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.