Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I'll Never Forget

When I was struggling with infertility, I remember feeling left behind when my TTC sisters would get pregnant. It always seemed like they’d forgotten the pain and moved on…while I was still sitting in the same place with empty arms. I hated that feeling.

I want you to know that I’ll never forget. I’ll never forget the agony and heartache of infertility. I’ll never forget the sobbing can’t-catch-your-breath tears and sleepless emotional nights. I’ll never forget the difficult decisions and deep sorrow after each loss. I’ll never forget the fear in the pit of my stomach…fear that I would never know the love that exists between a mother and her child and never find happiness again. I’ll never forget the darkness that existed during the longest six years of my life. And I’ll never forget those of you who are still in the trenches… trying month after month to conceive your miracle babies.

The truth is that I’ve had a hard time finding my voice in this space lately. My past posts were all born out of my sorrow and struggle. Pain inspires more than happiness. I haven’t written because I don’t want this space to become “just another mommy blog”. Lord knows there are enough of those out there already.

I still intend to share my journey through motherhood. However, I feel compelled to continue to be a part of this community. To be a cheerleader. A dear friend. Maybe even a beacon of hope for some of you who feel alone and are on the verge of giving up on your dreams.

A very wise friend said to me the other day, “you have to find the way to keep writing because your blog isn’t about you.”

Say what? It’s not.

“No, he said. It’s bigger than that. It is about your readers. And they still need you to write and offer your perspective as someone who’s endured so much and overcome a huge obstacle in your life.”

So at 5AM, I’m sitting in my dark bedroom, stealing the only free moments of my day to write. To tell you…. you are not alone. You will find happiness again. There is a baby monitor beside me and I’m waiting for a little boy to cry for me. ME! His mommy. 

There were so many days and nights that I worried this day would never come. But it has. It’s real. This is my life. The dirty diapers. The pumping and feeding. Juggling work and family. Drying his tears and reveling in his smiles. Everything we went through to get here was worth it because he is our world.

My plea to you is not to give up. Your sunshine could be just around the next bend. Keep going. After each failure, I wanted to give up. Throw in the towel. To crawl under my covers and never come out. But I just put one foot in front of the other and kept going. Through prayer and determination, I hope that all of you who want to become mommies are able to achieve your dreams.

Baby dust to all of you!

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.

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