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Thursday, April 26, 2012

my birth story of baby #2 !

I love when people submit their birth stories to me for my blog here, so I had to get right on writing my daughter's birth story before I forget how it all went down. On the day of her birth I kept telling people the story and saying, "Well, it'll make for a great birth story!" So here it is! 

I'm what you call a planner. I try to be organized. It just works for me, keeps me half-way sane to know what's going on and not live haphazardly. So knowing that I was having a scheduled C-section with baby #2 was a relief to me. I can't imagine how it feels for those poor mommas who have to wait 7, 10, etc. days after their due date just waiting for the baby to show herself! I had an end in sight.

Having had two surgeries in the past for uterine fibroids meant I had a C-section for my first son and thus for my second baby. Our C-section date was chosen by the hospital to be Tuesday April 17th, which happened to be our third wedding anniversary. At first, I wasn't too excited about sharing our day. But we didn't get to choose the date and my husband said it was actually pretty cool, so I embraced it. I even had a T-shirt made for my husband in our wedding colors - navy blue and yellow - that said "three years and a baby." I wrapped it up in yellow paper and a blue polka dot ribbon, like our wedding theme also.

We were set for the 17th. We had talked several times with my brother and sister-in-law about them taking our son for the day while we were in surgery, taking him to us as soon as baby was born to meet his new sibling before anyone else, having in-laws pick him up after, etc. I had even set out my son's breakfast and a note for his uncle and aunt in preparation for our scheduled baby day.

I had experienced contractions since the Wednesday prior pretty regularly. I worked up until that Friday, so for two days at work it was a little difficult walking around. My co-worker even came in one day to ask me a question and found me standing behind my desk rocking back and forth because the baby's head was so low it felt awkward sitting. She thought I was going into labor then and there! Oh, the fun I had scaring my co-workers by working right up until the end!

Each day the Braxton-Hicks contractions were happening I just thought it was my body preparing, getting ready to have the baby as I approached 39 weeks. I told my husband I was happy about this, because it meant the baby was coming on its own as much as it could despite us having a scheduled C-section. I felt so bad with my first child that we had to choose his birthday, felt like we were cheated out of letting him find his way into the world on his own accord. However, that morning of our scheduled C-section with him I ended up in labor, contractions 3 minutes apart at the hospital! So this time, seeing that the belly had dropped significantly, I felt the head way down in the pelvis region, and I was having contractions and weird discharge, made me feel relieved that this baby, too, was preparing to come as we were planning.

One last fun outing!
On Sunday morning my husband woke early to go help his brother with their new house, so I decided to have a special day with my son. I had planned that we'd do something special the following day but with the weather so nice out on Sunday I changed our plans. We headed out to the bakery to get a cookie, played at the playground for a really long time (where we met a little girl whose name was the name we'd choose for our daughter! It was so cool hearing the parents call for this girl. It made me feel like, OK, yes, that's the name if it's a girl, I can see this being her!).

Just my son and I. I didn't even have my camera - something that I'm notorious for taking along with me wherever we go. I felt sad I didn't plan ahead and bring the camera on our last special mom and Owen minus baby outing, and yet I was happy because it meant I was totally present with him. I pushed him on the swing for at least an hour... a long time for a very active toddler. We played in the sand and made a sand castle.

We went home for my son's nap and I tried tying up a few loose ends I'd been working on in preparation for my C-section in two days - finishing photo books online, packing some snacks for my son for the hospital visits, cleaning out the sippy cup drawer so it made sense to our in-laws who would be caring for him while we were in the hospital.

After my son's nap I took him over to see his dad at his uncle's house. I started feeling more contractions and an aching back, so decided to head home around 6ish. 

OK, maybe something is happening...
The entire drive home from my brother and sister-in-law's house I had contractions. Again, I'd been feeling this - mostly at night or while in the car - for the last few days since Wednesday, so I again thought it was just my body preparing for baby to come soon. I got home, fed my son and put him to bed. I felt a slight sense of panic that I had not yet finished what I needed to for the surgery in two days (put away my son's clean laundry, write instructions for my in-laws, pack my son's diaper bag to take back and forth from the hospital, pack snacks for daycare, finish those damn photo books, etc.), so I thought I'd start doing something.

I tried to get snacks together in the kitchen, but the contractions hurt and I just felt weird. Weird is all I can say to describe it. Not sure what I felt, just that the baby was low and I felt strange standing up, like I needed to spread my legs apart or something. I layed down on the couch and tried to watch TV (A Few Good Men was on TV, one of my husband's favorite movies). I was so uncomfortable that I started tearing up. I moved from side to side, layed all the way back on the couch, tried standing up and walking around. I just felt weird. Yet I thought this again was normal, just my body adjusting and shifting around. I was officially 39 weeks today, so I figured this was all par for the course.

I considered calling my husband around 8 p.m. to come home after I'd been trying to relax and get comfortable for almost an hour, but I waited and ended up feeling OK. After feeling a little better and watching some TV, I decided I did need to get the laundry put away for my son because there were no clothes in his drawers. I tried walking upstairs and it again felt awkward walking so I went back to the couch.

I ended up in bed around 9ish. My husband called me shortly after. I explained the night to him, he said to hang in there, that I was almost done, it was almost over, just a couple more days. He had been saying this to me the last few days with such sincerity and appreciation for what I'd been experiencing, as he'd see me wince in the car or try to get comfortable after some contractions. I fell asleep around 10ish, having contractions, but slightly more comfortable.

Just Google it
I was up all night. Every hour or so I was going to the bathroom (I had some leaking liquid, not water breaking but just more discharge than recently and had to pee constantly it felt like). I had contractions all night and the baby was moving around a lot. I was tearing up and wincing in bed. My husband was rubbing my back, asking if I was OK. I said yes, because again, thought this was just normal a week before your baby's due date.

At 5:30 a.m. ish I went to the bathroom and saw blood. Not a ton, but it was nothing I'd had before so it worried me. I went back to the bedroom, told my husband I was bleeding. He was half asleep, asked what we should do. I said I didn't know. He suggested Googling it. So there I went... to Google, typing in "is blood normal at the end of pregnancy?" Thinking of this now, I realize how stupid this was. Google is great, but not when you're practically in labor!

Within minutes on Google I realized that it could be pre-term labor. This made me snap into reality and recall my doctor telling me the last several months, weeks at every single appointment if I ever had blood I needed to call right away, because yes, it was a sign of pre-term labor and with my history of fibroids and surgeries they did not want me going into labor and instead I needed a surgery to deliver.

How far apart - what?! We didn't prepare for this!
So I knew I needed to call the doctor, but I figured they'd ask me right away how far apart my contractions were. I figured I should know the answer before calling, or else they'd just give me the standard answer of, "Yes, why don't you come in and get checked just in case." I didn't want to just go in if this wasn't anything to be worried about. So I sat on the couch for a half an hour trying my best to count contractions. I had no clue what I was doing and felt out of my league with this process. I didn't read the chapters in the What to Expect When You're Expecting book on this stuff, nor did we ever take a birthing class. We had surgeries. We were planners. We did not have unexpected labor that we needed to all of a sudden prepare for!

I counted that the contractions were about 15 minutes apart, give or take. I called the after hours doctor's phone number. The nurse said that with my history of surgeries and fibroids and the fact that I had a scheduled C-section for the following day I should just go up to the hospital to be "checked out." She said my doctor was actually on call to be in the hospital anyway so she could probably just check me out and see. She said, "You never know, they may end up doing your surgery today since you're so close to doing it tomorrow anyway."

Um what?! was my initial reaction, and yet still in denial that this was real. I figured we'd go up there, get checked, return and go in for our surgery the following day. Yeah right.

OK, OK, OK...
While I was on the phone with the nurse, my son woke up early. My husband went up to get him. I hung up the phone with the nurse, went to the bottom of the stairs and heard my husband whispering to my son, "OK, pal, listen let's just rest a little longer, then we'll get up soon, OK? Time for sleep now." I laughed before saying, "Um, not so much, dear. Everybody needs to wake up. We have to go to the hospital."

I won't forget this ever - the sight of my husband in his T-shirt and boxer shorts, bed head hair, holding my son in his pajamas at the top of the stairs, with a look of total confusion and shock on his face as I said we needed to go to the hospital. It was like I could see his mind switching gears right in front of me, acknowledging that our little plan of tomorrow was not going as planned.

He just said, "OK, OK, OK..." taking breaths between each word. It was pretty cute and hilarious actually. He came downstairs, asked if he could take a shower, proceeded to move around the house, grabbing diapers for my son, getting the hospital bags, etc. I helped my son get dressed and threw on some clothes myself. It was pretty surreal. We called the babysitter and asked if Owen could stay with her a few hours while we got checked out. She chuckled and said, "We're getting a baby today!" I laughed and said we'd be there soon.

Still, not really believing this was it. I was in pain, contractions happening quicker as we moved along, and yet still sort of thinking this was normal pre-labor stuff. We grabbed the hospital bags just in case.

Here we go!
We took our son to his babysitter's house. The babysitter came out to see me, sitting in the front seat in pain with contractions. She was so happy, totally knew today was the day. I started crying when she talked to me, just overwhelmed about what was going on, not sure if this was real, sad I was leaving my son, just overwhelmed. She reassured me all was fine.

We headed to Portland. I was wincing the whole time, trying to track the contractions. At one point I had 3 in a row, two minutes apart. That freaked me out. I started to say, "Um, dear, I don't think this is just going to be a check up." He didn't think so either, but he was a bit more calm than I was. We called our families to let them know we were headed up, not sure what was happening. They were all excited, thinking this was it.

I called my close high school friend Heather. She answered instantly, "Are you in labor?!" I laughed and said yes. We had plans that Monday evening to talk on the phone so she could say a prayer for me before I went into surgery the following day. She did the same thing the night before my son was born and when riding in the limo on the way to the church on my wedding day. I just needed it. It calmed me down to have her pray for me like that. So I asked her to pray for me. As she did, I started crying again. 

It's time!
We arrived at the hospital parking lot at 7:45 a.m. We had our bags, nice camera and video camera, etc. in the car. My husband said to take in our small camera, "just in case." I forgot my insurance card, of all things.

We got up to labor and delivery and my contractions were painful. It hurt to walk. They had me get into a johnny (which my poor husband and I could not for the life of us figure out how the hell to put on me... so instantly we had to bug a nurse to help me dress!). They hooked me up to monitors and checked the contractions and baby's heartbeat. Hearing the baby calmed me down instantly.

Within 10 minutes they came back into the room saying that yes, these were real contractions. They said they were going to start an IV of fluids. I asked if that meant we were here to stay. The nurses dodged the question, looked over their shoulder, and said they'd be right back. A few moments later my room was very busy and taken over by nurses and anesthesiologists. A doctor on call came in to say that yes, I was in labor and yes, I was staying. My contractions were 1-minute apart! We were going to have a baby today!

I started crying... again. I was just so overwhelmed. It was not what we planned. Was my son OK? I didn't finish writing instructions for my in-laws to care for my son for the week in the hospital and he had no clothes in his dresser drawers. Was the baby OK? Would they be able to do my C-section in time, which was a concern since with my history of surgeries and fibroids they didn't want me in labor? The nerves just set in. My husband reassured me we were OK, things were going great. Then I started laughing, thinking how COOL it was that our second child came on its own, didn't want to share its special day with our anniversary the next day.

Moving quickly!
Luckily my own doctor was on call at the hospital that morning. When she came to see me and reassured me all was great and she was excited, that's when I felt so much better and excited about the birth.

Everything went REALLY fast. Within a matter of 30 minutes I was signing a ton of paperwork, hooked up to IVs and had a hospital bracelet on. My husband called our family letting them know that yes, baby was coming today. He started dressing in his scrubs and we took a final picture of us pregnant before surgery.

My husband kissed me and told me he loved me, and again I was crying, nerves and overwhelmed. The worst part for me of my two C-sections is this part where I had to say goodbye to my husband for a half hour or so while they wheel me into the surgery room and did my spinal. I hate that part!

The spinal went great though, thanks to a couple of good nurses helping keep me still and calm. Before I knew it I was laying on my back on the operating table and my husband was back at my side, holding my hand, saying, "We're going to have a baby!"

Baby time!
The doctor told me I'd start to feel tugging, which I did. My husband kept saying I was doing great, baby would be here soon. Then all of a sudden Dr. Shinners told Jared to get ready because baby was coming. My husband stood up and watched the whole thing! I heard her cry first before seeing her. It was the best sound, instantly crying, as if to say, "I'm here!" My husband said in a matter of fact tone, "It's a girl!" There are few things I'll ever really remember exactly how they were said, and for me two of those things are both times my husband announced what just came out of my belly - two years ago, "It's a boy!" and now "It's a girl!" He was so sure we were having a girl, so the way he announced it to me then and there was as if to say, "Told ya so." I was convinced this baby was a boy, so shock and surprise and delight was what I felt instantly.

The second the doctor lifted my baby girl over the blue paper to see me I started tearing up. Sobbing, I was speechless. My husband said, "We have a girl." I finally spoke saying, "I have a daughter!" It was very surreal. One of each, how amazing.

We named her about 10 minutes later, after they checked her out and put her on my chest. Addisyn Rose Avery was born at 9:31 a.m. (see how quickly things moved - we'd only gotten to the hospital parking lot at 7:45 a.m.!) on Monday April 16th, Patriot's Day and the Boston Marathon Day, gorgeous 80 degree weather! She weighed 7 lbs 14 oz and was 20 1/4 inches long. My husband chose her name, including naming her middle name Rose the same as my middle name.

Keeping her close
The best part about this experience was that they put my daughter to my chest within about 15 minutes of her being born it seemed like. With my son two years ago they put him near me and I was able to kiss him and touch him, but could not hold him until after being stitched up again. My husband and son went into another room for about 45 minutes without me while they finished my surgery.

This time the hospital changed their practice for C-sections, acknolwedging how important skin-to-skin is for the baby. So instantly she was on my chest and staring at me and I was holding her close. She started to latch within five minutes of being on me. It was amazing. I held her for about an hour. I kept telling my husband I felt bad he had not yet held her much. He said he didn't mind since with our son he held him for an hour before I go to.

We eventually were wheeled into the original room where they monitored me and the baby for a while in recovery. Our family members were able to come in and see her briefly at that point. We were so happy to announce our little girl was here!

And then there were four!
Addisyn's birth was so incredible. I love that I've experienced labor like that. I know it's not as long and intense as what many moms go through, but being able to know what real contractions are like, feeling my body really prepare on its own without being forced to deliver by surgery, it was incredible. I'd always felt bad or cheated out of an experience knowing I'd have a scheduled surgery to deliver my children. Knowing that now both of my children came on their own times feels great. These are their real birth days.

Addisyn has surprised us ever since she came on her unscheduled day. She sleeps and eats well - both things we were not expecting. She has even stolen our son's heart, as he completely adores his "Baby Addisyn."

Now, we are a family of four. It's been a swift and easy transition so far. It just feels natural. Yes, there are tough moments, but just like the birth of this little one taught us, we have learned we can't really plan anything anymore. We are just going with the flow, trying to enjoy all that this new life has to offer us and being patient with the challenges of figuring it all out one step at a time.

I am a blessed mama. I have a healthy boy who is active and happy and sharing his screwdrivers and hammers and stickers with his baby sister. I have a daughter, a girl to dress in pink and play dolls with someday. I have a husband who shows me he appreciates me for bringing our babies into the world and whom I still adore like I did in high school when we met. I have not just one but two babies now... something I was once told I'd possibly not have. I am truly blessed.

Life is good. It's really good.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

what doesn't kill us makes us stronger

A wonderfully honest, STRONG, and anonymous momma wrote a touching account of her struggles with marriage and infidelity, and her adventures getting back into shape post-babies. THANK YOU, real momma, for sharing this true story of something other women struggle with.

Making a Change

The big 3-0
I always said and still believe turning "fill in the blank" means nothing, it's merely a number, and for me, turning 30 was just another day but little did I know, turning 30 was going to be just the beginning. I was 30 and why not make a change, a lifestyle change at that.

First on my list was to lose weight. With a BMI of obese (I was in denial for years) I was finally ready to shed some pounds in exchange for a new lease on life. My husband had recently left for a 5 month military stint and I needed an outlet so I focused my energy into working out. Why not, right? If he was going to be doing PT on a daily basis and returning home looking as fine as can be why can't I attempt to turn his head, yet again? And so I did. Working out 5-6 days a week using an at home video as well as a local fitness class once a week. If anything, working out was going to be "ME time" something I rarely got when my husband was home and knew I would hardly ever get when he was away unless I made plans for it.

image from Google

And then things changed... 
Five days after shipping out I received a typed letter with no return address. This letter was going to change my life forever. I will never forget that day as I had just returned home from errands, my oldest (then 4) ready for a nap and my youngest (then 9 months) already asleep in the car. As I began to scan this letter the words were not making sense. I was angry, sad, confused, pissed off, hurt, betrayed. I quickly learned that over the past 9+ months my husband had been having an affair and not just with any one but with someone I knew. My life had turned from soap opera to lifetime movie in 2.3 seconds. This was not the first time either, this was at least the third time that I was aware of in the nearly 5 years that we have been married. Each time before, I kept things "between us" - not wanting to involve family or admit to the shame I was feeling. This time I was done. I remember thinking what do I do now? Where do I turn? Do I stay....again? Will things change? How could he? Why would he? I deserve better!

Keeping the Faith
Different than the times before I immediately felt as if this forced separation was a good thing, necessary, and needed. It's hard to make a reasonable and responsible decision when the other person is right there, in the same house and bed night after night and easily accessible by phone. This time I didn't even know the next time we would talk as his ass now belonged to the military and he did what they said and when they said to do it. To note, I do believe in God and am faithful. I won't preach but I will say that without prayer and faith I wouldn't be as strong as I am. Those first few days, hell weeks to a month, were the hardest of all my 30 years of existence. I have no doubts, that if it wasn't for my children, I would have either spiraled into a deep, dark depression, or had a mental breakdown. Knowing that I was the soul provider for my children at this point in time kept me going, made me get up every morning and forced me to care for myself. Sleep was minimal, I was doing anything and everything not to think about what had been happening. I was drowning my sorrows in exercise. I was so nauseous that I didn't eat for nearly two weeks - I had to force myself to stay hydrated. I was only able to sleep once exhausted obtaining maybe 4 hours of sleep a night.

Three days later I learned that there were others. Married almost 5 years and I knew of at least 5 people in which my husband's, "in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, till death do us part" had slept with and/or had an ongoing relationship with. Now I was furious! My life had gone soap opera to lifetime movie and now Desperate Housewives! Could it get any crazier? Nothing could top this, I'm still convinced nothing can top this.

Staying Strong

Amidst all of my heartache and pain I have reminded myself of many great blessings - a home, two beautiful, young children, and a stable career. I hated, despised, was repulsed by the thought of divorce but this time was the LAST time. I was done being used, abused in some ways, and mistreated. I only got as far as a contact call but that I was a big step for me. I met briefly with a lawyer and got an idea of what my life would look like minus my spouse. It was empowering I will admit. I To learn that I had just as good a chance as any to obtain primary residency, retain our home, and receive child support benefits. I quickly learned how divorces get messy and ugly too. My husband's reaction was "I hate the idea that you called or are considering it, but I understand completely why you would." He was no longer making excuses and beginning to understand the seriousness of his stupid, dumb ass choices.

Making Time for ME

Back to where this all began, I was 30 and why not make a change, a lifestyle change at that. With the help of my wonderfully supportive family (mine and his) and church congregation, I have been able to maintain a regular, manageable and healthy workout schedule. Finding time to eat and forcing myself to eat has proven to be the biggest challenge. Being a single parent there's always something to do, someone to feed or clean, or somewhere to be. My year 30 goals: lose 30 lbs and run 6-5k races (totaling 30k). To date I have lost 20 lbs and ran my first race today! What a great sense of accomplishment! If anything, I hope my children are able to grow up and learn that patience, persistence, hard work, and faith all pay off!!

image from Google

Still Growing
The end result has yet to be determined. I am anxiously awaiting my husband's return home on a multitude of levels. I am proud of his accomplishments since being gone and honored to call him my husband despite his previously, ridiculously childish and irresponsible behaviors. I have faith that this marriage has grown stronger through this life changing event. I am optimistic that we can and will overcome this hurdle in the game called life. "What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger" has forever been a favorite quote of mine, but now I see it in a whole different light. Is the glass half empty or half decide.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

a milk story - Libby!

LOVE this very real, true account of what it was like for this new mom to experience difficulties and ultimately success with breastfeeding. She is an inspiration for sure. 

by Libby Butler

I've chosen to write my milk story now because I feel like I have come full circle. I recently used the last of my frozen breast milk and started supplementing (again) with formula. I don't produce enough milk to provide for my daughter Robyn while she is at daycare. I only pump once at work mainly because pumping more would mean working longer hours and I'd rather spend that time with Robyn. I have no plans to do anything significant to increase my milk Six months ago all I did was work to build my milk 
supply so I could breastfeed my daughter. Here is our story. :)

Before I gave birth, I knew breastfeeding was not easy, although I didn't think too much about it. I figured the nurses at the hospital would help me. I became aware of some anxiety about breastfeeding during one of my first child birth classes. The instructor said, “They will place the baby on your chest and you can start breast feeding right away.” I was anxious and embarrassed at the thought. I admitted to my OBGYN, “Do I even know how to do that?”

Monday September 12
After being spread eagle on a delivery table while 2 doctors and a nurse stitched up my vagina for an hour, and while a flock of NICU staff worked in the corner on my daughter, anxiety regarding breastfeeding was the least of my concerns. I received a brief breastfeeding 101 and off we went. Robyn started sucking...but apparently there is a RIGHT kind of sucking.

Tuesday September 13
I spent a lot of time learning about breastfeeding. I learned to watch my daughter's cheeks, if they collapsed while sucking she was doing it wrong. I learned to listen for a “kah” sound, that meant she was swallowing. My daughter was having a hard time bloody, bruised, cracked nipples were a clear indicator. I had asked to see a lactation consultant MANY times but my nurse never called for one. Finally my husband called them directly and an LC was in my room within the hour. The LC was upset that the nurses hadn't called them sooner because it was obvious we were a mess. I was tired and anxious and embarrassed and SORE. I just wanted the lactation consultant to tell me how to do it right. The LC put what seemed like 47 pillows around my daughter to prop her in a good position, tickled her tongue and cheeks, flipped her lips around, and grabbed my boobs. And we watched and listened. The LC would ask me how it felt, and I kept thinking that my nipples were slowly being tortured, I'm not sure how I could possibly tell if it felt “right”. I cringed and tensed every time she latched, it didn't feel good at all!

On the second visit from the LC that day she checked my daughter's tongue...she was concerned about her frenulum. She didn't have a significant tongue tie but the tight cord under her tongue was prominent enough that it concerned her. She couldn't be sure if this was contributing to our issues but she strongly recommended my husband and I discuss it with the pediatrician.

Wednesday September 14
On our last day in the hospital the pediatrician checked my daughter's tongue, he was not concerned. In my mind I thought everything was fine, tongue was fine, my daughter only lost a small amount of weight which I figured meant she was getting enough to eat. Although my breasts hurt so bad that I winced and cried when she fed... we were going home. Another LC came to visit us and I told her we were fine. I wanted us to be fine. I wanted to go home with my new family. I figured we'd get this breast feeding thing figured out...I was wrong...we were not fine.

Thursday September 15
Robyn was VERY sleepy most of the day, eating only every 4 hours...which part of me knew was not right, but the other part of me thought breastfeeding was just another way to torture me after what had happened during childbirth. I hated how much breastfeeding hurt, so of course I was partly happy she didn't appear to need to eat. The home health nurse was concerned about Robyn and about my milk supply. She recommended I call the pediatrician. She was worried that if I didn't start breastfeeding more I would be at risk of losing my milk supply. After a visit at the pediatrician's office we were sent back to Maine Medical Center for labs to make sure Robyn didn't have an infection. We were also referred back to the lactation consultants. The pediatrician recommended I start pumping. We were to pour one ounce of milk into a small cup, place our pinky in our daughter's mouth to make her suck and then use a pipette to squirt milk into her mouth. We were to do this every 2 hours. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever done and I am almost insulted that this was the initial recommendation. First of all, I pumped only one ounce the first time off both breasts...second of all we lost half of it down my daughter's face because feeding a baby that way is stupid. I am amazed my husband and I didn't kill each other doing this. We tried this method once. I then continued to attempt to breastfeed. Poor Robyn was a crazy mess that night, none of us slept well. Robyn would wake up to try to eat, she was so frustrated, tired, and hungry. I started having panic attacks and I cried myself to sleep each time after she would fall asleep. My husband told me that getting through this night was worse than watching me in labor.

Friday September 16
We met with the lactation consultant, she finally gave us hope. She told me to stop breastfeeding altogether and to start pumping and bottle feeding every 2 hours...I did not expect this at all. I was grateful she gave us a strategy that would work (at least in theory). Our goal was to make sure Robyn was eating and gaining weight (she had lost more weight since our discharge from the hospital), we could focus on breastfeeding again when it was safer. She showed us how to pump and gave us instructions on how to bottle feed. Robyn gulped down what seemed like a miniscule amount of milk that I had pumped in the lactation consultant's office. She was still concerned about Robyn's tongue-tie and highly recommended we demand a referral to an ENT. I was VERY disappointed about not breastfeeding but at the same time felt relieved because I could feed my daughter.

Saturday September 17
My daughter was still hungry. We would feed her the pumped breast milk but she wanted and needed more. I was crying, she was crying. I was feeling pretty much like a failure because I still couldn't feed my daughter. I don't know if I started out with a low supply or if the lack of breastfeeding created a low supply, but whatever the reason, I did not make enough milk. I was exhausted and my post pregnancy hormones were raging. Everything I read said I had to rest to make more milk...although it was impossible to really rest when I was up pumping all night. I had a teary text conversation with one of my favorite moms, Angela Avery, who told me that I was a good mom and I needed to do what was right for my baby. It was the support that I needed in order to do what I already knew I should do. We started adding formula to Robyn's bottles. She stopped being hungry. I think it is silly now that I AGONIZED about giving her formula. The kid was hungry, I should have fed her! I did the best I could with the milk I had but I just didn't have enough milk.

Tuesday September 20
We had a weigh-in at the pediatrician's office. We discussed our concerns about Robyn's eating and told him we were pumping every 2 hours. He said we were working way too hard...but luckily Robyn had gained 6.5 ounces in 5 days since we started bottle feeding so even though we were working hard, it was working. We admitted we were supplementing with formula (he of course totally approved). He wanted to know what the LCs thought of us doing that and our answer was, “We didn't tell them” haha. :) We asked about Robyn's frenulum (tongue-tie). He again wasn't too concerned but we wanted a consult with an ENT so he gave us a referral.

The ENT was able to see us later that day. He determined, that while not severe, her tongue-tie likely was contributing to her poor latching since no other reason could be identified as to why we were struggling so much with breastfeeding. He recommended we have her frenulum clipped. I knew about the procedure. I didn't need to think about it. My niece had had her frenulum clipped at 12 weeks, by that point my sister was never able to get a full milk supply and had to pump in addition to breastfeed and supplement with formula. I did not want to do all that. I was already exhausted from pumping for the previous 5 days. I knew the procedure wasn't supposed to be painful. I read a lot online and a few things that compared the procedure's level of controversy to circumcision...I already knew I was in favor of the procedure, but that comparison sealed the deal for me. I wanted it done ASAP. My husband was not entirely convinced...but I wanted to breastfeed and I knew if she never latched well I would always wonder if this could have been the easy fix. Robyn handled the procedure well, she cried as soon as the tools were put in her mouth (mostly out of irritation I'm sure because the snip hadn't even happened yet) and was done crying before we left the building. It was quick and mostly painful for my husband. We called the LC on the way home from the doctor's office to schedule another appointment. She told me to start breastfeeding again as soon as I got home. I thought that this would be a magic fix but we still had 2 major issues. My milk supply was low and my daughter still didn't know HOW to latch even if now she was able.

Wednesday September 21
And I thought the hard part was over. We met with the lactation consultant who worked with us to start reteaching Robyn how to breastfeed. We were instructed to massage her hips to loosen her jaw and to tickle her lips and tongue to teach her that her tongue was no longer attached to the bottom of her mouth. I learned how to power pump (an hour long session of pumping for 10 mins, rest for 10 mins, repeat). I learned about herbs and foods to increase milk supply. I was told to breastfeed first, then pump after every other feeding, then feed back what I just pumped at the next feeding. So if you do the math...that is a lot of time spent totally dedicated to emptying my breasts.

It is amazing the comfort that a measured bottle brings. If I put 2 ounces of milk in a bottle, I knew Robyn ate 2 ounces. If I put Robyn on my breast for 45 minutes, I had NO IDEA how much she was eating. Psychologically I had to wrap my mind around being comfortable with breastfeeding which was hard since I worried that Robyn would be hungry and wouldn't be getting enough milk. I had to start making small goals to force myself to breastfeed more often instead of solely pumping. I started by making myself breastfeed at least 3 times a day, then I would pump for every other meal and after breastfeeding. Then I tried to increase breastfeeding sessions to every other feeding. My family would check in on me and try to encourage me to breastfeed more. I felt so anxious solely breastfeeding. It was SO hard to trust my body to know it was producing what she needed. I couldn't see it in a nicely measured bottle. It was hard to let go of the pumping and make myself breastfeed. The lactation consultant told me over and over that breastfeeding would increase my supply because I loved my baby more than my pump. While true, I hated pumping, I hated not knowing even more.

For the rest of September through October I started slowly worked on my breastfeeding plan. It started well. I was tired and hated pumping but I had my husband home with me and it was tolerable. Then my husband went back to work and I had to do it all by myself. I was lonely. I couldn't get help for this...making my breasts produce more milk was my job only. I had to figure out how to breastfeed and pump and wash god damn pumps and cuddle and eat and go to the bathroom and I was all alone. I couldn't nap when the baby napped because by the time I fed her and got her down to sleep I had to pump and then she was awake and needed to eat again. Then I felt guilty because I'd pumped all the milk out and she'd have to work really hard to get more milk. Which was good because I knew I had to empty my breasts as many times as possible to stimulate my body to produce more. I felt like a feeding machine. I hated breastfeeding and pumping. I'd sit on the couch and stare at my living room and cry while my little love would eat, and then cry herself because she was still hungry. I spoke on the phone numerous times with the lactation consultants. They were very supportive of my efforts and encouraged me to continue pumping. They must have kept good records because they were impressed when my output increased by almost one ounce in one week. I suppose that was good but it still wasn't enough.

When Robyn was 3 weeks old I decided I needed to go to a breast feeding support group. I barely got myself out the door because I needed to do all the things I normally did, which felt practically impossible, in addition to making sure I had pumped milk to bring with me. The group seemed like a silly idea because what I really wanted was someone to tell me I could stop breastfeeding. It was so hard and exhausting to both breastfeed and pump. I just wanted permission to stop. I felt so GUILTY because I still did not like breastfeeding. I told the group my story. I thought for sure someone would have advice for me. They didn't. I was pretty much already doing EVERYTHING I could to boost my milk supply. The LC checked us out during a feeding session, I was grateful that my daughter was latching well. It was one hurdle accomplished. The LC was so kind and encouraging and kept telling me I was doing the right thing and to keep it up if my goal was to continue to breastfeed. Oddly I left feeling better although with no change in my strategies.

Very slowly I was able to continue to drop pumping sessions and add breastfeeding sessions. Then I was able to stop supplementing with formula. Later I settled on breastfeeding during the day and pumping at night...I did this until my daughter was 10 weeks old. When I finally decided I could breastfeed Robyn for every meal it was a HUGE weight off my shoulders. Not only was I feeding my daughter exclusively by breastfeeding but I had been so much in the habit of pumping I managed to build up a 200 ounce supply of milk in my freezer by the time I went back to work. I never thought that could have been possible. I became somewhat of a crazy person though. I would track the number of times my breasts were emptied. I obsessed on the statistic that you have to empty your breasts 8-12x a day. I wondered for a long time when I would be able to stop worrying about my milk supply. I still wonder that sometimes.

Looking back, making myself breastfeed was so incredibly hard. Would I do the same thing again? Absolutely. But now as my daughter is in her sixth month of life, I will not work to affect my milk supply. My goal was to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months. Even though we used a few cans of formula I consider that goal met. I'm proud of myself for persevering. The days of looking at my sweet baby with tears in my eyes while I attempted to feed her are long in the past. Although now I do get tearful with the prospect of weaning someday. Today I am feeding Robyn the milk I have and know that I am doing the absolute best for her. I miss the days of 45 minute long feeding sessions cuddling on the couch. I miss the quiet relaxing moments. Now she is so busy, grabbing at my hair, mouth, necklace, bra strap, rolling over looking's like taming a wild monkey trying to feed her sometimes. But I am feeding her and for me that is what counts. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

a birth story with baby #2 - Sarah Tibbetts!

What a beautiful birth story! A fantastic momma of one adorable son, who delivered a beautiful baby girl and did a great job - pushing 10 minutes! - with her second labor!

And let it begin...
Mild but regular contractions started around 9 p.m. on 3/20 (due date.) I
went to bed and woke up at 3 a.m. with stronger contractions. They increased in intensity throughout the morning and became more frequent. I already had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 10:30 a.m. We decided to leave my son Eli with his grammy and take our bags "just in case."

By the time we got to the doctor the contractions were about 5 minutes apart and pretty strong. We told the nurse what was going on and when my doctor came in she said "sounds like someone is in labor!" She did an exam and said I was 4 cm, thin and baby was low. We went across the street to the hospital (after stopping for a snack!). We were admitted and settled in around 11:30 a.m.

They monitored me and the baby for a while, then let me walk around. I had talked with my doctor and nurse about wanting an intrathecal and hoping to avoid an
epidural. Around 2 p.m. the contractions were more intense and getting to the point of wanting some relief. The doctor checked and said I was 5 cm and then broke my water. I got an intrathecal a little before 3 a.m. They monitored me and the baby for a bit, then I walked around for an hour. They had said that walking was the best way to move things along so I was on a mission!

I started feeling a little woozy (something they said to watch for) around 4 p.m. They were having trouble finding the baby's heartbeat and said it was probably because she had moved down so quickly. The doctor checked and said I was 10 cm and
ready to push! I started pushing around 4:15 p.m. Things moved quickly,
but the intrathecal was wearing off and I felt everything.

Baby's on her way!
The baby got hung up once her head was half out and it hurt so badly! I swore
not to be one of those ladies who yells or wants to give up during labor, but I did have a moment of that, quickly followed by me apologizing and saying I knew I could do it. After 10 minutes of pushing Ruby arrived in the world at 4:25 p.m! She was placed on my chest right away and we were amazed at how beautiful, alert and tiny she was! She weighed 6 lbs 7 oz and was 21 inches long.

After having such a long and difficult labor with Eli (24 hrs of
labor, 2 intrathecals, epidural, 3 hours of pushing, vacuum assisted
delivery) I couldn't believe this labor was so much easier! Having
this be my second baby, I was thankful to know more, be able advocate for myself and take more control of our experience.

Big brother visited!
Eli was able to come visit and have dinner with us around 5:30 p.m. It was so nice to be able to involve him so early. He was nervous when he first came in but was so interested in "baby Ruby!" and talked to her in such a sweet voice. He came back to have lunch and dinner with us the next day, too. We gave him a Fisher Price doctor kit and he gave Ruby a pink stuffed poodle. Whenever she cried he said "she wants her
toy!" Tim took Eli home to put him to bed each night. My friend Noelle and Eli's grandmothers did a great job taking care of him while we were gone. He went to preschool on Friday with a picture of Ruby to share and got to pick a treat to have at school. He picked chocolate milk and his teacher sent him home with a half gallon of it! Ha!

Eli has stayed just as great with Ruby since we got home. He asks where she is, loves talking to her, asking "what's she doing?" and showing her things. He loves talking about his "baby sister" and how he is a big boy. He does cover his ears when she cries a lot though.

Going home!
Breastfeeding got off to a much better start than with Eli. Ruby latches well and doesn't seem as aggressive as Eli was. On the second night we ended up "topping her off" with a little pumped milk and formula since my milk wasn't in yet. It did come in on day 3- with a vengeance! By day 5 the engorgement subsided- phew! As of week one she is cluster feeding a lot several times a day. She'll eat for 20 minutes or so, be good for an hour, then want to eat again. After a round or two like this she'll sleep for 3-4 hours. A little tiring at night but not too bad! She likes to sleep laying on people chests but does like her swing and rock n play as well.

We feel so lucky and filled with love! There is a great sense of being complete as a family of four. I cannot wait to watch our children grow together and see everything that the future holds for us.

hush little baby! - PART THREE

One last AWESOME book about children's sleep patterns! This is my favorite of all of the sleep books I found. It has EVERYTHING in here. If I were going to buy one this would be it.

The Baby Sleep Book by William Sears, M.D., Robert Sears, M.D., James Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.

The book starts out with a list of 5 things that will aid in good baby sleep:
1. "Find out where you and your baby sleep best.
2. Learn baby's tired times.
3. Create a safe and comfortable environment to sleep.
4. Create a variety of bedtime rituals.
5. Help baby sleep for longer stretches."

There is a large chapter on helping toddlers and preschoolers sleep - tons of great, real life examples and ideas for what works. Another chapter dedicated solely to co-sleeping - again the most I've seen from any book on that topic.

Chapter 6 is dedicate to "Night Feedings and Night Weaning - When and How?" Great information in there, because as many moms know nursing or being hungry in the night is oftentimes a reason children get into a pattern of not sleeping or falling back asleep on their own.
Some tips for getting a nursing baby to sleep longer at night:
1. Fill up baby during the day more.
2. Increase daytime touch.
3. Introduce change during daytime naps. Start helping baby sleep on her own with less nursing there instead of starting to change at night.
4. Awaken baby for a full feeding just before you go to bed.
5. Get baby used to other "nursings." Dad can give the bottle for instance.
6. Nurse to sleep - but not completely.
7. Offer a substitute like a finger or pacifier or water in a sippy cup.
8. Make the breast less accessible, or stop co-sleeping if that is part of the reason she smells and wants mommy.
9. Move out of the room for the night if need be.
10. Just say no.
11. Share night duty. Have your partner help you out.

-Dr. Sears, et al

Moving a toddler to a big kid bed
Dr. Sears first says to check that the timing is right. Typically, he said toddlers move out of their cribs between 18 months and 2 1/2 years, depending on a couple of factors, but primarily safety reasons. If a child is trying to climb out of the crib that's a sign it's time to move out. Another big factor is that another child needs the crib so the first needs to move out.

He then suggests including your toddler in the choosing of the bed, blankets, room arrangement, etc. to make it an exciting thing. Then beginning the process of having your child sleep in his own bed by using the same bed time routine he's had all along - reading, music, rocking, tucking in, etc. He suggests for a period of time parents sit in the bed or on the floor next to the bed quietly letting the child know you will stay until he's asleep. Then really stay until he's asleep so he knows it's safe to be in the new room alone. Eventually, parents should begin saying, "I have to go get a book or move the laundry" or do something that takes only a few seconds to leave the room while the child starts to fall asleep on his own. Then gradually make the times outside the room a little longer.

Nap Needs by Age
On page 188, Dr. Sears gives a great list of suggested nap needs for babies:
newborn - 3 naps a day, usually 1 to 2 hours each, or frequent, irregular, short catnaps

1-3 months - 2 to 3 naps a day, 1 to 1 1/2 hours each, with some predictability

3-6 months - 2 naps a day, 1 to 1 1/2 hours each

6-12 months - 1-hour morning nap, and 1 to 2-hour afternoon nap

12-24 months - no morning nap, 1 to 2-hour afternoon nap

2-4 years - 1-hour afternoon nap

OVERALL, a great resource!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

what's in a name?!

Yes, I am 38 weeks pregnant.
No, we do not have official names picked out.
Yes, you annoy me by looking shocked when I tell you we really just can't pick yet.

What's in a name anyway?!
Here's the thing... my husband and I are just different than most people. We did not want to find out the gender of our baby the first time or this second time around. We like surprises. We like the suspense and the guessing and the wondering. We have our reasons for not picking a baby name yet for #2. They are our reasons... that clearly just don't make sense to most people. That's OK, we understand why it's sorta weird. One would think after having 10 months to consider one of the biggest things in our life - naming a new child - we'd have narrowed it down a bit! Well, I guess we are weird then!

With our son, we went in with a few names. A couple names that we'd thrown around for 10 months but did not settle on until the night before my scheduled C-section. On the car ride to the hospital we were verifying with each other, "OK, so it's Cameron or Owen for a boy, right?" We said we needed to see the baby first. How could we name somebody we had never met or even looked at before? To us it didn't make sense or feel right. So, within seconds of my husband saying, "It's a boy!" and him holding my son down near me to see him, we both looked at each other and instantly said, "No way is this a Cameron, it's an Owen for sure!" We just knew.

My sister, on the other hand, and many others like her, named her son the second they found out they were pregnant practically. Or probably when they saw on the ultrasound it was a boy at 5 months pregnant. Atticus was an Atticus from that day on. It suits him, too, which is the strangest part.

This second time around, yes, we have names. We have a few we've talked about since the beginning. However, even those names we had leftover from our son that we have taken off the list for one reason or another. We are just very picky with names. My husband likes more traditional names. I like different names. I also work in a school where all school people can relate when I say it's challenging to consider certain names when associating that name with a particularly difficult child.

My husband is also one of those people who just does not plan or acknowledge what is going on until the last minute when it's about to hit him in the face, whereas I'm a planner, who plans everything months in advance. With our wedding, I had our rehearsal dinner clothes picked out and set aside all hung up and ironed at least 2 months before the big day, whereas my husband three days before our wedding told me he really did want a limo afterall and was planning to find one! It was the same way with our first son. I was so stressed out the whole time not having picked at least a few names as options, whereas my husband kept saying, "We've got time, let's wait and see what we think of."

So this time, knowing how different we are - and yet similar, too, in that we have to see the baby before naming it - I waited more patiently and did not get stressed about the fact that a solid name was not chosen yet.

We don't have solid names set in stone right now, even a week before baby is coming. Yes, we have ideas. Yes, we have pretty strong ideas and things we are leaning toward. Yet, we won't just come out and say, "Yup, this is it. This is the name." Mostly because we really feel we need to see baby first. But also because, quite honestly, we don't want the weird reactions to the name. We ourselves have the weird reactions when people tell us some names. We consider the name, wonder our opinion, maybe even speak out loud what we think about that name. There are those pauses or questions, "Huh, I've never heard that name before," or "Well, that's a good name I think." Which always leave you wondering, well do they really like this name or not? A few times we've thrown names out as "Yeah, we like this one," only to hear family say, "Oh... well no way, how about this one..." so we stop even suggesting names we possibly like! Whereas when the baby is born and there is a name attached to him or her, people would never say to you, "Well that's a weird name, where'd you get that name?"

A name for a child is a huge deal. It's something they will have forever. It's supposed to mean something. For these reasons and others that I guess don't make much sense, we take our time with it.

It makes total sense to me why people just know the name when they are 4 months pregnant, without knowing gender or what the baby looks like. I get that in my head, but it just doesn't work for me, that's all. I've had a name in my head that I dreamed about since I was 4 months pregnant that is still on the list, so I get it. However, we've had a name that we had as an idea for our son and then this whole pregnancy that we've recently just changed our mind about... so who knows!

But yes, to reassure you (and mostly my mother), we will have names when the baby is born. We have names now, just nothing we want to share as solid yet. We won't be leaving the hospital still unsure of what to name our child. We swear!

OK enough blogging. I have to break open the 100,000 Best Baby Names Book now!

hush little baby ! PART TWO

A few more books about sleeping children!

The No-Cry Sleep Solution - Gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night by Elizabeth Pantley

This author is very against the Cry It Out method. She tried it with her first child (of four) and did not like that her daughter was sobbing and seemed terrified. She presents some research about why she does not agree with it.

With her No-Cry Sleep Solution, she tested it out on moms and babies:
On page 17, "By day 10, 42 percent of the babies were sleeping through the night. By day 20, 53 percent were sleeping through the night. By day 60, 92 percent were sleeping through the night." Her method takes time and patience. She said to avoid crying it out you have to put in time to help a baby learn to sleep.

She encourages putting babies - starting from newborn - to bed sleepy but not asleep, even if sucking on the breast or bottle, in an attempt to help the baby learn to soothe herself later on to fall asleep on her own.

She encourages having a lovey toy or blanket for infants to accompany them to bed. She wrote about setting up a bedtime routine early on and an early bedtime. If baby cries in the night, you go to her and gradually shorten the amount of time you are there helping her to bed. Her method begins by comforting baby by picking her up, then very slowly and gradually getting to a point where you just pat the baby, sing to her from outside the crib, eventually moving to the doorway to simply talk to her to soothe her.

This book has great questions, surveys and charts and logs for you to document your baby's sleep patterns before and during the process of helping him sleep through the night.

While she is very much against the strict Cry It Out method, she does believe in walking away from a baby who is fussing in an attempt to teach him to soothe himself and thus fall asleep on his own. It just takes longer in her method, but feels better to the mother.


The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers by Elizabeth Pantley

The author came up with 8 tips for great sleeping children:
1. Maintain a consistent bedtime and waking time 7 days a week. Most toddlers go to bed naturally around 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. She suggested that the later a toddler goes to bed the more night wakings a child will have and the earlier he will wake up.

2. Encourage regular daily naps.
Naps help children be less fussy and have a greater attention span.

3. Set your child's biological clock. In the morning when it's time to wake up, show your child some light to alert her it's time to wake up. Same thing at night, keep it dark to alert that it's bed time.

4. Develop a consistent bedtime routine. Consistency and routine create feelings of security and reliability for your child. It helps them sleep easier also knowing what to expect.

5. Create a cozy sleep environment. Encourage a lovey to sleep with, comfortable bed and blankets, adequate temperature in the room, white noise if needed, etc.

6. Provide the right nutrition to improve sleep. Fatty, greasy, spicy, caffeinated foods can disrupt sleep patterns. Milk and proteins and real carbohydrates can aid in sleep.

7. Help your child be healthy and fit. Watching TV impacts a child's sleep in a negative way. Physical activity helps relax a child. However, the author cautions against being too physically active within 1-2 hours before nap or bedtime, as it can give too much energy.

8. Teach your child how to relax and fall asleep. Reading before bed, saying prayers, singing songs, etc. helps a child relax and fall asleep instead of lying in bed awake.

This is a great sleep resource. The second half of the book is dedicated to all types of toddler sleep issues like night wakings due to nightmares or wanting to eat, etc. Great resources.


Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber, M.D.

On page 74, the author gives a great step-by-step list of how to help a child learn to soothe himself and fall asleep on his own. It even gives the number of minutes a parent should wait before going into the room to help the baby. For example, on day 1, the first waking a parent should wait 3 minutes, second waking 5 minutes, third waking 10 minutes, etc.

It is important to set limits, especially at night time.

This book offers great information, many how-to charts and lists of steps of what to do in sleep concerns like nightmares or when a child won't sleep through the night due to feedings.


Friday, April 6, 2012

hush little baby... books about sleeping! - PART ONE

Part one of 3 blog posts I'm working on about great books with information about helping babies sleep. Hope this helps some parents out there who are struggling with getting some shut eye!


Sleep The Brazelton Way by T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. and Joshua D. Sparrow, M.D.

On page 2, "For the baby, learning to sleep is part of becoming independent. For a parent, teaching a child to sleep means being able to separate, and to step back and allow the baby to 'learn' to be independent at night."

On page 34, "During an 8-hour period of sleep, it is normal for a baby to become wakefupl and restless at least twice; in 12 hours of sleep, at least three times. To sleep through the night, she must learn to get through these times on her own.
"Parents who feel the need to go to her at each rousing will inevitably become part of her pattern of settling back down. If they pick her up to feed or play with her, if they rock her back to sleep in their arms, they will become part of the child's self-comforting habits."

Brazelton said parents should assist the baby in reaching a drowsy state, not asleep. Once back in the crib parents can sit beside her, pat her, talk softly that she can go to sleep OK on her own. Gradually the parent does less to help the baby fall asleep.
He said that in order to do this method 3 things are needed: "the parents' determination that the baby will learn to soothe herself; the baby's ability to stretch out to 3-or 4-hour pattern without hunger inerfering; and that the baby's nervous system is mature enough to allow her to find a self-soothing pattern for herself. It seems that this often becomes possible by 4 months of age."

Brazelton wrote that by 4 months old most babies are able to self-soothe, do not need to eat in the night, and are able to sleep through the night. He does not say to "cry it out," but rather to assist the baby in helping herself fall asleep while you are there singing, patting her, letting her know you are there, yet you are not picking her up to get her to sleep or feed her. He writes to encourage a "lovey" toy or blanket, as well as encourage the thumb or a pacifier to help her self-soothe and suck.

Brazelton did a nice job of explaining the difference between nightmares and night terrors also, that start around age 2-3. Nightmares are bad dreams where a child will wake up and be able to state "I'm scared" or that it was a bad dream. Night terrors occur within 2 hours of going to bed and the child is not awake when crying or screaming out in terror in bed. The child does not recall night terrors.

Overall, a great, quick resource about helping babies sleep through the night by teaching them they are capable of doing it themselves, with your help.


The Happiest Baby on the Block - The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp, M.D.

The author writes about the 5 S ways of helping babies calm themselves and sleep longer. These are:
1. Swaddle
2. Side - lying a baby to the side
3. Shhh - saying this to the baby over and over
4. Swing - movement helps babies feel calm, like they experienced in the womb
5. Suck - providing breast or pacifier helps babies fall asleep

Karp states that all babies need to learn to put themselves to sleep, and most babies are able to do this on their own by 3 months of age. The reason the 5 S's work is because they symbolize the things the baby was used to in the womb.

There was tons of great information about colic in babies in this book also.


Sleeping Through the Night - How infants, toddlers, and their parents can get a good night's sleep by Jodi A. Mindell, Ph. D.

On page 6, the author suggests predictors of sleep problems in children:
-firstborn - Typically parents of firstborns are more worried and check on their baby more often, which wakes them up.

-colic or ear infections - These babies have a difficult time sleeping.

-same bed or room - Studies show that these children in the same bed or room as their parents wake more often in the night.

-Breast-feeding- "One study found that 52 percent of breastfed infants, but only 20 percent of bottle-fed infants, wake during the night."

-Foods - In some cases a milk intolerance or other allergies interfere with sleep.

-major changes - life changes can affect a baby's sleep - moves, illness, etc.

-awake or asleep - "The National Sleep Foundation poll found that babies who are put to bed already asleep take longer to fall asleep, are twice as likely to wake during the night, and sleep on average an hour less per night."

Mindell states that most babies over the age of 6 months will no longer need nighttime feedings and should sleep on their own. She encourages putting your baby to bed awake or drowsy versus asleep, as well as avoiding feeding your baby to sleep.

On page 51, "Sleep is like any other behavior; you can manage it just like any other behavior."

On page 65, "Breastfed babies are also more likely to fall asleep while feeding and thus develop a sleep association with nursing. This means that when they wake during the night, they need to be nursed back to sleep. It is also more difficult to break this habit because the mother is so closely associated with breastfeeding. During the night the mother may have a reflexive letdown of her milk when she sees the baby. She smells like milk. It is hard to tell a baby that nursing is not allowed when he smells the milk. There is no question, though, that a breastfed baby can be a champion sleeper. The most important thing is to avoid falling into the trap of nursing your baby to sleep."

This author wrote about sleep training and a crying it out method. She wrote that the first night babies typically cry no longer than 45 minutes, the second night is typically longer - up to an hour or so. But it takes only a few days and the baby can soothe herself to sleep.

This book has a great list of resources in the back, including books for babies and toddlers about sleeping. It is full of great information.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

a birth story - Wendi Sherwood

Birth story from fellow momma on the blog, Wendi Sherwood, about her cute son Henry (LOVE that name!)!

1.What happened the day your baby was born? Did your water break, and if so, where were you, how did that feel? Who took you to the hospital? What helped you during labor (ice chips? music? etc.)? Any funny or scary stories about the labor itself or the birth? How long was your labor, start to finish?

This is the story of my son's birth.
I remember after my son was here and all 4 of his grandparents came in to meet their new grandson, the first thing I said was "you all better like this kid! you're not getting another one!" The previous 28 hours were the most painful, confusing, surprising and beautiful hours of my life.

On Friday, February 28th at 6:26 a.m. my water broke. I was in bed. I was really surprised. I said out loud "Holy shit! My water just broke!" It felt like a balloon popped in my vagina, graphic maybe, but that is what it felt like. I had seen my OB just 18 hours before and I was 1 cm dilated and not effaced at all. His words were "it will be a while now." What a LIAR!

My wonderful husband has so many qualities I love, but waking him up is a terrible process and even after he is physically awake he needs like another hour to comprehend anything. This being my first child I was convinced that the baby was going to be born soon (Few hours at tops, right? HA!) So, after waking him up and telling him my water broke, he jumps out of bed (completely confused) and stands at the foot of the bed...looking at me. "Should we go to the hospital?" he says. "No, I am going to call the doctor" I answer, after all I need to tell him what a liar he is. I thought I could have a couple weeks before I had to push this kid out. I am only 37 weeks, 5 days. Don't get me wrong I want to meet our son more than anything. I just really wasn't looking forward to the most painful thing I would ever experience happening today. The doc asked me to come to the office within 2 hours. I took a few deep breaths, and agreed. I was not having contractions, and was in no pain. I hopped into the shower, grabbed my packed suitcase, had a small breakfast and my husband (now, finally awake) drove me to the doc's office.

After being seen the doc advised me to do some walking, eat a little and then call him if I started having contractions and he would decide if I should go the hospital at that point. It was the end of February so taking a walk around the block wasn't really an option, he recommended the mall. That sounded like a terrible idea. Just what I want to do, walk around with the world's biggest incontinence pad in the world's largest underwear in the world's largest maternity sweatpants pants doubled over in pain.

Instead my husband and I went to Target, which I considered to be more hot mess friendly. We wandered around for a while, picked up some last minute baby gear and then went and got some lunch. After lunch, I still wasn't in any pain. It was around 1 p.m. I called and told him I wasn't in any pain. Stupidly, because I had never been in labor before, I had convinced myself that I indeed WAS in labor and it just wasn't hurting. Looking back, that makes me laugh so hard. What a newbie!

He said to come back to the office around 6 p.m. if I didn't start having any painful contractions before them. 6 p.m. would put me about 12 hours out from my water breaking and he didn't want me to be walking around and active much longer than that because of the danger of infection. If nothing had happened by 6 p.m., he told me, they would admit me and start a Pitocin induction. I was convinced -- in all my rose colored dreams, that I would start contracting anytime and the baby would be here soon.

Waiting, waiting, waiting
The next few hours passed really quickly. My husband and I went home, let our dogs out, I rested, walked a bit, double checked my suitcase, double checked the nursery all the while not having any pain. Finally 6 p.m. rolled around, as we drove to the doctor's office I was convinced that when I got there he'd check me, I'd be at 8 cm, 100% effaced, drive quickly to the delivery room and pop this kid out. I decided I would be eating my chicken sandwich by 9 p.m. I actually worked at the hospital I delivered at, so I had picked out my after labor meal on one of the many trips I made to the cafeteria, waddling around with a handful of cookies and a milkshake.

Scared or Denial?
Right now you're probably thinking "Is she insane? Delusional? Did she take a birth class? Ever watched one of those TLC shows?" Here is the thing: I am a nurse, and although I am certainly not a genius, I can keep up. I did take birth class, and I learned a ton of really helpful stuff. I took it all in, even the graphic stuff. But as smart and informed as I was, my sense of denial of the pain and chaos was greater.

Over the last 9 months every man, woman and kid told me about their birth story, their wife's story, their mother's story, funny part was they were all terrifying. Honest, maybe, but terrifying. One of the Occupational Therapists I worked with told me how after receiving Stadol she went all Incredible Hulk, ripped her gown off, her IV out, pushed her sister to the ground and started running toward the elevators because as she put it "I couldn't do it anymore! I was going to die! I thought if I escaped it would stop!" Yikes. I am convinced that these scary stories only added to my denial.

I was certainly not afraid of the pain. At 26, I had had cancer 3 times. I had had brain surgery to remove a brain tumor, I had only my left ovary still, and had tumors removed from both the left ovary and uterus. I had been told I might never even be able to conceive. I had survived all that and had dealt with a great deal of physical pain in my life. I was just convinced that my labor would be easy, peaceful, quiet, lovely. There is this great scene from the show Scrubs where Zach Braff's girlfriend is in labor and she says she wants labor to feel like passing a rainbow. That's what I thought I would do, pass a rainbow.
Instead it was about to get real, homes.

About to Get Real
When the doc checked me around 6 p.m. I was still at 1 cm, not effaced at all. Seriously? How can this be happening? What the frick? I actually remember asking him to check again, like he could have been wrong. I mean, come on man, throw me a bone. Nope, he was right the first time. Off to the hospital for Pitocin it was.

Fast forward to 3 a.m. I am dying. I am seriously considering what my friend the Occupational Therapist said, and dashing towards the elevator. That baby can just stay in there and someday while I am completely out cold, he can come out. Until then if this pain doesn't stop, I may not survive.

Brain surgery, sprain surgery, this hurt much worse. I had decided months ago that I would try to do this whole labor affair without pain medication, but now, at 3 a.m. writhing in pain, with all the Hulk-ish thoughts I asked for an epidural. STAT, please.

When the anesthesialogist finally did arrive (which seemed like 6 hours later) 20 minutes later I sat up like a good patient and prayed for this to happen quickly. I would be napping in an hour he said. Well, he was wrong. He got the epidural going and I laid back down. I was still in a lot of pain. He insisted that if I wait 20 minutes I will have relief. I waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing. I felt exactly the same. Same pain, still thinking of my escape options. My nurse called him back, he gave me more medicine but again I waited and waited and no relief. He came back again and told me something I had heard before; redheads have a very high tolerance to anesthesia, and he couldn't give me more. My blood pressure and heart rate were already dangerously low. I had to deal with it, make it through. Survive. Sounds pretty dramatic, right. Maybe, but I am allowed.

Survival Mode
At 7 a.m. the shifts change at the hospital. I got a new nurse who turned out to be my angel. She sat me up, held my hand, reassured me that this baby was coming, and it was going to be the best thing that I ever had done in my life. She told me I could do it, that I was tough and that I was someone's mother.

I sat in the rocking chair, the birthing ball. I hummed, groaned, cursed and stomped. I chewed ice. I repeated "you can do this, you were made to do this" in my head with every contraction. I squeezed by husband hand as hard as I could. Finally the nurse said I was at 10 cm, full effaced, time to push. I loved pushing. I could see the end and I wanted to get there. I pushed for 21 minutes.

At 9:38 a.m. Henry Allen Sherwood was born. He was the most lovely thing I had ever seen. My heart sang. 7 pounds 4 ounces of pure red headed perfection! My water had broken 28 hours before. Pitocin was started 14 hours ago. And here he was, my son. Finally!

I was a liar too by the way (just like my "not for a while now" OB and my "just give it 20 minutes anesthesiologist), not only did I give the grandparents another grandkid, I gave them 2 more in just 2 years. I figured why not?

I always tell friends that pregnancy and labor are like this:
You are giant, and pregnant and swollen and just want to go into labor. Then you go into labor, and you think "WTF was I thinking! I'll just stay pregnant, thank you!" Then you have the baby, and you've never knew you could love somebody you just met so much, so you think "that wasn't so bad!" so you do it again, and in my case, again. And I am not done yet.

Now back to the questions:
2. What did you pack in your hospital bag? What did you forget to pack that you recommend pregnant moms to be pack in theirs?
I packed 3 days worth of clothes for myself, and 3 days for the baby. I wasn't sure how long we'd be there, but I planned for 2 nights, 3 days. I packed all my favorite body products. I knew from working at the hospital that they only have a few products and they all stink. I wanted my own shampoo, and lotion, elastics and lip balm. I packed my cell phone, my camera. I get overstimulated easily so I didn't plan on watching or listening to anything during labor. I brought my own pads for after labor, the same ones I used when my water broke. They were actually incontinence pads, but they were much more comfy and stayed stuck to the ice packs better after labor. I also brought a couple blankets and an outfit for the newborn pictures they take in the hospital. I brought my own pillow.

3. What was the best part about your hospital stay (besides meeting your little one of course)?
I hate being in the hospital. I hate being a patient, so the best part for me was going home.

4. What was the worst part about your hospital stay (besides the labor of course)?
I didn't have the best nurse the first night. I feel like I would have had a better labor experience, and possibly even a shorter labor if my first nurse had been as good as my second. It is hard to see those things while you are in the moment, and because I had never been in labor before, and because I was in so much pain, I had no clarity to see this until too late. Luckily, this never happened with the next 2 labors, my nurses were wonderful.

5. What is your advice for new parents for surviving the hospital stay and making it more comfortable?
Be your own advocate, and use your husband (or whomever else will be there with you) to make sure you get what you want. Communicate with your partner clearly before labor, talk about what you want and don't want long before it actually happens. You'll be too busy to think about those things in the moment.

Labor and birth are important and personal, and you want it to be they way you want it. Remember that you are the patient, so that means you are the decision maker, and use that power to get what you want from this experience. The nurses and doctors are their to help, not hinder. Use them as a resource, ask questions, let them help. Also, try and rest as much as you can while you have experts around.

6. How soon after you got home after the hospital stay did you feel back to *slightly normal*?
I was really lucky to have a long, but natural vaginal birth. I didn't even have any tearing, so physically I felt fine just a few hours after labor. I was astonished by how good I felt so soon.

Emotionally, was a bit harder. After we got home my husband was able to stay home for 2 solid weeks. That was a big help. When he went back to work it was a bit tougher. Our son had some feeding issues, and was colicky. It was a rough time. I think everyone feels that way at some point when they are home in those first few weeks with their first child. I had a very good friend who was a SAHM and she came to visit, and when the weather warmed up we went to the park. We just talked and visited but I cherished those visits, even if they were only once a week. I encourage new mama's to get a plan to socialize even before the baby is here. If people offer to cook, or clean LET THEM! Also, if you aren't feeling up to company or need rest, tell people no.

I resigned from my job 12 weeks after Henry was born to stay home full time. I am very fortunate to be able to do that. I went back to work at 8 weeks; just to work out my notice. I found out that I was pregnant again when Henry was 10 months old. I remember feeling like it was too soon and that I had just gotten the hang of having one baby. So, it took a while for me to feel normal again. Being pregnant while having a little one running around was super tough, but that's for another story. :)

THANK YOU, WENDI! What a beautiful, raw, totally REAL and inspiring birth story. Thank you for sharing.