Thursday, July 2, 2015

3 Months as Mav’s Mommy | A Quarterly Update

I never meant to go so long without posting on this blog. My intentions were to write monthly updates along with a laundry list of other topics. But life changes after you have a baby, that’s for sure. Taking care of Mav has been my number one priority. Followed by sleep. Then recovering from pregnancy and childbirth. And finally, nurturing myself and my real-life relationships. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much time or energy left for reading blogs and writing.

But I’m here now and promise not to abandon this space. It just took me a while to come up for air. The first 3 months of Mav’s life have been a whirlwind. Amazing. Scary. Awe-inspiring. Tiring. Beautiful. Words really do escape me. Being a mother is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Every day, I am so grateful to have him as part of our family. It is the hugest blessing in my life to be his mother.

For those of you who are still trying to conceive your miracle babies…DON’T GIVE UP. If the door keeps slamming in your face, try a different one. Even if it looks different that you imagined it would. On the other side is parenthood. And it doesn’t really matter how you get there. All the pain, tears, money and heartache are worth it.

Recently, I received an email from a woman considering donor eggs. She wanted to know if I wish I’d tried harder with my own eggs. She asked whether I felt like I was missing out on anything with my son.

Answer: Absolutely NOT.

He is the child that we were always meant to have. He’s everything I’ve ever wanted. Not for one second have I felt that I am missing out or that he is not really my child. In fact, if I had the choice between him or a child from my eggs…I would choose him. Without a doubt. I wanted to put that out there for anyone considering egg donation and wondering the same thing.

It’s almost over. I go back to work on Monday. Gah! I can’t believe it. Seems like the time went by WAY too quickly. I’m going to miss lil man with every fiber of my being when I’m away from him. But it will be good to use my brain and have some adult time (outside of my pajamas).

Thankfully Mav is on a pretty solid schedule and he’s sleeping about 7 hours each night (on average). So this should make going back to work manageable. His schedule looks roughly like this…wake and eat at 6AM. Play and then go down for nap. Wake and eat at 10AM. Play and go down for nap. Wake and eat at 2PM. Play and go down for nap. Wake and eat at 6PM. Play (and incorporating bath time here but we’ve been inconsistent) and go down for nap. After this nap, I usually have to wake him up at about 10PM before I go to bed to feed him so that he will sleep throughout the night.

The tough part is that he is still in our room and he's restless after about 2AM. He wakes me up a several times each night. Especially when he pops his arm out of his swaddle…pretty much every night. I’m on the hunt for THE best swaddle. Borrowing the Ollie from a friend and heard that the zipadee-zip is worth trying too. We are transitioning him into his crib in his bedroom this week after we get the Angelcare monitor hooked up for mama’s peace of mind.

For childcare, we are doing a combo of my husband, my mom and myself. We are fortunate that my mom has the summers off from work so she can help us watch Mav. It will keep him out of daycare until August. At that point, we will be putting him in a daycare for 2 or 3 days each week.

Mav never was able to latch (for reasons that I will explain in more detail some day). But I’ve been pumping and feeding him breast milk since he came home from the NICU. In fact, I produce so much milk that our freezer is overflowing and hubby complains that he can’t fit anything inside of it. But I am stockpiling in case my supply goes down when I return to work.

Although baby boy doesn’t seem to care whether his milk is delivered via breast or bottle, I still have moments when I’m sad that we never got to bond in that way. But I am so glad though that he has been able to get my milk via a Haberman Feeder.

He loves to eat so much that he complains and fusses when we were done feeding him EVERY time. Our feeding specialist recommended adding 1.5 teaspoons of formula to his breast milk to thicken it and make it more caloric instead of giving him more milk (too much fluid). Mav is eating more than 5 ounces of breast milk augmented with Honest Company organic formula every 3-4 hours.

Mav hates to be burped because he had bad reflux in the beginning. Now he is on Prevacid for the reflux but it’s his habit to hate burping so he still keeps up the fuss. But it is rather half-hearted. Sometimes I have to laugh because it is a pathetic attempt at complaining.

Recovering from a C-section is no joke. It was tough in the beginning. I’m almost healed now but boy was it hard at first. About two weeks after Mav was born, I started bleeding out of my incision site. It was brown blood so I wasn’t too worried. When I saw the doctor, she said that I started bleeding internally after I was discharged and the blood clotted inside my abdomen. The clotted blood was stuck and trying to come out. So I had to apply hot compresses three times a day and apply pressure to try to coax the dried blood out. It never came out after that initial bleeding incident so I ended up with hard knots in my stomach that are just barely starting to go away.

My blood pressure was too high after I gave birth so I was put on blood pressure medication along with my slew of pain pills. Thankfully I was able to wean myself off of all meds by around 3 weeks postpartum.

The only remaining bothersome symptom that I have is carpel tunnel in both hands. As I type this, I can’t feel my fingers. They are numb. So frustrating. I’ve been going to physical therapy and sleeping with wrist braces (when I can remember). But it still persists. I’m hoping I don’t have to have surgery for it. Ugh!

Oh by the way… I also got thrush in both of my breasts. And STILL have it. I have an anti-fungal cream that I apply four times daily. But I can’t shake it. So it is ‘oh so fun’ pumping with painful nipples. Sigh! Girl can't catch a break.

Happy to report that I quickly returned to my pre-pregnancy weight. Yay! I gained 34 lbs during my pregnancy but most of it was probably water weight due to the excessive swelling in my lower extremities. Breast-feeding definitely helped me get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I eat more now than I did when I was pregnant yet the weight just came right off. I’m trying to walk to start to building back my muscle mass but it is pretty tough to manage my time with Mav. I attended a couple of postpartum sculpt classes while I was out of work. Big accomplishment!

As for Maverick…here are some monthly milestones and pictures.

As of Mav's 1-month appointment, he was up to 9 lbs, 14 oz. I’m not sure his length, as they didn’t measure him. This put him in the 48th percentile for weight (according to the Sprout app), which was up from the 28th percentile at birth. He was wearing NB-sized Honest Company diapers and NB clothes, although he transitioned pretty quickly from NB to 0-3 month size clothes.

  • Great eye contact 
  • Hates being burped 
  • Eats 4 ounces per feeding 
  • Loves his swing 
  • Smiles and eyes dart when falling asleep 
  • Strong neck and legs 
  • Sleeps up to 4 hours 
  • Nickname “bug” 
  • First happy hour with mom + dad

At Mav’s 2-month appointment (where he received his first round of vaccines and his blood-curdling scream broke my heart), he weighed 12 lbs, 5 oz. Again, my pediatrician rarely measures his length because he said it is hard to get an accurate read. According to the Sprout app, this puts him in the 57th percentile for weight. Woo hoo! Up from the 28th at birth. My little peanut loves to eat! He graduated to size 1 diapers and 3 month size clothes. 

  • Smiles a lot 
  • Eats in side lying position 
  • Can have a cooing “conversation” 
  • Likes to suck on left hand 
  • Collects lint between fingers and toes 
  • Loves mobiles 
  • Sleeps up to 9 hours (when we are lucky) 
  • First road trip | Sonoma 
  • First play dates | baby Dylan, Venture and cousin Braxten
  • Admitted in PICU for apneic episode 
  • First drive to visit So Cal family | San Diego 

At our appointment yesterday (6 days past his 3-month mark), Mav weighed in at 13 lbs, 15 oz. This is the 60th percentile. He actually looks like a chunky baby now, which is awesome. He’s wearing size 2 diapers and 3-6 month size clothes. I'm so happy we've been able to get his weight up and satiate his crazy hunger.

  • Alert + observant 
  • Bats at hanging objects 
  • Hates tummy time 
  • Always kicking his feet 
  • Faux hawk is 2 inches tall 
  • Loves being outdoors and watching the trees blow 
  • Started teething | top front tooth 
  • Expert at popping out of swaddle 
  • First trip to the beach | Pismo Beach 
  • First time in the pool | Lake Tahoe 

I’ll do my best to update the blog more often but if you are interested in seeing more real-time updates, follow me on Instagram @dreamingofdimples as I post pictures weekly. It only takes a second to upload images from my phone so it is easier for me to keep up at the moment.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

what the NICU did for our family

After our baby boy left the hospital and was transported to the NICU at another hospital (about 20 minutes away), my single driving focus became getting discharged so I could go see him. Within an hour of his departure, I stood up out of my hospital bed despite the excruciating pain from my C-section incision. I had my catheter removed and peed on my own. 

The next day, my husband, his mom and my mom all took shifts in the NICU with Mav. I wanted someone to be with him at all times since I couldn’t be. I didn’t want him to ever feel alone. My best friend came to visit so I wouldn’t be alone. She lifted my spirits and walked with me around the hospital grounds. I was trying to get more stable on my feet to make sure I was capable of being released from the hospital as soon as possible. I also had my IV removed. 

The following morning, I was discharged. Probably earlier than I should have been as I was in a lot of pain. But the emotional pain of worrying about my baby’s health and not being with him was worse. My mom picked me up and took me straight to the children’s hospital to visit Mav. He seemed to be in good hands as his daddy hardly left his side the entire time. 

But I felt lost and disconnected. I didn’t know how to take care of my baby. My husband had to show me how to change his diaper. He showed me how to feed him (the nurses fed him similac in the NICU) and swaddle him. I felt like a failure as a mother. How is it that the person who is supposed to be there in his first days of life doesn’t know anything about how to take care of him? Not to mention, I wasn’t there when any of the specialists came to evaluate our son so it wasn’t clear what his condition was and when he’d be discharged. My heart was filled with worry and sadness. 

The NICU nurse could see that I was struggling – physically (from the surgery I’d just undergone) and emotionally. She did the kindest thing possible…she helped me stay close to my son. Since we live more than 30 miles from the hospital, she called the Ronald McDonald House located a block from the hospital and got us a room. I can’t tell you what a relief this was. Especially since I could barely ride in the car – every bump was so painful. It was a challenge for me to walk or sit up. Not to mention the stairs at our house that I’d have to climb up and down every time I wanted to come see our son at the hospital. It would’ve been impossible. 

The Ronald McDonald House (RMH) was amazing! There is nothing more stressful than having your child in the NICU. This organization is such a blessing to families that live farther away and want to visit their baby often. I’m so grateful that I got to experience this non-profit (which is completely volunteer run). I’ll be finding a way to give back to the RMH in the future. 

Thankfully Mav wasn’t in the NICU for too much longer. When he was discharged, it was such a relief to be heading home with our family intact. I’m so grateful that his breathing and eating issues improved enough to come home. He is still struggling with eating and breathing even a month later but we just have to take things day by day. 

Although the NICU experience is something that no parent wants to go through, there is always a silver lining. For us, it was that my husband became front and center in our son’s first days. He was the primary caregiver. Although it hurt at first, it really was a good thing. I’m super type-A and afraid that if circumstances were different…. I would have micromanaged my husband’s interactions with our son and they wouldn’t have formed such a strong early bond. I also think the circumstances made A more hands-on with Maverick because he had to be. He became comfortable caring for our baby in way that might not have happened otherwise. For that I am grateful.

Donning my lovely modmum hospital gown on discharge day
since I didn't get to wear it to give birth.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Maverick's Birth Story

My birth plan was simple. 
So simple, in fact, that I didn’t even give a copy to my nurse because we didn’t want to jinx anything. All of my wishes were the standard of care for the baby-friendly birthing center that we chose for our delivery. The plan was to deliver our son naturally and vaginally at the birthing center with dual care from an OB and midwife. We enlisted the help of a doula and hoped to utilize the birthing tub for hydrotherapy during my labor for pain management. After our son was born, I hoped to have delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin time and have him room-in with us so that I could start breastfeeding. 

But nothing about our son’s birth went according to plan. When I wrote my birth plan, I knew full well that it was nothing more than a list of wishes for my labor. But it was still disappointing when none of them happened. 

It’s normal to have a plan. Even if you know that you ultimately have no control of how things turn out. It’s natural to have hopes that things will go a certain way. Just like when you do a fertility treatment cycle. No one plans to get a cyst, have a cancelled cycle, not respond to stim meds, have a low number of follicles, etc. But sometimes, things don’t go as planned. 

In week 38 of my pregnancy, I developed (PIH) pregnancy-induced hypertension and severe edema. As a result, I was placed on full bed rest and had to monitor my blood pressure levels daily. Every few days, my blood pressure would spike higher requiring a trip to the doctor’s office or birthing center for monitoring. The monitoring usually consisted of blood work, urine analysis and a non-stress test for the baby. The doctors were watching me very closely to make sure that I didn’t develop full-blown preeclampsia. 

After almost 3 weeks of the continued rise in BPs, we arrived at the birthing center at 1pm on 3/25 (at 40 weeks and 6 days) and the medical team decided it was time to admit me for an induction while we still had the time. Preeclampsia was close at hand and I don’t think the OB wanted to take any chances. The doc did a cervical check at 2:30pm and found that I was only 1 cm dilated, -2 station and 40% effaced. They administered a dose of Misoprostol at 4pm to get things going. Contractions began. My water broke with meconium staining at approx. 11pm that evening. 

At 5am, A called our doula to come to the hospital to help as my contractions were beginning to get more difficult. At 7:25am, the midwife ordered labs to check for preeclampsia and an hour later sterile water papules were administered to help me manage the pain. 

Around 10:15am, my contractions began to space out (5-6 minutes apart) and the doctor and midwife decided to administer Pitocin to better control my contractions and get them closer together. At 1pm, the midwife checked my cervix and stated that I was 4cm dilated, 80% effaced and -1 station. She also mentioned that she could see black hair on the baby’s head. As the Pitocin was increased, I had more difficulty handling the contractions. By 2pm, I needed an epidural. I was so bummed because I felt like a failure. My doula reminded me that Pitocin contractions are much more harsh than natural contractions. There aren't many people that could handle the intensity without drugs.

Over the next few hours, the doctor continued to increase the Pitocin until our baby’s heart rate started to decel. They increased the dosage and then the baby’s heart rate would dip again. This cycle continued until 8pm when blood work was drawn again and a cervical check showed that I was 6cm dilated, 80% effaced and -1 station. An IUPC (intrauterine pressure catheter) was placed to more accurately monitor the strength of my contractions if baby’s heart rate continued to dip. 

My lab work came back fine but my blood pressure was very sporadic – ranging from 153/106 to 95/56. The doctor continued to increase the Pitocin throughout the night and ordered blood tests and urine tests to monitor for preeclampsia.

At 6am, the OB found me to be 8cm dilated, 90% effaced and 0 station. She suggested we turn off the Pitocin to let my body rest and then start it back up again at 8:30am. The Pitocin was steadily increased throughout the day to the max dose. 

I was checked again at 1:30pm. The doctor felt that if I was complete, I could start pushing. If I had not progressed since my last exam and my contraction pattern was not effective, it was time to move onto a C-section. I had not progressed - still 8cm after another 8 hours of Pitocin-induced labor. 

To my dismay, I was prepped for surgery. Accepting that I needed a C-section was difficult but I was exhausted and knew that my body had had enough and wasn’t going to cooperate. I’d already been in hard labor for two days trying for a vaginal birth. 

Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about the C-section except that I felt like I wasn’t really there. The doctors were retrieving my son on the other side of the curtain and I was on the outside. Separate from this event. Then when my baby was born, he was immediately whisked across the room for examination. I couldn’t really see over there and didn’t know what was going on. However, my husband later told me that he had to stand by and watch our son turn blue and stop breathing 5 minutes after birth. 

Once baby Mav was stabilized, he was taken immediately to the nursery. No skin to skin. I didn’t even get to see his face. Hubby went with our baby and I was left alone. I didn’t know what was going on and whether my baby was okay. 

The next few hours were extremely hard emotionally because I had to lie there and get stitched up, then wait in recovery until the meds started to wear off and then wait until my postpartum room was ready. Hubby eventually came in to tell me the concerns the doctors had with Maverick. 

My bed was finally wheeled into the nursery so that I could see my son for the first time. It was such an emotional moment. Seeing his face and holding him was like no other feeling in the world. My heart swelled with love for this tiny little being. I just wish I could say that I remembered it more clearly but I was in a fog of exhaustion and worry. 

Instead of rooming-in as planned, Mav had to stay in the nursery overnight for observation. 

Apparently, Mav wasn’t able to ingest the colostrum that I had pumped the night before and was given the food via feeding tube that morning. At that point, we were told that he would be transported to UC Davis Children’s Hospital NICU to get the help he needed to breath and eat. 

A and I stayed in the nursery holding him all day. Thankfully the hospital staff allowed me to stay in my hospital bed in the nursery with my son until the paramedics came to transport him to the NICU. It broke my heart to see him get carried away in that incubator with all of the monitors and IV. My precious baby, less than 24 hours old, was being carted away from me to another hospital. Hubby followed behind the ambulance in his truck to be with our son. I was left behind to recover from my C-section. 

Post on baby's stay in the NICU…coming soon. 

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