Archive | December, 2009

Merry Christmas

23 Dec

Well, I’m about to slip into the holiday vortex, so while I still have time, I’ll post a few pictures and wish you all a Merry Christmas. This has been such a wonderful year, in which we were blessed with our baby boy, and our family is happy and healthy. You really can’t ask for more than that. We’ll have both sets of grandparents in town, as well as aunts, uncles and cousins, and it will be one big, crazy, chaotic and perfect Christmas.

A friend of mine lost her husband this year, and told me that she was envious of everyone as they were busy getting ready for the holidays with their families. So just remember, even if you’re stressed over everything you have to do, you’re truly blessed to have your loved ones around to enjoy all of your efforts.

Easier than a Holiday Letter

18 Dec

Created by a Facebook app “My Year in Status”. I guess I do more status updates than the average Joe, as it cuts off in October…

It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

15 Dec

This morning, I caught Little Miss trying to smuggle Mary from our creche to school. I’m wondering if that is where the missing shepards are…

Little Miss is terribly excited about Christmas. We have our Elf on the Shelf (which I remember to move about 50% of the time), and she is constantly playing with her favorite ornament (Clara from the Nutcracker) and the figurines from the creche. It’s fun to see her really starting to understand the Christmas story this year.

I have also really been enjoying introducing her to Christmas traditions from my childhood. A few weeks ago, I took her to a kid’s version fo the Nutcracker (called the Peanutcracker), we’ve been watching the old school shows of Rudolph and Frosty, and we sing along to Christmas carols every time we’re in the car. I can’t put out any wrapped packages, though, because she has no restraint, and will open all packages in sight.

We have like two feet of snow at our house, which now means every morning I have to get her outfitted in her snow suit with mittens, hat and scarf for the outdoor playtime at school. I have had such trouble getting to work on time trying to deal with that on top of the other duties of getting her ready. Also, the playground is across a grass field, which is covered in snow. And I keep forgetting to bring my snow boots, so each morning, I look for some unsuspecting parent to escort her all the way to the play yard so that I can get going to work. Phew!

Little Man has been sleeping through the night about 50% of the time. Last night, I was so exhausted that when he cried at 2am, I told JB it was his turn to get the baby (even though I don’t really remember whose turn it really was). He just rolled over, and hence we let HJ cry for about 5 minutes and he went back to sleep. I’m thinking that will be our new protocol, as he surely should be sleeping through the night by now!

That’s about all I have to share today. I’ll leave you with a pic of the kids on Sunday when we were at my brother’s family condo at Kirkwood.

The Birth Story: Only 4.5 Months Later

9 Dec

Well, I promised you my birth story, and I’m finally getting around to telling it.

I was scheduled for a c-section on July 28 at 12 noon. I was very nervous, as my experience with my first c-section was horrible — I felt way too much due to a faulty epidural, and felt like I was being gutted alive. My doctor kept assuring me that a spinal block would be much more effective, but I was still scared out of my wits.

We arrived at the hospital shortly after 10 to perform the pre-operation requirements. I was immediately shown to a room, given a gown, and monitored. Then the nurse said, “we have a paramedic student here — would you mind if he observed you getting your IV?”

I said no problem, as I’m all for helping people learn. So this cute, spritely paramedic trainee came in, chatted with me, and next thing I know, the nurse asks him if he wants to put my IV needle in. That made me a bit nervous, but figured he has to learn somewhere…

I mention all of this because getting my IV needle in was easily the most painful part of the whole experience. This guy blew through my vein not once, but two times, and was fishing around with that humongous needle inside my hand. I was writhing in pain. It was horrible, and I was pretty pissed, considering I had only agreed to let him watch. Finally, the nurse took back over, and she got it in the first attempt.

Anyway, the doctor and the anesthesiologist both came in to brief me on the surgery. I told them both under no circumstances was the surgery to proceed if I told them I was feeling too much. Luckily, it wasn’t a problem afterall.

I was walked to the surgery room, and the spinal was administered seamlessly, and they lay me down. We all waited for it to start working, JB was allowed in the room, and next thing I know, the anesthesiologist told me that the incision had been made. I breathed a sigh of relief, as I wasn’t feeling a thing. I remember the doctor saying, “I’m bar-b-queing down here!”, and I could smell my flesh burning as he caurterized the incision. Yum!

So my doctor was right — the spinal block was so much more effective. I was completely numb, and hardly felt a thing. But I was still so scared from my prior experience that I lay there with my eyes closed, concentrating on my breathing, and trying not to freak out. At one point, the anesthesiologist said, “are you ok?”

I answered, “yes, just freaking out” in a very calm voice.

“Well, I like how you freak out,” he said.

Next thing I know, Little Man is out, I hear a cry, and they take him over to the observation area. This is my one beef — they didn’t show him to me (hello — I grew that boy for 9.5 months, didn’t I deserve a peak?!), and then when they took him over for observation, no one said a thing to me, and a nurse was blocking my view of him. I had to ask multiple times, “is he OK?” And finally, a nurse said, “oh, he’s fine.”

That would have been nice to know before I was starting to panic there on the table for a few minutes.

Anyway, they stitched me up super fast, and they were done with me before Little Man and JB headed for the nursery. Honestly, I think I was so freaked out from my previous experience, that I almost completely blocked out Little Man’s birth experience.

I was wheeled into recovery, where a nurse monitored me, and she received updates on Little Man on her computer, so she reported to me his weight and height, and that he was doing well. I dozed a bit, and kept an eye on the door, looking for JB and Little Man to come join me. It seemed like an eternity before they did, but it was probably only a half hour. JB wheeled him in and then picked him up so that I could give him his first kiss from Momma.

I had wanted to start breastfeeding right away, and had arranged for a lactation consultant to help me in the recovery room. Since my spinal block hadn’t worn off, I was told I had to remain flat on my back, and so I had the nurse and the lactation consultant holding Little Man up to my chest and manhandling my boobs. It was incredibly awkward. We never got a good latch in there, so I ended up just holding him.

The recovery from my second c-setion was also leaps and bounds better than the first. I was still pretty sore and immobile the day after surgery, but I managed to get up and walk around that day. Then, each day, I got better and better, and I was able to walk around the block the week that I got home. I went in for my 2 week checkup, and was cleared for any exercise I wanted to do, with the directive of “take it slow”. So, when Little Man was only 3 weeks old, I was back swimming in Lake Tahoe.

So there you go. It was uneventful, just as I wanted, and it was a much better, enjoyable experience than my first c-secion. I’m so glad I won’t ever have to go through an emergency c-section again!

Formula: Before and After Pictures

6 Dec

To follow up on yesterday’s post, this picture was taken just days before I found out that Little Man was still significantly below his birthweight at 3.5 weeks of age. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I look at this picture, the poor kid looks emaciated. I look at this picture and am so thankful for formula, as this is what my breastmilk did for him.

And here is an “after” picture, showing his progress after 3 months of formula and breastmilk, and one month on formula exclusively.

I look at the difference in him, and do not doubt my pediatrician’s advice to add formula at all.

Breastfeeding: A Sore Topic

4 Dec

I have something to get off my chest.

Ha! Here is my post on breastfeeding, something I’ve been composing in my head for at least the past 3 months. Notice to my male relatives: Do not read further. You will not like it. There will be talk of boobs, nipples, etc., and you will not want that mental image in your head.

OK, so breastfeeding. I always planned to do it. It’s the best food for your baby, right? Before Little Miss was born, I went to a breastfeeding class, bought all the accessories, and then we ran into problems. She didn’t gain weight. I frantically went to lactation consultants, and after about 3 weeks of struggling with pumping, and a “lazy sucker” that would fall asleep each time I’d feed her, and trying to use a supplemental nursing system (can’t tell you how much I hated that), I threw in the towel and pumped for 6 months.

I calculated it out — that was about 1.5 million pumps on my poor, poor, nipples, which eventually gave out and cracked to the point that I was worried there was irreperable harm done to them.

So, as I was preparing for round two, I was more determined than ever that breastfeeding would WORK this time. I bought books ahead of time, talked to lactation consultants ahead of time, and had arrangements for a lactation consultant to see me when I attempted to breastfeed Little Man while in recovery from surgery.

The first roadblock I had with him was a bad latch, which caused blistering and cracking, and it was so darn painful to nurse him that I wanted to give up. But I didn’t. I talked to lactation consultants, and managed to heal my poor poor nipples so that we could exclusively breastfeed right up until he was 3.5 weeks of age. That’s when we went in for a check up, and he was still a half pound shy of returning to his birth weight.

That’s right, I must make skim milk. It was then I found out that the calories in breastmilk can vary widely, and I’m telling you people that I just don’t make good milk, as neither baby thrived on my milk. That is something that the public service announcements just don’t tell you.

So, the pediatrician had me start supplementing with formula after each feeding, and within about 24 hours, Little Man would no longer nurse efficiently (same as what happened with his sister).

I had vowed I wouldn’t exclusively pump again, but the fear of swine flu provoked me to do it. So, I hooked up. I pumped and pumped and pumped. I pumped while driving, when I should have been sleeping, and when I was feeding Little Man via a bottle. I had visions of pumping until 6 months again, but then I went to New Mexico to visit my parents.

I pumped on the plane, pumped while visiting them, and then one day, we went to the mall, where I had planned to pump in the car. My pump was stolen from my parents’ car. It was just – poof, gone.

That turned out to be drama that I didn’t need… My poor Dad went down to the mall to ask mall security and police officers about a stolen breast pump. Mom frantically called lactation consultants to try to find me another pump. And I was so darn fed up that I just decided it was a sign from the universe to STOP THE INSANITY. I decided against buying another $250 pump, considering I wasn’t sure how much longer I wanted to pump anyway, and was forced to quit cold turkey.

Now, wasn’t that fun. I had p0rn star b00bs for about 3 days. I could squirt milk about 3 feet with the pressure in those babies. Mom rented me a pump to help take the pressure off, which helped, but it was still emotionally draining, especially with reports on the news daily of how many children were dieing from swine flu…

So, I’m done breastfeeding for good (as I’m 99.99% sure we’re done with having kids). It wasn’t the great bonding experience I wanted it to be. I actually look at women breastfeeding with such envy… It is supposed to be easy, but both times it was a huge struggle for me. Both times, I ended up doing twice the work as I’d be pumping and then feeding the baby bottles.

With all the media pushing breastfeeding, one of the side effects is that it imposes a ton of mother guilt when breastfeeding doesn’t work out. So far, Little Man is thriving on formula. He’s 90th percentile in height and weight. Granted we’re paying about $30/week to feed him, but it’s well worth the peace of mind I have not worrying about my next pump and dwindling supply, and how to balance my limited spare time with pumping responsibilities.

Something that also makes me laugh is when people bill breastfeeding as being so much cheaper than formula feeding. Perhaps, but in my case, there were so many accessories, that I spent a ton of money just trying to get things working, and when they never did, it felt like a sink hole for money.

For instance, there is the pump ($250), the car adapter ($10), the hands free pumping bra ($30), the nipple cream ($9/container), the warm compression pads ($15), the cooling nipple pads ($16), the nursing bras ($25 each), the bottles that won’t interfere with breastfeeding ($16), the books (spent about $45 on 3 books), Fenugreek ($10), Reglan (Rx to improve supply), Mother’s Milk tea ($4), the nursing bracelet ($6), pump accessories, etc, etc. You see where I’m going? For those of us that have trouble breastfeeding, there is a whole industry out there to take your money. I tell you — when your nipples are cracked and bleeding, you will pay ANYTHING to stop the pain and be able to continue breastfeeding. It’s a total racket.

So, my baby is formula fed now. I’m not proud of it. I’m hoping he won’t get some nasty illness that will land him in the hospital. But I’m pretty sure he’s going to be A-OK. And one month after my pump was stolen, I have to admit I feel so liberated from that damn pump. I have my life back. My body is now my own. And I can have a drink whenever the heck I feel like it.

Amen.

One Step at a Time

3 Dec

I mistakenly thought that coming back to work with the second child would be easier. After all, I had 3 years under my belt of being a working mom, and knew what I was signed up for. But I’d say this transition back to work has been just as hard as it was the first time. Anyone who says that stay at home moms have the hardest job in the world hasn’t had to hand over their adorable baby to go sit in an office for 40 hours a week. The emotional toll of that has been so draining on me. (Disclaimer: I’m not saying that being a SAHM is easy, but I am saying that I actually envy those women that can stay home with their kids.)

I’m fighting back tears numerous times throughout the day. On my first day back, I didn’t expect the tears to well up when people asked me, “are you glad to be back?”

No, I’m not glad to be back. Yes, I’m glad to have a job and to be able to support my family in these tough economic times, but I truly preferred it when they paid me to stay home with my kids! Who wouldn’t prefer that?! I wish that Americans would respect the work of mothers more like countries in Europe, where mothers can take up to 18 months of maternity leave, and often a year of that is paid time off.

So, I’m trying to dive back into work to keep my mind off things. Hopefully this will get a bit easier as time passes.

I just wish this wasn’t an “all or nothing” predicament. I think it would be perfect if I were able to work part time so that I could help support the family, but also spend more time with the kids. Unfortunately, signing up for that in these economic times is pretty risky. I’d rather have a job than need a job and not be able to find one, so here I am.

A dear friend brought me flowers at work yesterday, knowing I was having a hard time with this transition. I have to say, that was the most thoughtful thing anyone has done for me lately. If you know someone returning to work from maternity leave, an extra hug, email, or other kind gesture means more than you can know.