Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And a one, a two, a one, two... two.

Two months old and a Two months check-up that is.

It went, er, well? How well can a check-up go when you have to watch your precious baby's thighs be injected with 3 shots/5 vaccines. I was THAT mom who teared up and sniffled while the whole thing went down, and my husband, who luckily is off this week, was there to squeeze my arm back to reality to soothe Gabriel.

The babe is sure gaining well, though-- he is 13 lb. 9 oz. now, up from 10 lb. 15 oz. at one month. This is assuring especially because of his reflux issue.

And the reflux issue is a whole other barrel of monkeys. The doctor we saw for his well check-up was not happy with the doctor who met with us last week and offered Gabe the Baby Zantac as a solution for his 'reflux.' This doctor, who I much prefer, wants Gabe to have a chest x-ray of his upper GI tract to confirm his reflux and to eliminate all other possible stomachish problems. I really am happy this whole investigation is thorough, but I have to give my baby barium in a bottle.

Barium in a bottle. Now, if you have been following this blog at all, you know my baby HATES bottles. Tell me how I am supposed to get my baby to drink liquid chalk out of his most-hated thing in the world.

Well, we'll get through it, right? Of course, right.

Other good things? Gabe is meeting his milestones like a champ. Lots of cooing and smiling and attempting to move forward/roll over. (Yeah, he rolled over at 6 weeks-2 days, but we are yet to see this happen again!)
In other news....
Gabe LOVES his rainforest playmat (part 1 of the Evenflo triple fun jungle), and he talks to the koala, butterfly, and whatever else he can attempt to whack with his little arms like a crazy fool. He squirms and wriggles his little butt as he kicks his legs and squeaks out lots of random syllable combos and sounds. It is truly awesome watching him learn and blossom and all that. It's just plain fab.

Stay tuned for my first entry of "Erin's Edibles." It'll be a fun one, too... an interesting and strange little sweet treat I made to kick it off.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Let's just get down to business here, okay?

I wish you all a Merry Christmas. I will say things are beautiful for my little family, but listen, I need to get down to business here.

I need to just come out and say this, and since you have come to a Mommy Blog, you should be prepared to read this. If you are not ready to read this, leave now. Because... I just can't stop thinking about the fact that I cannot avoid this horrible thing...

and it is called snissing.

Yes, I said snissing. This is a combination of sneezing and pissing. And it is gross. And I hate it. And it has been happening since late 3rd trimester. And I thought it would stop by now. But it has not. And I am trying very hard to strengthen things to make that NOT happen. BUT I JUST KEEP DOING IT.

Seriously, I can't laugh, either. I cracked up over Christmas sitting on my parents' chair, and I was afraid I had just flat out pee'd my pants like a sleeping child who has a bladder problem. I expected to get up and look down upon a puddle, and I was ready to waddle over to my Mom and whimper, "Mommy, I pee'd my paaaaaants," with a sigh.

Luckily, I did not do any damage. THANK GOODNESS.

The only thing that saves me when I sniss-- (yes, again, I am using the word "sniss")-- is that my husband laughs when I say the word, and he takes our child into his arms at any point in time with a smile upon the use of this word, even if the said baby is drooling with chunky spit up and is screaming bloody murder. That is to say, this is a scene from our lives yesterday night...

Me: SNEEZE. SIGH. UGHHHH. Hey babe, take the baby. I just snissed.

Husband: SMIRK. Aw, sure. You go do what you need to do. SNICKER. (kiss on the cheek for me and baby.)

Thinking about this now, I realize I should call sniss like the boy who cried wolf whenever I need a shower or want a coffee break. Hell, maybe I could call him home from work sometime on this snissing issue. "Honey, I snissed. Come home so I can change my pants." That'll work, right?

My husband probably thinks I am some gross alien being when I call sniss, but because I say the word sniss, he snickers instead. It's probably a pity-smile-because-I-knocked-you-up-and-half-caused-your-body-to-start-snissing laugh, but at least it is a laugh. And I really need a laugh after the snissing happens because it is getting old, and I want it to stop.

All in all, it's ridiculous, this snissing business. When does it end????

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reflux in HD

So Goober has had a few rough days. He spent his time over Saturday, Sunday, and Monday crying bloody murder, spitting up copious amounts of congealed disgustingness, waking from sleep with shrieks, not sleeping, looking ashen, and simply seeming way off his usual swagger.

Concerned Mommy? YES. So I called the doc, and fastforward- nothing was found to be wrong with the little fella. Other than the reflux we already knew he had and we were avoiding treating it with meds.

But Goober was too far miserable and off his game to ignore meds anymore, so he is now on 1 ml 2x/day of zantac (ranitidine)... alla baby zantac.

And if he looks ashen again, he will need to be monitored for other issues.

He is still Grouchy McGrouchsterson today, but hopefully he will be feeling better asap.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Flashback Photo: December 2008

We were living in Queens just across from the Upper East Side of Manhattan this time last year. So here is a photo of Central Park South last December, the weekend before Christmas. Weirdly, my husband and I had no idea we would have a little baby boy to celebrate with us in December 2009.

It snowed this year, too, interestingly enough.

Note to self:

Do not eat chocolate chip granola bars while nursing baby.

Doing so may result in. . . chocolate chips leaving a stain on baby's skin, creating the appearance of a bruise. This mistaken contusion will freak Mommy out, making her wonder how baby got a bruise-- "baby is treated like gold; any bruise would be a result of something mysteriously medical. This must be bad." Mommy will start to breathe quickly worrying about baby's medical issue.

And then she will gently touch this bruise and realize it partly stains her hand. She will smell this stain and realize it smells particularly yummy. Further examining the situation, Mommy will see a chocolate chip plastered to baby's sleeper and breathe a sigh of release, smile, and murmur a small "Are you kidding me?" at the possibly-ruined baby garb.

Mommy FAIL.

Gobs and Gobs and Gobs of Snow.

Gobs and gobs of snow. It makes a girl warm in her heart, especially when it is the week of her first baby's first Christmas.

What is not so heartwarming is the fact that we are still stuck without a condo. My husband and I would give anything to be snuggled at home right now, our heat jacked up with a blanket over the pair of us, our little Gabriel snuggled into his own blanket in our arms, our Christmas tree twinkling with white lights and crimson decor, Mommy and Daddy chomping on pieces of freshly-made fudge and enjoying our snow-covered and enchanting woodland view.

But this is not yet possible, and so, in the meantime, we hope the snow stays just a few days more so that we may enjoy this scene, this winter wonderland moment with babe, in just a day or so more.

The condo should be painted today or tomorrow, allowing us to return tomorrow or Tuesday evening. Just in time to get our tree decorated in time. I still have many presents to wrap, and 1 or 2 to purchase!

Our little female cat, Sage, is returning home today from the Pet Hotel (my husband ventured out onto the awful roads to drop my sister off at work and get Sage home in my Mom's 4-wheel-drive-equipped vehicle). I am sure she will be happy to sit in our windows and chatter at squirrels again.

What's sweet about our current not-so-snuggly situation is that we are holed up with family, and that is certainly nice. If you are going to be snowed in for an evening(see the aftermath picture-- i.e. where is our bumper?-- at right), I sure don't mind playing Taboo with my 3 sisters and my parents.

And so, that is the way of the weekend... enjoying family, gazing outside, and longing for the moment the Christmas my husband and I dreamed of from the moment we knew were expecting truly begins.

Oh, and while I lament, we also would like for Gabe's behavior last night to never occur again. He screamed everytime he was put down in the pack and play, and would immediately stop crying when my husband picked him up. I nursed him when he seemed hungry and when it seemed just a little milk would make him drunk enough to sleep, but the longest he went down was one hour. On weekend nights (most Fridays and all Saturdays), my husband tends to Gabe's antics between feedings, and I felt awful knowing he was not getting any rest. And to be honest, what sound rest does a Mommy get while she is hearing her babe cry and her husband sigh anyway?

Mommy FAIL post coming very soon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sweet Love of Mommy Blogs,

What a sweet contest! Head over to babyrabies.com and enter to win a Dyson asap! Drawing is tomorrow.

Alas. Alack. A period.

I got my period.


No, Seriously??

I am exclusively breastfeeding, and I started the mini pill last week... and BOOM- period here, cramps and all. At least the cramps are minor compared to what I had prior to pregnancy, and I hope that continues. I was worried at first that getting my period after a week on the pill would be problematic, but I then discovered that because the progesterone-only pill does not regulate my cycle at all. So I guess it is good I can go along as usual with the little pill. It's good I am not pregnant, right? Yeah... (in a severely sarcastic tone) because I was worried about that.

But, Seriously?

No, SERIOUSLY??? I thought I was going to miss my period for months upon months with breastfeeding. Yes, I know that does not always happen, but still, I am lamenting.

Alas. Alack. A period.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thank You, Nordstrom...

...for the Women's Lounge and Mother's Room at the Cherry Hill Mall in Cherry Hill, NJ. It made an evening of holiday shopping with me, my husband, and my son, as convenient as possible for a breastfeeding new mommy.

Southern New Jersey Moms, check this out in a youtube special from ByMomsForMoms here.


And thanks, Target, for having huge carts that fit my baby's carrier safely in the back of it, as well as dressing rooms with super fat plastic benches that made feeding Gabe possible on a day of interview and shopping mayhem with my Mom.

For the record, it was really awesome watching Gabriel coo in awe as we strolled through the mall and walked through Target over the past few days. My little man is so much more alert, and he is soaking in the world. This was confirmed when he started talking to (my parents' -- we will not be in our condo until Sunday at least-- arrrgh) Christmas tree.

In other news, Gabe changed his entire grumpy late afternoon attitude yesterday when his Daddy got home from work. He looked up when he heard his Dad's voice in the room, turned toward him, and immediately stopped crying. In his sudden quiet alertness, he shifted to small smiles, realizing his hero was in da house. It was awesome.

Christmas Sneak Peek

Well, Gabe is still a wee lad of under 2 months so I am not too worried about him seeing my blog and having his Christmas spoiled so I figured I would share with you his "Top 3 Gifts." To give you an idea of what my husband and I decided to do for the little man this Christmas, we decided to build his library with books, and Santa will be giving him some Dr. Seuss among other favorites. Santa is also stuffing his stocking with little must-haves-not-already-had such as MAM pacifier holders and some more of Gabe's favorite butt paste. We're not spending more than $100 this Christmas on him, and I think we came to a total around $80, which, for a newborn, seems just fine to me.

Gift #1. Sassy Me In The Mirror (Santa's "big" gift)

First of all, he needed something for his crib that can entertain him and stimulate his senses. I was pretty disgruntled with the cost of most crib "soothers," as they are called. For the money ($35-$70), a little light up aquarium with mini sparkly fishies seemed really lame. My Mom swears by mirrors for little ones; it makes sense-- babies can see themselves, smile, coo, and watch their little lips move in a mirror. Bonus: Sassy makes a mirror that doubles as a tummy-time toy... you can lean it on the ground for little one to explore his face, too!

Gift #2. from the Urban Babies Wear Black Series:
Urban Babies Wear Black
Eco Babies Wear Green
Foodie Babies Wear Bibs
(Mommy and Daddy's "big" gift)

The cutest damn board books you will ever read or discover. Hell, I would put them on my coffee table even if I didn't have a 7-week-old. The text is hilarious, clever, and adorable, but when paired with the books' satirically-cute illustrations, I would suffice to call the series "genius." I highly encourage you to find them and enjoy them for yourself. The series consists of the three my husband and I are giving Gabe, as well as a book about Rocker Babies, Jet Set Babies, Country Babies, and Winter Babies, etc.

Gift #3. Babylegs
Union Jack, Yellow Dots

So I caved and bought babylegs. For my baby BOY. Go ahead and say they are a waste of money because they can be homemade, but I got a buy one/get one/free shipping deal, and it seemed worth it to me. And for those that say these little leg warmers are not for little boys, let me just say this: Gabe is a BABY. He will look AWESOME.

Gift from Mom-Mom and Grandad
a.k.a. Gabe is already spoiled, and it's wonderful.

Evenflo Triple Fun Jungle ExerSaucer

Lucky guy. It starts as a playmat, converts to a stationary play seat with incredibly colorful and interesting jungle creatures, and then forms into some sort of curvy amusement station for toddlers. I can't wait to watch Gabe's bright eyes look up at the rainforest on Christmas day!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Feeling Ornamental

Gabriel's First Christmas Ornament is here! And we just love it.

I found it on Department 56's website, and it was sold out almost everywhere I looked, online or in stores. Luckily, Boscov's internet store had it in stock (and on sale), and it got here in time for Gabe's very first Christmas!

Here it is:

Full Price: $12.50 new

The Battle of the Bottle

In middle school, it was Battle of the Books. In high school, it was Battle of the Bands. Now, in mommy-land, it is the Battle of the Bottle.

"What does that mean?" you may ask, thinking I am simply blogging dreary-eyed and delirious. "Why would there be a battle over a bottle? Baby hungry - baby eat."

Not so simple with Gabriel, my (not so) little breastfed baby. Every single evening when he gets his single bottle feeding (of pumped breast milk), he is a fussy, crying mess. He whimpers as he sucks, milk drips FLOODS all over his chin and neck, and he seems to be losing more milk than he eats.

I hate it. It breaks my heart to hear or see his feeding time as a battle of burps, air bubbles, spit up, and tears. It makes me feel like I'm evil for scampering off to another room for a shower or even *gasp* out into the world at Target while he is having a hissy fit during a meal.

I suppose it is the curse of the breastfed baby. Well-nourished, well-protected, well-almost-everything, but not well-adjusted to bottle feeding. Part of me wants to skip it altogether (Who would not like to avoid pumping one's breast as if it were a cow's utter on a dairy farm?), but it seems to be a necessary evil for the following reasons:
A. If I get sick, etc.
B. If, in some crazy world, I actually leave Gabe for longer than 4 hours, like on a date with my husband
C. If I get a job
(I am currently interviewing for a make-your-own-hours part-time position with a nonprofit-- I would love this sort of job situation, and the money would be excellent to have) i

I do think part of the issue is the nipple/bottle itself. I've tried Avent, and we regularly use Medela, but the nipples are just too easy for Gabe.I have read great things about MAM bottles, and in tandem with the fact that Gabe exclusively uses MAM pacifiers, it makes sense to purchase some of them to try. I am probably going to get them tomorrow. (will update how they work for him.)

And I hope my concerns over the battle of the bottle do not give you an all too rosy idea of nursing. Gabe and I have had many battles at the breast, too, but they do not happen often, especially these days. Some days I have to battle myself to keep breastfeeding because it is simply exhausting, and on growth spurt days, it can be beyond demanding.

Still, we're going strong- I pump in the morning after his 6-7ish feeding and get 4-5 oz. for a daily bottle, and I pump circa the time he eats his bottle to get 3-5 oz. for freezing.

I will leave you with this:

We're still staying at my parents' right now, and my sisters and Dad had thought my Mom bought a new type of lemon water ice when I started putting my stash in the garage freezer. Teehee.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Welcome, Josie Brooklyn/ Adios Internet Negativity.

At 1 lb. 6 oz., the 19th Duggar baby arrived via emergency c-section on December 10, 2009. She and her Mama and the rest of the Duggar fam are in my prayers. Read the story here and here.

What kills me when I read the story beyond being concerned that the little baby was born at a mere 25 weeks-- almost a medical marvel for surviving her birth alone-- is that people are so cruel. The comments under the story on People, Us Weekly, etc. are condemning of the Duggars. And hear me out-- I understand when people disagree with their lifestyle choices, but here's the thing: A woman and her baby are in serious medical trouble (pre-eclampsia for Michelle and preterm birth for Josie). Regardless of different life views and philosophies, shouldn't people be hoping these people recover and live happy lives?

Prayers are needed right now. Save the nastiness for another time.

Soapbox time done.

Highlight/ Lowlight

High: Gabe rolled over at 6 weeks and 2 days, holy moly go baby!!!

Low: I got a freaking flat tire in my parents' neighborhood due to my own idiocy.

Now, I am waiting for my lovely husband to get back from getting a new tire so that our little fam can go Christmas shopping.

The 6 Week Wait...

is over! I'm cleared and free for all physical activity. So woot woot- I am on the mini-progesterone-only pill! Now... when this mini-pill actually is used as a means of protection is a whole other story seeing as A. I AM TERRIFIED OF HAVING SEX. and B. WE ARE STILL STAYING AT MY PARENTS due to the flooding in our condo until at least Friday.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Finally 6 Weeks Postpartum: The Beautiful and the Not So Beautiful...

So I have made it-- 6 weeks of mommyhood. Sorry for the hiatus in writing... things have been busy in new mom life.

The baby gained 3 lb. 7 oz. from his lowest weight by one month, reaching 10 lb. 15 oz. It was AWESOME to see how successful breastfeeding is going.

Gabriel goes between sleeping like an almost-angel in the night, sleeping from 10:00 p.m. until somewhere in the 12 o'clock hour, going down again by 1:30 until somewhere in the 4:00 hour, going down again by 5:00, and then waking up again sometime after 7:00 a.m. If I was a better sleeper, this schedule would not be too bad.

However, sometimes, Gabriel likes to stay up all night as if it were the middle of day. This is fun, like a middle school sleepover stay-up-all-night-playing-mash evening, for about... 5 minutes. I'm tired. My husband is comatose once he falls asleep. Gabe is cooing and smiling with nobody to enjoy it.

And then there are the nights when Gabriel cries. He cries the cry of the gas. It makes my heart fall every time I hear that whimper grow into a baby shriek. These nights are exhausting, and the only solace I take is that Gabe is bound to fall asleep in his swing sometime after the Today show starts, and then I get to pump, chomp down some oatmeal, and fall asleep on the futon in the living room, lulled to sleep by the mechanical music of the fisher price lamb swing and the voices of Matt Lauer and Ann Curry.

What has been clearly the most rewarding moment of the past six weeks? SMILES! All the sleep deprivation, over-sized (to the point of possibly disturbing) breasts, senseless arguments with my husband resulting from our new-found responsibilities, and general dirtiness, etc. is totally worth his little lips curling like a Christmas elf's into a bright-eyed, sunny, sweet smile. Seeing him smile is heaven on earth, and possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced.

What has been the worst moment? Well, we're in the middle of it right now...
Our condo flooded due to a unit above flooding. The carpet in the master bedroom, the bathroom floor, and the walls in my closet all have to be completely replaced and redone. At least we are renting and we are not financially responsible for it. But my husband had to get home from work asap yesterday to move all of our furniture and clothing and yadayadyada out of harm's way. Our condo is a disaster, and right now it is legally deemed uninhabitable. Our poor cat is stashed in my parents' upstairs bathroom right now because we can't take her to a pet hotel yet (she is 1 month overdue for her rabies vaccine)-- she is NOT dog friendly, and my parents have a dog. This is definitely not a fun situation AT ALL.

But enough complaining. It is time to focus on the beautiful... Christmas is almost here, and I have a darling, smiling, little man to share it with me and my husband.

(Stay tuned for my 6 week appointment update later this week.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I went food shopping.

Last weekend. I fed Gabriel, left him home to hang with his Daddy, and I went to Shop Rite. I looked like hell in an over-sized Gap sweatshirt, whoever-knows-what hair, and eyes that screamed sleep deprivation, but WOW, it was a great experience to be out in the world.

I never enjoyed picking out a package of tilapia so much, and I never rushed food shopping so much. The entire time I thought about Gabriel and worried he was crying horribly for his exhausted full-time working/part-time grad school-going Dad (who had paper upon paper to write). So yes, I called while I shopped to make sure all was well. And little Gabriel slept the whole time I was gone. When I got home, I saw the most precious thing...

My husband sitting in his office chair with Gabriel swaddled up in his arms, my husband just staring down at his baby with total amazement and happiness.

That shopping trip was totally worth it!

Will the real Gabriel David please stand up?

I have been feeling like I am living at the end of that movie Spartacus, when every single prisoner stands up and says, "I am Spartacus!"

Gabriel likes to present me with many different versions of himself...
-sleepy, barely-able-to-be-waken-to-eat, Gabriel
-wakeful, bright-eyed, pushing up, never-sleeping Gabriel
-fussy, half-asleep, squirmy, I-make-just-enough-noise-to-keep-Mommy-awake, Gabriel
-cranky, gassy, I-might-just-poop-any-second, Gabriel
-endless-spit-up-on-clothes-and-crib-and-hair-and-Mommy-and-changing table, Gabriel

He can sleep for hours straight or he can REFUSE to sleep. Thus far, he is not a screaming baby. Let's hope that continues. But seriously, I never know what to expect! The only thing I KNOW is that he WILL eat when he starts to mouth around. It is so hard when he is cranky-- I want to reach for that pacifier so badly, but I know it is outlawed for at least one more week as an exclusive breastfeeder.

I think the point of this post is that it is hard to be a Mom. It is the best thing I have ever done, but dealing with all of Gabriel's many little versions, which are ultimately just typical moods and phases of daily baby life, is taxing on your mental, physical, and emotional being. Don't get me wrong-- I have never been happier, and I love being a Mom. I have never felt such love and purpose. Still, it is hard!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Moment of Triumph

I am sharing this to give hope to other new breastfeeding moms:

Among the many worries I have had since Gabriel was born, my biggest has been my concern for his weight gain, weight loss, food intake, etc. He was born 8 lb. 7 oz., and when we were sent home from the hospital he weighed 8 lb. By Friday of last week, he weighed 7 lb. 8 oz., and I became somewhat internally frantic. I have wanted to breastfeed my whole life, and I knew that looking in the face of his weight loss (just over 10%), I was coming to that place where the pediatrician says it is time to supplement.

What was somewhat comforting on Friday was his sudden increase in stools and wet diapers (rising from 0 to 3 stools, and from 3 to 6 wet), and I was happy to say I was heading into engorgement. Just let me say being engorged really is definitively unpleasant... your breasts are hard, leaking perfusely and filling breast pads like crazy, you are super duper sore, your nipples become smaller as they are stretched by the great increase in milk-- making it hard for your little one to latch on, and oh, on top of that, I was already wearing a very plus size bra size... I don't even want to know what cup size I would have been that day if measured. I would HONESTLY guess it would be somewhere around J or K, if those sizes even exist.

In any case, my pediatrician was very nonchalant about his weight loss, saying he would be fine as long as his stools increase and his wet diapers number at least 6 per day. Well, then this weekend, on Sunday, he had 12 wet diapers and 5 stools, and yesterday he had 12 wet diapers with 4 stools. He was weighed again yesterday at our home nursing visit (one very awesome perk of my husband's insurance plan), and he had gained a WHOPPING 14 ounces! He is now 8 lb. 5 oz., and I was given the go ahead to sleep up to 5 hours straight without waking him in the middle of the night because he is thriving.

I was nearly devastated and terrified on Friday that he was not going to hit his markers in creating 'waste,' and then suddenly everything came together for us. Seeing him on the nurse's scale yesterday with the number 8-5 was a moment of triumph for me as a first time Mom, and I had to share it. Am I still worried about weight gain? Yes! I count his diapers like a nutcase, and I sit anticipating his next bowel movement. I feel comforted and a bit more confident, but I still feel like this is a critical time to be cautious and meticulous in making sure Gabriel is hydrated and well-fed. I finally got him to sleep for 4 hours straight after his 5:30 feeding today (I had hopes of this happening earlier in the night, but he wanted some food!), and now I feel nervous about him making enough diapers today because of a 4.5 hour break between feedings instead of his 'usual' 2-3. And I guess that is why they say Moms worry, no matter what.

BUT my point is in all of this...
If breastfeeding seems not to be working at first, and you really want it to work, please keep fighting!!

And the mother of a son is christened...

Gabriel is now just over a week old, and I am the point where I cannot believe it has been a whole week, but I also cannot believe it has only been a week, too. During this lovely week in which plenty of learning has happened, there was a particular moment yesterday which truly made me feel like I have been christened into mommyhood, specifically of a son. It made me laugh so hard as it happened, though the laughter did not really help with damage control!

Yes, I opened the diaper and he pee'd, on me, on the changing table, on his clothes... but he ALSO simultaneously shot poop everywhere...
AND he somehow landed his hand on the little gauze pad with vaseline ready to be placed on his very-fast and beautifully healing circ...
the gauze pad of vaseline stuck to his hand is being waved in the air like a flag as I grab another diaper as armor to protect, well, everything in the nursery...
And then the gauze pad has suddenly landed.

Needless to say, Gabriel had a bath last night.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Gabriel is Born!

I am so pleased to share that I am now officially a Mommy!! Gabriel David was born on Monday, October 26, 2009 at 9:54 p.m. I was induced, and he was delivered vaginally at 8 lb. 7 oz. and 22 in. Both my husband and my mom were my labor coaches, and it was amazing sharing the experience with both of them.

So Monday morning, we were admitted to the hospital around 7:30 a.m. We spent awhile waiting for things to get rolling… ie. Me get an i.v. of fluids, wait for the doctor to check me, etc. I was administered pitocin around 9 a.m. with my cervix still fairly posterior at 3-4 cm. dilated. Contractions started just about right away, and they became painful, but nothing I could not breathe through. I was told I could get an epidural at anytime, and then the doctors would break my water. I wanted to try to labor without an epidural for awhile, in the hopes I would progress to 6 or 7 cm before getting one. I suppose I wanted the experience, but I also wanted to feel somewhat assured that I might avoid a c-section before taking the “leap.” By 3 p.m., my cervix had moved to be quite anterior, and it was dilated to a ‘solid 4,’ meaning I was NOT yet in active labor.

I decided it was time to get the epidural and move things along by breaking my water. I have to say I have been irrationally afraid of getting an epidural for quite some time, and the experience I had getting mine did NOT allay my fears. I am not exaggerating when I say that, to nerd myself out here, in the Harry Potter series, the Cruciatus curse probably would impose the type of pain I experienced with my epidural procedure. “How is that possible? That girl is a wimp!” you might say. I am telling you, this is not so. I preferred the pain of labor to the epidural and here is why:

Dr. XXXXX comes in with another anesthesiologist to talk to me about the procedures and have me sign waivers, etc. I tell them I am afraid of the procedure, and they tell me it will be nothing worse that a simple needle or shot of pain, comparable to getting blood drawn. I try to relax, and my husband and I prepare for the ball to roll. My Mom had to leave because I could only have 1 support person in the room to have it done. Dr. XXXXX begins and tries to find the spot and numbs my back with a shot. He begins the procedure and it is very uncomfortable, but once he gets to the last step of placing the catheter in my back, I am in excrutiating pain. I felt like someone was sticking a metal straw into my back bone and pushing it downward. I told him it hurt really badly and I didn’t know if it was supposed to hurt like this. He then asked me over and over how it hurt, where it hurt, and to describe the pain. I explained… he acted like it was strange, and when I yelped as he tried pushing it in, he decided this try was in the wrong spot and this was why I was in pain.

He then repeated this 4 more times over the course of an hour, sticking and poking and prodding me as I yelped and eventually cried in agony asking him to stop. He then decided he would “just have to get another doctor.” The new doc comes and I start questioning him—Why is this happening? Is there something wrong with my back? Etc. etc. The doctor told me has no idea, and he has never heard of this sort of situation before in his 23 years of working in labor and delivery. I then break down thinking I cannot bear this pain, and I will have to labor naturally. I have no idea what to do so I asked my husband to get my Mom so I could talk through what to do with her (seeing as she has delivered 4 babies herself, and has had as many birth experiences as she could possibly have). My Mom demanded answers from the doctor, and he still has none, and I am totally freaked out, but I decided to try one last time, “go for broke,” and figured that if this last try did not work, I would just have to do it au naturale.

Well, this time it worked FINE. It did NOT hurt. Sure, it was not fun, but it was NOT the experience with Dr. XXXXX. After the doctor was done, I asked him what he did differently, and he said the only difference was that he himself used numbing agent in the catheter (“which can help expand the epidural space”) and on my skin while the other doctor only used it on my skin. I think to myself, “REMEMBER THIS AND NEVER LET ANYONE DO AN EPIDURAL ANY OTHER WAY AGAIN.”

SO! Then, my water is broken at about 5:00 and labor really kicked in. I was at 10 centimeters by 9:20 p.m. without much discomfort other than a very tight stomach and some major body trembling/shivering during transition. I pushed for 1 ½ hours, which was painful with lots of pressure, but it definitely needed to be painful. I tried to experience pushing as if it were an athletic event of contest I needed to win. It motivated me to hear my Mom and husband screaming they could see more and more of his head. I also was in amazingly good spirits as everything happened... I was making jokes and talking, trying to keep myself pumped between strong, concerted efforts to get the baby OUT!

It was an astounding feeling to actually birth the baby, feeling his head exit (and then panting as the doctor suctioned the tiny bit of meconium that was in the water out of his little mouth and nose), his shoulders come out, and the rest of his body just pop into life on earth. My husband cut the umbilical cord (and also nipped the doctor—he was mortified, and thank God it was not a serious wound). I had a 2nd degree tear down my perineum, close to my rectum, but not quite there (thank goodness), and an abrasion to the side of my vagina that were both stitched while our son, Gabriel David was tended to on the other side of the room.

I have to say, I have never felt more elation, happiness, and complete joy as when the doctor placed Gabriel on my chest. I felt and still feel like a fairytale has just begun, and I feel so blessed for it to be happening to me and my husband.

Welcome, Gabriel David… We love you so.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Mystical World of Membrane Sweeping and the Avoidance of Halloween

My 39 week appointment was on Monday of this week, and everything looks good- my belly is 39 cm., baby is moving, no protein in my urine, lost 1 1/2 pounds (which supposedly can be a sign that labor is coming), etc. I asked to have my membranes swept (or stripped, depending on what your OB calls it). I asked if the procedure usually works, and my doctor told me sometimes it does, sometimes it does not. Well, since I am 3-4 cm. dilated and 75% effaced, I thought it might just do the trick for me and send me into labor.

Well, first of all, the procedure, which is an internal exam in which your OB takes her finger and inserts into the cervix and sweeps it so as to disconnect the membranes connecting the cervix and gestational sac to release prostaglandins, is not pleasant. It is extremely uncomfortable. However, it does not last that long, and at the thought that I might have gone into labor from it, I was okay with the discomfort. (The only risk of this procedure is if your OB is not careful, she can snag your bag of waters, thus putting you "on the clock" and leaving you open to possible infection. There are really no other risks at all.)

So, what happened? I cramped, contracted, and could hardly move all afternoon. That evening I passed bloody mucus, and I thought maybe, just maybe, my water would break. Nope, no water breaking. Nope, no labor. Nope, nope, nope.

I have to say, though, that I have read lots of accounts of this procedure working, so do not take my story as the end all- be all of what happens if you get your membranes swept. I would do it again in another pregnancy with the hopes it could get things moving without a regular old induction.

So I'm still just hanging around, a full 39 weeks pregnant in my 40th week, wishing and hoping for things to get moving. If nothing happens by Monday, I have my 40 week appointment, and I will be having my induction scheduled. My OB practice does not let women go past 41 weeks, and since I am "favorable" with my current ripeness, effacement, dilatation, station, and position, I should be able to have mine at point from now onward. My husband and I are thinking we would like to schedule for little one's due date (the 28th) or the day after (the 29th) so as to avoid Halloween at all costs.

Avoiding Halloween? How dumb, I know. But here's the rub-- little kids LOVE Halloween. They love it so much, they have parties at school, and they trick-or-treat their little ghoulish hearts out... so frankly, I know my child's birthday will become indefinitely overshadowed by the boo-riffic holiday of Halloween if born on that day. I would like to avoid this. A birthday near Halloween is very cool... late October birthdays afford smashing Halloween-themed parties, and upon the ripe age of 21, an opportunity to celebrate ala Oktoberfest. So anyway, yes, I am being a nerd and absolutely unnatural if I reach my due date for the sake of keeping my son from having his birthday on Halloween. Judge if you like, but I think it makes sense enough, especially since my body is sitting on the verge of labor with a very likely successful induction in store.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Pregnancy Story (up until now...)

My husband and I were married in May 2008. I was told in college I had polycystic ovary syndrome and that it would be hard for me to get pregnant. While in school and before we got married, I lost around 50 pounds to make myself as healthy as possible. I was not as slim as possible, but the weight loss and healthier, more active lifestyle did improve my numbers. When my husband and I decided to prepare for trying to conceive, my doctor at the time suggested going off of birth control to see if my period could regulate itself without any medication. I went off of birth control, and my cycle was regular for three months. My husband and I were extremely careful while I was off of the pill for the first two months, but in the third we must not have been quite as careful because we conceived. We were not even really trying yet.

We found out and were overjoyed we were pregnant in late February 2009, and my due date was noted as October 28, 2009. The pregnancy was "normal" with the morning sickness and nausea that comes with the first trimester and the effortless weight gain and unwanted stretch marks of the second trimester. At our 21-week ultrasound, we were told we were expecting a boy, and we were so excited to hear that (we would have been happy to hear boy or girl)! We also were told that the placenta was low-lying at approximately 3 centimeters from my cervix, and if it did not move, the doctor recommended a C-section. I was put on pelvic rest (i.e. no sex in the champagne room) until a follow-up ultrasound could be done in the third trimester.

We moved from NYC to South Jersey in June. From that point onward, I was not actively working. We relocated mid-pregnancy because my husband had a great job offer closer to our family, and the cost of living would go way down from NYC. I switched to a new set of doctors in our new location. I was told by this practice that with the placenta 3 cm. away from my cervix, I actually could have a vaginal birth. The location of the placenta still worried me so I was scheduled for an ultrasound at 34 weeks.

At 33 weeks, we experienced one of the scariest nights of my life when we went into preterm labor. The day leading up to that evening I felt very off, I had extreme leg cramps, and I was exhausted. I took a nap in the late afternoon. When I woke up and went to the bathroom, there was the smallest spot of pink on the bathroom tissue. I was not concerned, but I called my doctor anyway just to be safe. She told me to come into labor and delivery as the OB office was closing for the day. She wanted to see "if I had an infection." When my husband and I got there, they hooked me up to monitors to find I was having contractions. They then checked my cervix, and I was told I was 3 centimeters dilated and 50% effaced. I was put on antibiotics, a fluid IV, and procardia (a smooth muscle relaxant). My fetal fibronectin test, which predicts the presence of a substance in your vagina that indicates the likelihood of labor within two weeks, was positive, and the doctors gave me the first round of steroid shots for baby's lungs over 24 hours. (It is important to note that a positive fFN is not indicative of imminent labor. Doctors look more for a negative result to be reassuring than for a positive result to be damning.) I was taken off of procardia after 24 hours because I had a strong reaction to it. The contractions slowed, but never stopped, yet my cervix did not change from the time I was admitted. No cause for preterm labor was found. I was sent home after 2 nights in the hospital on strict bedrest until 35-36 weeks.

At 34 weeks, we had our follow-up ultrasound, and we learned the placenta was way out of the way. We were also told our baby was growing right as he should, that his head was not too big (which is good for Mom), our fluid levels were excellent, and that the baby was practicing breathing while on the screen. This ultrasound put me at ease and excited me because I wanted a vaginal birth more than anything. Not only did I want the experience of a vaginal birth, but surgery terrifies me.

At 36 weeks, I was again permitted to live life as ever before, which I was quite happy to do. Bedrest is an extreme mental and emotional challenge. At my 38 week appointment this past Monday, I was told I was now 4 cm. dilated and 75% effaced. Most of the doctors and most of my family members, especially the women, cannot believe I am so dilated and thin with my first child and not in labor. I am contracting all of the time, and my husband and I are hoping our little son comes this weekend. If not, my doctor told me I can have my membranes stripped at Monday's (39 weeks) appointment and that I will be allowed to have elective induction around my due date due to my cervix being extremely favorable.

So now, we wait! And I must say, waiting is simply maddening. I am not the most patient person in the world, and it is very difficult to wonder when our baby is coming. Oh, and while I am at it, I will mention I have a mild case of PUPPPs, the mind-boggling and itchtastic skin reaction to stretch marks and late pregnancy hormones. I have had little blisters in my stretch marks, arms, and legs that are truly beyond tolerable. Luckily, hydro-cortisone cream and Benadryl are both safe to use for PUPPPs, and I have used them for relief. My rash is slowly healing, but the only true 'cure' for it is to have baby. So come along, baby, and let the real adventure begin!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

...The First Post...

It's always a dreadful thing, writing the first post or the introduction to anything, because it is the creating of an initial looking glass to 'something' that has not yet taken form. So, welcome! Welcome to the blog I intend to keep. Welcome to my life as a soon-to-be Mom, wife, daughter, sister, writer, and you know, person. I promise my musings will be sincere, quirky, honest, varied, specific, and personal... or as much of those words as I can possibly be in this venue called a blog. Hopefully sometime there will be readers of this little space of internet, but there will never be readers without actual substance. So let's descend then, into the musings beyond this first post and end this little awkward introduction.
In all sincerity, welcome. I am excited to embark on this little diary-esque quest, and I hope you enjoy reading whatever comes to be written.