Thursday, February 27, 2014

Baby Things.

So, thirty or so days in, and I feel like maybe we're getting the hang of this a little bit. We're starting to see some regularity in a few things, and I feel brave enough to introduce some scheduled activities a few days a week. We were going to start every-other-night baths tonight, but our little Squishy girl has had a very upset stomach today and I am not going to subject her to something else new. Thank Zues for gripe water and the ability to hold and cuddle her as much as she desires. She smells a little, so hopefully tomorrow is better and I can clean her. We gave her some thawed milk today, and I wonder what was in it. We'll try again from that batch in a few days, and if this happens again I will throw it out. Poor girl (and me, for having to throw out milk).
We have also found a few regular items in our baby stash. So, as a new mom, I feel compelled to write about it since it is probably the most interesting thing in my life at the moment. Introducing our baby favorites!

Tommee Tippee Bottles: Ya'll, I bought and registered for Avent and Dr. Brown's but got a very good Tommee Tippee coupon from Target. I wish I had not bought Dr. Brown's because unless you have a gassy baby, there isn't any reason to take on those bottles. I am currently giving away my box of 5 Dr. Brown's. The Avent are great, by the way. Aaron and I both like them a lot, but since Avent has its own pump and storage system, there aren't adapters out there. Also, the bottles don't have storage lids, but disposable storage seals which doesn't appeal to me at all. I like the Avent nipples best and the bottles are quite sturdy, but Tommee Tippee has been just as great. Also, the Tommee Tippee are smaller than Avent but hold just as much ( 4/5 oz and 9 oz). The bottles do have lids and pump adapters, which was the deciding factor for going forward. With good deals, coupons, and gift cards I ordered lids (6 to pack) and pump adapters, along with some extra nipples and larger bottles. Aaron didn't like that I ordered blue along with pink, but I am determined that blue does not mean "boy." I really liked the "prince" bottle design, but I can't gender neutralize the word "prince" like I can the color blue. Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottles are made in China, but are BPA free. I do not wash them in the dishwaser but with Babyganics bottle soap. I allow the bottles and pump parts to soak so there isn't a need for a ton of scrubbing, if any.

Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive: I have bought several different brands of diapers. The first were Babyganics organic, which are waxy and stiff. I swear they were first too big then became too small. I regret trying these diapers and returned the unopened packs. Then I tried Honest Company diapers, which are super cute and not so waxy and stiff, but still not a great fit. I love the wipes though, and am currently awaiting an Essentials bundle to try some other products. I put the monthly delivery on hold for now, but maybe they'll work in the future. I think the mission and quality of diaper is great, but nothing has worked as well as Pampers Swaddlers. I did learn that no diaper will ever fit as well as a newborn diaper, because the margin of weight is the smallest. The size ones go from 8 pounds to 14, which is a lot of time for a diaper to be a bit big and a bit small, but they still fit better than anything else. I tried some Target size 1 diapers and I think they run bigger than the Swaddlers, so I have benched the pack until she's 10 pounds or so. I would really like to get her into an organic diaper or Target, but if it they don't fit I won't force it. So until then, I'll be entering Pampers Rewards numbers into the site. We are done trying to save money on diapers because trying them is expensive! Baby Gear Lab is like the Consumer Reports of baby stuff and had the best diaper review, by the way.

Swaddler wraps: OMG, these are the best. I also have used the zipper newborn "pod" in the these early weeks, which helped with diaper changes (the bottom zips as well as the top, so we could unzip the bottom and leave her arms wrapped). She responds really well to being wrapped up in these, especially for a late night nursing session. I already have a few in the next size, but don't rush it: they are huge. So finally something that baby will use for awhile. I came across some info on a lactivist site about how swaddling isn't comforting but basically wrapping the babe into submission, but I am not sold enough to stop making baby burritos just yet. She self-soothes when we wrap her in a blanket, though (sucks on her hands), which I really like her doing since she did it her first day in this world. However, we've gotten a little heavy with the pacifier use, so she's fine wrapped tightly with as long as there is a paci in her mouth to start. She does spit it out before sleep, though. I don't know how I feel about pacifier use yet, and how long we'll allow it: a year? Two years? Should it have been never? Argh. But for now, I'm a parent who wraps her kid and gives her a dummy to suck on to soothe her. Everyone is happy.

Even though TriCare Standard/Extra approved a pump to be covered by insurance (Medela Pump in Style Advanced), we are currently renting a Medela Symphony from the hospital for about $2.50/day. The hospital pump pulls ounces more milk from me than my portable, which has been important since my supply shrunk a little lately. I am very lucky that I can pump and still feed her whenever needed, so I want to stash as much as I can to help get me through the summer when we'll be traveling a lot and I won't have the Symphony anymore. If you're going to be at home for any length of time and are able to breast feed and pump, I really suggest forgoing buying a pump and instead renting one. These things retail for over two thousand dollars, so it's not like anyone other than Michelle Duggard would benefit from buying one over renting. Also, if you rent and don't get a pump, it might be covered by insurance, as well.

Our little Squishy has been doing quite well these days, save for today. Aaron and I make a pretty good team even if we don't get along all of the time. We work together on a feeding schedule and trying to stay on top of the housework. One of us needs to start doing things outside of the house more often, though. We are around each other quite a bit! He went to the grocery store today; I went and got some pants that fit, which don't have an elastic top. What a novel idea. And on that note, I'm off. Hope you're all doing fabulous!

Monday, February 17, 2014

21 Days Of Baby.

We're 3 weeks out from surgery and birth, and so far it hasn't been too bad! I started feeling much better after 2 weeks, and now my incision site just burns a little. We've had a ton of amazing help, from my in-laws to my mom and some friends and even a newborn sitter. We've been able to stay about water with the house and not completely lose our minds.

Aaron is doing an incredible job as a new dad. I think he's adjusted better than I have. He takes the late night feeding and I do the early morning. He dozes a lot during the day whereas I have to actually go to the bed to sleep for an hour. Right now, Aaron's got the baby sleeping in his arms. We know we have to start putting her down more, but for now she's little and new and all the love in the world isn't going to hurt her. We'll focus on sleeping habits and schedule in a few more weeks. For now, we enjoy.

As far as baby girl is concerned, she's a mover and shaker. Diaper changes are usually a battle of legs kicking and torso twisting. You'd think we were torturing her. She eats a lot already, and thankfully I've been able to keep up and pump some extra for night feedings and the fridge. If I really committed to it, I think I could feed her all day and pump a day's worth, but ugh- I'm pretty wore out as it is! I'll address it later. Right now I'm just so thankful I've been able to nurse. That said, I'm no "lactivist." To each their own, and just because a mother doesn't nurse doesn't make her any less of a parent. Fed babies are healthy babies and that's the end of that.

As far as recovery, I feel about 90%. It took nearly two weeks for me to feel good enough to drive, which I wasn't supposed to do until the doctor cleared me at that point, anyway. During those first two weeks, I made a few trips out for supplies. It is only the past several days that I feel that I could put on real clothes and get out for a little bit each day, even just to walk around the block or pick up milk (the grocery store is literally right next door). I've piddled around the house so laundry and dirt don't back up, and some days are better than others. I'm still wearing my pregnancy jeans, but I look pretty normal, I guess. My body is not the same and just because I'm "tiny" doesn't mean this is what I want to look like for the foreseeable future. I can't wait to be cleared to exercise. It'll be good for me to be able to go jog a bit and lift some weights.

I 100% believe that I have not totally lost my mind because I respected my surgery and have allowed myself to recover from it. That said, I've been privileged enough to have support around to make sure I didn't have to do anything I wasn't supposed to do. But let me say it again- a Cesarean is not an easy way out, nor would I even suggest it as an equal alternative to vaginal childbirth. I am still glad I had it scheduled, but it's a guaranteed very rough following 10 days to 2 weeks. I will not be cleared for "normal life" until 5-6 weeks. I can feel my incision if I make a sudden move or just walk more than usual. While the whole journey the past 21 days has been better than anything I could have expected, we've still had challenges. I can't imagine doing it alone or with little support. God bless those women.

Well, our little Squishy is up again and she probably wants to eat again. It's a regular thing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Just A Few Weeks Ago: A Birth

Our birth experience was everything I wanted it to be, and so far the first few weeks of parenthood haven't been any more challenging for us than for anyone else (but it can be very challenging). I like to think, relatively speaking, it's been pretty easy. It's a huge adjustment and all of us- from baby to puppy- have had our moments, but this has not been difficult in the way that I understand difficult to be.

We scheduled the surgery for Monday, January 27th. I've been asked a few times why I elected to have a Cesarean, so here it is: Even in my 38th and 39th weeks, I did not show one stitch of labor. Not one Braxton Hicks, not one millimeter of dilation. I had seen several women (most first timers, as well) go into induction for vaginal delivery under the same circumstances, and my slightly-educated guess was that anyone doing that stood a 50/50 chance of ending up in surgery anyway and usually after a long, hard, difficult labor full of interventions, from Cervidil to hours of Petocin. As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing natural about that nor did it seem like something I wanted to do. Yes, a vaginal delivery even with every intervention is more natural than surgery, but all those drugs aren't nice to anyone. Had I gone into labor, I would have welcomed it, but I did not. So anyway, each woman should be able to choose the birth she wants and have it supported. I think every birth is beautiful, and no birth is worth more than another. I do not debate methods of safely bringing a fragile infant into the world, and neither should anyone. So there is that. On with it!

And you know what? Everyone involved, including my doctor, are damn happy I agreed to surgery on my due date because she wasn't coming into the world any other way! Of course she'd need her own special tunnel out. After walking back to the OR and having the epidural administered, my doctor and his support staff quickly got to work. It was uncomfortable, but I was feeling good with the epidural and oxygen (oxygen is amazing, by the way, and I could become a junkie on it). I shook a little bit, but felt very present. Working, kneading, smiling at Aaron, hearing him telling me to just look at him, and then bam! A jolt. My doctor pushed on my chest to pull our little girl out. He said he cut my uterus, nicked the sac, and saw big, fat cheeks. He realized we had a bigger girl on our hands than we initially thought. And out she came, kicking and screaming with all the vigor and anger of someone ripped from their comfortable home! Red, swollen, unraveling her limbs our Alexandra Jayne was 7 pounds and 12 ounces. No one is quite sure how she fit inside of me, but it certainly explains why I never felt a hand or foot poke me, but only knees and elbows: kid was folded in me. She was checked over and given to Aaron. He introduced her to me, and when I said hello her eyes shot open. Whether it's true or not, I like to think she knew who I was right away. It was just the moment I needed. Overall, it was a very strange trip. You drive to the hospital and a few hours later you become a parent! Little AJ had some irregular breathing so she was wisked away. I really wanted to be present and participate in her firth bath, but I let them do it in the nursery since it was told to me that it could regulate her and I could have my baby sooner. Done deal. We'll live without a full day of vernix. Aaron came back with her about twenty minutes later, and I got to hold my daughter for the first time. There's a funny picture of me with my hand on hand, in a total "what now" moment.

I stayed in the hospital four nights, and am very thankful I did. C-sections aren't an easy way out by any means; in fact, it's major surgery. I had an organ cut open and my skin. My intestines were removed and put back. Things tugged and pulled on that had been in one place for 31 years. I watched a video on BabyCenter to see what I was getting into and I'm glad I did, as it helped me respect what had just been done to me. I was in some pretty serious pain for the first two days, but did begin attempts at breastfeeding while there. Once my pain was managed, I felt much better. I even showered once! Aaron stayed with me the whole time and took some nighttime feedings and did all the diaper changes. He is a champ with swaddling, as well. I'm a very lucky lady to have him!

Since being home, I have felt a little better every day. The first 10 days post-op were the roughest, but after that I was able to stop the pain meds and manage a few outings. I pump a lot, and AJ latches fine but we're still having some issues. I'm giving it 6 weeks before I re-evaluate what we're doing. Aaron washes all the pump supplies and bottles, and I do the laundry. She sleeps in a moses basket in bed with us when she isn't in the nursery or baby swing. She's quite a heavy sleeper, so much so she won't wake with early hunger. I have to wake her, and it's difficult to tell what's good when I'm breastfeeding during the day. If we bottle feed at night, it's pretty regular. I was super stressed for a few days about scheduling and normalcy and OMG WHAT AM I GOING TO DO. Then I realized I was being ridiculous and decided that we're not even going to try to schedule anything until at least 8 weeks, although I've been told the real magic number is about 15 pounds, as far as getting the kid to do stuff and all that jazz. So for now, we're enjoying every newborn moment available to us. We've gotten through the first weeks with his parents and other help, and my mom's on her way now. I think we just might make it.

 Daddy gets his first cuddle.
 Last moments before we became parents.
Our introduction. 

It's been amazing so far. I couldn't be luckier.