the pain meds through your epidural and I had so many issues with the epidural throughout the night, I was not confident that the epidural wouldn't come out again. My worst fear was that the epidural would stop working and I would feel the surgery. The anesthesiologist that came on that morning was fantastic. He assured me everything would be okay and he stayed by my head the entire time during surgery and reassured me. They wheeled me into the very bright OR to do the surgery. He gave me the medicine and my OB kept checking with me to see what I could feel. It's so weird-since the drugs block your pain receptors only, you can feel your skin being touched, but you feel no pain.

I was basically catatonic the entire surgery-I just wanted it to be over. It was hard to get excited because I was so fearful of the epidural not working. I could feel them tugging the baby out and then finally, my baby that I was so convinced would be a boy, was born a girl. They exclaimed that she was big and that she was really cute and had gigantic eyes. It was FINALLY over and I had a beautiful daughter. She was 8lb, 21 inches, and perfect.

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After she was cleaned up, I got to hold my girl for the first time. Well, I didn't get to hold her so much as have her placed on me because I had horrible shakes from all the drugs. She was so beautiful, though. Amazing. Miracle. I am so grateful to have a healthy baby.

On her birth day:

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Nine days later at her newborn shoot, courtesy of Lynsey Tedesco Photography (see more pictures here).

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I hope to cover my time in the hospital, how we named her, and more in my next post!






Wednesday, November 2, 2011