Welcome to the world Lucas!
It is now Wednesday morning (like 1 am), and I have not been able to write at all until now. The past 4 weeks have been a massive whirlwind and I can barely shower, sleep, and go to the bathroom. Writing is a luxury. I will do my best to recap the whole of your birth story. It is all such a blur at this point and I know now that my exhaustion combined with my haste to take advantage of you sleeping, will result in this not being as eloquent as I wish it could be.
I decided to go get my nails and toes done. I went to a nail salon near the house and spent lunchtime there. It was soothing and you were pretty quiet. Right as I was leaving a storm hit. You have a unique connection to storms. I came home and continued to check on my hospital bag. Note to self: I really did overpack. We never used your cute baby stuff, except for the 1 outfit to go home. Around three o’clock I ordered our last pregnant meal: Fiamme! It got here around four and your dad and I ate quietly together. I think we were both nervous. It was good that I did eat something substantial though. That was the last food I’d have until Wednesday morning.
We took one more belly pic in your room. I was wearing a pink dress. Then we put things in the car and left the house. It was a strange sensation to know we were driving away a married couple and would be returning as parents. On the way to the hospital, your Grandpa M ended up right ahead of us. He never saw us behind him. We got to the parking garage and I waited for your dad to park and then he, Grandpa M, and I went to check in at Labor & Delivery. This is where things start to blur.
Right away, we were taken to room 111. It was the same room we had seen on the tour. That was cool since I had visualized the birth happening there. Within 15 minutes I was in bed, wearing a hospital gown, hooked up to the fetal monitor, and getting my IV. I think the IV was one of the things that worried me the most as they are usually so horrible to do on me. Luckily, the nurse who did it rocked! I was good to go and when the nurse looked at the monitor she said, “look, you are having contractions already.” Yep, right there I could clearly see the little hills of regular contractions. It was the same feeling that I was experiencing the day before when I sat on the balance ball out in the sun watching your dad and Grandpa E work. It just felt like menstrual cramps. I couldn’t tell the start and stop, so I just thought it was stretching. So, it seemed as if we were right where we needed to be. Grandpa M said bye and I almost cried then and there because he has always been so supportive of me and I felt like I was about to do this major thing. It was weird that I was about to become a parent and so much of what I think of parenting comes from all that my dad has done for me. It was a sweet goodbye and good luck. Then it was just me and your dad getting settled in. We watched as other monitors showed us the other women who were in L&D too. Throughout our long time there, I remained the oldest mom. We were especially interested in the monitor showing twins. Around 7:30 p.m. Dr. Carver came in to see how we were doing. We were watching Star Trek: Beyond. He checked my cervix and said that it was still high and only a fingertip dilated. Yikes! Then I got the Cervidil insert. That was slightly uncomfortable, but nothing like what I would feel later. We went to sleep around 10 or 11 p.m. and let the medicine do its thing.
There were some deliveries overnight, which we knew from hearing the lullaby played and seeing the action on the monitor. I slept a little, but around 2 a.m. my contractions were hurting so I asked for some pain medicine. That helped me sleep a couple more hours. Around 7 a.m. the Cervidil came out and Dr. Carver checked again, but I hadn’t changed much. I was told that I could have a shower and then we would start the Pitocin. So I showered, trying to keep my IV dry. At 8 a.m. the new nurse came in and started the Pitocin at a 2. Within the next two hours she had bumped me to an 8. This maybe got me to 1 cm dilated. And that is where I stayed for a while. And again, a blur. I was certainly nervous that if my labor didn’t progress I would have to do a C-section. Your dad and I passed the time with watching the monitors and surfing online. I don’t know where the day went as it just dragged. Around 1 p.m. the Pitocin was around 14 and I was crying from the pain. It was mostly back pain. I tried sitting on the ball and sitting up in a chair. None of it helped. When I asked the nurse about the pain, she came back saying that we would just do the epidural. That got me nervous as I had just read a story about a woman who got an epidural and then became paralyzed. So at 2 p.m. the anesthesiologist came in to do the block. I had sent your dad away so that he could get something for lunch (and in truth avoid seeing the huge needle). He had to wander to the cafeteria, which was pretty much shut down at that point. The epidural was a strange sensation of cool medicine running into me and then this numbness in my legs. This is where things got tricky. I had to get a catheter since I couldn’t walk. The nurse wanted me to change positions, but my lower body was so dead (and heavy) that I couldn’t do it without assistance. So the nurse and your dad had to move me, which was embarrassing and sent me off the emotional ledge with crying (which has yet to stop even now nearly a month later). This was one of those fat people moments when you are just so consumed by shame. It sucks! But, I got over that. Your dad was sweet and just reassured me that we were okay and to stay positive. After all, I was getting very excited about finally seeing you.
Somewhere in the dinnertime range, my epidural was wearing off. I felt a “hot spot” on my bikini line. That soon progressed to a larger area of pain, and the nurse called the doctor to have a “re-charge” of the line. The doctor came in and bumped the medicine while also adding a button I could press to give me an extra boost. That was freaky weird. The bump in medicine caused a drop in my blood pressure, which then caused your heart rate to increase as you had to work harder to get oxygen from me. I am sorry. After a shot of epinephrine, my blood pressure improved and your heart rate settled back into a better range. That all scared me for a while there. I wanted pain management, but not at any risk to you. I could tell my blood pressure was low because I felt like I was underwater, when clearly I was not. It was all managed very well by the nurses, and I even got a little IV dose of Dextrose to help give me some energy to power through the next part of labor. We were very lucky to be so blessed with amazing health care! Later, Aunt D brought your dad a late dinner of Chick-Fil-A. I had been eating ice chips since 10:30 the night before. I had to keep my tummy clear just incase I needed to have the C-section. Your dad, however, needed to eat so that he could stay alert and strong for the big show! When the nurse checked on me later that night I was at 4 cm. Aunt D left around 9:30 p.m. thinking it was going to be more of waiting. However, after just a couple more hours the nurse checked again, and I was at 9.5 and it was nearly go time. Your dad called Aunt D and she came right back somewhere around 12:30 or 1 a.m. We watched the contractions on the monitor and despite me pushing the epidural button, I was feeling those mountains of pain. It was an awesome sensation how my body just took over and did what has been programmed into females for hundreds of thousands of years. Granted, the pain management was helping, so that part was certainly something that I chose to do, but that is where my intentional choices ended. Around 1:15 a.m. the nurse had us start pushing…and now we move onto the story of your grand arrival!!!
With the contractions shaping as they should and my dilation on track, the nurse let Dr. Chen know it was close. She said, “let’s try some practice pushes” and with that, we were on the road to getting you your 1st breath. It was around 1 a.m. and your Aunt D took my left leg, your dad took my right leg, and the nurse was in the catcher’s position. She told me to take a deep breath and then counted while I pushed hard three times. I was working with the length of the contraction to try and squeeze you through the birth canal. The nurse said that she could see the top of your head, and that was awesome. We then decided to just keep doing the pushes. I had to feel the contraction coming on and then your dad, Aunt D, and the nurse all took their spots as we did the timed pushes. It seemed like the contraction was a little longer than the three pushes, so somewhere along the way I told the nurse that I would like to do four pushes. Sure enough, that seemed to help things along. Around 1:30 a.m. the team of other nurses and assistants showed up to set up the room to the doctor’s preference. There were instant tables of tools and the baby check up station came to life. Everyone was so great and throughout it I continued to feel the contractions come and we would all push. The nurse said that she thought it would be time soon, so we let Dr. Chen know. There was another one of his patients there too who was also getting close, but we were closer, so he showed up to us first. And thank goodness, because he wasn’t there that long when you were getting super ready to pop out. He told me to listen to his instructions and push when he told me to and to stop when he directed it. After a few more pushes he took over and said, “push…now stop….okay push…” and with those simple instructions I was working super hard because by this point it had been 32 hours and 30 minutes of labor and I was nearly spent. I was sweaty, and looking like I had just done a major workout, and I think I was squeezing my eyes shut to push when Aunt D said, “look, look!” I glanced down and sure enough Dr. Chen was just holding you up. Your eyes were wide open and in a second, you started to cry. You were placed right onto my chest and there we were skin to skin (heart to heart) for the 1st time. You can imagine how I cried. I think I said, “Hi baby!” I really can’t recall as I was so completely overwhelmed. It was 2:26 a.m. and there you were…in the world for real and I still couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe how small and perfect you looked. I had no idea what you would look like other than that I could tell you had your dad’s chin. That was apparent from the ultrasounds. You had big blue eyes, blonde hair (that was surprisingly long), and the sweetest face I have ever seen. I was instantaneously in love! Your dad was right there and I looked at him and was even more overcome with so much love that even as I type this I am tearing up. Your dad has been the spark that started all of these dreams into reality for me. He was right there with us and as I think about your special family it is truly a blessing for all of us. So you rested on me a bit and I was able to catch my breath and know that you were in the world – finally! Aunt D cried (and I am so glad that she was there for your birth). Your dad tells me he didn’t cry or even tear up a little, but I will say that his overly-tired, exhausted eyes look a lot like tears to me. The nurses told your dad that he could start taking pictures. I kind of remember that, and I am glad that he did get those photos because looking at them now it feels so dreamlike to me. While they had me holding you, your dad cut the umbilical cord. Then Dr. Chen delivered the placenta. I wanted to see it, so he held it up and I saw the side that was attached and the side facing you. I asked your dad to take a pic. Dr. Chen said, “it’s a boy too!” Then the nurses took you and cleaned you off better and weighed and measured you. I could feel the pressure of Dr. Chen stitching me up. I asked him if I tore and he said, “yes.” I didn’t get more info than that at the time. I also had the benefit of the pain management to help with that. After a bit, the nurses asked me to try and sit up. The epidural was wearing off enough that I could negotiate sitting on the side of the bed by myself. Your dad and Aunt D were taking their turns holding you. We have a picture of you wide awake in Aunt D’s arms just looking at her. It is one of my favorite pictures from your birth. Then the nurses assisted me in going to the bathroom…let me just say that I was not prepared for that much blood. I was given an ice pack for down there and that certainly helped with keeping things numb. Then, it was time to move us to the mother-baby unit. You were all wrapped up in a cute blanket and put into my arms. We rode in a wheelchair where we took an elevator to the 2nd floor. We were in room 2206 which was right at the end of the hall with a nice view out to the courtyard area between the hospital and the medical office building. You had your own rolling cart/bassinet that was right there with us. Your dad settled into the pull out bed/couch area. I ate a little snack as I was hungry beyond belief. We all attempted to sleep, but again, this time frame remains a huge blur. I remember getting up to go to the bathroom and getting one ice pack after another and on and on. I passed a few clots, but otherwise I was doing okay. At 9 a.m. Dr. Chen came in to do your circumcision. When you got back, your dad went with a nurse to give you a sponge bath. I didn’t go for that, so again I am glad he took some photos during that event. Once you were back from your bath we had a moment to settle before you were going to meet your grandparents.
Part of what made our introductions so fun was that only Aunt D knew your name. We erased where your name was on the room’s info board and wrote in Gandalf instead. Then your dad wore a sweatshirt over his “Lucas, I am your father” t-shirt. This was all a great set-up. Grandma J and Grandpa M arrived first. Again, they didn’t know your name so we told them it was Gandalf. Grandma J walked up to you in your bassinet and said, “Oh, little Gandalf.” She was sweet about it, but I couldn’t hold it in. I told my mom that wasn’t your name. I could tell they were relieved. We told them your name and they loved it. Right away they held you and said you were very cute. They asked how we were doing and just sat with us for a while. We were all set to pull the name gag on your other grandparents. So my parents were leaving just as your dad’s parents were coming in. It was tight quarters for a bit, but once Grandma G and Grandpa E were in your dad told them you were Gandalf. Grandma G made a face and there was an awkward pause as they approached you. I can’t recall how long we let them think your name was Gandalf, but when we finally did tell them your real name your Grandpa E was a bit disappointed (as he is a huge Tolkien fan). Anyway, we had a lot of fun with the name prank. Then, later that afternoon, we had all of your Aunts visit you at the hospital. Your Grandpa E brought a bottle of bubbly (and ginger beer for me) and we had a toast to you on your birthday! It was all really sweet and while that day was full of us learning all about you, and you learning all about the world, and pain and exhaustion and emotional overload…it was one of the best days ever….and I wish I wrote about it so much earlier while the memory was sharper. It was a full day and your dad and I used the room service menu from the hospital cafeteria to do our meals (as we did most of the days). We didn’t miss a beat with you. As much as we could we were there with you and alert as we could be. Your dad was a champ, really. I could’t have had anyone else in my wildest imagination be more supportive, loving, and engaged with the parenting load. I remember watching him holding you and feeling completely swallowed by all of this love that was flooding my system. It is an amazing thing to witness a man go from from boyfriend to fiancé to husband to father. I stared at your dad and just blinked back to when I first met him and he sat across from me at the chocolate shop where he humbled himself admitting he didn’t make a lot of money as if that would be a deal breaker for me. I remembered thinking he had kind (and beautiful eyes – like your eyes) and that I felt comfortable with him. In that moment I couldn’t have spun the mini-movie of how things would all pan out, even in my best effort to imagine this life I have now, I would have not believed it possible. Yet, your dad has given me the best gifts of his love, dedication, and optimism which created the hope – and that hope gave us you.
Part of being a newborn is having a lot of tests. Later that night, you were tested for your bilirubin levels and it came back elevated. We were told that you would get another test at 2 a.m. and we would see where that was at.
The Thursday test came back “high risk” and we were told that you were going to receive light therapy treatment. You were left in just a diaper and these black-out goggles were strapped over your eyes. Then, after measuring the distance of the lights to your body and the amount of light you were receiving, we watched as the nurse tucked you away in your glowing bassinet. When you cried, I would reach in and just have you hold my finger as I remained helpless to do anything for you. Your dad has a picture of me doing this. I will admit that I began to have some serious postpartum mood crashes here. To start, I had no idea what “high risk” even meant…high risk for what? I was still bleeding a lot (but normal according to all of the checks). The nurses would come in an push on my belly area while watching to see how things were coming out of me. The bleeding was all normal as my uterus was attempting to contract down which would help clamp down on the wall where the placenta was attached. I get that, but after months of terrifying bleeding and all of the fear that seeing red in the toilet and on my underwear was, it just kicked that fear off again. We also had started doing the breast pump from right when we were first settled into the mother-baby room. The pump hurt and I wasn’t getting much of anything. If there was a little sticky colostrum, we could use these wand-like lollipop swabs to soak it up and rub it inside your mouth. However, since I wasn’t producing anything substantial, we began giving you formula. Right away, your dad took over feeding you so that I could pump. Having the pain of pumping combined with very little output made me feel like a broken female. Your weight was dropping, as is normal, but without the formula you would have had nothing to eat. The hospital has a team of lactation specialists and so many different women attempted to latch you to me. My nipples were not cooperating. When I was pregnant they were perky as anything, however once I delivered you they turned to flat mush. You could try, but my body wasn’t helping you. So, despite all of the specialists, I couldn’t breastfeed you. And that is something that I thought I could do. Thursday we waited for the different bilirubin tests to tell us you were improving, but you weren’t, so you stayed under the lights and we did our best to only have you out for quick feedings. It was breaking my heart to not have you closer to us, but we also wanted to do what was the best for your health. I had a couple of crying meltdowns and your dad told me everything would be okay. It was just very hard to want to pick you up and console you when I couldn’t. Again, so much of this is a blur. I wish I could better recall the different nurses too. We had some really wonderful ones. Each nurse was so distinctly different and we were learning all kinds of helpful tips from them.
One online chat room suggestion that I am glad we took was to pre-pack thank you notes and some Starbucks gift cards. I was able to write up thank you notes to the nurses who were so very helpful to us. I didn’t do it for all of the nurses we had, but I wish I could have. I did a card for the nurse in Labor and Delivery who helped bring you into the world. Her name was Theresa. She was super reassuring and wonderfully positive. We were so lucky to have her there coaching us through those first series of pushes. We gave her the card as we were getting ready to be moved from L&D to mother-baby. With all of the craziness of L&D, I wonder if those nurses get a lot of specific thank you’s? Then the next nurse who we were so happy with was Sarah who took over the first daytime shift on Wednesday. We didn’t get a thank you done for her, which stinks because she was really good, but that day got away from us with visitors and then the bilirubin commotion, so I would still like write her a card and drop it by there when we go for our follow up appointment which is right by the hospital. Our Wednesday night to Thursday morning nurse was Heather. She was super sweet and when I had my meltdown while sitting on the toilet she came in and held my hands and talked me through my emotions. She was the one to set up your light therapy and she was completely attentive in a way that didn’t make me feel like a mess for needing her help so much. She reminded your dad and me of our friend Vanessa. We wrote her a nice thank you and were able to get that into her hands before she finished her shift that morning. She seemed very happy to get a card. Those night shifts are something else. Now that I am pulling the night shift, it is really crazy how it just messes with a normal routine. Our Thursday daytime nurse was Maurita. She was an older woman who was so sweet with taking care of both you and me. When you were on a tight time limit for feedings, as you needed to be under the lights, she would help to show us the best ways to hold you and the bottle so that you could eat well. She would tell us about her grand babies and how this or that experience was something to help us learn. Most importantly she reminded us that even with us being worried about your jaundice, we should bask in the special times that all of this was rather than let worry steal the show. She worded it so much better than that, but it was her calm and wise demeanor that really reassured me as I was waiting out the light treatment. So it was nice that we could do a card for her. She told us that it was a pleasure working with us. And when she signed-off that Thursday night we were introduced to our Thursday night through Friday morning nurse Amy.
Amy was awesome! She was the first nurse to really explain the ins and outs of your numbers. She told us your bilirubin results and showed where those numbers were on a graph. She explained how the numbers are variable depending on hours old. She just really took time with us. She also loved holding you as part of helping to soothe you. She did a sideways hold with a rocking motion and I have yet to replicate that. She was a little quirky and that is part of what we liked about her. She took care of us through the night and took you for you bilirubin tests. It was really nice to give her the thank you note because she was truly blown away to get it. She almost cried. She said she should be thanking us for being so great. We really did like having her. She was just a great nurse and helped to educate us so that we better knew what we were going through. When she left in the morning our next nurse was Regina. Her tech was La juana, who was the tech who did your sponge bath and hearing test too. Regina was responsible for getting us ready to be discharged that afternoon. La juana was awesome for all of the help she had been throughout our time there. We did thank you’s for both Regina and La juana and they were also very shocked to receive those from us. Let me back up a little though. Your early morning bilirubin scores showed that we could try to take you off the lights. We would still need another test to see how having no light therapy was impacting you. A different pediatrician came in to check on you. She was also really great at explaining everything to us. We became a huge fan of hers for that. As it appeared that we were going to be good to go, your dad began to pack up for that. I sent him home with a load of things, among them the awesome cookie bouquet that the tennis club people had sent us that Thursday. That was an awesome gift – we have pictures…what a great way for them to celebrate us. I begged your dad to bring me a Jimmy Johns when he got back. I had been craving lunch meat for so long. Sure enough he was back and I got cleaned up to make our photo-op exit. We loaded up the supplies that the various nurses and techs helped us to stash. I had brought an extra bag just for the loot, and I was glad that I did. La juana was in charge of wheeling us down to the exit. You were in your carrier and I held that as your dad had a cart full of our stuff…for the week in the hospital, we ended up with a lot of stuff! La juana waited with me while your dad got the car. She said that so many of the staff commented on what a great dad you have. It is true, your dad was quite the dad rockstar! It was clear to the staff that he was really watching closely so as to learn quickly how to best take care of both you and me. It was nice to know his effort was noticed. La juana took a picture of us getting ready to leave, which I am glad she did for us as that is a nice photo. Then we popped you into the base and I clambered into the front seat, while your dad got behind the wheel and we were off. What a crazy moment to be leaving with a little human along for the ride!
Our whirlwind of the hospital experience was wrapped and my head was spinning as I had no idea what was ahead. It was nuts! Driving home, it felt like we had been gone for a lot longer time than five days. Trees were blooming and everything looked so gorgeous and springlike. Our yard was stunning! We had all kinds of gorgeous flowers blooming, so when we were coming into the house, your dad went ahead and took pictures of me carrying you along the flower-filled walk. We opened the front door and Ivy greeted you with all the interest that 19 year old cat would grant, which was a sniff and then to turn and walk away (poor Ivy). We brought you in the house and then…boom….you were home and it was game on! We started to figure out how we were going to get you settled…it was all something that in hindsight we should have set up sooner, but we had no idea. Your dad worked at that while I got changed into comfy clothes and attempted to pump. Your Grandpa E picked up dinner for us from our favorite place and I had my favorite dish. I couldn’t eat a lot as I wasn’t feeling well. I just hurt and when I would pump, I would feel contractions and have extra bleeding. Your Grandpa E, Grandma G, and Aunt D were all here that first night and it was great that they could be. Your dad and I were exhausted, so having dinner taken care of was a huge help. We put you in the Halo bassinet in our room and then really watched the clock to make sure we were feeding you enough, as feedings were super important in helping to get you to poop out the bilirubin, and thereby bring your levels down. I don’t recall how that first night really went. I think we had a big meconium poop to clean up, which we did together. That Friday had been a flurry of activity and I just couldn’t begin to wrap my brain around it all.
Saturday morning we got ready and took you for a follow up appointment at the pediatrician’s office. That was at 8:45 a.m. We packed up the diaper bag and thought we were good to go for the quick drive to the north side of town, just an easy 20 minutes. When we got there, we were seen and then told that we were going to have to drive to Downers Grove for another appointment and lab work. So we left Naperville and drove to Good Samaritan Hospital. When we got there, we were early for the appointment, but went ahead and did your blood test. The lab tech explained that we should have taken your foot bandaids off a long time ago. All of your labs from the hospital were these heel sticks, so your feet and ankles were always bandaged up. The adhesive from the bandaids was irritating your skin. We had left them on since no one had told us to take them off…new parent fail. While your dad was with you for your blood work, I had to do the bathroom thing. Postpartum bathroom trips are not quick…not at all. I had the diaper bag and took care of things. Then we went to wait for our other appointment. Luckily they had a room we could go in so that we could feed you. We had brought some bottles of formula with us even though we never imagined that our simple trip would have turned into a half day outing. We then met Karen, the lactation specialist for the pediatrician’s office. She was super nice and gave us a lot of advice. She was concerned that my being PCOS and Hypothyroid might interfere with being able to produce milk and/or breastfeed. She hooked us up with all kinds of goodies on our way out. Finally, we were back to the car and on our way home. We stopped at a strip mall pizza place where I got us a sampling of various things that were all rather bad. When we got home we were surprised to see a really cute sign announcing your birth in our front yard. It said “A Star is Born” and had your birth details on it. Your Aunt A had ordered it for us. We took some photos and then we ate, you ate, and we all passed out. One of the doctors from the group called to explain to us that your bilirubin numbers were still high and that we would have to do another test the next day. She was the same very informative doctor who talked to us Friday when we were being discharged from the hospital. I thought it was really great that she followed up with us from home. However, both your dad and I were worried about the test results as they were still in that high risk range. The threat for neurological damage increases with the time that the bilirubin remains high. We were a worried mess. Then Grandpa M and Grandma J wanted to come visit. They picked up some Mexican food for dinner and when it got here is was a bit cold and rubbery, but your dad and I were so hungry we gobbled it up anyway. Your grandparents didn’t stay long and after they left we realized that we never even had them hold you. We were more worried about your eating schedule. With our bellies full and wracked with exhaustion we called it a day. I don’t remember the evening, because with my whacked out no schedule schedule I couldn’t tell what was coming or going.
Easter! We bought you a card, but we never filled it out. Maybe I can do that during one of your naps. Anyway, it was off to the hospital’s ER for the blood test as no labs were open given the holiday. We got to the check-in and there were another newborn after us that also needed the bilirubin test. Your dad took you back and again you were super good about the blood test. However, when your dad brought you back out you were stinky….yay for a poopy diaper but then when I went to change you in the bathroom that was only the start of a monster poop onslaught that had poop actually spraying over the changing table, paper towel dispenser, floor and the package of wipes that I needed to use to clean that all up. I got you cleaned up and passed off to your dad, but man the aftermath of that poop was insane. It took four diapers: the one that you started with all dirty, the new one that as I was putting it on you got pooped in, the next one that I put on, and another diaper to wad the two dirty ones in. On our way home we stopped at Walgreens and I tossed that diaper out as it was stinking up the car. We were just happy that you were pooping because that is how you would be able to get the bilirubin out of your system. When we were home we relaxed a little and simply enjoyed the nice day. Later, around 3 p.m., your Aunt J and Uncle J stopped by on their return home from Aunt A’s Easter gathering. Your Aunt D, Grandpa E, and Grandma G were also here getting our Easter dinner together. Grandpa E had made lasagna – I love that and thank goodness for the leftovers that gave us! We had chicken, Hawaiian salad, and your Grandma G had made a carrot cake (which I was too full to eat). It was a nice Easter and you were there for it with us!
We went to the pediatrician’s office again for a follow up and another blood test. As part of that appointment, I had to fill out a postpartum depression screening inventory. I answered it honestly. We were able to get you to latch on me, but you didn’t suck. Karen suggested nipple shields in order to give you something to work on, which have worked on occasion. She also gave us more formula samples. You were looking yellow so she had us go to the lab and do another stick in order to see how it was going. Later your numbers came back still high and while it wasn’t enough to pull you into the hospital for treatment, it was enough to continue to worry us.
We did another visit to the lab for another stick to see how your numbers were looking. Again, as these days of my postpartum all blur together from the repeating cycle of diaper, feed, soothe, hopefully sleep, repeat….I can’t recall a lot of specifics. This was my birthday…I was now 43…yikes!
We were full on taking care of you and I think we were getting things better figured out. Your dad was super quick to pick up on your various squeaks and grunts. He could tell what was a diaper need versus being hungry. Your dad has been so great with helping to take care of you. It is really sweet to see. I also got a call from a nurse explaining that my postpartum survey was showing that I was trending toward needing treatment. I assured her I would monitor it and ask for help if I really felt that I needed it.
Your Grandpa E, Grandma G, and Aunt D came over at night to celebrate my birthday. We are sharing a birthday month kiddo – cool! Just so you know your original due date as calculated by the transfer date and your early measurements was my birthday. Your Grandpa E tried to make us big steaks and baked potatoes on the grill. The steaks were slow to get done and the potatoes turned into a funny joke with your Aunt D. We had Portillos chocolate cake and you helped me blow out the candles. We have a nice pic of that. You were still so little and still trying to get past the jaundice. It was a nice night and your dad’s side of the family made it special for us.
The rest of the week was your dad’s remaining leave (which included the following Monday too). The week flew right by. Your dad and I worked hard to try and figure out how to really navigate the steps to soothing you. Right away you were super gassy and that gas pain must have been so uncomfortable for you. I just can’t imagine how shocking it is for you to go from the coziness of being inside my womb to the harsh conditions of the real world…changing clothes, changing diapers, eating food, trying to poop and pass gas….what a changeup! Your dad and I began to feel the effects of sleep deprivation, and as we neared the end of his leave, we attempted to piece together some type of schedule that would build in some mandatory sleep time for me while attempting to keep your dad rested as working with tools and in conditions that can seriously injure or get him killed requires that he rest solidly. Our plan has been that I try to sneak little naps here or there with the help of your grandparents watching you while your dad is at work. I may only get 1 hour, but it is helpful. Then I try to sleep 7-10 p.m. Your dad watches you and I sleep a quality stretch. Your dad goes to bed from 10:30 p.m. – 6 a.m. In the morning he helps to watch you so that I can pump or go to the bathroom. It has been what we are doing, but man it is hard. The lack of a normal sleep schedule really messes with me. I can’t keep things straight and I get so tired at times that I actually tremble. My eating is all over the place too. I snack through the night and then try to eat something during the daytime. It isn’t easy. Worse is how beat up my body is. I tore, so I had to be so careful with bathroom issues. I was being super good about taking stool softeners, but then my body swung a little too soft and things got very messy. I backed off the dose there and then more recently have swung the other way and the massive constipation (which I have never experienced in my life before) that caused a hemorrhoid. Now have two areas of bleeding and I can only imagine what my blood work will look like next week. I can tell I am anemic. On top of the bleeding and crazy physical stuff I have struggled with some of the mental aspects of the postpartum period.
I think I will attempt to write about the baby blues in more detail later, but holy moley have I been an emotional mess. I have cried like I haven’t ever cried in my life before. The smallest thing could set me off. I know it is a lot of the hormonal swings and lack of sleep, but I also recognize how my brain is trying to wrap itself around how drastically my life has changed in an instant. I am absolutely tied to you in a way where my body is at your mercy. I am making milk, leaking milk, pumping milk – and hopefully keeping up with your needs there. I am jumping right in where and when you need it, even if it means I might pee myself because I can’t sneak away to the bathroom when I need to. I am away from work and my social circle and even trying to do the simple chores around the house or errands around town has become an issue of timing relative to when to pump and where your feeding/napping/changing schedule falls. When your dad went back to work on April 25th, I was so grateful for Grandpa M and Grandma J’s help. They are able to be here the bulk of the day when your dad is at work. It allows me to get extra rest, do some housework, see my cats, get a shower, return some work emails, and just know that you are in good hands. When Grandpa M was here on that first Wednesday (4/26) that your dad was back at work, it was extra helpful because we had to go to the doctor for your crusty eye. You ended up having a clogged tear duct and there were signs of infection brewing. You were seen by Dr. Murphy, who turned out to be wonderful. She not only worked on treating your eye, but she gave you a nice exam. Your cord had fallen off so she checked that. She also checked your measurements and you continue to be in the 50%. We got your eye drops and I had to also massage your tear duct to force out the gooey stuff. I can remember feeling like I was to blame somehow because you weren’t clean enough. Giving you baths is something I love. Your skin has been good up until recently when you have started to get baby acne. There is nothing I can do about that, so I just hope you are ok. Between your eye and the bumps, you have wanted to scratch your face and your nails are sharp so I keep you in these little mittens so that you don’t do any damage. It is pretty cute watching you flap your little flippers around.
Friday, 4/28 we went to your dad’s work and showed you off to the office. You were so cute and sweet for everyone. They all said you were an adorable baby and all of the women held you – so did your dad’s boss who even helped to feed you. That weekend was a blur and then somehow it was the next week and start of May. On Wednesday, 5/3 we went to my work. My boss held you for nearly 45 minutes. She also bought you more gifts – among them some cool Crocs with Star Wars decorations. Again, you were so sleepy and snuggly while at my work. However, in the past two weeks your fussiness has been crazy! When your dad thought that I was probably exaggerating that, he soon learned that I wasn’t. You have had some really frustrating spells. I am certain that it is all digestive in nature. The gas, the spit up, the gurgling sounds…your little tummy and guts are striving to do their job. You don’t poop often, so that has to be a part of it too. Even in your sleep it is obvious that you are uncomfortable. With all of the fussing, your dad and I couldn’t do up the holiday that we thought would have been so fun for you…MAY THE 4TH! Originally we were going to decorate and have people over. Well, your Aunt D came over and we played Rouge One for her. I passed out and simply couldn’t stay awake for the movie. We hope that next year our May the 4th celebration will be much more official.
On Cinco de Mayo you weighed 9 lbs 4 ounces!! Just two days ago you were 9 lbs 7 ounces – and that was after the huge poop (which you went 7 days between poops and had the whole family freaking out with worry that you were going to explode…which you kind of did). It appears that you are doing all of the things that you should be doing. We do tummy time with you and you can turn your head. You have a preference to one side when on your tummy, and a different side when snuggled on my chest, and then looking to the right when you are in the crib. Oh yes, finally we have you sleeping in the dark, with a sound machine going, in your nursery. The nursery is so cozy and you really do seem to do great there. Amen!
Finally, the start of May has been super rainy and cold. When we first got back from the hospital with you there were a tortie colored stray cat that frequently visited our patio and fended off raccoons while trying to scavenge for scraps. We named her Coco the cat. Soon Coco started to come around more and more often and sure enough we were feeding her – how could we not when we have so much cat food? Now she comes on the porch and snuggles in a little bed we made for her in the cat tree. She will perch on the stoop by the family room sliding door and watch you. Your dad and I are convinced that she is somehow specially connected to you. We have grown really fond of her and don’t know how we are going to continue to care for her as we really can’t have her in the house and having her on the porch is tough because the raccoons are always trying to steal her food (and raccoons on the porch is gross). But since we have no plan in place, we will continue to take care of her and give her love and attention. She is very friendly and so sweet. I want to look out for her because it is rough going in this area given the coyotes and other critters that would certainly make a quick snack of her. Even though she is little she is super fierce. We have watched her fight off raccoons with fast swats of her sharp claws. Speaking of coyotes, as I type this, there is one roaming the yard and the kitty just went to the door. I think she doesn’t feel like there is an escape from the porch. Sadly, she picked a bad time to test her exit. I hope that my moving around in here frightened away the coyote. The raccoons continue to come around. I have been up since 10 and it is now 2. The whole time I am writing here, I stop to chase away raccoons and continue to watch you on the monitor. I will need to try and sleep soon. I just worry about Coco. I don’t want anything to happen to her, but since she is free range, I can’t control that. It would break my heart. The other day she was gone for a long time. It made me so sad because I feared the worst. However she came back and I was so happy. Your dad and I have gotten very attached to her. We shall see what happens.
In the meantime, you are stirring which makes me think you will need another bottle soon. I will try to write more, but given how crazy things are I don’t know when that would be. Speaking of being attached, I really love holding you and rocking in the chair while everything is quiet. I love you so much and just can’t believe how wonderful it is to have you here for real…and there are times where it still seems like a dream. That is my pieced together update. I hope I captured things okay for you! Keep being a strong, healthy, growing boy! You are the world to your dad and me!