Saturday, August 30, 2014

Birth Story Time!

Since baby is currently sleeping, I thought I would take a minute to write out the birth story since people have been asking me. L was born on August 15th at around 8 AM: 7 lbs 9 ounces, 20.75 inches long. We are so in love with our little baby boy. But let's back up. Due to having gestational diabetes, I was scheduled to be induced on August 15th, three days prior to my due date. I was set to start what is known as cervical ripening on August 14th at 8 pm. Cervical ripening is what they do if you need to be induced and your cervix is long and closed (like mine). The week leading up to induction, I kept hoping that I would go into spontaneous labor. Spoiler alert: I actually never was induced. The morning of the 14th, I woke up around 5 am with very sporadic contractions. I bounced on my exercise ball for a while, but nothing happened, so I went back to bed and slept for a while. I knew that inductions can take a long time, so I wanted to save my energy. When I woke up, I felt completely normal. My parents came down that afternoon, we had a nice dinner together and then J and I made our way over to the hospital. When we got there, Labor and Delivery was dealing with an emergency c-section, so we had to wait a bit for our room. They monitored me for a bit in triage. My blood pressure was a bit elevated and I was actually having contractions that I wasn't feeling. Other than that, baby and I were doing great. Around 9:30ish, we got back to our room and I got setup with an IV, more monitoring, etc. Around 10 pm, the nurse placed cervadil, which is used to soften (or efface) the cervix. The idea is that it will soften the cervix so that when pitocin is started, the cervix will dilate. They monitored me until 11 pm. Everything looked great, so they took off the monitors, gave me an Ambien and told me that they would start pitocin at 6 AM. I sort of dozed until around 1:30 AM. At that point, I really woke up in enormous pain. I was still pretty drowzy from the Ambien, but the pain was winning. I walked around a bit and woke up J, who thought it was 6 AM. I called the nurse in and told her I was having contractions. She basically told me that it was too early for medication and I should just breathe and walk through them. They were coming around 3 minutes apart and breathing through them sucked a lot. I spent the next hour and a half trying to deal with them before calling the nurse in again. I told her I needed something for pain. She checked me, told me that I hadn't dilated at all, that it was early for an epidural, but I could get one if I wanted. I told her I wanted one. She started me on fluids and then put the monitors back on me. Within 10 minutes, she was back in the room saying that the baby wasn't handling contractions very well (his heartrate was dropping) and the OB wanted the cervadil removed. Great! I wanted it removed too. Around 3:30 AM, the anesthesiologist came in for the epidural. I had to sign some consent form that I didn't read and then they placed the epidural. J almost passed out at the sight of the needle. The worst part was having a contraction while it was being placed. You can't really move when they are inserting a needle into your back, so you just have to deal with this terrible pain and being completely stationary. Around 4 AM, the epidural was doing its magic and I was able to relax for the first time in hours. The nurse came back in to check me. "Oh! You're 4 cm!" Between 4 and 5, I mostly just sort of dozed. I could still feel contractions, but they weren't that bad. Around 5 AM, I started to be in significant pain again. I called the nurse in. She was about to check me when my water broke. I was 6 cm. There was meconium in the waters. You might be wondering what meconium is? It's the baby's first bowel movement. So, basically, baby wasn't tolerating the contractions well and he had a bowel movement. If the baby swallows the meconium, he can aspirate on it during birth, so NICU was informed that they needed to be present.

I was still in a good amount of pain, but it was decided to keep the epidural level where it was so that I could feel for pushing. We both called our parents to let them know that the birth was going to happen soon. My parents got there around 6 AM. I was checked again and this time I was 9.5 cm. The OB came in and said, "Who goes from nothing to fully dilated in 3 hours from cervadil?" Around 10 minutes later, it was time to start pushing. Pushing took forever. Since the baby hadn't dropped, there was a long way to push, and I felt like he kind of got stuck in one spot for a long time. I was having to breathe oxygen between contractions to help with the baby's heartrate. During this, there was a shift change and I got a new nurse. Around 8, I started telling the nurse, I am getting really tired, can we do anything to speed things up? She then called in the OB who helped me when pushing to sort of push back on me. That really worked and L was born at 8:09 AM. He hadn't swallowed any meconium so he was put on my chest right away. He was perfect and crying and I just got to hold him for a bit. At some point, he was cleaned up and weighed and all that. Then, J got to hold him for a while. I got a second degree tear and had to be stitched up. About an hour after he was born, we were moved to recovery. My legs were still numb and weird for a while. I was in a lot of pain the first 24 hours, but it got significantly better each day. L's blood sugars were monitored due to my gestational diabetes. Sure enough, they started falling, so he was transferred down to the NICU and given formula for the first day while they monitored him. I felt so bad for all the heel pricks, but his sugars stabilized and he went back to our room. We went down to the NICU as much as we could when he was there. He was by far the big kid in the room. I was totally blown away by some of the preemies in there. They were just so tiny and fragile.

With the bottles of formula, breastfeeding did not get off to a good start. He also had a tongue tie we had to get clipped. There was a lot of frustration for both of us to get to breastfeeding. First there was formula feeding, pumping and feeding what I pumped, and trying to latch (which seemed to never work those first few days). Once my milk came in, I was able to pump enough that we didn't need to use formula anymore. But it was still torture trying to get him latched on. We eventually turned a corner when one of my friends suggested paced bottle feeding, which essentially really limits the flow the baby gets and mimics breastfeeding much better. Well, this got the baby frustrated with the bottle and I was able to start latching him on. I would feed him like an ounce from the bottle and then switch to boob. This was still frustrating for both of us because I would essentially bottle feed a little, try latching on as much as I could and then pump to get milk for the next feeding. Feedings would take an hour and a half or more. And then I was trying to start the process all over again an hour and a half later. So, this past Monday, I decided enough was enough: we were switching to breastfeeding. There was a battle for at least 24 hours. My mom says we essentially got into a fight because he was screaming, just wailing at me and I was trying to get him on the boob with everything I had. There were tears for both of us and lots of calming down before trying again. Once we made up, he started latching. He would get pissed, I would have to calm him down and we would start over again, but we made it through. It's been about 5 days without any bottle feedings! And once he got the hang of breastfeeding, he started gaining weight like crazy. He went from 7 lbs 5 ounces at 5 days old to about 8 lbs on Tuesday to a whopping 8 lbs 12 ounces yesterday! We had a lactation visit on Tuesday, and he took in 5 ounces on the breast! So, he's chowing down. Our next hurdle is not using a nipple shield, but I'm giving us some space. He will latch on without it if he's nice and calm, so I am not too worried. I'm just happy I'm not pumping all the time anymore. One of my friends said the first two weeks of breastfeeding are the hardest. Based on what we've been through, I tend to agree. J kept playing this youtube video for me when we were really struggling. It did help to lighten the mood.

Anyway, that's pretty much my updates. There's a lot of diapers, boob, and sleeping (for the baby) around here. I can't complain though. He's a good baby and I just love cuddling him. It's worth all the interrupted sleep. :)


The day we brought him home (2 days old)

Just born

4 or 5 days old. 

I was proud of my swaddling in this picture.

He was literally sleeping on me like this. Lol.

Picture today - he's getting bigger!

I also wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who sent us well wishes, flowers, gifts, and food. It is all so much appreciated! (And I may eventually get to writing thank yous). And now, I must go. I'm pretty sure there's a diaper that needs changing. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

DIY High Chair Cover

So, I lied in my last post when I said that it would be it before I delivered. Turns out, our kid is far too comfortable in there. As our induction (aka eviction) date draws nearer, I thought I would share a little last minute project. I ended up taking this week off from work. I am pretty happy that I did because I have been spending most of the week sleeping. Seriously, my body cannot seem to handle being 39 weeks pregnant. And for the record, I never thought I would be this pregnant. It makes me have much greater sympathy for the ladies that go overdue. I have been getting up to eat breakfast and then falling back asleep for a few hours every day this week. I have also gotten at least one thing cleaned, too, which I am sure will make me feel better after delivery. Monday was bathrooms and yesterday was laundry. It's always nice coming home to a clean house. Everything is set up and ready to go at this point. We're just missing a baby...

Anyway, on Sunday and Monday, I ended up making new high chair covers. The high chair we will eventually use comes from my parents. My dad recently refinished it. You can't really find very many wooden high chairs anymore, so we're pretty grateful that my parents kept it. We also have a plastic space saver high chair that can attach to an existing seat. We plan on using that for earlier on (it reclines) and for trips since we can easily bring it with us places. I figure we'll start using the wooden chair once baby is a little bigger and can sit up easily on his own.

The padding for the wooden high chair was looking a little worn and outdated (sorry mom).

But, I had batting and the fabric that we used in our dining room on hand and figured I could easily make new covers that matched.

I used the old covers as a pattern for the new ones. I think my new ones are slightly smaller, but should still work fine.

To sew, I sewed the outside pieces together with the batting, leaving one end open so I could turn it.

Making the little strings was the most annoying part of the whole process. Getting them to fold in on themselves and stitch was frustrating.

Seats side-by-side.

I basically did the same thing for the top piece (following the pattern from the original). I made a small mistake, but I don't think it's super noticeable, so I won't point it out.

I think the new one looks a little smaller since I didn't include the ruffle.

That's all from me. I don't have the high chair here yet, so I can't show you the two together, but I think my new padding turned out pretty well. I'm pretty sure the baby won't care one way or the other, though! Ha. Okay, kid, we have all the things ready. You can make your appearance now! 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Maternity Essentials

So... it's August!! The last few days where it's just the two of us. We've been enjoying a pretty lazy weekend of some errands and going to the movies (Guardians of the Galaxy was super fun). Most of the things on our to-do list are done, so I don't feel guilty about lying around a bit. Sure, I could be cleaning more, but the house is in decent shape, and bending over is super hard work right now. Every time I drop something, I have to make the decision whether I'm going to squat down or ask J to come help me. I try to get one thing clean when I get home from work, and that has been working out pretty well. J also helps out a lot around the house, which helps. He jokes with me about the laundry because it usually goes like this: Me, "Hey, would you mind throwing the clothes in the wash. I'll take care of them after that." Him, "Sure." Me, later, "Would you mind throwing the wash in the dryer?" Him, "Sure." Me, even later, "Hey, would you mind bringing the clothes up from the dryer? I'll help you put them away." (I do help him put them away). Me, later on, "I'm so glad I got the laundry done!" He gives me a look. Okay, maybe I didn't do the laundry. :)

Anyway, since I am finally at the end of pregnancy, I thought I would do a post to share what has been helpful for me in getting through it. I realize that almost everyone is different, so if you ask a different pregnant woman her pregnancy essentials, I could almost guarantee she might have a completely different list. I'm going to try to organize it by trimester (meaning when I started needing the items).

First Trimester

1. Prenatal vitamins - All of them pretty much have the same things in them, so it doesn't really matter which one you pick, but there are a few differences. I couldn't do any of the ones with DHA in them (DHA is fish oil). It's supposed to be super good for the baby, but I couldn't keep them down. After trying a few brands, I ended up really liking the Rainbow Light prenatal vitamin. If you can't swallow large pills, be forewarned. The pills are enormous. However, the formula didn't irritate my stomach like most other prenatals, so it worked for me. (I also tried One-a-Day, Nature Made, and the Vita-fusion brands). The Vita-fusion one contains DHA but no iron, so be aware (even in gummy form, I couldn't stomach the DHA). The Nature Made one didn't have DHA, but the iron irritated my stomach. The one-a-day one was okay.

2. Grocery bags - I was always carrying around plastic grocery bags in case I needed to vomit. Yes, I used them.

3. Bra extender and new bras- One of the first changes I had was that my bras were suddenly way too small. I'm pretty sure this is super common in pregnancy. I ended up having to use both a bra extender and buy some new (stretchy) bras from Target. I mostly went for nursing bras, which were already a bit wider than normal ones, and in the hopes that I might be able to use them post-partum as well.

4. Bella band - There is this awkward time where your pants don't really fit, but you aren't ready to buy maternity jeans yet. The bella band helps solve this issue. Some people fit fine in their clothes into the second trimester. I started having issues around week 7-8 (mostly bloating). I didn't wear the bella band for all that long (I haven't used it since I bought maternity jeans), but I hear it's good for the deflation stage too, so maybe I will be using it again.

5. Juice - I couldn't drink water in the first trimester. It made me super sick. Diluted juice literally saved me from dehydration, although I was on the edge of dehydration the entire first trimester. My main goal was to avoid having to get IV fluids. Gatorade also helped. I think I started being able to stomach plain water around weeks 14-16 and it was so glorious.

6. Unisom - Unisom + B6 has been used for years in the battle against morning sickness and probably the only medication that actually did anything for me (it's now sold as the prescription drug Diclegis, but the OTC version is way cheaper). The B6 never really helped me all that much, but the Unisom did. The only problem is that it's also a sleep aid, so taking it during the day was not really an option. I (still) take one of the sleeptabs every night to help with nausea the next day. It doesn't even act as a sleep aid for me anymore since I have taken it so long. I will randomly try not taking it, and the nausea and vomiting return with a vengeance, so it really has been helping.

7. Exercise! So, I am more than slightly anal when it comes to exercise. I do something physical every day, and didn't stop when I got pregnant. My exercises changed over time, but I found that some physical activity made me feel like a person. I even exercised while super sick, pausing to go vomit. I also am really paranoid about blood clots and high blood pressure. Exercising keeps both in check. I am also hoping it will help me bounce back post-baby. The exercises I have done:

Elliptical - first and second trimesters
Summer Sanders Prenatal workout - second trimester (I found the third trimester one too boring)
What to Expect workout - third trimester (I would have used this in the second if I had found it sooner)
Walking - second and third trimesters (as soon as it was warm enough)
Swimming - third trimester

I also tried a few prenatal yoga videos, but I couldn't really find one I liked. They were either way too slow (and put me to sleep) or I was too far along and just couldn't bend the way the person with the tiny bump was bending.

Second Trimester

8. Maternity jeans! - Once you make the switch, you won't want to wear anything else. I suggest the ones with the full panel because the underbelly ones can get really uncomfortable as you get bigger. I personally bought mine from Motherhood Maternity and Target. The ones from Target were actually my favorite pair. As you grow, jeans can get more uncomfortable, so you may have to buy the size up. Being pregnant in the summer has a definite advantage - I don't need to wear jeans, so I don't. :)

9. Maternity tops - Eventually, your pre-pregnancy clothes will just be too tight or uncomfortable. My pregnancy started in November, so I really focused on spring and summer clothing for maternity wear. I was able to get by with just maternity jeans for a long time, but definitely was needing maternity tops by April. I have gotten a lot of use out of my maternity tops by layering (maternity tank top + pre-pregnancy cardigan). However, I am starting to get super tired of maternity clothes by this point, and there is no way I am buying any more at this stage. Another suggestion is getting stretchy maternity t-shirts. They have lasted me the entire time, and don't break the bank. Target and Gap have nice long ones. Anything that isn't tight fitting at the bottom becomes a problem in the late third trimester (caution: underbump showing).

10. Maternity yoga pants - They are so, so comfy and worth every penny. Also, you will want them post-partum (I am told).

Third Trimester

11. The snoogle - This is the most awesome body pillow in the world. J got it for me for Mother's Day, and it's been awesome. I credit this pillow for my lack of back and hip pain. It keeps your body aligned while sleeping, which makes sleeping way easier.

12. Tums - for heartburn. I don't really feel like I need to explain this.

13. Snacks - Even without the gestational diabetes, you get hungry way more frequently as baby is putting on weight. And your stomach is getting squished, making big meals difficult. Lots of healthy snacks makes this problem a little easier. If I didn't have GD, I would probably eat fruit all day long.

14. Comfortable shoes - I can't stress enough how important this one has been for me. My feet ache all the time right now. It must be something about putting on 30+ pounds in nine months, but it's super hard to do stuff when your feet feel terrible. My mom ended up buying me a pair of flip flops from Clarks, which have saved my life this summer. Arch support is awesome.

I hope you enjoyed! What are some of your maternity essentials? Anything I missed?

Bonus story (completely unrelated): Last night, I decided I was going to make Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese. Well, I didn't think that the peppers would hurt my hands while I was cutting them. Wrong. So wrong. My hands were on fire for about 3 hours after cutting the peppers. I tried everything to make it better - vinegar, oil, lemon juice, sour cream, rubbing alcohol, aloe, and milk. The milk worked over time. It took about 3 30 minute soaks to get it under control and my fingertips were still hurting. I mixed baking soda and milk into a paste for my fingers, which actually did work pretty well. Next time - gloves! (For the record, the mac and cheese wasn't even spicy).

This will probably be my last post until baby is on the outside. Prayers for an easy labor are welcome - I've been eating dates and sipping on red raspberry leaf tea! (Plus, lots of walking)