Sunday, July 28, 2013

Happy Nameday, Maya!

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Eirene of Chrysovalantou, also known as Irene Chrysovalantou or Irene of Cappadocia.  She was a nun and abbess, a wonderworker, and a seer.  Her story is so unique because so many of the names of those she encountered are the names of Maya's siblings!  (Not to mention that St. Eirene is a patroness of those trying to conceive... Seems fitting that she's a saint of our household!)

St. Eirene, pray for us, especially for our sweet Maya Eirene!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Filling Her Shoes

It is interesting to me... the things that you remember from childhood and can isolate above other memories.  For example, I remember a number of things about my mom, but there is something that, whenever summer rolls around, sticks out in my head from time to time.

Her feet.

(I know... bear with me.  I don't like feet anymore than the next gal...)

Growing up down south, the growing season was easily April through October and, from the first buds on the trees, my mom was preparing her garden and flowers.  As soon as the weather was warm enough, she traded her sneakers for flipflops and, outside of church, that was pretty much her footwear of the next few months.  Insert southern joke here, but we didn't always wear shoes and hence the memory of feet.

My mom is Cherokee and in addition to the telltale dark hair and eyes, she has a year round glow to her skin.  (My pasty white Irishness might be a tad bit jealous...)  In summer, she would bronze. Except for the straps of her flipflops...  On her feet, there would be a "V" shaped tan line.  Similar to the tan lines on my feet these days.  (I come by my love of flipflops honestly...)

My feet aren't dirty... that's my "tan"
When I look at examples of motherhood and mothers to aspire to, my own mom is top of the list.  That's not to say she was perfect- she'll tell you she wasn't, but really, who among us is?  Which person- parent or not- among us would look at every choice and not have a few (or a lot) they wish they could call "Do Over!" and have a second shot?  But she was a good mom; she still is a good mom.

I'm fortunate in that; we don't have the type of relationship where we talk on the phone or email every day, although we both know that if we needed to talk to the other with that frequency, we could.  We also don't have the type of relationship where one of us needs to BS the other.  We say what we need to say and go on from there; my teenage years had enough of the BS to fill the rest of our lives, I think, so thankfully in adulthood, we can cut through that.  There's no judgment or angst; I can talk to her about anything, tell her anything, and know it will be alright.  She may not always agree with me, but she supports me and, looking back, that's something I can clearly point to in my life: that support.  I never grew up believing I couldn't do something; we were poor and things weren't easy, but my parents, both of them, told my brother and I (and believed it, too) that we could do anything, be anything, as long as we were willing to work hard enough towards the goal and that they would support us and stand behind us.  It didn't mean that we didn't make mistakes (we did) or that they wouldn't pick up the pieces when those mistakes happened (they did) or that they wouldn't punish us if we did something wrong (oh, they did), but they had our backs.  They believed in us.

This morning, I went for a run with my "niece".  She is the daughter of Bobby's godmother/Maya's godfather, a lovely 15 year old HS sophomore.  (She kicked my butt during the run and she wasn't even huffing it like I was... man, I felt old...  Even taking into account the c/s recovery!).  While she was a good block ahead of me, it dawned on me that I'm only slightly older than the age difference between my mom and I.  And it brought back memories of talking long walks and hikes with my mom when I was an older child and teenager (there's only 16 years between us). Our talks, our shared interests.  When I got home and I was nursing Michael, I remembered watching my mom nursing my little brother.  As I made breakfast for Bobby and Maya, I remembered when she would get our breakfasts ready before school... when she was my girl scout troop leader... when she videoed our school programs and drove my soccer team to games and came out to all of my choir concerts, regardless of whatever else she had to do.

I'm reminded of my mom, who somehow managed to be a full time stay at home mom and full time worker in my dad's shop.  Of how she brought files home with her so she could keep up with accounting and taxes... how she would silk screen items on our kitchen table, late at night, after we were in bed...  How, one night as she worked well into the wee morning of the hours to make enough money to buy Christmas presents for us, she made time for a little girl who woke up with a nightmare and couldn't fall back to sleep, how she made hot chocolate on the stove (instant hot cocoa in the microwave? who ever would have thought...) and sat down under the kitchen table with me until I was awake enough that the bad dream was a faint memory and tired enough that she could put me back to bed.

Of the mom who took care of us when we were sick.  Who paced the living room floor with teething babies and toddlers.  Who, when I got chicken pox in 8th grade and was MISERABLE, ground down oatmeal in the food processer and ran me oatmeal and tea baths, who made a makeshift bed out in the backyard so that I could rest in the sunshine, who cut up strawberries in Breyer's mint ice cream (a splurge because I couldn't really eat a lot of things and ice cream was soothing).  Of the mom who held my hair back when I puked and rubbed my back, telling me it was going to be okay.

Of the mom who wore a sleek, grey dress at my wedding and stood next to me in the receiving line, making me laugh... who hugs me so tightly that I still feel it when I walk away towards a departing flight... who makes me feel like, even when I'm away from home that I'm never really that far.... Of the mom who has the connections to get us a Guinness at the bar at 11am, even when they are closed.  Of the mom who laughs with me, cries with me, and everything in-between.

And of those feet. 

Of the shoes they fill and of how I hope I will be able to fill the ones that I've been given to wear as well as she wears hers. 

I'm convinced that good people happen either because we have good role models that we can emulate or because we have ones that are so awful we swear we will never be like them.  While all of us have said the whole "I'll never do it that way" and say we'll do things differently than when we were kids, I look at the world around me (and some of the news reports) and I feel so damn lucky.  I look at my friends who have lost their moms (and their dads) and I feel incredibly grateful.  Not only do I still have my parents living, I have a good relationship with all three of them (I'm lucky to have gotten a great stepdad as well) and I have examples of the type of parent I want to be. 

Looking at my feet, with their tan line, I think I might just do an okay job of it after all.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Breast Intentions

Michael is three weeks old (well, 3w1d!)  Which means three weeks of hugs, snuggles, kisses, and breastfeeding.
3 weeks old

I can count on my fingers the amount of times I actually fed Bobby and Maya at the breast.  They had expressed milk until they were 2 months old, then a mix of milk and formula until 3 months, when our breast milk journey came to an end.  With Michael, I don't have enough fingers for a day!  This kid likes to eat... A lot.

He's a thin kid, long and lanky (just like Dad!).  He's long enough for 3mo clothes, but girth wise, NB items are a better fit.  So, he's in loose 3 month (and 0-3) stuff, which makes me glad that we have very few NB things!  I have no worries that he is gaining weight.  While he is still a little guy, he eats constantly, will easily take 4-5oz in his nightly expressed milk feeding with Peter, and delivers on his wet/dirty diapers.  So, he's all good. Which makes it all good, all around.


It freaking hurts.

They rather than it.

My boobs being the they in question.

Thankfully, the major issue that causes pain- incorrect latching- isn't the issue.  It seems that it is a combo of extreme nipple sensitivity (this is an issue outside of nursing), bigger breasts (which means that, even with a good latch, Michael's mouth is only so big and can only fit so much boob), and a killer chomp from the little guy (when he gets teeth? all bets are off!).  He has a vice grip in there!  Removing him from the breast when he isn't interested in getting off? Not going to happen...

The fact that I'm running again has really brought this to the surface.  For the first two weeks, I was just wearing a soft nursing bra and nursing tank; beginning last week, I started putting on running bras and running shirts- OH MY GOODNESS.  The rubbing and pressure.... it's not my legs or lungs that hurt! It's my tatas!!!  Even wearing a nipple pad doesn't help... the pressure just doesn't feel good!

When Michael latches when I'm laying down, it is the worst.  The sense of pain isn't awful but it definitely isn't nice.  I think part of it is because my milk doesn't let down as quickly and, because of positioning, he doesn't get as much breast in his mouth.  Now, we only nurse this way in the middle of the night, around 4am.  Otherwise, I'm sitting up, which gives an easier let down reflex and also allows him to get more breast in his mouth.  The initial latch is painful; part of this is the let down and the suck causing a suction issue.  Once we get that squared away, things feel much better.  Which is a good thing, because Michael will nurse for an hour (or more).  We've had marathon sessions of 2 hours!  He'll eat, doze, and the second I go to move him, eat some more!  (And I'm not kidding... jaws of steel, people.  He is NOT going anywhere.)

As Sarah and I were running yesterday, we were chatting about how things were going and I shared with her that my boobs were sore and that, if I weren't as committed to breastfeeding as I am, I would totally understand stopping.  And her comment was one that I think we in the breastfeeding community really should take to heart: it gives you a perspective of the "other side".

We often hear how "breast is best" and women who choose not to breastfeed (for whatever reason) or who stop breastfeeding early on are vilified (not by everyone, but we've all seen it) or are made to feel "less than" because they aren't giving their baby the breast.  Yes, support plays a HUGE role; research shows that women who feel supported and who are supported during breastfeeding tend to do so longer and have happier breastfeeding journeys.  But, outside of that, I think that there are other issues at play.  And pain can clearly be an issue.

Pain is a part of breastfeeding.  Literature will tell you that it doesn't hurt but many moms will tell you otherwise: that, even with normal latch and all systems go, there can still be pain associated with nursing- sometimes lasting only a few days, other times lasting months and even the full breastfeeding journey.  It can stem from the mother's breasts (which is where my issues stem from) and sometimes there isn't a quick fix.  And that can make you want to stop.  For some, it might mean going to a pump exclusively (which can cause less discomfort) or straight to formula.  It doesn't mean less love for your baby or that you are putting your comfort in front of your baby.  As with most things, it is making the decision that works best for your family and what you need to do to make things work as smoothly as they can.

I believe in breastfeeding.  I do believe that breastfeeding is better for the baby from a nutritional standpoint than  formula is.  Bobby and Maya were formula fed for the majority of their infancy; they are fine and healthy, and I'm glad it was an option for us when my body couldn't produce.  Michael is a breast milk, breastfed baby, and I'm grateful that my body is producing well enough for him to eat this way.  I'm also grateful that I was exposed to breastfeeding as a child and young women, and that I've heard the firsthand accounts of it not all beings sunshine and roses, even when you do love it and want it.  I'm glad that I'm a part of a natural birthing and parenting community (and professional community) that talks about the good, bad, and ugly of breastfeeding, and that I can accept this is part of the journey that isn't so fun, while being really REALLY happy that I don't have cracked, broken nipples or some of the physical issues that can make my breastfeeding look like a walk in the park.

While I've tried very hard to never judge a mom by how her baby eats, I know that I personally felt the pain of not being able to breastfeed and that I felt really jealous of the moms who could (and, to be honest, always wondered if the bottle feeding moms I met 'could' breastfeed and just 'chose' not to, and that thought made me jealous too).  Sarah was right; this experience, while not huge on the bad scale, has given me eyes to see it differently.  If you don't have the support, if you don't really have the desire to breastfeed for the sake of breastfeeding, if you are fine with the pump (or with formula) and don't care one way or the other, or a variety of other "IF"s, then pain when breastfeeding- especially if you came from the point of view that it wouldn't hurt unless there was an issue- could be a determining factor in stopping.  And you might feel bad or guilty, but the pain might just be too much.

I've found that women can be the most indicting of other women, when, in reality, we should be able to understand each other better.  The same is true of mothers; with all the talk of the "Mommy Wars" (which, honestly, I didn't think there was a war going on, but apparently, I'm wrong according to the media) and how we should or shouldn't breastfeed/cosleep/circumcise/etc, we judge and judge and judge... and all we do is hurt each other.

I'm not saying you should be proud of your choices and that you shouldn't bring awareness to what you believe in.  Hey, I believe in breastfeeding and a parent at home (whenever possible) and cosleeping and selective/delayed vaccination and not circumcising children!  Bring on the discussion!  But it's discussion- not a war.  There should be understanding and not just a mere tolerance.  There should be the basic belief that, regardless of whether or not a parent is making a choice different from your own, that they are doing what they truly believe is best for their family- share your choices and points of view, but judging theirs is just, well, mean. 

God knows, we judge ourselves harshly enough.  Perhaps if we all were just a tad bit more understanding of each other, we might find that we aren't even that different.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

2 weeks

It's hard to believe that 2 weeks ago, Michael was born and our lives changed completely.  If I were still pregnant, I'd have less than a week until my scheduled c/s.  But he's here.  Really, truly here.  And I cannot imagine life differently. 
Michael, 2 weeks old: 7/16/13

I try to remember the feelings of "I'll be okay if I never have another baby" and then the shock of "OMG, I'm pregnant" and the continued surreal feelings surrounding the normal pregnancy that I never thought I'd have and I still find it hard to wrap my head around everything.  Even now, weeks after... even after having a healthy baby who roomed in and came home with me... who breastfeeds and gains weight (up 6oz at his 1w weight check yesterday!) and does all the normal things that a typical, term baby does...  How did we get to this point?  The combination of the TAC plus the getting-pregnant-on-our-own and even going into labor and getting to have that whole A HA! moment of "Honey, we need to go to the hospital... NOW."  It just boggles my mind and I have to just take a step back and not think about it because, otherwise, I feel like I just want to cry with the amazement of it all.

So, two weeks postpartum... I'm doing well.  Today is the first day I'm cleared for cardio, and Sarah and I are going running tonight when she comes over.  Let's be honest, we're going jogging tonight.  I'm not sure how far we will go.  My goal is one mile to start, but if I feel good (and we aren't dying from the humidity and heat!), I'd like to try for 2 miles.  They'll be slow miles, no doubt, although I tell myself that I've only been out of running for less than a month, so hopefully, the curve to get back wont be tough.  I'll let you know tomorrow. :)  I'd like to ease in with 3x a week if it is tough, and maybe 5x a week if it isn't.  We shall see.  I'm still not cleared for yoga until at least my appointment with Dr B, which is the last day of the month, but I've been trying to take at least 10 minutes a day to meditate.  Trying is the operative word there. 

I'd planned on running this morning, but we woke up late and Bobby had therapy.  I ended up crying in the shower.  Peter has absolutely no idea why it was so important to me to get out and run, and I honestly didn't have the energy to explain to him that running is one of the few "me" things that makes me actually feel like a person and not just a wife/mother/boob-attached-to-a-milking-machine.  Honestly, and I love the man with all my heart, I think even if I had had the energy to explain it to him, he wouldn't have gotten it.  And that's okay.  At some point, we'll have to chat about the fact that, in order to survive in the chaos that is our house with 2 nearly 4-year-olds and a newborn, I'm going to need some "me" time or I will snap.  It doesn't have to be fancy, but a good half hour to hour run a few times a week will make it so that I'm able to cope with the crazy around me.  I'm a better person (and hence a better wife/mother/boob) when I run.  It's my therapy.
Me, 2 weeks postpartum: 7/16/13
The scale is dropping, which is nice, especially since I haven't gotten back into logging calories (which I need to do).  I've just been eating when hungry (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are quite the menu staple, even now), which has equaled about 3 meals a day plus a snack or two during middle of the night pumpings (I've been pumping so that Peter can give Michael a bottle during the middle of the night, or if he is asleep and I feel full).  (Granola bars.... great snack! I have a box in the nursery.)

Bobby and Maya are doing well.  They loved their first week of camp, but last week was rough.  Bobby did really well, but Maya cried every single day.  Friday, she was upset the entire 3 hours. :(  Why? She wants to be home with Michael.  So, we opted to let her stay home this coming Friday if she has a good Tuesday/Thursday and, she carried a picture of Michael with her today.  Verdict? She had a blast today.  When  I went to pick her up, she saw me, said "Hi Mommy", and kept playing.  So, I think the photo really helped. 

All in all, they are having fun.  The camp seems like a good play time, although I miss our school for their structure and focus on education and socialization.  I realize, this is camp, so it is going to be different, but still...  Whenever I was in the classroom at school, there was definitely a feeling of "school" just for younger kids where the focus was on friends, learning, playing, etc.  In the classroom today (and given, I was there as they were getting ready for lunch for the full day kiddos), it felt more like a daycare setting (nothing wrong with that, just not my speed).  But the kids were each playing with their own group of friends and having fun.  Maya already has a "boyfriend" and Bobby has been playing and engaging with small groups, according to his aide (who were lucky enough to keep!)
Bobby @ Summer Camp: 7/16/13

Maya @ Summer Camp: 7/16/13
Our family is settling into life with Michael. We took a walk last week, and Bobby and Maya pushed the stroller (while I walked in front, pulling it gently, and Peter walked behind).  Peter is back to work; he'll be taking Mondays off, which will be nice, and working Tu-Fr, sometimes from home, and with the ability to come home early, should we need him to.  Today is day one of his being gone and so far, so good.  The kids should be waking from nap any time now (it's around the 2 hour mark at 3:30), so we'll see how that goes!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The First Week (plus 2)

Here we are, a week plus 2 days since Michael's birth.  Things are good.  Busy, but good. 

Bobby and Maya love camp.  They go 3 mornings a week for 3 hours each, and are really enjoying it.  Maya is actually having a harder time adjusting; we aren't sure if it is because she is okay leaving Peter but not okay with him leaving her (at their school, they are dropped off and the parents never leave the car; at camp, parents walk the kids in) or if it is that she doesn't like being away from Michael.  This kid is a mini-mommy.  If she can do it, she will and, if she cant, she wants to (and may just harass you into letting her try).

Michael is a dear little guy.  He's quite laid back, enjoys his snuggles, nurses really well, and is a champion of a sleeper.  Our pediatrician told us to not wake him up at night.  She wants him eating at least every 3 hours during the day (he's currently on the every 2 hour schedule, and just now, ate an hour apart... guess he was hungry), but, at night, to just let him sleep until he wakes to eat.  So, at night, we've had as short as a 2 hour stint (once) and as long as a 6 hour stint.  For the most part, he goes around 4-5 hours.  Peter does the first "night" feeding on his own, although I end up getting up and pumping (to make sure we have food for that night feeding!); he's been putting Bobby and Maya to bed, then playing online for a bit, then coming up when Michael wakes up and going to bed after that feed.  It's nice knowing there is some back up. :)

Speaking of back up, rather than have Peter use his full paternity and vacation all at once, we've opted to have him go back to work.  (I still cant believe that...).  This week, he's using his paternity leave, and then, instead of his remaining 3 weeks of vacation, we'd like to save 1 week of it for the week between Christmas and New Year's, so that leaves us with 2 weeks.  He'll keep Mondays off for the summer, and then use the remaining time to work shorter days as needed.  The kids visit his parents on Wednesdays, then they have camp Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays; when they come home, we hang out for an hour before lunch and nap.  They are sleeping now; I think I might just be able to handle this... We shall see!

I'm tired.  I feel like I want to nap (around this time, actually) but that makes it harder for me to fall asleep when Michael does at night, which is what I want.  He's been going down for the night between 8pm-9pm, and my goal is to turn in with him.  It's the best way for me to get a solid night's sleep.

I created Michael's birth announcements/christening invitations today.  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. :)
Birth Announcement

Christening Invite (I redacted our address/contact info for the blog)

On a really great note, my recovery is a breeze.  It reminds me so much of the TAC recovery; I cant even compare it to my former C-section.  I haven't taken any pain medication since day 2 in the hospital, which means I can do local driving (full driving is restored come next Tuesday).  And, while people think I'm nuts, I've been cleared for cardio come next Tuesday (2 weeks postpartum).  It will be a slow re-entry into the world of running, I'm sure, but I can't wait.  I've debated going now.  I keep telling myself that another week of walking is going to be good for me and that it's better to not rush it.  (But I love running, like really LOVE it, so this is quite the struggle, when I feel like I could be out there doing it, albeit slowly doing it.)  I have my postpartum appointment on the 31st (4 weeks PP), at which time I'm hoping to be cleared for yoga.  My uterus, based on my feeling of it, is just about normal and the swelling near the incision has dissipated.  I can feel the scar tissue forming under the skin and the internal swelling around the incision and stitching, so I've been doing light belly massage to facilitate healing.  Other than when I get up from bed after hours of not moving, there isn't really "pain" (and that pain is brief).  I am able to hold Bobby and Maya (alone, not together) and, while I haven't been doing that long term, it is nice to be able to snuggle them and carry them for short distances again.  But, like I said, this is a breeze compared to their c/s. 
3 days postpartum: discharge day

9 days postpartum: today
From a weight perspective, I think it will take getting back to watching calories + 500 calories (for breastfeeding) and running, but I'm not that worried about it.  It'll happen.

Well, just fed the bambino for the 4th time in a 5 hour span. I guess he decided he was really hungry this afternoon!  I'm meeting a friend for coffee tonight, so I think I might try to sneak in a short rest (dare I say nap, when I know it would make it impossible for me to sleep tonight???)... or maybe I'll clean the kitchen.  Yeah, probably that one...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Michael's Birth Story

It's been an interesting week.  Hard to believe, Michael is one week old!  This time on the 2nd, I was snuggling this little guy for the first time. :)

So, as I mentioned in my 36w5d post, I was contracting from Monday night into Tuesday morning.  I called Dr. B. and was told to go to the hospital for monitoring.  Peter dropped Bobby and Maya at their first day of camp, we arranged for their grandparents to pick them up, and then we headed out for the forty-five minute drive to the hospital.  I had contractions off and on, but nothing too awful.  We arrived and were instructed to go to APU (instead of L&D), where I changed into a gown and was hooked up to contraction and heartbeat monitors, as well as a cycling blood pressure cuff.  We got there around 10am and, as it closed in on 11am, I felt pretty confident I'd be going home.  I wasn't feeling contractions anymore and things seemed to have settled.  I told Peter that I was fine, to go and get the kids from school, and then, but the time he came back, I was sure I'd be ready to go.

Yeah.  Funny.

I overheard a nurse in the hallway mention "507" going into the OR.  507?  Wasn't that my room?  Before I knew it, several nurses and Dr. A., Dr. B's new partner, were in the room and I was told I was next in the OR for delivery and to call Peter back (who, thankfully, hadn't left the building yet).  I called Peter and we were signing forms and getting squared away.   Not only was my blood pressure through the roof, but I was contracting every 3 minutes,  even though I didn't feel the majority of them.  Dr. Bailey had been called and he felt it was safest to deliver us then.

I have to admit, I was pretty excited when the anesthesiologist came in; he was the same doctor who did my spinal for Bobby and Maya's delivery and he has a reputation for being the best in the hospital.  Since I'm allergic to morphine (I puke, nothing else), and since morphine is the standard for C-section deliveries, he mixed a nice little cocktail to counteract the effects (which, thank God, worked and this time I did not puke). 

So, into the OR by 12:15, where Dr. B. met us, and it was go time.  I had a combo spinal/epi, in the event the scar tissue was worse than they anticipated and needed longer to work.  Peter came in around a quarter of one, and the surgery commenced.  I actually didn't have a lot of scar tissue, although based on Michael's placement, Dr. B. did have to make my incision slightly longer (it's still a horizontal, bikini line cut, but it's about an inch longer than the original 4" scar.  At 12:50pm, a screaming Michael Dimitri Haytko entered this world. 
July 2, 2013 @ 12:50pm
Dr. Bailey actually said "I think this kid may be an eight pounder!" and I thought I was dreaming.  As they carried him from womb to warming table, he peed all over the floor and then peed again on the nurse. :)  He weighed in a 7lbs 5oz and was 20.5" long.  His APGAR was a 9.  Peter brought him over to me right away and there was nothing sweeter than feeling his sweet little face against mine, both of us tearstained, both of us calmed by the presence of the other.

While Dr. B. stitched me up, Michael (followed by Peter) went to the nursery to get his first full assessment and, boo hoo, a bath (I love new baby smell) :).  I went to recovery until I could feel my feet and then was taken to the postpartum area.  I'd been in my room mere minutes when my beautiful son was brought in and our rooming in began.

What a new experience- having my baby with me.  Peter gave him to me and immediately, he latched on and began to nurse.  Again, a new experience and one that brought me to tears.  The initial pictures we have of those moments are pretty rough... I look awful because I can barely smile through my tears.  I was put on a magnesium sulfate drip in the event my blood pressure issue was a legitimate one (and not a conditional issue) and, honestly, I must be one of the few people for whom mag does nothing.  I felt a little woozy when it first hit and then nothing.  I was tired already and it didn't really add much to the pie.  (Add to it, that somehow the IV became disconnected from the bag and my pressures remained stable, and everyone pretty much agreed the blood pressure issue wasn't really an issue after all).
That afternoon, Peter's parents brought Bobby and Maya to the hospital to meet their baby brother!  My friend and photographer, Erica, met us and got some great shots.
When they left, Sarah and her boyfriend visited, and then Peter came back for the night, after the kids went to bed, since (due to the mag, I couldn't have Michael room in with me if I was there alone until it was turned off the next day).  Peter spent the night and, the next day, went back to get the kids ready to see their grandparents (who are real troopers... couldn't have done this with the kids without them).

Michael and I were in the hospital until Friday with no real issues, save his blood sugar which was on the low side of normal and required heel sticks prior to eating to make sure it stabilized (which it did).  He was nursing, however, after a low stick, I was asked to supplement with formula until his pancreas started working better and he could handle regulating his sugars.  (I wasn't pumping at the time, so supplementing with breastmilk wasn't possible).  I began pumping that day and we gave him 10-15ml of formula post every feeding.  This did the trick and, once my breasts were producing (which, funny enough, happened way sooner than I thought due to the C-section; I was pumping a decent supplementation by Thursday), we started giving milk.  He was great, though; perfect latch and good breastfeeding, but no issue with the bottle either.  It was a sigh of relief to know that, regardless of how we feed him, he's able to do it like a rockstar.  (Doesn't seem like a big deal, but after the preemie rollercoaster, this is huge for us.)
milk drunk: 7/3/13

Mommy's Firecracker: 7/4/13
During our stay, I felt like a famous person.  The head of neonatology and one of our NICU nurses came to visit, to offer their congratulations.  Former nurses from our APU days with Bobby and Maya popped in to say hello and see the baby.  It really felt like extended family, and I am still so grateful to the love and care they showed us and Bobby & Maya.  To have them celebrate Michael with us was just wonderful.

By the 5th, we were told that we were going home- together!  The only delay was that Michael's bilirubin test came back at 13.9; we were told to go to the lab the next day (Saturday) to have a retest and to follow up with our pediatrician.  With that, we loaded our new little guy in his carseat and started the journey home!
Breaking Out! 7/5/13
The first night home was really good.  We were all tired, but Bobby and Maya love their brother, and it is evident that we are all (especially Miss Maya) smitten. :)  And what's not to love... He is quite the cutie!  And so laid back!
6 days old and already trying to lift his head
We took him to the lab on Saturday and had his blood rechecked and, sadly, his bilirubin had increased to 19.4.  (21 is the "treat immediately" stage and 25 is the "brain damage" stage.)  Our pediatrician told us to go to the local hospital to start phototherapy immediately, and to check in since we'd be there overnight.  While this was a hit to my gut, no one took it harder than Maya, who begged us not to go.  I think the 4 days in the hospital were enough for her, and to now take her baby brother away from her was rough.  I'm glad we were home the one night, though, for the sake of the kids.  They needed that.  And, if it was this scenario or my discharge and him left behind, I'd take this one.  Any day.  So, off we went and, by dinnertime, we were checked into the Pediatrics wing of a different hospital (but with just a great of staff- really liked them) and Michael was under the lights.  His retest at the hospital was 19.1, and the on-call pediatrician felt like he was actually leveled off and dropping.  (Peak day is day 5 for a baby of his gestational age.)  He was pooping and eating, and she felt like a single 12 hours under the lights would be enough to get this show on the road.
Bili-Baby: 7/6/13-7/7/13
The next morning, he was tested again and the lights were turned off.  He came in at 14.5, which was around what they were hoping for, and we were cleared for discharge.  Peter took the kids to Mass and then came out and picked us up.  And we were off... again!
Breaking Out! Part 2 7/7/13
He had his first pediatrician appointment yesterday and we had to have him rechecked, to make sure the numbers weren't going up and, thankfully, we were still in the 14s, so we are considered A-OK.  No more heel sticks, no more tests.  We  go back in a week for a weight check (every scale was giving us something different, but using our ped's scale, which will be the baseline from now on, he was down to 6lbs 8oz from birthweight... the other scales all had him at higher and, since he's been eating and eating and eating... including supplementing with expressed milk and some formula if he's still hungry and I'm dry, plus TONS of dirty and wet diapers, I have no fear that he is eating). Then, we are back in a month for his first well-baby visit.

So, all in all, it's been a busy week and, honestly, I need a nap.... Which is where I'm going now!  Erica will be doing his newborn pics soon, so I'll have something new to share, but for now, I'll leave you with this momento of Michael and I's journey from womb to room. :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Michael Dimitri
7lb 5oz


Or, alternately titled, the day we might have a baby on the outside.

It's 10 weeks since I delivered Bobby and Maya gestationally.  And, last night, around 6pm, irregular but painful contractions started.  By the time 1am rolled around (without any real sleep to speak of), I was still contracting from 30 seconds to 2.5 minutes, but spaced anywhere from 5 minutes to 14 minutes apart.  By 4:30am, they had slowed to about 4 an hour (same intensity, but longer spacing), and I was able to sleep off and on until 6:30am, when I got up this morning and took a shower.  I called the message service for Dr. B. around 8am, asking for a call back as soon as he or one of the nurses get in the office (don't want to deal with the on call, and I have no desire to deal with a resident at the hospital either if the office hasn't called ahead.)

The contractions are real and, while I'm breathing through them, they are still painful.  They go between a contracting between the back/butt/belly and hardcore menstrual-like cramps.  No bleeding or spotting.  No fluid leakage.  But (TMI) definitely some of the other prelabor signs, like soft stool, constant urination that causes or accompanies contractions, dry heaving, and nausea. 

At 10pm, the compulsion to eat eggs overwhelmed me, so as I was contracting, I was frying up eggs and making rye toast.  At 3am, poor Peter was a trooper and hit a local 24 hour fast food restaurant.  I guess we're getting the full experience in that regard.

I'm happy to be at this gestation, please don't get me wrong.  But during one of my contractions this morning, I just sobbed.  I really wanted 37 weeks so badly, not just for Michael, but for me.  I know that, maybe, this isn't the end, and we'll still get our 37 weeks (and maybe beyond!).  But, for now, Peter is dropping Bobby and Maya off at their first day of preschool camp (which was the main reason I didn't want to go into the hospital last night if I could avoid it) and then coming home so that we can head down to the hospital.

Just in case, this is the end, here's the shot of my belly from just now.

(Assuming we do deliver, I will try to update the blog from my phone, but the best way to get an update would be through my Facebook page, which is open.)

Our pregnancy journey thus far...

Monday, July 1, 2013


Or, the babymoon post (in which I don't really have too many pictures to share because a) they are too dark or b) they are on Peter's phone!)

First off, a shout out to B, who reads this blog.  B is the beau of my fake little sister, Brig, who is actually Sarah's youngest sister.  He knew the babymoon was last weekend and, when I went to L&D, was a bit concerned we might have to cancel our trip.  Very sweet.  :)

So, babymoon.... Friday morning, Peter dropped the kids at my in-laws (who had them not just for their Wednesday visit but also for Thursday morning while I went to a funeral... talk about troopers last week!)  Peter came home and we left.  We'd initially planned to go to the Jewish deli in NJ where Peter's grandfather always took him but, sadly, they had closed, so we ended up at another place where we all fondly remember his paternal grandparents going.  From there, we drove into Midtown NYC.  The Herald Square Hotel was only a couple of blocks from the Empire State Building and less than a mile from Pure, where we were going for dinner.  We checked in before 2pm and opted to just snuggle and watch some TV, something we don't really get to do at home.  It was nice to just relax and hang out.

Our room was small but clean and the bathroom was a decent size.  We weren't looking for luxury, just a nice, clean spot to hang out.  (There's more on this later...)
The bed was very comfy and big enough for us to have room but small enough for good snuggles!
It was a decent size for 2 people.  The tub and shower were behind the wall on the left.
After our initial rest, we walked the City for a while.  We grabbed a fresh smoothie (yum!) and some Turkish baklava, which was awesome.  We just enjoyed hanging out with each other and taking in the town.  We visited Bryant Park, and saw some interpretive dance, then went to the carousel.
The Carousel

Clearly, not on a horse... sitting on one of the benches

Afterwards, we stopped by the New York Public Library, then we came back to the room for another rest and a shower before dinner.  And this was where it got interesting.

I'd just taken my shower and was in the bedroom while Peter was getting ready for his shower.  He grabbed his towel and.... suddenly, I see something run across the bathroom floor.  I screamed like a 3 year old and jumped on the bed with a speed that I no longer thought I had.  This began the afternoon of trying to catch and kill (sorry, little guy) the biggest roach I have ever seen!  Now, I get it, this is NYC, roaches are EVERYWHERE even when you don't see them and, as Peter said, changing rooms to a room that had been cleaned but hadn't had people in it for a day or two could still have the same issue (so we just opted for clean towels rather than a room change).  But, oh my goodness.   I've seen mice smaller than that! (And, on that note, my NYC born and bread MIL had told me stories like 'we didn't have mice, we had rats', so every time I got up to pee at night, I just knew I was going to see a rat... I never did, of course.)  My knight in shining armor eventually caught the monster that had me sitting on the bed, refusing to get dressed, and took him out... normally, I'm a 'relocate' kind of person, but roaches? Even I have my limits...  I'd much rather have seen a tarantula!

So, showers done, we got dressed (and, funny enough, I wore the same prepregnancy dress I wore to our whiskey tasting, back in October.  The belly made it a bit shorter, but the dress was still comfy!).  We walked through Madison Square Park, which was really beautiful, and had a few "kisses from heaven" as the rain started lightly.
Madison Square Park
As always, Pure was wonderful.  That place never disappoints.  (The pics we have from dinner are on Peter's phone...)
The bartender made my favorite drink, the White Light Tini, nonalcoholic, and dinner was phenomenal.  Peter was definitely the food winner.  I'm still tasting the tamales (raw and vegan- EVERYTHING!) that he had... so yummy!
White Light Tini

We walked back, and opted to visit the live Jazz music on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. 
This was the proof of the pic they take of everyone.

Me, on top of the world!

Peter, atop the ESB
My cell phone pics are very dark, but if Peter is able to lighten them, I'll update them.  Even growing up a stone's throw away, Peter said he'd never visited the ESB.  He'd been to the World Trade Center observation area and restaurant several times (as had I... we used to go the restaurant there for special events), so this was a first for both of us.  The views at night were gorgeous.  We went around 10:30pm, so there weren't a lot of people and the weather was perfect.  The jazz was great; I wish I'd gotten the name of the sax player.  I was really getting tired (I'm usually in bed by 8pm these days!) so we hit the gift shop to grab momentos for the kids, and then walked the few blocks to our hotel, where we watched a movie then went to bed.

The next morning (Saturday), we walked to a small Korean restaurant for breakfast, then checked out of the hotel and picked up our car before driving to Rockland Bakery
Rockland Bakery

This is the spot that Peter told me had the BEST bagels known to man and where he assured me I could get them hot from the conveyer belt.  Let me tell you: the man doesn't disappoint.  These were the most awesome bagels EVER.  And yes, I got them from the conveyer.
I ate 2 bagels before we left New York State... It's not that far to New Jersey... Just saying...
We also picked up some rye bread and some cookies (the kids love the rainbow cookies/cakes, and the ones from RB were so good we are trying to figure out how to justify a 2 hour trip north just for baked goods...)

We had no real plans, but we were missing the kids, so we opted to head home and see how the day worked out.  We ended up at It's a Grind, a coffee shop found courtesy of the GPS, where we had a cup and just chatted, before calling it a weekend earlier than we anticipated and deciding to go home.  We arrived while the kids were napping, so we went downstairs to our guest room and took an hour siesta, before coming upstairs and seeing the monkeys.

It's actually a good thing we came home early.  Peter was able to take the kids to a playground while I rested.  I had a couple of intense contractions (it was SO humid) and resting was nice.  I was actually pretty worthless until noon on Sunday (we didn't finish up the babymoon with minigolf, pizza, and ice cream because I wasn't feeling great), and then Peter was feeling very tired and unwell from around then until this morning.  But, we did manage to take the kids mini-golfing yesterday and then we did an inside picnic in the living room and had pizza at home.  They were happy and we were wiped out. Maybe we had too much fun in NYC!

Today has been good.  We met up with friends to play.  Lately, in addition to contractions throughout the day (nothing to call the OB for), I've been having these "20 minute contractions".  No pain, just my belly hardening (high) for about 20 minutes at a time.  No pulsing or anything, just the whole "Hey! I'm preparing for birth here" of my uterus.  Michael still seems to have plenty of room; he is quite the dancer and has gone between transverse and breech and back to transverse a few times. 

We have less than 3 full days until "full term".  I'm so happy it's July I could burst!  Peter has my mother's ring to have the ruby added and his watch to have Michael's name added, so those are getting dropped at the local jewelry store.  My bag remains in the car and, before we left for NYC, we added Michael's carseat, just in case.  My MIL made a beautiful carseat blanket for Michael; I cant wait to see him with it!  So, we are good to go.  Once Thursday comes, it is really an "any day now" kind of thing.  I'm okay with that.  We are as ready as we can be.

So, place your bets!  I'm betting I go between the 15th and 17th (I have had dreams of the 17th).  Peter is still hedging his bets on the 22nd... For some reason, I just think I'm going to go into my appointment on the 17th and be told "Go to the hospital."  We have a birthday party on the 7th, so my girlfriend says we can't go before then! (I also have a last lunch with some girlfriends on the 3rd, so I've been told we cant go before then either!) :)  Michael clearly has his plans destined, so we'll see... But hedge your bets!  And guess his weight.  I'm thinking 5-6lbs at this point (using the assumption that Peter was a 7lb full term baby and not knowing how big I would have been at full term and having no full termers to compare it to).  Dr. B. is planning to guestimate on Wednesday if this guy cooperates! :)