Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Feeling a Little Blue

Everything is going well. Amelie is waking up to eat more often -- more on that in another post -- and I've been getting a bit more rest.

I was looking forward to my midwife appointment today. She told me it was optional, and that a lot of second time moms skip it, but I wanted to go. Especially since we have had some breastfeeding issues, but also just for another chance to connect emotionally. I spent a lot of time during pregnancy talking to her about my fears and need to feel safe during birth, and it really, really paid off during labor.

So I was surprised when we were talking and everything was going swimmingly until she asked about how things were going with Calliope and suddenly my eyes filled with tears.

Calliope is doing well, overall. She seems genuinely excited about the baby, and is mostly gentle with her. About what you would optimistically expect from a three year old.

But her three year old-ness has been greatly exacerbated by the stress of having a new sibling, of course, when it comes to her behavior with me. And of course, I'm much less tolerant. So instead of being playful and silly when she ignores my request to go to her room and put on her pajamas, I get stern. And she laughs hysterically and jumps behind the couch cushions and I seethe, or get furious.

And for all that I am getting lots of help, still, it's confusing to Calliope to have lots of different people coming through our home. And I can't very well delegate breastfeeding, so Calliope gets "helped," to her annoyance, by lots of different people. Which only makes the acting out worse. Never mind the fact that she has skipped a couple of naps recently, and slept poorly the first three nights Amelie and I were home from the hospital on account of a bad cold and hacking cough.

On top of this is an emotion that I wasn't aware of until today... I want someone to come in and mother me. I don't even know what this would look like. Just that I want someone to walk in and announce, "I got this. I'm in charge. I order you to go lie down."

I know this is especially on my mind because of losing my mother last May. She wasn't the most nurturing mom you'd ever meet, but she was great when I gave birth to Calliope. She sailed in my home and took charge. She changed every diaper and patted out every burp. She then insisted on rescuing me by taking me back to her home in MA.

I'd probably hate this in real life but right now, it sounds heavenly, to have someone else take over the reins of my life. It feels exhausting to be so in charge all the time. And I feel like, rightly or wrongly, that there's more pressure to be on top of everything as an SMC because, you know, I chose this. To do this on my own. My married friends and relations can choose to fall apart for a day because there's someone else to pick up the pieces. But not only do I not have that luxury -- there's no one to pick up the pieces -- I feel an obligation to make this all look easy. That's quite a burden to carry, along with a tantrumy three year old and a mewling newborn.

Monday, March 30, 2015

"Really Awesome"

My friend, "wow, I think Amelie is really lucky to have an awesome big sister like you, Calliope."

Me, "I think I'm really lucky to have TWO awesome girls."

Calliope, "I think I'm really awesome too!"

(To her credit, she looked awkwardly embarrassed after she said this. I think she meant to say, "I think I'm really lucky too,"... but I might be giving her too much credit.)

Photos from Amelie's Early Days

Nine days old. Intently checking out the black and white art cards on the wall. 

Look Ma, only one hand!

Looking alert and much more cutely human at 10 days into the journey of life.
None of the 0-3 month clothes fit yet so I put out a request to my local neighborhood moms'
listserve and several moms delivered, free of charge, adorable newborn outfits like this one.
I'm so blessed to live in such an amazing community.

"Things I Never Would Have Permitted With My Firstborn"

My due date! One week postpartum. (Love my Baby K'Ta.n)

First outing with just the three of us! All the way to CV.S around the corner.
Calliope dressed for the occasion.
Amelie is wearing her hospital hat because nothing else fits yet.

Looking a little worse for wear (or is that just the Perco.set?) but so happy to have my girls on Amelie's Birth Day.

Did I mention the proud big sister?
(I had to order booties because none of the infant socks would stay on. The pink is... intense.)

Day Ten, 

Blurrily trying to capture how teeny tiny she is.

Short Version of the Birth Story

This is from a couple of posts I made to the SMC Forum while I was in labor. A little disjointed but the first was written while in labor and the next was written a few hours after her birth. I'm also finished with my longer version but that's written out by hand and who knows when I will have time to transcribe it. 

Friday March 20th, 12:44 am 

Looks like I'm next!

Reading in bed at 11 pm, I felt a surprisingly painful kick, which I never felt before, then a trickle. Then, as I scrambled out of bed and stood on the [luckily] washable rug next to my bed, there was a deluge. I kept saying "Oh my god!" as fluid poured out of me in waves. 

I've had a few contractions since. Lying down now and they seem to have quieted. 

Tree Leaf has been unusually active this afternoon and evening but since my water broke almost 3 hours ago, almost nothing. It's kind of eerie. I talked to my midwife & drank some diluted juice & just switched to full strength. Apparently it's very common for babies to get quiet when labor starts but this is worrying me a bit. Giving her 20 more minutes then calling midwife again. 

I just gave my Doppler away yesterday, after not using it for months! Ugh. It would be so reassuring right now. 

Friday March 20th, 3:30 pm 

....I finally felt her move just as I was about to mobilize to go to the hospital for a NST. 

Contractions gradually picked up in intensity during the night. Hypnobabies helped quite a bit until pretty close to the end. 

Left for the hospital at 7 am, I think. My midwife said they only had 2 rooms open so they wouldn't admit me unless I was at least 4 cm. but as soon as she saw me she said "oh, you're getting a room." 

The contractions were intense by that point and lying on the triage table was tough. My midwife examined me and I was already 7 cm!!!

We got a room before too long, which I was waiting desperately for because I knew I had to be in a room to get an epidural. But I had to get vitals and an IV started first... And by the time that was done, I screamed & realized I was pushing.

I was NOT happy about that! But my midwife said there was no time for an epidural so after some fruitless yet desperate pleading, I gave in to the inevitable & decided to just get it over with. I think I pushed for 20 minutes or less and suddenly there was this perfectly pink baby crying on my chest! 

I was in shock that there was an actual baby. Still am. I never fully believed there was a baby in there. My friend cried and I was glad because I was too out of it from the crazy intensity of the experience. 

But I feel so much better after this birth! I retained some clots so every time the nurse pressed on my belly, I bled some more. My midwife had to reach into my uterus to remove the clots which sounded horrible but was bearable. She said I was just under the cutoff for postpartum hemorrhage because she estimated I lost 450 ml of blood and PPH is 500. So I got cytotec & pitocin to slow the bleeding, and she will watch my blood tests carefully for anemia. 

But I'm not crazy dizzy like last time so I'm not too worried. 

Have a fever so they are watching that too but I feel good (relatively speaking!) so I'm not worried. 

I'm so sleepy now but can't sleep. What a wild ride!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Days Four and Five

I've written out much of our birth story, but haven't finished it yet. In the meantime... here's what's been going on the last couple of days.

Calliope got picked up at 8 am yesterday by the nanny, which was a blessed relief. Not that she's being so terrible, but just having that much less energy in the house was nice. But once she was, it was nice to have quiet. She came back home at the end of the day and I was glad to see her but it was tiring, too.

My bleary eyed notes from last night:

I'm massively engorged. You could take one of my breasts and swing it over your head to be used as a deadly weapon. I've become a ?temporary convert to co-sleeping. Even though it terrifies me -- I'm so scared of forgetting she's there (it happened once while co-sleeping with Calliope in the early days), it buys me more time and I'm greedy like that. She sleeps pressed up tight against me. But once I woke up and discovered her sleeping on her stomach next to me. And I don't know how she got that way. Scary.

I tried on my sister's sling last night. It put Amelie right to sleep. I'm excited to try the Baby K'Tan I bought when Calliope was an older infant.

What is the ideal feeding schedule to promote sleep and minimize nipple pain? Because it seems like she's eating really frequently -- like practically every hour -- and the pain is really hard to manage. I had some postpartum blues and cried in the shower about my aching nipples and rock hard breasts and the total inability to get a break. It felt like I spent the whole day nursing. My sister leaves tomorrow -- how will I manage alone?

Chris, my midwife, says "she's waking up to her hunger" -- that sometimes when the milk first comes in, babies realize they are hungry and eat extra to make up for the few lean days preceding.

Calliope is coughing and crying and miserable in her bed for two hours now. I've never seen her like this before. Trying to triangulate between her, Amelie, and my breasts is making me miserable. But I've gone in there repeatedly and none of my usual tricks have helped. I wanted to cry, too. I finally threatened her with nose drops and suddenly, after two hours of crying, she went to sleep. Humph.

We are going to the pediatrician tomorrow. I'm concerned she's not peeing enough. I think she's gone 36 hours without.

And today:

Today was a bit better. I got two 2-3 hour stretches of sleep last night. Well, the feedings were three hours apart. So I would say I couldn't have slept more than 2.5 hours at the most. Whatever it was, it helped immensely. I actually woke up a few minutes before everyone else today.

The pediatrician called last night and was very concerned that Amelie had gone 36 hours without peeing. Despite my assertions that Amelie was bright eyed and alert and didn't seem hungry. The doctor wanted me to supplement with either pumped milk or formula. I didn't really see the need but eventually, between Calliope's ceaseless crying and my "exquisitely tender" nipples, I was done with fighting the battle of the breasts. I handed the baby to my sister and asked her to feed Amelie so I could pump and otherwise give my body a break. Amelie took about an ounce and a half. Not so much, which was reassuring. Made me feel like whatever her issue with peeing, it wasn't about my not producing enough milk.

Co-sleeping produced amazing results again. And this morning I tried out the Baby K'Tan and it was amazing. So easy to put on and Amelie just passes out in it. So I'm figuring out the secret trick to infancy, week one, is to keep the baby in physical contact at all times. As long as I do that, I can pretty much control how often she eats and how long she sleeps. Pretty much.

I had to move the car today for street cleaning so we went out for lunch with my sister plus Amy and Baby Leo, then went to the pediatrician for Amelie's first well baby visit afterwards. She did pre- and post-feeding weights (on a not very accurate scale) and determined that Amelie took 2.5 ounces from one nursing. Suddenly her concerns about Amelie's lack of pee were greatly diminished.

Afterwards, walking back to the car, I was exhausted. According to my midwife -- who calls for a daily check-in! I love her! -- I overdid it. I didn't think that lunch plus the pediatrician was too much. Oops. I didn't realize.

I managed to rest for a few minutes this afternoon, which was nice, if too short.

My sister made us dinner and then cleaned up and got ready to get on the road to return to Rhode Island so I asked my downstairs SMC friend (and her almost seven year old) to come help with bath time. My stomach was really hurt and bending is still hard.

Anyway, total disaster. Calliope screamed when I left the bathroom and wailed hysterically through the rest of the bath. Oops.

Poor kiddo. She's having a rough time. It's really unfortunate that she got a cold right when we came home. So she's not been sleeping well.

I'm trying very hard to avoid battles with her while not entirely giving up on our regular rules and schedule. So far, so good. She's more fragile than usual, for sure, but overall doing quite well. For now.

We are just the three of us tonight, post bedtime, and it actually feels quite nice. Peaceful. That could change, if C stops sleeping. Hopefully not.

She Arrived!

Introducing Amelie Lorelei!
6 pounds 5 ounces
19 inches
born 8:53 am on Friday, March 20th, the first day of Spring (even if it was snowing outside)

Sisters meeting for the first time

Monday, March 16, 2015

Thirty-Eight Weeks

I gained a pound. At last. Putting me at twelve pounds gained, new territory for me. And I'm eating a ton, suddenly, so I bet I keep gaining/

My stomach feels sort of bread-loaf-shaped nowadays, though it looks the same in the mirror -- big and round. This past week I notice that I'm leaning back as I want, to counterbalance the giant weight on my front.

I'm really feeling great, overall. More tired on weekends when I'm lounging than on the days when I go to work. A little out of breath on the stairs, that sort of thing, but nothing major. I feel very lucky.

I'm definitely more zen now (except for last night, when I wanted to cry for no apparent reason) than a week ago about the timing of the birth -- meaning I'm not so anxious to start -- but I do wish that I could know when it was going to be, even if that was just to know I would go very late. Where's that crystal ball when you need it?

I have so very many Braxton Hicks contractions and little cramps, and sometimes I wonder if labor is starting, and I get excited... but it's not about meeting my little girl. It's just about the limbo ending. And I feel kind of bad about that. That I'm not giving a lot of thought to this person who is about to enter my life. I guess it's just all so unfathomable that I don't even know how to think about it?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Girls!

Modeling her new hand-knitted hat from her grandma-in-law. Tree Leaf got a matching one.

Tree Leaf 's facial profile at 37w4d. That's her hand near her face -- another thumb sucker?
Measuring 6 lb 15 oz already -- yikes! Thankfully head down.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Calliope, Three and a Half

Lest you think I'm neglecting her dreadfully, when I ask to take her photo, she answers politely, "no thank you."

I feel like I have to respect that, so no photos. Except for when she's with Leo -- she allows it then.

Last week she said, "How about if on Friday, Abby and Calliope go ice skating, and then we get married, and then we have hot chocolate?"

Be still my beating heart.

We had just read the book And Tango Ma.kes Three, a very sweet book about a male penguin couple (can animals be called gay?) at the Central Park Zoo raising a baby penguin together. And she has the Paper Bag Prin.cess, a story about a princess who beats the odds to rescue her betrothed, only to decide she doesn't want him anyway. I think these are her only books about coupling, which is sort of funny. But she asked Amy about marriage recently -- Amy got out her wedding album and the girl were entranced by the "princess dresses" -- so I guess she's picking up the concept without my saying anything.

She's started to say "I love you" in the last couple of months. Rarely and quietly, so it has maximum impact when she does say it.

She's finally showing an interest in the book about her conception story, and has chosen it for her bedtime story the last two nights. I think she's not actually interested in her conception, but likes the part where I talk about how happy I am to be her Mommy.

Strangely, despite her acknowledging that it's hard work to get a baby born, she hasn't asked any more questions about how  the baby gets out. I told her once that "usually a baby comes out through her Mommy's vag,ina -- isn't that crazy?" but she didn't respond so I dropped it.

She was coughing this morning -- and fiending for a spoonful of honey -- and so informed Susie, "I'm having a 'coughy' morning." Yep, on this first work day after Daylight Savings Time started, I think a lot of us are having "coffee" mornings.

And randomly, she will tell me, "Mommy, I have a whisper for you." And whisper something totally unsecrtetive into my ear. To keep all the others in our apartment from hearing??? Likewise, when we in Mexico in our hotel room, she insisted on closing the bathroom door when we were in there together, "to keep the babies out."

She's very interested in letters and just realized she can identify the numbers and letters on our neighbors doors and mailboxes. I wouldn't say she's anywhere close to reading but she likes putting magnetic alphabet letters together on the fridge and asking hopefully, "what does this say? Is this a word?"

I introduced the concept of vowels, and how every word has to have at least one, and she seemed to sort of understand. I'm not pushing it. She loves reading and will often get books out and sit on the couch and flip through them, narrating the story to herself. I want to preserve that love of books. The great thing about her play based education is that I can really see her progressing through the early stages of literacy without my pushing her at all. It all just unfolds naturally, which is amazing to behold.

And finally, at Shabbat dinner last week with Eleanor and her parents, Calliope remarked conversationally to Seth, Eleanor's dad, "Seth, my Mommy has hair on her tushy."

He didn't hear her at first so she repeated it a couple of times. Awesome.

I wanted to defend myself with "actually, it's my vag.ina that's hairy! But she calls her vag.ina her tushy!" But I decided the best course of action was to keep my mouth shut.

Thirty-Seven Weeks, or Finding My Zen

My shirt is officially gaping at the bottom.

Well, after three days I've gained a pound and a half, supposedly. Which I don't think really means anything, just daily fluctuations. But I have been eating a ton lately, so maybe there's some real gain there (up a total of 11 pounds).

My midwife visit this week was nice. I got to meet the student that is working with her and will be attending my delivery. I love working with students as an NP -- well, I love working with NP students, medical students and residents vary -- so I'm psyched to have an extra midwife at my birth. I figure it's just that much more support, and she's young and enthusiastic, which is especially great. And I love eavesdropping on the teaching that goes on as they work on me.

My belly is measuring only 34-35 cm, but my midwife (Chris) thinks it's just that Tree Leaf's head (or tail) is engaged a bit in the pelvis. I had my first pelvic exam of the pregnancy -- a fingertip dilated and 60% effaced. Which she said she expects for a second time mother. I'm interpreting this as meaning nothing much is happening.

I'm trying to find my zen place about the timing of the birth. I had such anxiety last time about the timing, and then such a bad experience being induced. I was bound and determined not to get stressed about it this time... but it's hard not to be a little impatient. Especially with the vast majority of SMCs on the Forum getting induced or scheduled for C-sections before 40 weeks. But I really do believe it's better for the baby to decide when she is ready. So I've just got to cool my jets.

Luckily it's easier in some ways this time around, being patient. For one thing, I've never been so organized in my life! Today I laminated homemade labels for Calliope's bed drawers. I mean, I actually went and bought (ordered) a laminator... and then actually took the time to figure out how to use it! (Never mind making and illustrating, with Calliope's help, little drawings for her drawers.) The remaining items on my home to do list include "organize wire shelving behind my desk" and "finish packing hospital bag." If this baby comes two weeks late, god knows what else I might accomplish!

I also still can't quite imagine being a parent to another child. To two children. I can't remember if I was mentally ready last time or not but I don't feel all the way there this time for sure. I still am somewhat disbelieving that there's even a baby in there. But surely a giant fibroid wouldn't be lurching around like this?

I was also working on finding my zen this week when Chris called to tell me that my anemia isn't getting better. Despite taking iron supplements three times a day! I freaked out and the tears welled up, fearing the worst and worrying that I have hidden internal bleeding somewhere. But I emailed my PCP and he wrote back that he wasn't concerned and that giving birth would most likely cure me. So that made me feel better.

Of course, starting labor with a hemoglobin and hematocrit of 9.5/28 is a bit worrying, given my experience last time with postpartum hemorrhage and profound anemia (and feeling like absolute crap for 6 weeks). And last time I started off in a much better place, no anemia. So I'm worrying about that, a little, and trying to wrap my head around the possibility of a blood transfusion this time if I lose a lot of blood again. The idea of someone else's blood running into my vein completely freaks me out. But I can't spend six weeks on bed rest with two children. So I'm trying to get zen with that, too.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Thirty-Six (Plus) Weeks

Apart from feeling a bit wretched last Friday (seemed like my reflux was returning), I'm actually feeling remarkably good for late pregnancy.

I get a bit breathless, especially in the mornings, whenever I stand up. And also dizzy. I've hesitated to discuss it with my midwife because I don't want to go to the cardiologist. And last time I mentioned it, she recommended a visit to the cardiologist. I think the dizziness is just low blood pressure, because I don't get it while walking, only standing still. I try to drink tons of water with a little splash of juice added and that seems to help. I may mention it today at our weekly visit.

I've lost a half a pound. Now up only nine and a half pounds. It's getting sort of embarrassing. I hope my midwife doesn't think I have an eating disorder. I'm eating a lot more than when I had the reflux. Though admittedly I am getting full faster now than a few weeks ago. But that's pretty typical for late pregnancy.

I have another ultrasound and biophysical profile next week so I'll get another estimate on Tree Leaf's weight. I hope she's getting enough calories in there.

My apartment is pretty much ready -- I remembered to buy diapers for baby and Mommy this week (my doula recommends Depends for laboring at home, to minimize the mess) -- and my work is pretty much ready too. I have a few things in my hospital bag, and made a packing list fir the rest last night. Which means, of course, I won't go into labor until forty-two weeks. The fate of a well organized person. It never rains when you have your umbrella.

Calliope seems ready, too. Nervous about what will happen to her when I go to the hospital (unfortunately, where she goes or who stays with her depends on the date, so I can't give her a definite plan), but very excited for our new baby.

Feeding Baby Leo his first bottle and feeling very ready to be a big sister.