Tuesday, February 26, 2013

5 Weeks

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First: Your first "real" smile was on Valentine's day. You looked up at Grandma Leslie in the morning and gave her a huge smile. From then on, you have been a smiling machine. You have started to coo a lot too and it seems like you want to talk so badly :-)
Weight: You are close to ten pounds. Although you were born 9 pounds 13 ounces, the pediatrician thinks a lot of that was swelling from the long labor I had. Over the course of 12 hours mommy was given a lot of IVs and I was swollen for a couple of days too. 12 hours after you were born you weighed 9 pounds 2 ounces (so you lost 11 ounces over night). We think 9.2 is probably a more accurate birth weight. 
Sleep - You have always been the best sleeper! You have started to do a six hour stretch at night. Usually I nurse you between 7:30 - 8:30 and then you sleep with your dad out on the couch and he lets mommy go sleep in bed for five blissful, uninterrupted hours. At around 1 or 2 am when you wake up, daddy changes you and brings you to mommy. I feed you and then we fall asleep until about 4 or 5 am when you wake up again. Sometimes I am up for the rest of the day after this, or sometimes I fall asleep with you around 7 am for an hour or two. We are going to try having you nap in your crib during the day when mommy can check on you often, and hopefully soon you'll sleep in your crib through the night.
Your dad loves to wear you around in the K-tan sling and it's your absolute favorite. It puts you to sleep every single time.
You still aren't a huge fan of taking baths, but you are crying less each time. Grandpa helped me bathe you last time and once he wrapped you in your towel you gave him your saddest face. That lip gets him every time!
Daddy and I have been watching Modern Family every single night and it's our new favorite show. It's been cold this week so we've been having a fire and cuddling with you. It's my favorite.
It's overwhelming to love someone so much. I love spending my days with you! This was the first week I have really started to feel like I'm getting the hang of this mommy thing. The first month was the most challenging four weeks of my life. Adjusting to this tiny person that needs me 24 hours out of the day has been unlike anything I've ever experienced. AND you're an amazing baby, I can't imagine how much more difficult it would be if you were cranky, or colicky. I have a whole new appreciation for moms, especially my own :-) 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My struggle with nursing

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From day one of being pregnant I knew I would breastfeed. There wasn't even a question in my mind. In addition to it being extremely convenient (no making bottles, cleaning bottles, warming bottles) and free (formula is expensive!) I also knew that breast milk provides so many antibodies to help prevent sickness and diseases (later in life as well) 
and I wanted to do every thing I could to make sure my baby was as healthy as possible.
And to know that you can burn up to 500 calories a day breastfeeding certainly makes it more appealing too.

Since I had a c-section, I spent 3 nights and 4 full days in the hospital. I had a lactation consultant help me with the latching the first day and although I didn't really understand the technique for latching it seemed easy enough. Boy, was I wrong. By day two in the hospital, my nipples had blistered. Avery pulled her face away one morning and blood ran down her chin and I freaked out. A nurse brought me a nipple shield which helped a lot. Unfortunately, Avery kept losing weight and there seemed to be a tremendous pressure to give her formula because she just couldn't get enough milk through the shield.
I refused. 
I was terrified of "nipple confusion" and thought that maybe she would see how easy she got milk from the bottle and would decide she liked that better. 
My milk hadn't even had a chance to come in yet, and it was just colostrum at this point. 
I was convinced that if my milk would just come in, we would have no more problems.

We were released from the hospital but had to continue to drive to our pediatrician every day to have her weighed. She continued to lose weight. I was sick to my stomach about it. We gave her a bottle of formula sitting in the doctor's office and I cried and cried. I felt like I was failing my daughter in some way. I couldn't even provide her with food. 

I don't think I have ever cried as hard as I did those first few days home from the hospital. I was sick to my stomach about the whole thing. My sister-in-law Amber changed everything around for me and I will be forever grateful to her and her husband. She took the initiative to find a lactation consultant who had been recommended by a friend, and had her come to our house. Wendy from Latching with Love was an absolute Godsend. She came over with a scale, and a bag of goodies. Wendy had me put on the nipple shield, and we put a tiny tube into it and fed her with my pumped breast milk, formula and a syringe. When Avery sucked, I would release a little from the syringe. I needed to do this with her every two hours. And then after every feeding, I needed to pump to stimulate my breasts to make more. By the time I was done pumping, and cleaning all of the parts and storing the milk in the fridge, it was time to feed her again. I was exhausted. Within three days the amount I was pumping tripled. Wendy would text me throughout the day to see how it was going, and I could text her or call her at any time when I had questions.

We did this for one week. The longest, most challenging week of my life. I felt like I was up around the clock. Brandon had to go back to work, so in the middle of the night I had to do it all by myself. I can't tell you how many times I cried, and how many times I wanted to give up. I was delirious. My mom came over every single day just to be with me, feed me, do the dishes. Brandon's mom came over one afternoon while I napped and cleaned our bathrooms, kitchen, and swept our floors. We had friends and family bring us dinner, lunch and breakfast. We didn't have to cook for weeks. In a million years I will never be able to express the gratitude I have for our families and closest friends.

Wendy teaches a free breastfeeding class every Wednesday right down the street from my house, so a couple of days later my mom and I attended the class. I still go to the class every Wednesday. Wendy weighs her at the beginning of class, and then at the end of the class to see how much milk she transferred. It's such a relief to walk out of there knowing that your baby has a full belly, and your body is doing what it is supposed to.
Exactly two weeks ago, we got Avery to latch onto my bare nipple and she has been doing it ever since. The pain was so intense and I cried every single time she nursed but they never blistered or scabbed again. 
Lanisoh cream was my saving grace. I apply it every time I'm done feeding her. It's soothing and helps to prevent them from drying out (and ultimately cracking). It is still not pain free, but it feels a million times better than it did even one week ago. I am hoping and praying that in another two weeks there won't be any pain. 

What this experience did teach me was that breast feeding isn't for everyone. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with formula, or formula fed babies. I needed to climb down from my high horse. I will never, ever judge another mom who chooses to use formula, or who simply can't breast feed for multiple reasons. This has truly been the most challenging obstacle I've ever faced, and one that I am so proud to say I'm overcoming. I want other moms out there who are struggling to know that they aren't the only ones. If breast feeding is something you want, there are resources out there. Find a free class, find a lactation consultant or a support group. Reach out to other mom friends, I guarantee you they will be able to share their struggles. I was blown away by how many of my friends shared their stories with me when I reached out to them. I had no idea they ever struggled!
As hard as it is, I look at this little face and it's totally worth it. 

Update 6/10/2013: We are still exclusively breastfeeding. After about 6-8 weeks the pain was mostly gone. I never thought I'd get to the point where I can say I really enjoy it, but I definitely have :-)


Monday, February 18, 2013

One Month

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I am one month old!

You are such a content baby who really only cries when you're hungry, and sometimes when you get too sleepy. 

You always want your hands by your face. Somehow they always manage to break free when we swaddle you. You like to suck on your hands and when you manage to get a finger in your mouth, your eyes get wide and you are thrilled with the surprise. 

You have three cries.
The I'm-pissed scream cry.
The regular fussy baby cry.
And this little wheezy cry that sounds like a kitty and makes your dad and I want to cry.

You are so modest! You will be perfectly happy until it's time to change your diaper. You start to get frowny when the clothes come off (or unbuttoned) and then when the diaper comes off you get really mad. You let us know by using your scream cry. 

You prefer being on your tummy (whether on the couch or on our chests) to any other sleep position. We realized you'd only sleep for an hour or so on your back, but if we let you fall asleep on our chests you'd sleep for 3-4 hours. Mommy was so nervous but we started letting you sleep on your tummy during day time naps when mommy could watch you like a hawk. "They" recommend babies sleep on their backs. Your neck is so strong already. In fact, you could lift your head up off our shoulders when you were only one day old. You easily lift your head, turn it, and lay it back down on the other cheek when you want to. 

Mommy is grateful every day that you're such a great sleeper. I think that's one of the perks of having a big baby. You have always slept for 4-5 hour stretches. We have to wake YOU up to feed you. 

I can't believe it's already been a month. You are growing and changing every day right in front of our eyes. I am trying to soak up every challenging, sleep deprived, sweet moment of your newborn-ness. I know you won't always be so small.
I love you so much.


Monday, February 11, 2013

First Bath

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The day Avery's belly button stump came off (when you can finally bathe them) 
conveniently happened on the same day we experienced our first blow out. 
And by blow out, I mean poop blowing out of her diaper 
all. over. her. outfit
(Never thought I would be blogging about this stuff, ha.)
Brandon's parents were over watching the Super Bowl so they snapped pictures of her first bath. Munchkin hated it. We had our portable space heater blasting in the bathroom with the door closed. 
The water was warm but she screamed the entire time. She really hates being naked. 
We got to comb her hair afterwards and put her in comfy pajamas. 
She slept for close to five hours.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Our Birth Story

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We had been told for months and months that Avery was measuring "ahead of schedule". At my 36 week growth scan, her head alone was measuring at 39 weeks! Because of this, my doctor felt comfortable inducing labor when my due date came and went. I felt unsure about whether or not I really wanted to induce. I knew I didn't want pitocin (the drug that starts labor) because it comes on unnaturally strong. But I also knew that if she was as large as they were estimating (between 9 and 10 pounds) she was only going to get bigger the longer she cooked. I was 9 pounds 6 oz myself, so it didn't surprise me that my own daughter might be around the same size. Four days past my due date, Brandon and I woke up at 4:00 am and made our way to the hospital. It was hard to sleep that night. We kept saying "the next time we're in this bedroom we'll have a little munchkin with us." I have never been more excited to meet anyone in my whole life.

At 5:00 am we arrived and got checked in. We were in our room by 5:30, and pitocin was started at 6:00. I was still dilated to 4. By 7:00 am contractions were a consistent 4 minutes apart. This continued for about three hours, they continued to get closer together and more painful. By 10:15 am I was dilated to 7. They decided to break my water which was going to make labor come on a lot stronger. Within ten minutes, they were so much more intense. Brandon and my mom were by my side the whole time. Brandon continued to remind me to breathe through them. It was so easy to forget and get overwhelmed by the pain. Within an hour or so, I was crying through the contractions. The nurses came in every 15 minutes to turn up the pitocin and I hated them for it, haha. A couple of hours later, I asked for the epidural. At 1:30 pm my wish was granted. I told them I still wanted to feel my legs as I didn't want to have any trouble pushing when the time came. It was perfect, it was just enough to take the edge off. For about an hour I was a happy camper. It started to wear off, and the pain became more and more intense. Brandon and my mom helped me breathe through them again. At this time, my best friend Kandi had come into the labor room. I felt so comforted being surrounded by the people I am closest with. The anesthesiologist came back and upped the epidural. There was more relief, but one of my legs went limp and I didn't like that feeling. By 5:45 pm I was dilated to 10 and they told me I would start pushing in about 15 minutes. 

I already felt so exhausted at this point, and began to get so nervous about pushing. Again, my mom, sweet husband and best friend coached me through the next three hours. They were all counting and reminding me to breathe. At this point, I am convinced my epidural was gone. I could feel everything. The pain was so intense it took my breath away, but while I was pushing there was temporary relief. At the two hour mark, I could tell on the nurses face that she didn't think it was going to happen. She told me that baby's head was not tucked with the crown of her head facing down. Instead her head was lifted and it was her forehead that kept pushing down on my pelvic bone. This was making it extremely difficult to get her underneath my pelvic bone. My doctor came in and told me that I could push for another hour, but then we might need to talk about a c-section. I began to cry and feel panicky. I didn't want a c-section, but I didn't know how much longer I could keep going. Between contractions I felt like I was blacking out, I would fall into a deep sleep and the pain of the next contraction would wake me from it and I would push. I did this for another hour.

At 9:00 pm the nurse left to go get the doctor and I knew I was going to need a c-section. I just kept crying. I was crushed and felt like I had failed. At this point, I was demanding an epidural and the strongest one they had. I had let the epidural run out because I wanted to push effectively. Probably 20 minutes later, the anesthesiologist came back and gave me a spinal which made me completely numb from about the ribs down. Brandon started putting his scrubs on, and they made my parents and Kandi leave the room. They wheeled me down the hall and began to set up in the Operating Room. Brandon had to stand outside while they set up, and I was alone in the room, scared, nervous but so ready to meet our little girl. The spinal made me shake uncontrollably, which I felt was taking up the little energy I had left. Finally Brandon was able to come in, and just sat by my side holding my hand. 

I wasn't really present. I felt like I was going in and out, the exhaustion taking over.

Over the next half an hour I could feel pressure and tugging and couldn't believe how rough it seemed to be to get her out. We heard all four doctors gasp at the same time, and one said "Look at the size of that head!" I smiled up at Brandon because I knew that meant she was almost here. Brandon said it felt like an eternity before we heard her cry. Her cry was so loud and filled the whole room. I began to cry again. Brandon got to cut the cord (although it had already been cut - he just got to make it shorter :-)) and he got to see them weigh her and clean her off. He told me later that he had never seen a cone head like hers. Poor thing was being pushed and wedged against my pelvic bone for three hours. Her head looked normal a couple of hours later when I was awake enough to really see her. I remember laying there shaking, and feeling delirious while all of the doctors talked about her size. She was 9 pounds 13 ounces. A few minutes later Brandon brought her over to me and just laid her by my face. The feeling of her warm cheek against mine is one I will never forget. Brandon kept telling me how beautiful she was. In the recovery room about an hour later I got to really hold her and look at her, and feed her for the first time. She was truly everything I could have ever hoped for.

People will tell you that you will experience a love like you never have before, and I thought I understood what that would feel like, but I had no idea. I also wasn't prepared for the overwhelming emotions I would feel towards Brandon. Watching him with his little girl makes my heart swell until I feel it could burst. He was the one who changed her, swaddled her, rocked her and held her for the first couple of days while I was healing. It was so hard for me to have this brand new baby and not really be able to take care of her the way I wanted to.

Brandon introducing me to our daughter for the first time.

I can't believe it's already been two weeks! 
 Little bow headband by CaliKatrina
The first few weeks have flown by. They have been the hardest and most rewarding days of my life. 
We're a little sleep deprived, and a lot in love.  

Feel free to follow us on Instagram for more pictures.

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