Monday, November 29, 2010

In a word...

Last week was dramatic. Anything that could change did. Emotions were leaking all over the place, among other things (*wink*). My incompetence stared me in the face and sneered multiple times a day. And I hurt, in several places.

This week is, in a word, better. I'm less emotional, slightly more competent - don't laugh. And I'm developing some form of routine, not so much with feeding times or naps, but more in the area of comfort with the unexpected. I know - it's easy to say when I have no schedule - maternity leave rocks. Gives us all some time to adjust. By 7 weeks, when I go back to work, I know John will be sleeping from 10pm to 6am, with no diaper blowouts, and only one outfit a day. And he'll also be teaching the other babies Chinese and Arabic. But we'll give him until 6 months to do that.

John outgrew newborn diapers at about 10 days. He's now in size 1's. I felt like I was watching him walk into kindergarten. "There he goes; he's all grown up now." And then back to reality, because he still poops his pants. Somebody hand me a wipe; better make that two.

And now for a picture break:

What do you do when your kid is this cute?
I have no idea.

I'm still deeply committed to not wish time away. When it's 3am and he hasn't slept for more than 30 minutes at a time, it's tempting to yearn for the days of the future when he will sleep for 5, maybe 6, or as a teenager, 12 consecutive hours. Think of all the sleep I will get then...But I come back down quickly because these moments are fleeting. Right now, he is quite wobbly and can't hold his head up so he has no choice but to flop onto my chest after dinner and lay there, asleep, until I bring myself to take him to bed. Sometimes I just let him stay there for an hour or two. Why rush it? Everyone says it goes so fast and I want to be in the moment, enjoy it all, as much as possible. It really is hard to do when you're sick (with a cold like I have) and tired (cause it's 3:30 in the morning), but I'm doing a fairly good job of it, I think.

And now, at the risk of appearing completely superficial...

Me at 40 1/2 weeks/Me at 2 weeks post-birth.

Three cheers for breastfeeding, folks. For my someday and almost-mama friends who read this blog, breastfeeding really is a magic weight-loss cure. I hope this is an encouragement to you. I know when my friend, Kim, told me that after less than 3 months she weighed less than her pre-baby weight, just from breastfeeding, I was shocked. And thrilled. Now I think it's totally possible. I still have some shape to regain and my belly isn't totally flat yet. In fact, if I were famous, my belly would be on the cover of some tabloid with a headline about "another baby bump". Seriously. Since I'm not famous, however, I'm allowed to be happy with these results. And so I am.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What a difference a day makes

Day 1, Monday: Let's cut to the chase. Labor was intense. About 36 hours of pre and early labor yielded only 2 cm dilation. Disappointment. My body was so tired when I got to the hospital that I ended up vomiting multiple times from pain and probably exhaustion. Baby's heart rate dropped below 100 and everyone got nervous. They put me on IV fluids and oxygen, confining me to the hospital bed for several hours. They broke my water when I got the 3 cm, maybe only out of pity, and the contractions continued - strong. I opted for Stadol, which I thought might dull the pain of the contractions. I felt drowsy, but as far as I could tell, I felt every contraction. Mom and Josh took turns sitting with me, praying for me, and letting me squeeze the circulation out of their hands. Not sure how many times they tagged out but I bet their hands needed some chiropractic work when it was over.

This was not the natural birth I planned. But God redeemed it, baby and I stabilized and I finished my labor in the birthing tub. At 12:51am we welcomed John David into the world. What a moment! I thought I would cry but it was so surreal I didn't know how to feel. He was beautiful - still is - with that head full of hair I dreamed about. The pain of labor gone, my reward lay on my chest, sucking his fingers. Perfection.

I was so high after the birth that even though I'd hardly slept in two days, I stayed up until 7am just to look at John, reply to text messages and attempt breastfeeding for a second time. I slept one hour and 45 minutes all day. We had visitors and nurses and doctors shimmying in and out. It was wonderful to rejoice with friends and family. John was so loved, so welcome.

Day 2, Tuesday: We went home today, somewhere around 36 hours after birth. Nonna (my mom) picked us up at the hospital. She would be staying with us all week. I had no idea what a difference that would make.

John in his BundleMe. It's a little big - I think he looks like a baby eagle in this picture, waving a wing at the camera.

We decided to have our home/small group that night so everyone could meet and greet the baby. We thought this might divert a steady stream of activity throughout the week if everyone could see him at once. We still hadn't slept much at this point.

Day 3, Wednesday: Hormones, post-labor pain in the "bottom" region, a week's worth of minimal sleep and embarking on the most life-changing week ever in my 29 years = the perfect storm. Breastfeeding hurt, sometimes, but it was so inconsistent and I didn't know what I was doing. Had my first meltdown on the couch, mom and Josh trying to console me as I confessed my pain and incompetence at the whole parenting thing. Nonna comforted me.

In other news: I guess my milk "came in" today. My mom said I would probably feel it but I didn't. Just felt swollen but all my other body parts were in strange form so I didn't really know what was happening.

Day 4, Thursday: John's first visit to the pediatric doc was uplifting. Her eyes opened wide when she heard that he was already back to his birth weight after two days. "When did your milk come in?" she exclaimed. I didn't know - it must have been that strange feeling from yesterday. All was well with John. He was healthy.

That night brought more tears as I forget the good news that John gained 5 oz in two days, which is an excellent indicator that I am not such a bad mother after all. Mom more or less sent me to bed at that point. There was no reasoning with a sleep deprived, hormonal female.

Day 5, Friday: John gave Nonna the royal treatment today as he launched a fountain of pee into the air, dousing everything within reach. Now in the laundry: his outfit, swaddling blanket, the changing table cover and the curtain.
Josh's attempts at diaper changing received a similar result.

My faithful, to-the-rescue friend, Kim, brought nipple shields by the house on the way to work. Breastfeeding was a more enjoyable experience for everyone, especially John - it seemed he managed to get quite a bit more milk than usual with them. I was hurting less than normal, which was a nice change.

Kim and Mike brought Luke over for dinner. As parents we decided that since we are friends, our sons who are three months apart, will also be friends. Best friends...but no pressure. Babies have a different way of showing interest and affection. It might seem from the picture that they didn't have real chemistry, but I beg to differ.

Saturday, Day 6: Nonna went home. We were so sad to have her go; she was sad to leave too. She cried a little as she confessed her gratitude that we had invited her to be with us all week. We couldn't believe she was thanking us since she spent her whole week cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and holding John so we could rest or do other things. Mothers are amazing creatures - I'm so thankful for mine!

Sunday, Day 7: Gramma (Josh's mom) returned for another snuggle session with John. Aunt Tish, Aunt Sandy and cousin Brayden joined her. John is the first grandbaby on both sides. He is long-awaited and not at all under-appreciated.
Gramma and John.

Day 8, Monday: John is one week old today. Happy one week, little baby. Ack! I love him more every day. Just so adorable - I need to invent a new word for how fantastically wonderfully cute he is!
Tried to do a photobooth photo shoot with John but he was a bit wobbly from having just eaten. Here's what we got. My favorite is the one where his head is flopped into my chest. He's shameless. And I LOVE him!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is this it?

I've been having contractions all day, since about 6am. They've been anywhere from maybe an hour apart to as close as three minutes. Seems like they are increasing in intensity as the day progresses. I know these irregularities are signs of early or pre-labor and can even go on for days. I'm hoping they don't because this is not comfortable, and I'm not sure how much sleep I'm gonna get tonight. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to get a post up in the midst of all this.

I've been drinking my raspberry leaf tea throughout the day - gotta tone up that uterus. My birth ball, heating pads and warmed-up rice sock are all within feet. I'm finding that movement during contractions is best: walking, swaying, standing, whatever. Sitting still is not good, makes the pain more intense somehow, like it's all I can think about when I'm sitting there. And heat really is about as great as they say.

Although I wouldn't have chosen to have such a gradual entry into labor, I'm really thankful for the slow introduction. It's nice to be able to gain strength, practice my breathing and relaxation with the smaller contractions so when they intensify, I will have some techniques to lean into. My doula, Rachel, has been a wonderful resource today, very encouraging and nice to have as close as my phone. And Josh has been with me almost all day, which I've loved - lots of quality time, for one. He's been holding my hand if I need it, offering to get me things, helping me stand up since I injured my right foot last night. And maybe most meaningful, acknowledging how much work labor is. He's a good man. I love you, Josh.

Since starting this post, I've had five contractions. Not bad for about 25 minutes. Every time I have one I have to set the laptop down, stand up, strap my rice sock to my back or belly and sway. Oh, and remember to breathe. Funny how hard that can be when your body gets so tight. Seems like the frequency is definitely picking up here, but it's been off and on all day, slowing down and speeding up in seemingly random patterns. I know this is all normal, thanks to Rachel, but overall, I feel like this is going somewhere and that's a good feeling. Today has certainly been good progress, although I'm not sure when the next step is going to come along. My next entry may be pictures of my child, or just more of this sort of thing. Let's all hope for pictures. :) More to come...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Plan B

Well, it's Thursday, November 11. (11/11, if you care - I do.) I hoped and prayed he would come on his due date. I hoped and prayed he would come the next day, or the next. We are now three days past the due date - yes, that silly date I said I would pay no mind to - and I'm not sure what to hope and pray for now.

I had no idea how hard this week would be. I saw multiple friends and acquaintances struggle as they drifted further and further past their due dates, and I did not understand what all the whining was about. Now I do. It's uncomfortable. You're ready to be done. I get it now. The last two weeks before my due date were wonderful. I had that rosy perspective I talked about in my blog entry, the focus on thankfulness and enjoying the moments. But something happened when the calendar hit November 8, and I don't think it was the time change.

So, I decided to move my maternity leave up one day, which means it starts today. Although I'm not officially "maternal" yet, not having to go back to work tomorrow in my larger than life state does take the pressure off. I'm back to realizing that now I have the gift of time to either squander or enjoy. And I'm going to enjoy it. I am going to read and catch up with friends, take walks and finish thank you notes. Oh, and sleep in. That will be a rare opportunity soon enough. I have no idea when he's going to come, but I do know that it will be in the next 10 days. If not, they're going to induce me and so neither of us will have a choice. So I'm going to try the optimism thing again. I think it counts more when it's hard anyway.

Almost don't look pregnant from the front, right? :) Just let me think that.
Oh, but I am!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ready, Set, Slow Down

Baby's estimated arrival date is two days away. There's a sense of expectation and uncertainty in everything I do. I finish my work completely each day, making sure there aren't any emails to reply to, patient notes updated, and now, even all my files are where they should be. I had my entire November schedule cleared so baby could have the luxury of neatly arriving any time after October 31. He didn't come last week so I was blessed with time for clearing out the ceiling cobwebs of unfinished jobs. I wasn't guaranteed that time, but I was grateful to get it.

It feels like all this rushing about and preparing for baby is heading straight into a season of slowness. Next week I have no plans, except work on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, if he hasn't come, of course. I will come home at the end of the night, light candles, drink tea, invite friends over. I might even cook. I know having a baby at home will be an earth-shattering adjustment, having my life revolve around sleep and food and poop. And none of that will be mine. What a change! My last day of work is November 12, unless baby debuts sooner, so I will have even more rest to look forward to if my waiting is prolonged. I'm creating a win-win situation for myself so the likelihood that I lose my mind in a delay is significantly diminished: either baby comes and I am off work and happy to be with him or he waits but I am off work anyway, not waddling through the halls, wondering how many trips from the office to the bathroom it might take to stimulate labor. It's a good plan, I'm sure of it.

Even though it's been busy around here, I've noticed my love and appreciation for Josh swelling up in a brand new way. He has been a domestic diva and handy man in the same day, fixing the furnace and whipping up pumpkin pies, gourmet pizza or pot roast - whatever the day called for. He often greets me at the door and offers news of some new thing he's accomplished for the day - appears he is nesting too. I'm not sure where the time came from, but despite our usually hectic schedules, this week we found time for ourselves to cozy up and enjoy each other's company. I didn't think we would have time for this so close to baby, but we do and I am so thankful. Knowing our lives are about to change so much motivates me to soak him up all the more.

I've had a strong sense of timing through the past few weeks. Although I knew that technically baby could come at any minute starting on week 37, so far I could tell that it was not yet time. I left work each day ready to be gone for 7-8 weeks, but if you asked for my honest opinion, I was quite sure I would be there the next day. This past week, Josh and I had meetings, appointments or groups every night as usual, sometimes both, but I was able to focus on them because I knew "it's not time yet". Most moments I feel calm and unhurried, no need to force the process. Perhaps this is all the prayers for grace at work. So thank you!