Monday, June 27, 2011

Why I Don't Sleep

Ryan used to sleep so great that he completely blindsided me when he all of a sudden went from sleeping 13 hours a night (The first 8-9 hours in a row with no waking) to very, VERY suddenly waking up constantly at 3 months. This began our cycle of frequent night nursing that I am now trying to get under control since he is at the age where it is no longer physically necessary for him to do that.

I logged this one day/night last week. It's a pretty typical 24 hours for us.

7:30 am: Awake for the day

9:40 - 11:10: Nap (1.5 hours)

1:30 - 3:00: Nap (1.5 hours)

5:00 - 6:00: Nap (1 hour)

Note the awesome naps. These are usually predictable, we can count on them and they are perfect for his age. He'll probably drop the last one soon. Love him for his naps.

7:45 pm: Bed (this is usually closer to 7pm)

10:45: Fuss (this means we go up, pat his butt and shhhh him, and he goes back to sleep)

11:10: Fuss, nurse, back in bed in 15 minutes

12:50 am: Fuss

1:36 - 2:22: Crying, crying, crying, soothing back to sleep (This time is always a feeding, but this is the first night I didn't give it to him, hence the crying and extended awake time).

2:30: Crying - I give in, nurse, back in bed in 15 minutes

4:03: Fuss

4:50 - 5:15: Cry, nurse, diaper

6:30: Fuss, bring to bed with me, sleep (I can usually change his diaper and put him back in his crib with his crib toy on at this time, he will talk to himself awhile and fall back to sleep, but sometimes I just bring him in with me.)

7:30 am: Awake for the day

Rinse and repeat.

Try to find an hour in there after 10pm when I wasn't's hard.

Despite the way-too-frequent wakeups, we do have some things going for us, like the fact that he takes appropriate naps and goes back down in his crib within 10-15 minutes of nursing most times at night (that was a battle for awhile, but now he usually goes back down without objection).

His naps are by design. I know what's appropriate for his age and don't let him get overtired - EVER. He is in his crib asleep before he ever reaches exhaustion. I plan things around his naps whenever possible. It may seem unnecessary but to me it's not. I believe in doing everything possible to make sure kids get the right amount of sleep for their age - it affects so much. Babies and even older kids crave routine and normalcy, it makes them feel safe and secure, and he has this. Despite his constant night fussings, he gets exactly the amount of sleep he should, and he doesn't really even "wake up" for these feedings.

What his Pediatrician told us is that they can usually go 10 hours without eating at this age (actually, that was 2 months ago that she said that). From his bedtime at 7pm to his wake-up anywhere between 7am and 8am, it's 12-13 hours, so I have no problem feeding him once, maybe twice a night, but I know that he is not always hungry, he just wants the comfort of it. You can't blame him, but we still need to make changes. Usually he wakes for his first feeding between 11:30pm and 12:30am. I believe he may genuinely be hungry at this time and have no problem nursing him. He may also just want some physical contact and reassurance that I'm there, since it's been 5 hours - OK by me. Now, when he wakes at around 2am, I know he's not hungry, but he will not settle down until I nurse him. The night I cataloged above is evident of that because he eventually went back to sleep, and if he was truly hungry, I would have been able to tell. He also will nurse for just a few minutes before he's back to sleep - not a whole feeding.

Last night, I also did not give in to this feeding, and he went back to sleep for another hour before waking at 4am. 4am is another common feeding time for him, and I did not argue with him for this one (one battle at a time), so he did essentially skip the 2am feeding and was fine. He then woke at around 6:30 and at this time I normally feed him, put him back in his bed wide awake and he plays for a bit and falls back to sleep. I decided to see if he'd go back down without eating - and he did, with no problem. The next time he nursed was 8am and he was not even that hungry! Which really reassures me that I can cut out 2 of these feedings. Definitely the 2am, and then either the 4am or 6am. I believe that if I'm not nursing him back to sleep at these times (just 2am for now) that he will ultimately stop waking at this time. We shall see.

One last thing I'll add is that I never leave him in his crib to just cry, that's not how I "deny" him the feeding. We walk, rock, cuddle, sing, soothe in any way possible, and Todd helps me. He will cry less if Todd is holding him because that way the milk isn't so close that it's ticking him off as much to not be able to have it.

I was originally just going to post this with the title and the sleep log for that 24 hour period, but decided to expand a little. I'd better stop now - it's 11:40 and I await the beckoning of my baby bear :).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ryan Right Now

Ryan Right Now

I apologize in advance for the blurriness in a lot of the pictures. Most of these were taken on my phone, but I promise we take plenty of pictures of him with the good camera!

It is the easiest thing in the world to make him smile. Unless he’s in a really bad mood which is rare, all you have to do is look at him and smile and he breaks out in a grin from ear-to-ear. You can do it over and over and over and he’ll smile every time. It melts my heart! Here’s a winning smile while helping mom with the laundry:

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to make him laugh, but he does laugh! It’s fun to see what does it for him. You can do something one day and he’ll think nothing of it. You can do the same thing the next day and he’ll think it’s the most hilarious thing he’s ever seen (and vice versa). One thing that’s guaranteed to make him laugh is if someone new or someone he hasn’t seen in a while talks to him – he thinks it’s hilarious! He loves new faces. Here’s a great video of him laughing, this was just taken today:

He wakes up constantly at night – we’re still working on it. From the time he was 11 weeks until 15 weeks he slept through the night like a dream. Now he wakes and cries at the very least 6 times a night, and won’t go back to sleep without eating at least 3 of those. We’re working with some methods from the book “The No-Cry Sleep Solution.” On the upside, he is now sleeping in his crib for both nighttime and naps (this transition was actually quite easy), is swaddle-free, and at naptime he will usually put himself to sleep with very little, if any, fussing. This is major for us because while staying asleep for naps was hardly ever a problem, getting to sleep had become a huge problem and had me stressed to the max at times. He takes 3 naps a day, and while they have somewhat shortened in length since moving to his crib for naps, I think they’ll be back to normal soon. Here’s my sleepy naptime boy:

We are working on our next milestone – sitting up on his own! We practice all different ways and he is doing great. He can hold it for at least a few seconds, probably 10 seconds a few times. The other day he sneezed and didn’t fall over, and at one point when he started to tip, he put his hand down to catch himself. We have skipped the “rolling over” milestone for now, his Pediatrician said she can tell he is plenty strong enough to do it if he wanted to so she isn’t worried and he’ll do it when he wants. He doesn’t like to stay on his tummy long enough to try, but he has come close a few times this past week. She said that sitting up is more important and he should be able to do it around 6 months. Here he is sitting up!

Sitting up is slightly impeded when you have a fluffy butt. In the last couple weeks we have started to transition to using cloth diapers. When I was pregnant, I wasn’t interested in cloth diapering because there was already too much to think about and it was overwhelming. I didn’t want one more thing to research and figure out. When Ryan was sick toward the end of May, he was sleeping a lot during the day and I was bored. I somehow ended up looking at cloth diapers online and haven’t looked back. We are still trying to figure out which ones we like best and don’t quite have a large enough stash to do it full-time, but we will soon. I wish I had started when he was a newborn, but better late than never. I first wanted to try them because they looked so comfortable compared to disposables, and that’s still my main reason for doing it. [If you are my husband, please skip the next sentence]. I don’t think it’s going to save us much money because I’ll always want to be buying new prints and trying new kinds, so it’ll end up costing us more than disposables. But they ARE comfy! This week we are also starting to use cloth wipes. This is something I never thought I’d do – that is, until I realized how yucky it was pulling the dirty wipes out of the poopy diapers to throw out before washing the diaper. It’s much easier to use a cloth wipe and throw it in with the diapers to be washed. One of our newest diapers, “Camosaurus Rex:”

Ryan is drooling like a slobbery dog and his hands are always in his mouth. He also sucks (or more like chews) on his thumb everyday now, too. He doesn’t have any teeth yet but I think he may in another month. When you hold him close to your face, he opens his mouth as wide as he can, pants like a dog and tries to lunge forward – he wants to eat your face. I want to eat his little face, too, so I understand. Here’s a picture of he and daddy trying to eat each other’s faces:

Car rides are so, so much easier than they were in the recent past. He is usually content for quite some time now, and doesn’t really do the panicked, inconsolable scream he did as a confused, scared, newborn passenger. He has a toy on the handle of his carseat, a star with a smiley face that lights up all different colors, and he thinks it’s the greatest thing ever. He will laugh it at and then when it goes off, I will look in the rearview mirror and he’ll be staring at it with a sad little face waiting for it to come back on – it’s quite sad to see! This is him laughing up at his star:

A couple of weeks ago, he learned to yell/scream for fun and it’s actually pretty funny! It’s usually when he’s lounging in his bouncer or laying on his playmat – he just yells and screams until he sounds like he’s going to be hoarse. He’s doing it because he’s learning to test his voice and his range; his Pediatrician said he would start doing that and she was right. This can only be shown by video!

Also a few weeks ago he discovered his own feet. Now every time he is being changed he will immediately reach for his feet to hold onto them (makes diaper changes a little difficult though). I wonder when he’ll realize they reach to his mouth (because they do!). It might sound gross but one of my favorite things to do is smell his little feet – they’re yummy! My mom loves it, too, so either I’m not weird, or I just get my weirdness from her. Here’s a piggy picture:

Ryan started going to daycare 2 days per week, Wednesdays and Thursdays, when he was 12 weeks old. He really likes it there because it’s a change of pace – different sights and sounds and people. He is only there from 9:15 – 4:45, and sleeps half of that time. His teachers are great and every time I pick him up they go on and on about what a good baby he is. I am so relieved. The first day that I left him there I felt like I had ripped my heart out and left it there. I felt like I had abandoned him and was the worst mother in the world. Now I love to see his face light up in a smile when we get there and he sees his teachers, and I think it gives us the perfect balance that we both need. I feel like just yesterday I was in grade school. Now I have a son having “school pictures” taken and bringing artwork home. I know he’s still an infant and he’s not in elementary school or anything, but there is still something surreal about it. This is his first “school picture” and a picture of him doing some “plastic wrap painting.”

Occasionally if Ryan wakes up early from a nap for whatever reason, I will lay down on the couch or in the bed with him, cuddle him against me and he’ll go back to sleep instantly. If I let him nurse while he sleeps, he’ll sleep a loooong time. Although I don’t want to make it an every day habit, I adore these cuddle naps. He lies on his side facing me with his head on my arm and his little face near mine, and I just breathe him in. There is no time in the world when he is more comfortable and peaceful than these times. Secretly, I want him to sleep in bed with me like this at night, every night, but not only do I know it’s better not to start that habit, but I honestly can’t stay in that position, or any workable position, long enough. I need my space to sleep on the rare occasion that I even get to sleep. Here he is during one of our cuddle naps:

The craziest place he’ll fall asleep is in his carseat. Not that crazy, you say? You’d be right. He’s not the kind of baby to just fall asleep anywhere. If he’s not on us or in his carseat, he’s in his bed. You’ll never see him fall asleep at play. And so:

Taking him out of this house now, compared to just a couple months ago, is completely night and day. When we used to take him out he would be much the same as he was at home – just not content for very long. He would get overstimulated very easily when we went out and would not stay happy. Once he was big enough to sit in the regular seat of his stroller, he started to get a lot better, and now we’ve started venturing out more and are amazed at how good he is, even if what we’re doing runs into a naptime (which is hard to avoid when we do go out, because he is always ready for a nap after being awake for 2 hours). I do try to get home in time for naptime if at all possible. He is just so much more interested in his surroundings now, and never really cries unless something is really wrong. This is when we went to Best Buy to buy a video camera to capture the cute videos above:

He has just started being able to (or wanting to) content himself in his crib, either while falling asleep or after waking up. It’s cute to watch on the monitor. While he’s falling asleep at night, if he’s not already asleep when I put him down, he’ll usually do this little repetitive moan until he falls asleep, but sometimes it’s more of a sing-song. In the morning, he likes to scream and yell (playfully) and stare right into the monitor camera and talk. It’s adorable (although it makes it hard for us to get any more rest) because he looks like he sees me and is talking right to me…like he knows. This picture is of when he just woke up – ignore the huge puddle of drool underneath him:

He has had 3 long, yucky colds since starting daycare (and I do blame them for every one of them). I know it’s building up his immune system but by the 3rd time, I stopped caring about that because he is so darn miserable when he has them. I realize it’s just a cold and I am thankful it’s nothing worse, but it’s sad to see him sick, especially when he can’t sleep at night. We have to alternate between his swing and crib so he gets some upright time to clear his nose. I can always tell when the colds are coming now. For a couple days leading up to it, he will cough just once or twice. A tiny little cough or two that you’d normally think nothing of, but now I know it means a cold is on the horizon and often by bedtime, it’s in full force. This has honestly made me consider pulling him out of daycare and getting a sitter for just those 2 days, but I don’t think it’d be easy to find someone for only 2 days per week, and I don’t trust having someone in-home (without us mounting cameras) after things I’ve seen on TV. I still think daycare is good for him, but the sick part really stinks. Here’s a picture of my sad, sick baby with his most recent cold (which was surprisingly short-lived compared to the others):

We recently put up his highchair in the kitchen. He’s not eating solid foods yet (just a few more weeks, though), but I thought it would be nice to get him used to sitting in it and it’s a different place for him to play while we’re doing things in the kitchen. As you can see, he likes it!

That is all for now, but every week there is something new and I know we have a lot of exciting milestones coming up, so I’ll definitely be doing more of these posts (or maybe I’ll be really good, and post enough to talk about each one separately!).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The first few weeks...

The first few weeks were pretty crazy. I honestly don't know how this post will turn out because, well, I don't know if I've forgotten what it was like or not.

We didn't get home from the hospital until close to 11pm the night we were released. I didn't envision coming home that late and something about it bothered me, but really I was just relieved to be coming home together. Todd and I brought the baby in our car and my mom followed in hers; she would be staying with us for his first week. We were starving so we hit the McDonald's drive thru when we were almost home.

When we got home, we ate, passed around the baby, let him sleep in his Pack 'N' Play and on us...nothing too exciting because at that point all he did was sleep. I pulled out my pump and got to work. Before we knew it, it was time for bed...and I was nervous. He was 5 days old and it truly seemed all he did was sleep. At the hospital that day we had to keep waking him up to feed him, but he had been asleep for pretty much the last 11 hours. In all our time at the hospital, I don't remember having him ever wake up crying and wanting to be fed, so I was afraid he wouldn't wake me to eat (and he was supposed to be eating about every 2 hours). I said to my mom "So, now what? I just got to bed and wait for him to cry?" Her response was "Yep, pretty much." I look back now and laugh that I honestly thought he would just lay there and quietly starve. Now I know there is no such thing as a quiet, hungry baby.

I don't know what time it was, but sure enough I was awakened by a blood curdling scream that scared the hell out of me. The way I jumped up in bed you would think an air raid siren had gone off. Cue the first of hundreds of nighttime feeding routines to come, on what would at times seem to be an infinite 2-3 hour cycle. I have to say, although there was always something nice about seeing his sweet face in the middle of the night, I really hated those night feedings for his first 6ish weeks. There was a special kind of exhaustion (and by this I mean I'll be contrasting it to nursing) that came along with having to get out of bed, bring him to the nursery to change him, bring him downstairs to get the bottle and heat it up (whilst the kitchen lights sealed the deal on his wide-awakeness), 9 times out of 10 while he was screaming, going back upstairs to feed him (which took forever because they drink so slow at first, and keep falling asleep), burp him and keep him upright awhile, put him back down to sleep and then, as I mentioned in my last post, I would often have to pump to make the bottle for his next feeding which took 20+ minutes. By the time I was done, I had maybe 30-45 minutes to sleep before he would wake up again and we'd do it all over again.

My mom would often come to the doorway and ask if I wanted her to take him, or when I went in to change him in the nursery where she was sleeping, she would always offer to help so I could sleep. I don't know why, but I never really took her up on her offers during the night (yes, I sit here kicking myself now). I just felt like I should be doing it, that I'd have to do it myself when she was gone, so it didn't seem right to pass him off to her. That's not to say when I couldn't take the exhaustion anymore I didn't wake Todd up and beg him to get the bottle ready, or feed him. I usually did once a night and he was great about it, but I didn't really sleep while he helped, I just laid there exhausted and watched or closed my eyes and listened.

I remember feeling so anxious the first couple weeks, during the day, that I couldn’t sleep whenever my mom or Todd wanted to let me. I was so exhausted but so afraid to sleep because I couldn’t let myself “check out” and not know what was going on at any given time. I didn’t know what Ryan would do or need and when (looking back, all he did was eat/sleep/eat/sleep so I don’t know why I felt this way), and it wasn’t that I didn’t trust Todd or my mom, but the only way to describe it was that I was terrified to be asleep and not know what was happening every second. Once the first few weeks passed, after Todd went back to work and I was home with Ryan 24/7 and got to know his rhythm, I was more able to relax. If he went to sleep, I would make Todd promise to wake me as soon as he woke up, and then I could rest. A couple more weeks, and I was comfortable with making plans that would allow me more sleep. I would go over the “plan” with Todd – such as going to sleep as soon as Ryan did (during the day), then knowing Todd would change him and give him his bottle when he woke up, and put him back to sleep, and then wake me as soon as he woke up after that. All with the understanding that he’d wake me the second Ryan got upset.

The first month after Todd went back to work were rough. Honestly, I don’t know why. Ryan slept so much, but I still felt like I never had a free second. A lot of time was spent pumping and trying to nurse and keeping him happy while I pumped because it never seemed to fall during his sleep times. I remember one day I took my shirt off to nurse him and didn’t get a chance to put it back on until 4 hours later. Again, looking back, I don’t know why it was so hard. Right now everything is second nature so it’s hard to bring my mind back to that flustered state and remember how it felt – but it was hard.

I want to try to revisit his newborn stage again, but in the interest of starting more current entries, I’m just going to publish. Ryan is now 5 months and growing faster than I’ll ever record in this blog if I keep trying to play catch up. I need to skip ahead to “right now” because he is changing every single day and I know I will forget so much. Tonight or tomorrow I will start talking about now. I wish I stayed more current before, but it’s more important now that he’s got such a personality and is starting to learn and do so many things!

I’ll give myself a deadline of next weekend to post…

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The first 4 months...Part 1

Well, I am pretty disappointed in myself for not posting the last 4 months, but all I can do is try to be better about it now. Even if it's just short posts here and there, I need to keep up. Ryan is growing and changing so fast, I'll just never remember the things that I want to if I don't get them in writing.

So where do I start? I love this kid to pieces. I can't even describe it - at all. When he goes to bed at night, I don't even want to put him down. During the day, I smother him in kisses to the point where he sometimes gets ticked off but I can't stop myself, and every day, I really do love him more. Everything about him is my favorite thing. I don't just love his smiles, his coos, his adorable face...I love his pouty lips, his stinky hands and feet, the way he yells "mah!" when he's mad, his milky baby breath and even the smell of baby puke lingering on his cheek, burp cloth, or dirty clothes. Yes, I said I love the smell of my baby's throw up (hey, it's just milk). Sometimes I am afraid I will actually eat him up because I can't contain how much I love him.

Don't get me wrong, he has his moments and I have had mine. There have been a few breakdowns, but mostly before the 6 week mark which is when I felt things really started to fall into a routine, get easier, and I "knew" my baby - what he wanted and when, what soothed him, what ticked him off. At this point in the game I can really say I am 100% comfortable with his needs and it's rare that there is a time I don't know why he's upset. He throws a curveball every now and then, but for the most part I can say he's predictable. But yes, those first few weeks were hard. It will be easier with future kids because then you know that everything (everything!) really is "just a phase" and there is light at the end of the tunnel when you feel like you'll never sleep again, or like 10pm - 2am will be a screamfest every night for the rest of your life. Everything changes, and fast. Unfortunately sometimes that means the good things are short-lived too (more on that, later).

Breastfeeding. This was originally going to be its own post - oh well. What once was a chore is now the easiest, most convenient thing in the world for us, and I am so thankful it turned out to be that way because the first few weeks, I really didn't think it would. Our problems started in the hospital. It's highly recommended that you first breastfeed your baby just minutes after their birth. I didn't go in with my heart set on this, I just knew I wanted to breastfeed. I didn't have the opportunity to nurse him right after he was born because of the "repair work" that I had to have done and if you read the birth story in my previous entry, you know why I didn't get the chance that night, either.

The next day a nurse came in and asked if I wanted to try. To be honest, I wanted to say "no, thanks." I was in so much pain and so, SO tired from the pain medication that I didn't want to do anything, let alone something with a learning curve, but I said "yes" because I knew we needed to get it figured out sooner rather than later. She brought Ryan in and tried to help him latch on, but he wouldn't, and I was useless because as it turned out, I could NOT stay awake. I kid you not, I was completely non-participatory in our first attempt to breastfeed. The pain meds I had were so strong that I literally just sat there, while the nurse tried to get him to nurse, and continually fell asleep. I tried so hard to listen to what she was saying and watch what she was showing me, but my eyes would not stay open. She tried for about 5 minutes and then said we'd try later and that she'd send one of the LCs (Lactation Consultants) to see me. When the LC came later that day, I had the same problem - I could not keep my eyes open for the life of me. After just a few minutes of trying with no luck, this LC proceeded to tell me "well, you'll probably just have to pump." Not as in "pump until he learns to latch" but as in "only pump, forever." Really? It takes some women months to get their baby to successfully breastfeed and after just 5 minutes you're already concluding it's not going to work and I should give up? She also said something to imply that it was no different than breastfeeding because he's still getting the milk. Well, there's nothing wrong with EPing (exclusively pumping), but having had to do that the first few weeks I can say it's not the same as BFing - it's harder, doubles the time it takes to feed them, and it is extremely hard to keep up with pumping enough to feed around the clock.

On Day 3, a different LC came in - Nurse Lawrence. Just a few hours earlier, they had started Ryan under the bili lights, but they brought him in with this LC. The timing couldn't have been any worse; I had JUST been given another dose of my pain meds in the IV and I knew that meant about 22.7 seconds before I crashed. Todd told them it wasn't a good time because he knew what those meds did to me, but I couldn't pass up this chance because he was already 3 days old and hadn't nursed and we [thought we] would be going home the next day, and then I'd have to figure it out completely on my own. Somehow, I was able to fight through the meds (the dosage was lower than the first 2 days) and this LC was AWESOME. She spent so much time showing us exactly how to put the pillows/blankets for the right support (PSA to any moms-to-be, just buy the My Brest Friend pillow, it takes the work out of positioning), undressed Ryan to his diaper for skin-to-skin contact, and showed me exactly what to do, and it worked! He nursed for about 15 minutes which was great, and a really amazing experience. She then showed me exactly how to pump and how often (every other hour) to establish a supply since I couldn't have Ryan with me. She gave me a chart to keep track and I pumped around the clock like it was my job and Todd washed and prepped the parts and delivered the milk to the nursery for Ryan every other hour like it was his. It's basically all we did for 3 days (and nights). The the next day Nurse Lawrence came back to check on us and gave me a hug when she looked at my chart - apparently a lot of women say "eff that" to all that pumping.

Unfortunately, after that first time, I couldn't get him on again myself. I only had a couple opportunities to try in the hospital and couldn't make it work. The main problem is I was in SO much pain, still, that I couldn't get myself into a good position, or set up the pillows/blankets the way the LC had for me. By probably about day 4, my milk had come in and I was able to send more and more to the nursery for him, so when we went home, they had a few bottles for us to bring home with us. As soon as we got home, I pulled out my pump and hit the ground running. For the next 3 weeks, and the majority of the 2 weeks after that, I pumped around the clock to have enough milk for every feeding. It was tiring at times, especially the times when, despite my best efforts, I couldn't get enough bottles lined up for his nightime feedings and would have to wake up, heat up a bottle, feed him, put him down after 1/2 hour or he'd throw up, then get everything together and pump a bottle for his next feeding. By the time I'd finally get back to sleep it was almost time for him to eat again. My nights were on repeat - feed, pump, feed, pump, feed, pump. I was exhausted. Eventually I got to the point where I'd have enough bottles lined up for the night, and a couple servings frozen, so I finally felt "safe." I was proud of myself for not having to supplement.

During those first few weeks, as much as I wanted to be able to nurse him, I hardly ever wanted to try. Every time I tried, it just ended up with a screaming baby and was so frustrating that I dreaded the attempts. Don't get me wrong, I actually never once considered giving up and I didn't think it would never work. I assumed it had to work at some point because, well, it's supposed to work, and because we had had the one successful feeding at the hospital. I guess I was just OK with dragging out the learning curve. What I had to do was force myself at least once every day to just try to get him latched on. I would always assume it wasn't going to work and I'd have a bottle ready, but I would try. I used the My Brest Friend pillow to position him and I really wish I'd had it in the hospital, it was a lifesaver and completely eliminated the work of positioning him right (I was still in severe pain). At around 3 weeks was when I started being able to get him on sometimes. At 5 weeks, after seeing that he had gained enough weight at his 1 month appointment, was when I tipped the scale and started nursing him more than bottlefeeding. Before I knew it, I was nursing him around the clock and he only had bottles when necessary.

Now, I can't even imagine getting up in the middle of the night and heating up a bottle again. I hated that. I love how easy it is to just pull him out of his cosleeper and nurse him, not to mention it's a great way to comfort/calm, not just feed. The only thing we haven't really been able to do is nurse under a cover in public because he hates being covered up, and he is pretty fidgety and constantly needs to be relatched, so it's just more hassle than it's worth and I bring bottles of pumped milk when we go out. He's never had a problem taking a bottle since that's what he was first accustomed to. I still pump anywhere between 2 and 4 times a day and have a freezer stash of close to 400 oz. right now. I bank way more than I pull from the stash so I should probably reevaluate how much I need to be pumping sometime soon, but I am trying to keep supply up now that I am back to work 3 days per week and on those days, can only pump once during working hours. We recently got a deep freezer to put in the garage to store it all. I know a lot of women hate the pump, but I guess because I got used to doing it so much at first, I don't mind it. I think my brain still equates pumping with having enough to provide for him, because of those first few weeks, so I'm afraid to cut back. In the end, I may just end up having to donate some of it.

(To Be Continued...4 months is just too much to cover in one post!)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ryan's Birth Story

Before you were conceived, I wanted you.
Before you were born, I loved you.
Before you were here for an hour, I would have died for you.
This is the miracle of life.
- author unknown

I can't believe it has been 4 weeks since our precious baby boy arrived! I need to write his "birth story" before I forget things, especially considering some of it is already fuzzy to begin with. But first, some birth stats:

Ryan William Lauder
December 31, 2010
4:19 pm
6 lbs. 6 oz.
19 inches

This birth story is long. It's ridiculously long because I tried to include every detail I could remember, but not because I think anyone else is that interested in reading it. I write this for myself, for my husband, and for Ryan, because I want us to remember every detail and I want Ryan to be able to read this when he is older. As memorable an experience as it was, how often do we forget the details we thought we'd never forgot, even in the most defining events of our lives? I don't want to forget.

We were told to get to the hospital at 4pm, no earlier, on Thursday the 30th for the induction. We got there a few minutes after. I was a nervous wreck inside and had been since the night before; it felt like I was on a runaway train that I wanted to get off of. Before then, I had only been excited that he was coming so soon, but as my nerves got the better of me I wanted the last 3 weeks of my pregnancy back, I wanted a 40 week baby and I felt jipped. I knew it was only because I was so scared and I just tried to tell myself that if I didn't go through it now, I'd be going through it 3 weeks later. I wanted so badly to meet him but I had read too much about early inductions and had convinced myself it would be long and painful and ultimately end up in a c-section. Well, it was long and painful...but at least I was wrong about the c!

It took awhile to get checked in, hooked up to the monitors, have the IV put in and get to see the doctor. At around 7pm they started something called Cervadil which starts to soften your cervix and get it ready for labor, since at 37 weeks my body had not begun the process on its own. The Cervadil is some type of gel (I think) that they insert and it has a string for them to remove it. I had heard it was painful to have put in, so I was at least happy when I found out that the Dr. had put it in during what I thought was just an internal. The internals are extremely painful for me because apparently my cervix is very posterior, so at least they killed two birds with one stone...but enough about my cervix. They told me the Cervadil had to sit for 12 hours before we started anything else which is why I had already been pretty sure he wouldn't make his debut until the next day. They also said the Cervadil might bring on some contractions and put me into labor on its own, but I think they said it wasn't likely. Most likely we would start Pitocin around 7am the next morning; basically what they said is that they just needed to try and flip a switch in my head to make my body go into labor and that you never know when the switch will flip and what it will take.

They gave me an Ambien to sleep so I'd be rested for the next day, but I literally did not sleep one wink that night. The problem was that I had to have the fetal heart monitor and contraction monitor strapped to my stomach all night, and that the Cervadil started causing cramping very quickly after it was put in. They started out like menstrual cramps and increased in pain and discomfort all night, and because of this I had to constantly keep switching positions to get comfortable. However, every time I changed positions, the fetal monitor would lose his heartbeat and a nurse would have to come in and adjust it. This started to happen at least every 5-10 minutes and the nurses kept telling me I had to stay put, I could tell they were getting irritated but I could not stay in one position, it was too painful. I would lay in pain for as long as possible on one side, switch sides, have the monitor adjusted, and then switch sides again, and this went on all night long, so I didn't fall asleep even once.

At around 5am I got up and went to the bathroom and as I was getting back into bed I felt a small gush of water and told Todd to get the nurse because I was pretty sure my water had broken. The nurse came in and checked but said she didn't think it had and that it could have been urine, but I knew it wasn't. I don't think it was until around 8am when my Dr. came in for another internal that she confirmed my water had definitely broken. Let's just say it was very obvious during the internal and I could not believe the sheer amount of water that left me during that 30 second period! I thought they would have to get me a new bed when she was done. I think it was at this point that she told me I was dilated "almost 3" centimeters and then said "there, I just made you 3."

Sometime during the early morning hours after the water broke, I can't remember when, the contractions got extremely painful and I felt like I might throw up after each one. I can't remember now how far apart they were, but I started telling Todd I needed something for the pain. I said I wanted the epidural because they were that bad, and I started to somewhat panic because I knew it was too early for an epidural and I didn't know if they'd give me anything else because it was still early in the morning, the Dr. hadn't even been in, and these were just contractions from the Cervadil that they didn't even know would bring on contractions in the first place. We hadn't even started Pitocin yet so I assumed they would tell me I was out of luck and I didn't know how long I could handle that pain. My mom had been there for awhile the night before and I knew she was probably on her way back but I had Todd call her and see how far away she was because I had officially reached the "I just want my mom" level of pain. I don't know if everyone has that level, but it's a very specific level at the top of my pain pyramid. The nurse said she would talk to the Dr. about pain relief and when she told me I could have the epidural I think I may have cried happy tears. My mom got there right as they were going to give it to me and they had her and Todd wait outside. I always thought it was funny how on the baby shows on TV, the moms act like the anesthesiologist is their savior when he comes in, but that is exactly how I felt when I saw him. I wanted to hug him. I had not been too nervous about getting an epidural to begin with but had occasionally imagined it would cause a sudden pain that would cause me to move involuntarily and leave me paralyzed, but that thought had long since gone out the window and I couldn't wait for that needle to go into my spine. It really didn't hurt except for some brief pain down my right side, nothing bad at all. I think I thanked the anesthesiologist no less than 83 times before he left the room.

I felt great after the epidural. For a little while I could still feel the contractions on my right side, not as bad as before but painful, and then the nurse told me to roll to my right side to help spread out the meds, and it worked. Then I really felt great. My mom and Todd would tell me I was having a really strong contraction and I would sit there in ignorant bliss and disbelief that I could not feel a thing. I remember rambling on about how amazing epidurals were, how I couldn't imagine how anyone could go through labor without one, and what a shame it would be if I didn't get it because surely I'd have been dead by now. I was very in love with my epidural, as you can tell. Don't get me wrong, I have huge admiration for anyone who can go through labor without it, I just literally can't imagine how it's possible (and I hadn't even felt the strongest of the contractions). If you can labor through that pain for hours and hours without an epidural, you can do anything and you are my hero.

The timing of things got a little fuzzy here, probably because I was so tired, but I know that at around 9:30 they started the Pitocin and I think I fell asleep for awhile. I don't remember at what time or why they put in an internal monitor, but it's something that literally pierces the skin of the baby's head and stays in to monitor the heart rate. Shortly after that at one point I started to wake up realizing...I was in pain. Wait...I had had an could I possibly be in pain?? I was feeling contractions again and this time they were very different from the first round, they were very centered and low and they quickly got worse and worse until I felt like I had never gotten an epidural at all. I remember saying over and over "this isn't fair...I got an epidural!" The anesthesiologist came in and I guess administered more of the epidural and then showed us a button we could press to release more of it every 10 minutes if needed. It didn't do a damn thing and I was convinced it was a placebo button with nothing in it and that they were trying to trick my brain into thinking I wasn't in pain after every time I pushed it. The contractions had reached unbearable again and were so much worse than the first round I had had from the Cervadil. I just laid on my side and whimpered and moaned through each one. Finally the anesthesiologist gave me a double dose that he injected right into the thing in my spine, instead of through the IV, and finally they stopped again. He said that sometimes there is an area, down low and centered like this, that the epidural just isn't able to reach well.

Things are fuzzy here, too, but at some point in the afternoon I remember feeling pressure like I had to go to the bathroom and the Dr. and my mom telling me that I didn't have to, that it was the baby's head bearing down. I told them I needed to go and begged them to let me, I was positive it wasn't the baby and that I had to go to the bathroom because it felt exactly like that. They just kept telling me that it really was the baby's head bearing down and that I absolutely could not go (I hardly had any feeling in my legs anyway, so I don't know how I thought I was going to get up and go to the bathroom). Since I was feeling that way, the Dr. checked me again and I was at 6cm dilated. Everyone seemed really excited about that but all I wanted to do, still, was go to the bathroom and I didn't want to wait 4 more centimeters to get some relief from that feeling. I asked if I could push because I felt like I needed to and of course the answer was no since I wasn't fully dilated. My mom said that when it was time to push the feelings of "needing" to push would be extremely close together and unstoppable. I felt like they already were, but not too much longer later I understood what she meant and the next thing I knew I was basically yelling at everyone that I HAD to push whether they liked it or not. The Dr. checked me again and said I was fully dilated and ready to go...thank God, because I knew there was no stopping it at that point and if they had told me I had to wait longer I can't say we all would have made it out of there alive.

Up until that day my plan was that only Todd would be in the room when eviction time came, but after having my mom there all day helping me get through the labor, it didn't feel right to have her wait outside and I wanted her to stay. I also imagined, and I think Todd did, too, that he would stay up north most of the time and just peak a few times as he was coming out, but when it came time, the doctor had him and my mom each hold a leg and they both 100% witnessed their son and grandson's grand entrance into the world! I was surprised by how few people were in the room. I imagined a hustle and bustle of doctors and nurses but surprisingly, only my doctor and a nurse, and at some points a resident who was only there to watch, were in there. Once the pushing got under way, my doctor actually left for most of it and it was just the nurse in charge. I remember asking at one point if there were enough people for when he came, and if anyone would be there to make note of his actual birth time (hey, that was important to me!).

My mom had told me that pushing is the easy part of labor, and I didn't believe her because...well, that just didn't seem to make sense. But, she was right. Pushing wasn't painful at all (of course, I did have the epidural), it was just tiring. I was told to push 3 times, for 10 seconds each time, during each contraction. After the first few contractions they let me be in control and I would tell them when I had to push because I would get the overwhelming feeling of needing to every time I had a contraction. I pushed for about an hour and twenty minutes which they said was pretty short for a first baby. What was frustrating about it was that the whole time I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere because I couldn't feel the baby moving down. Until his head was actually coming out, I couldn't feel any progress so it felt like he wasn't moving. A few times they told me he had lots of hair and I asked what color it was, they said "dark because it's wet." Oh..well, ok then! Finally I could feel it when he started to crown and when his head and shoulders came out was the only time it hurt, but it was fast and bearable, I only yelled a little! I remember asking "after his head is out, are you just gonna pull the rest of him out?" I don't know why, I think it was because that's what it looked like they do on all those baby shows I watch, but they said I'd have to push his shoulders out, and after I did they told me to relax and then they pulled the rest of him out.

I think what I felt the moment they held him up for me to see was disbelief. I couldn't believe he was really there! And so tiny! I kept saying "he's so little!" The doctor held him up for me to see and he looked perfectly ok but he wasn't crying right away so I kept asking why he wasn't crying and she just kept saying "he's fine." It was probably only 20 seconds until he cried. After that I was holding out my hands saying "can I have him? can I hold him??" and they asked if I wanted them to lay him on my chest. Um...yes!! I still remember what it felt like touching him for the first time and holding onto him while he looked at me and screamed his little head off. All I could think was that he was so adorable and tiny and that I couldn't believe I was finally getting to see him.

As soon as I had him my mom said "do I get to know his name now?" A couple minutes after he was born, I felt like I was having another contraction and had to push. I had no idea why and somewhat panicked for a second. Yeah, forgot about that whole placenta thing. My mom and Todd both started calling people right away and they took Ryan over to the warmer. I kept telling Todd to go be with him because he was crying and sometimes no one was at the warmer with him. The Dr. told me she had quite a bit of stitching to do because I had a bad second degree tear inside (and maybe outside? I don't even know, wasn't really paying attention). She also said she was going to do something to try and prevent a hematoma which is an internal bleed, because the way the tear was made her think I might develop one. I just laid there content while she did it, watching my baby, listening to the phone calls, making everyone take pictures, soaking it in. They handed him back to me for a few minutes, all bundled up and mostly cleaned off - I just could not get over how adorable he was. He was so content and looking at us with the most adorable eyes. I think they gave him to Todd to hold for awhile after that. I was so excited for the Dr. to finish up so we could go to the postpartum room, I could call people on my own and send pictures, and we could have visitors. I knew my brother, Kristin, Todd's mom and Marty were all on their way and I couldn't wait to show him off.

If anything happened between that and the hell that broke loose after that, I don't remember it. The next thing I remember was them having me slide over from the delivery bed onto a stretcher so I could be brought to my post-partum room. This was probably around 6pm. I could barely get myself onto the stretcher because I was in so much pain, and once I got on it everything started getting worse. I honestly can't even remember exactly what the pain felt like now, but it increased to the point where it was excruciating, unbearable, and worse than all of the labor and delivery pain combined. I had no idea why I had this pain all of a sudden and what was happening, and I don't really remember the order of everything. I remember repeatedly yelling that I needed the Dr. in there now and couldn't wait, telling Todd to leave and get the Dr., and a blur of the Dr. and nurses coming back and forth and trying to figure out what was going on. I am really not the type of person to say "I need the Dr. NOW!" but I did...multiple times. At one point, I begged her to knock me out because I couldn't take the pain. One of the nurses kept saying to the Dr. "how about if I just give her another Percocet?" and I think if I could have moved I would have punched her in the face. Really.

Finally the Dr. determined that I had gotten the hematoma bleed after all, even though she had tried to prevent it. I didn't really understand because when she talked about it after delivery I had thought she said I already had one and she was fixing it, but I didn't really care. She mostly explained things to Todd and my mom because all I could do was lay there and cry, moan, get the picture. As soon as she determined that's what it was, knowing how painful they are, I got the good stuff in the IV and was asleep within minutes. For the next 4-5 hours I was either in a heavy sleep or in a weird semi-conscious state where I could hear everyone but still felt like I was asleep and couldn't move. The heaviness of the sleep combined with the relief of such horrible pain felt incredible. I could hear the Dr. saying something to Todd and my mom about possibly bringing me to the OR for surgery and maybe needing a blood transfusion, and I didn't care in the least. They could have done anything they wanted to me at that point.

When I woke up I felt like the eye of the side I was sleeping on was almost swelled shut. Apparently I had swelled up like a balloon. Still didn't care. I was still in some pain and it was hard to move, but compared to before, it was nothing. They said they were going to keep taking blood counts to see if it the bleed was increasing or not and then they would do surgery if they had to, but they wanted to try and get us to the postpartum room (I had still been on the transport stretcher in the L&D room this whole time) and bring the baby to us so we could all be together before the ball dropped to ring in 2011. I wanted my baby and I didn't really care about the new year at that point, but that was what everyone else was determined to do. I was really sad that I hadn't gotten to call anyone or send pictures to announce his arrival myself. As far as I knew, my best friends didn't even know he was born, but Todd told me he told them at some point when it was obvious I wasn't going to be able to myself. When we were finally brought to the room, I told Todd we could turn the TV on and try to get a picture of him holding Ryan by it as the ball dropped. Turned out it was already 12:03am. Oh well. They brought Ryan in and I got to marvel all over again at how gorgeous he was and feed him some bottle (our adventures in breastfeeding will be a post all its own) and we both just spent time holding him and taking everything in. We were all completely exhausted. After some time, we called the nurse to bring him back to the nursery. As much as I didn't want to, I could still barely move or sit up, and getting out of bed would have been impossible, so I knew there was truly no way I could take care of him throughout the night and he was so new that I felt more comfortable knowing that he was in the nursery with trained eyes on him all night while we slept.

We ended up being in the hospital for 5 days. Normally at this hospital they will release you 48 hours after the baby is born. I had to stay an extra day because they were still doing bloodwork around the clock to determine if the hematoma was increasing and eventually they determined it was ok. We thought we would be going home on Monday, but Monday morning the hospital pediatrician came in and told us Ryan was jaundiced and she had ordered light treatment for him and he wouldn't be able to go home until the next day at the earliest. His levels were really high, so in hindsight I wonder why they didn't notice it sooner, unless they did and were just waiting to see if it got bad enough to need the lights. I was automatically extremely upset. Not because he was jaundiced or needed the lights, I knew how common that was and that he'd be OK, but because I knew they would still discharge me and I'd have to go home without him. I couldn't even think about it without bawling.

When my Dr. came in to check on me and see how the pain was, etc. I told her I wanted to stay because the baby had to stay and she said she couldn't really justify keeping me, which is what I was afraid she would say. I know she could tell I was getting upset, and when I said the pain was still bad (it was), she used that to justify keeping me until the next day. I know she didn't have to and only did it because she knew how badly I didn't want to leave without the baby. But, she told me, if he couldn't go home the next day, she wouldn't be able to keep me again. I was fine with that because I thought for sure we'd all be going home the next day.

It was rough not having Ryan in the room with us at all, after having him with us for 2 days. We were allowed to go to the nursery to visit him (or so we thought) but for the most part only Todd went because I knew I would get upset seeing him in there and not being able to hold him or take him back. I felt guilty not going to see him but I couldn't help it. After the first day, they ended up telling us that actually, we weren't even allowed in the nursery to see him, we could only look through the window. Up until that point, Todd had been going in to see him and was able to touch him, and the nurses hadn't stopped him because they felt bad, but then they decided to tell us the real rules. The reason parents weren't allowed in there was because there were other babies in there and other parents might not like other people in there. Yeah, so what? We were pretty ticked off. Yeah, there's other babies in there, but guess what...our baby is the only one under the bili lights, our baby is the ONLY one in there who has to stay in there and is not allowed to be in his parents room and be held by them. And as a parent, I would never even think to get upset if I saw other parents in the nursery being with their baby, especially a baby they weren't able to be with any other way. We made it known how upset we were and they ended up taking the few other babies out of the nursery for a few minutes so that we could go in and see him. I felt like we were being looked at as "those" parents, demanding and unreasonable, but I truly didn't think it was fair. We went in for about 15 minutes, I was a snotty, crying mess, but they let me feed him and I felt a little better seeing his eyes (on the bili bed they're covered by a mask) and seeing that he was still tiny. I think part of me had been afraid that by the time I got him back, he was going to be a big, grown up baby and not know who I was. Crazy thoughts go through your head when you're hormonal and drugged up. I still say pregnancy hormones don't hold a candle to postpartum hormones.

The next morning the pediatrician came in and told us that his levels had gone down significantly but not enough for her to discharge him. I think this is when I officially lost my mind. I knew I was getting discharged that day and even thought they told me we could stay at the hospital until later that night, even though I knew Ryan was ok, even though we could come back and get him the next morning, even though in my mind I knew this was not as awful as my reaction made it seem, I still couldn't handle it. The thought of leaving the hospital even for a minute without him reduced me to an inconsolable mess. Earlier that morning at 6am they had taken my blood pressure and it had been high, which was odd because it had been pretty good the previous couple days. Because of this they wanted to continue checking it throughout the day. Well, obviously, after they told me Ryan had to stay, it was high for the remainder of the day because I was upset. I wanted it to be high because I thought they may let me stay again if it was (after all, they had kept me 5 days the previous week for high blood pressure, which never made it to the blog). However, I wanted to kill the tech that was on that day who kept coming in to check the blood pressure. She continually came in when I was upset and/or crying and would sigh and be visibly irritated that I was causing high readings, and telling me to relax as if it were just that easy. This continued for hours and just ticked me off, so the readings were all high. When my Dr. came in she said that she had already told the nurse and tech not to take the blood pressure while I was upset (what's the point?) and that if they tried to do it again, to tell them that she said not to. I did, and they didn't listen, but whatever. It was a horrible 12 hours or so - I was overtired, overwhelmed and not able to deal with even a little stress without breaking down - but in the end, the blood pressure did get them to keep me in the hospital until the next day and Ryan actually ended up being cleared for discharge before I was, but the next night we got to go home. I hadn't pictured going home at night and didn't like that it was already going to be 11pm when we got home, but at the end of the day I knew that was insignificant. I got to go home with my baby.

Recovering, in the hospital and at home, was painful, messy, sometimes scary. I really had no idea just what having a baby does to your body, especially right after birth, although I don't know how much of the pain and physical "trauma" was due to the birth and what was due to the hematoma. It took quite awhile for me to not be in at least somewhat bad pain, but now it's only every once in awhile. I can't really stay on my feet for an extended period of time, even brief shopping trips are hard, without the pain starting up, but I'm not out and about much anyway. The pain is just a reminder of everything we went through and what we have to show for it, and I am amazed every time I think about the fact that I actually did it - I actually gave birth - and the full circle we've come not only since the day the test turned pink, but since the day we first ached to have him in our lives, before he even existed.

So that is Ryan's birth story. Believe it or not, I'd even say "in a nutshell." Although anyone reading this might not think so, the experience was so much more than I could even put in here which may be why it took me 2 weeks to write this. My next few entries, when I'm able to, will most likely be on breastfeeding and on what life with a newborn has been like.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading!