Monday, November 8, 2010

The Nap Plan

So if you've been keeping track of me at all, you know that Elijah isn't napping like I'd like him to.  He also isn't sleeping at night like I'd prefer, but I really can't complain that much about night sleep.  He generally sleeps until about 5:30 or 6:00 a.m., it's just that he's still sleeping in our bed.  I'd like to transfer him to his crib at night because I don't sleep well with him right there next to me.  I hear *every* little peep or movement he makes and so I don't sleep soundly.  (Plus, Mike and I don't really have any time to ourselves.)  However, not sleeping soundly, but sleeping for 7 hours straight is preferrable to actually being totally woken up every 30 minutes and then being up for another 30-45 minutes, which is what happens right now if I try to put him in the crib to sleep at night.

Anyway, so I read Elizabeth Pantley's "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" and "The No-Cry Nap Solution" and have a plan in place to get him to nap in his crib eventually.  That will, hopefully, lead to him being comfortable sleeping in his crib so that I can let him sleep there at night.

The first part of the plan is extending his naps from 30-45 minutes to 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours at a time.  Right now I am letting him nap in his bouncy chair at approximately 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. because he likes it and it has vibration.  The vibration helps him put himself back to sleep if he wakes up before 2 hours is up.  This week is going to be all bouncy chair on the kitchen table where I am at 10 and 2.  Next week it will be the same except the bouncy chair will be moved to his room.  I haven't decided if I'm going to start out with it on the floor or if I'm going to just put it in his bed.  This is going to be annoying for me because I'll have to stay in the room unless this week he perfects his ability to put himself back to sleep (right now I often have to intervene and help him get back to sleep).  So I am looking for some good books to read while I deal with that.  Eventually, I'll start turning off the vibration when he falls asleep so that he can learn to stay asleep without vibration.  Then he gets in it without the vibration on at all.  Then, finally, he gets laid down in the crib itself without the bouncy chair.  I am praying that this plan works because after he's had a few good weeks of napping in his crib, I'm going to start trying to put him in his crib to sleep at night.  I expect that it will take a few weeks of Mike and I getting up and going to him in his room and helping him get back to sleep, but after that, hopefully, our sleep problems will be more or less fixed.  I really hope it works because I have no other tricks up my sleeve.

I'm also introducing a "lovey".  It's this stuffed animal that he and I cuddle with when he nurses and I give it to him while he sleeps so that it can be like a comfort item.  I hope between "the plan" and the lovey and the fact that he'll be getting older as this goes along, that we will have this problem nipped in the bud by the time he's 6 months old.  Because then it's time to start introducing solid foods and soon after that we'll probably be dealing with separation anxiety.

Please, Lord.  Just one problem at a time, okay?  Love, Bonnie.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Day I've Had or Things For Which I Am Grateful

So this morning Elijah had his follow up appointment with his cardiologist and the day started out very interesting.  First, Elijah is having to sleep unswaddled now and so he's not sleeping terrifically at night anymore.  So he had already woken up several times and even though I didn't have to get him up and feed him, I did have to keep getting up and helping him settle back to sleep, which can sometimes take as long as a feeding.  Then around 5:30 I woke up to hear him crying, but it was a muffled crying sound.  Now normally when he wakes up in the middle of the night he doesn't cry, he just kind of makes grunty noises like he's having trouble settling.  This was different.  And it sounded muffled like there was something near his nose.

So I sprang up and reached for him only to discover that he had flipped over onto his tummy AGAIN and wasn't able to flip back over.  So while swallowing my heart back down into my chest, I flipped him back over and then picked him up and brought him up to feed him since it was already 5:30 and the experience had scared him a little.  That brings us to thing #1 for which I am grateful: That I heard Elijah on his tummy and that he was not swaddled.

After that we tried to lie back down and go back to sleep, but he was pretty awake so we didn't get to sleep until what I would guess was about 6:45 because when the alarm went off at 7:00 I didn't feel like I'd slept at all, even though I was clearly asleep before it went off and woke me up.  And unfortunately I couldn't go back to sleep because I had to get up and get ready to take Elijah to the doctor's office.

So I did that and we all drove downtown to Children's Mercy Hospital where his appointment was.  We had to wait a long time before we finally got to go back for our appointment.  It was scheduled at 9:00 and I don't think we went back until like 9:30, I don't think they did his echo until 10:00 and I'm positive we didn't actually see the doctor until almost 11:00.

But while she was doing the echo he was starting to fuss because he was tired, so we gave him his pacifier with some sugar water on it and he settled down.  I stroked his head and let him hold my finger and he fell asleep.  Then when she was done and we went back to the exam room, I put him down on the exam table and he slept there, too, until the doctor finally came in.  It was baffling to me how well he was sleeping since he got startled several times but just went back to sleep without much trouble.  Later I asked the doctor if he thought his heart issues had anything to do with his sleeping troubles, but as I described them the doctor said he just thought Elijah was a social person and didn't like being in the room alone.  So, thing #2 for which I am grateful: I though of another thing to try to help him sleep better.  I'm going to try leaving the TV on low for him to see if the people talking on TV makes him think he's not alone in the room.  If that doesn't work I'll try recording myself talking or singing and play that for him and see if it helps.

So we finally saw the doctor and he said that the defects in Elijah's heart have not gotten any smaller but they have also not grown even though he has grown.  So if they stay the same size even though he gets bigger, he may not have to have any procedure and he doesn't want to see Elijah again until next year.  So that is things\ #3 for which I am grateful.

However, we had been there so long that it was past time for Elijah to eat again.  I fed him a little at the doctor's office but there's really no comfortable place (for me or Elijah) to nurse.  (You would think there would be since it's a children's hospital, but whatever.)  I was hoping the small nursing would stave off his hunger until we could get home.  But first we had to drop Mike off at work and Elijah was starting to cry even as I got into the driver's seat to go home.  People on the road probably were calling me all sorts of colorful names as I attempted to race home so that he wouldn't have to go for too long before he got to eat (especially since I hate listening to him cry) and downtown is pretty far from our house.  So thing #4 for which I am grateful is that I did not get a ticket for speeding.

I finally got home around noon and after letting the dog out, I immediately went upstairs and fed Elijah.  I was pretty hungry by then, too, but he comes first, obviously.  So then I went back downstairs and was going to put him in his bouncy chair so I could finally get some lunch when I smelled something familiar and decided I probably needed to change his diaper before I ate.  Ah, if only it had been that simple.  See, Mike has suddenly decided that he doesn't like putting Elijah's diapers on very tightly because he's afraid it hurts him or something.  I don't really know why.  But since he was the one who changed Elijah's diaper at the doctor before I came home, the poo didn't really stay in the diaper.  Instead, it ended up all over his legs and back and bottom and tummy.

So I wiped it up as best I could and took off his soiled clothes.  I threw the diaper away and took him downstairs to give him a bath.  He, of course, decided to pee while I was giving him a bath so that added another thing to the giant list of things I had to clean up.  But after bathing him, I put a new diaper on him and put him in his bouncy chair.  Then I cleaned the pee off the counter, changed the changing table cover and crib sheet, and took his soiled clothes to the bathroom where I rinsed the poo off them as best I could and then took them down to the basement to put spray and wash on them and leave them in the laundry hamper.

When I got downstairs I discovered a spider in the hamper which I am afraid might have been a fiddleback.  So I went back upstairs and got a flip flop to kill it and a piece of toilet paper to scoop up the carcass.  So spider died and went down the toilet, but I'm afraid if there was one there might be more so I'm making Mike a HazMat suit and sending him down there with bug spray tonight.  But thing #5 for which I am grateful is that I saw the spider and was able to kill it without getting bitten.

So then I sprayed the soiled clothes with spray and wash and then go back upstairs and FINALLY make my lunch.  Thing #6 for which I am grateful: Elijah played happily in his bouncy chair the whole time I was dealing with this poo/pee mess and spider situation.

Anyway, now things have finally calmed down and I'm fairly certain Elijah is getting hungry again so I'd better go feed him.  But after today I have no energy to make dinner for the 7th and final thing for which I am grateful: Mike is picking up Panera for dinner tonight.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall and Fighting Naps

Fall is my favorite season.  The weather is just right for wearing fuzzy sweaters and jeans (although I'm not quite fitting into these things yet and the weather has been unseasonably warm lately) and the leaves on the trees turn to such pretty colors.

And this October my baby turned 3 months old.  But I think I read too many books telling me that things got easier at 3 months.  Granted, he's only been 3 months for a few days but he's seemed unusually grumpy and his grumpiness seems to stem from frustration.  At least as far as I can tell, he wants to go places and be able to do things that he can't do yet.  But of course, he hates tummy time which is designed to strengthen his muscles so he can learn to sit up and crawl eventually.  Even when we go outside and go for a walk in the pretty fall weather he only lasts for so long before he seems frustrated that he can't get out and play in it.  It all leads me to the conclusion that I am going to have my hands completely full when he does start crawling.

Therefore, he MUST start taking regular naps or else I'm not going to have time to use the bathroom once he starts crawling, let alone do anything else like get dinner ready.  But as always, we are constantly having nap problems.  For one thing, he doesn't seem to like his crib.  For right now it's okay because I can put him in the pack and play bassinet next to our bed for naps.  But he's so friggin long that pretty soon he's going to outgrow the pack and play bassinet and then he'll have to sleep in his crib because there will be nowhere else.  Plus, once he does start crawling, I will need that pack and play downstairs so I can put him in it while I make dinner.

For another thing, he can now roll over so I can't swaddle him anymore.  This is causing even nighttime sleep to be problematic because when he wakes up, it's like pulling teeth to get him to settle back down.  He doesn't start crying or want to be picked up, but he's constantly wiggling and making little grunty noises and trying to flip over, thus preventing his mommy from ignoring it and going back to sleep.

Finally, he's still only taking 30-45 minute naps at a time, which means I can't get anything done while he's napping.  I finally got a handle on the getting him to sleep problem by holding him until he's dead asleep, but now he can't seem to settle himself back down and go back to sleep if he wakes up even a little while he's napping.  And it doesn't help when Nickel starts randomly barking, although I have decided now that the dog will go down in the basement while Elijah is napping to prevent Nickel making startling noises, causing the baby to wake up and me to want to take a frying pan to his doggy head.

On the positive side, Elijah is much more efficient at eating now and we've completely eliminated the use of the breast shields.  That has helped greatly in removing him from my breast when he falls asleep.  When I was using the shields, there was always milk left in the shield that would drip when I pulled him away from the breast.  Now there's no dripping.

Another positive is that he seems somewhat more interested in toys.  I don't think it will be much longer before he's able to grasp and play with toys, which will make our days more interesting and fun.  If he was a older, I'd rake up leaves and let him jump in the piles, but obviously we can't do that right now.  Maybe next year.  This year all we were able to do is make him a spider costume and take him to the Cider Mill.  Of course he slept most of the time because he didn't take a good morning nap.  And I couldn't really get a good picture of him in his costume, but there's always next week.  I'll dress him in his costume again for Halloween Day and hopefully we can get a decent picture before he conks out on me again.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Road Trip

So this coming weekend we are taking our first road trip with Elijah.  This will be the first time he's ridden anywhere farther than downtown Kansas City where Daddy works.  I'm trying to plan when to leave and what to pack without bringing the entire house with us.  So far I've concluded that it would be best to try to leave as early as possible and as close to just after a feeding as possible.  Hopefully if we leave right after a feeding he'll be content and just go to sleep in his car seat.  However, it does put us at higher risk for immediate poo diaper, which would mean we'd have to stop quickly and change his diaper.  I guess we'll just have to cross our fingers and hope the poo stays at bay for at least a few hours.

Leaving just after a feeding also gives us the advantage of being able to drive for about three hours before we have to stop for another feeding.  The problem then becomes whether I feed him in the car, which will be very difficult logistically, or if I feed him in whatever restaurant we stop for lunch at and deal with disapproving looks even though I'll be wearing my cover (because you know there will be some).  And I'm not feeding him in the bathroom.  No one else eats in the bathroom so my baby shouldn't have to either.  I guess it will depend on where we stop and how hungry I am (like can I feed him in the car and then wait until he's done feeding before I get to eat).  Alternatively I guess I could pump some milk that I could just feed to him while Mike drives and Elijah doesn't have to get out of his seat.  But I hate for him to be stuck in that seat for 6 straight hours and I'd rather not end up with rock boobs by the time we get there.

As far as packing goes, I know I'll need to bring his clothes, the bassinet sheet (my mom has a playpen with bassinet for him to sleep in, just not a sheet for it), my moby wrap, my breastfeeding cover and his shampoo and baby wash.  I also don't plan on bringing a ton of diapers and wipes because my mom and I can get some at the store once I get there.  But should I bring his bouncy chair?  His bathing chair?  His stroller?  The baby monitor?  If we bring all those things I'm not sure we're going to have room for it all in our car.  If I don't bring the bouncy chair it means someone has to hold him the majority of the time we're there.  If I don't bring the bathing chair it's going to be a lot more difficult and potentially dangerous to give him a bath and I don't want him to go five days without a bath.  The stroller would take up practically the whole trunk but if we don't bring it, if we go anywhere we either have to carry him in the car seat or in the moby wrap.  And I really don't want to pack the monitor but I don't know how else to keep tabs on him while he's napping in another room.

Road trips are way more complicated with an infant.  But we're very excited nonetheless.  It's been a couple months almost since he's seen my mom and stepdad.  And my brother & sister-in-law's baby shower is that weekend.  So that should be fun.  Hopefully Elijah won't be grumpy so I can sit and enjoy it without his crying making my chest ache and leak.  And so he doesn't scare the crapola out of my sister-in-law getting ready to have her own. ;)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Well, it's been quite awhile since I last posted and that's mainly because taking care of Elijah takes all of my time, attention and energy (or at least takes 95% of it).  Right now he's napping so I'm trying to find a moment to update this blog.  He's been asleep for over an hour, though, so he could wake up at any minute.

Since my last entry, however, some different developments have occurred.  For one thing, Elijah is now making eye contact with me and smiling a lot more.  I'm not sure what he's smiling at, but it's really super cute when he does it.  I've also heard him laugh a few times.  Usually he laughs when he's falling asleep.  I'm not sure why that is, but it's the cutest sound in the world.  He also is trying SO hard to hold his own head up.  He does it pretty well when I'm holding him on my shoulder, but he can't do it anywhere else yet.  Again, I'm not sure why it's easier to hold his head up when he's on my shoulder, but apparently it is.  He's so good at it that usually I can hold him with one arm under his bottom and just have the other hand around in case he lurches one way or the other and then I have to catch him.

The biggest thing, though, is that he is starting to nurse without the breast shields.  I can't really get him to do it if he's frantic or upset or super tired, but when he's calm or only slightly fussy I can sometimes get him to latch on without the shields and eat.  The only thing is, since it's much easier to get the shields in his mouth, we are kind of having to relearn how to latch properly.  The other day he bit the end of my nipple and I yelped so loud Mike came in to see what was wrong.  I'm just glad Elijah didn't think it was funny and turn it into a game, but maybe he's not old enough yet to think like that.  Hopefully we can get the feeding without the shields down before that becomes a possibility.

So those are his developments, now onto mine.  I have bitten the bullet and gone back on Weight Watchers.  After I had Elijah I lost a bunch of weight but then the last few weeks, my weight loss just kind of stalled at a number which I will not repeat because it's just atrocious for someone as short as I am to weigh that much.

I was trying to simply lose weight on my own by counting calories but that wasn't really working for two reasons.  One, I just couldn't do much exercise.  Yesterday I had my six week postpartum appointment so now I'm finally allowed to do strenuous exercise (and *other* stuff) again.  Today was the first day in almost a year that I got on my elliptical machine (there were cobwebs growing on it--I'm not kidding).  So that should help kick up the weight loss

The other reason it wasn't working is because counting calories is confusing and takes a lot of time and I didn't really have a good system.  So even though Weight Watchers is really similar to counting calories, it gives me a system to use and I can look most foods up through them so I don't have to go searching the internet for how many calories are in something I just ate.  I can just use their system.  I signed up for four months, so surely I will have lost the weight I need to lose by then--or at least be close enough to be able to finish it off myself without their help anymore.

In other "me" news, I haven't really been successful at putting Elijah on a napping schedule.  For a couple weeks there he was doing good at taking naps at 10 and 3 but then last week it just went haywire and he refused to nap when I tried to put him down.  He would just cry and cry and would only nap in my lap again--or in this bouncy chair that Mike's mom gave us.  I was pretty much at my wits end last week.  But I read a couple of parenting books that have given me some good tips and I think the reason it wasn't working is because I was letting him get overtired and then he was so upset he couldn't fall asleep.

Instead this week so far I have been trying to take my cues from him and see when he seems tired and swaddle him and put him in his crib when it seems to be the case.  It worked fairly well yesterday, although it kind of got messed up because I had my doctor's appointment in the afternoon and I had to take him with me.  Today he napped this morning from about 9:15 to 10:00 (that's when I got to run on my elliptical machine).  Then he ate and we went for a walk with the stroller and he went back to sleep about 11:40 and is still asleep now... it's 1:22.

I'm sure he'll wake up soon and be hungry, but I got time to eat lunch and take a shower so it's not been a bad day.  I just hope he goes back down around 3:00 and sleeps until about 5:30 because Mike and I are supposed to have a date night tonight, which means we have to take him to Mike's parents' house and I want to have time to feed him really well before we go over there so he can be there for awhile.  But if there's anything being Elijah's mommy has taught me it's that I can't count on any of my plans to work out.  If they do, it's just a nice surprise.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Getting in a routine

So it's been awhile since I posted anything.  This is due to the fact that I never have my hands free anymore and I can't seem to get the baby on a nap schedule.  Ideally I would like to get up at 8:00 a.m. after Mike leaves for work and then play with him until 10:00 at which point I would put him down for a nap and I would either nap myself or do other things around the house that need to get done.  Then ideally he'd wake up somewhere around noon and we'd go for a walk and play some more until about 2:00 when he'd go down for another nap, at which point (once my doctor clears me to exercise) I would do more exercise down in our basement with the elliptical machine and weights.

However, this plan is not working out because I haven't been managing to get myself up at 8:00 and because he won't sleep unless he's in my arms.  He slept for 8 hours last night (non consecutive, but 8 hours nonetheless) and only woke me up once for about 40 minutes.  Pretty spectacular.  So I managed to make myself get up at 7:30 while Mike was still getting ready to leave.  I let bitty boy sleep longer while I went downstairs to get my breakfast and planned to get him up at 8:00.  It is now 8:17.  I should go get him up, but I just hate to wake him when he's sleeping so well in his bassinet and I don't have to hold him while he sleeps.

Yesterday I was trying to put him down for a nap around 2:00 and he didn't go to sleep and stay asleep until about 3:30 when I gave up trying to put him in his crib and just held him on my lap and let him sleep there.  I swear, it was like I was pressing a "cry" button every time I would move him away from my body.  And it didn't matter how asleep he was because I let him sleep on my lap for like an half an hour and then tried to put him down and he still immediately woke up and started crying.

I don't really get it.  He has slept in the crib before.  And he sleeps in the bassinet every night by himself.  The only thing I can figure is that he's not swaddled tight enough in the crib and me holding him has the same effect as the swaddler we use at night.  It is the one the hospital gave us and it swaddles him really tightly and keeps his hands from coming out near his waist.  But it's wool and during the day it gets hotter in the house and I don't like putting him in the wool swaddler because I'm afraid he'll get too hot.  So we bought some cotton swaddlers but they're made differently than the wool one the hospital gave us and I don't think they swaddle him as tightly.  Either that or the way they swaddle him isn't as good.  They allow his hands to get free at his waist.  He never gets his arms totally free, but his hands get out and I think maybe that wakes him up.

Anyway, today I was planning on trying to enforce my routine plan with the 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. nap schedule, but put him in his wool swaddler in the bassinet in my bedroom, so it's like when he goes to bed at night.  Maybe eventually once he gets used to sleeping at these times I can transition him to his crib so I can leave the baby monitor in there.  I guess I'll just have to use the wool swaddler and turn the ceiling fan up high until it gets cooler outside.  Fortunately, the master bedroom tends to be the coldest in the house so I don't think he gets too warm in there.  I'm more worried about him in his nursery.  Anyway, we'll see how well my plan works.  So far nothing I've planned with him has really worked out, so I don't have high hopes.  But it's almost 8:30 now and he's fussing so I'd better get him up if I even want to try.  Here goes nothing....

Monday, August 9, 2010

You're So Vain....

So I had my first postpartum visit with my actual doctor today.  She seemed very pleased with the way my incision is healing up, so that's good.  I just wish it would stop leaking fluid and that the soreness would go away.  She seemed to think it shouldn't be leaking after another week.  I really hope that's the case because it's getting annoying.  As for the soreness, supposedly after 6 weeks things start to get better, so I have about 4 more weeks before it should be relatively normal.  I'm sure that total recovery will be longer than that, but I'd just like to get to the point where I can act relatively like a normal person.

Specifically, I'd like to start exercising.  We have an elliptical machine, but my doctor said no exercising beyond walking until the 6 weeks is up.  And, of course, given that it is hotter than the friggin Sahara outside, I can't really go walking.  Even if I wanted to deal with the heat for a short walk around the block, I can't take Elijah out in this heat.  Perhaps if I find a local indoor walking track I can take a few walks on the weekends, but is that really even worth it?

However, on the up side, the combination of giving birth and breastfeeding has caused me to already lose 20 pounds from my third trimester weight.  In just the last week I lost approximately five pounds, most likely just due to stuff shrinking and the breastfeeding.  It makes me wonder why every woman doesn't breastfeed (assuming that you can).  Aside from the crazy amounts of benefits for your baby, it really does help you lose weight.  I mean, I haven't been exercising and it's not like I'm on a completely rabbit-food diet or anything.  I do need to try to eat a little better and that will probably help me lose quicker, too, but I'm very pleased with how the breastfeeding is helping.

This probably sounds like I'm completely vain and obsessed with my weight.  That's really not the case, although I do think I look hideously fat when I look in a full-length mirror.  It's more just a money thing.  I don't want to spend money on new clothes and right now I basically only fit into sweats and nursing tanks.  My maternity clothes are too big and my regular clothes are obviously too small.  It's like my incision.  I don't really care that much what it looks like.  It's in a place that only Mike and I (and possibly medical personnel) are ever going to see it.  But I would like it to heal faster so that I can go back to being normal.

On a completely unrelated note--but still an amusing one--today when I was in my doctor's visit, Mike was outside watching Elijah.  And Elijah wet his diaper, which Mike had not put high enough up on his bottom and not tightened enough.  So Mike ended up with pee on his work slacks.  Fortunately, they're machine washable.  And even though it kind of was Mike's fault for not putting the diaper on properly, I still felt bad for him standing out in the waiting area looking like he wet his own pants.  "No, I swear--my kid did it!!"

Friday, August 6, 2010


So one of these days I will post a blog that isn't depressing in some manner.  At least I hope I will.

Today we had to take Elijah for an echocardiogram, at least I think that was what they called the procedure they did.  Basically when we were in the hospital, the on call pediatrician heard a heart murmur and then when we went for Elijah's first checkup, his regular pediatrician listened and heard the same thing.  Both of them acted like it was most likely nothing and that we need not worry, but that just as a precautionary measure, we should schedule this echo procedure with this cardiology specialist guy at Children's Mercy to check it out.  I was determined not to worry unless and until someone said there was something to worry about.

We arrived at 12:30, but didn't get out of there until past 3:00.  First, they hooked him up to this machine that monitored his heartbeat for awhile.  Then we had to wait for the doctor to come in and tell us that his heartbeat looked normal, but when he listened to Elijah's chest, he, too, heard the murmur and wanted to do an ultrasound to check it out.  So then we had to wait for the ultrasound tech to come in and take us into the ultrasound room.  Then, of course, they performed the ultrasound which took much longer than any ultrasound I had while I was pregnant, but I guess his was more important.

After that we went back to the exam room to wait for the doctor again.  By then it was time for Elijah to nurse again so I got out my cover and other equipment and began to nurse him.  Incidentally, it is very hard to nurse with that cover thing on because I can't see what I'm doing.  Plus, I don't think Elijah likes having it over his head.  But, I'd rather not flash everyone, particularly the cardiology doctor that we just met.  We were almost done nursing when he finally came back, though.

The doctor said he had two problems: small ventricular septal defects (VSDs) and an atrial septal defect (ASD).  The VSDs were just tiny holes between the left and right ventricles that he seemed to think would close up on their own, so there was no need to worry about them.  However, the ASD was more serious.  It is a hole between the left side of the heart and the right atrium that was supposed to close on its own when he was born, but it did not.

The doctor still tried to downplay it, as if a heart defect wasn't anything to get upset about.  I suppose if you work in a field where you see heart defects all the time, maybe this one seems like nothing.  But this was my two week old baby and hearing that he has a heart defect that won't necessarily fix itself was not nothing to me.  The doctor said it was possible that the defect would correct itself, but if it did not then when Elijah is about five, six, or seven, he'll have to have a procedure to correct it.  He said most likely it would not need to be a surgical procedure, instead they could likely do a cathertization procedure that would correct it.  Again, I suppose the reassurance that my baby would not need surgery was supposed to make me feel better, but it did not.

After that we got to go home, but I was wracking my brain to try to determine if I had done something while I was pregnant that caused this.  Had I not eaten enough vegetables?  Not drank enough water?  Drank too much caffeine?  Or perhaps the zofran I took for nausea--and was supposed to have no side effects on the baby--caused this.  But how could I ever know?  And even if I could know, there was nothing I could do about it now.

So while I was still wallowing in sadness and guilt, our pediatrician called my cell phone to ask how things went.  I was very impressed that she went to the trouble of calling us to find out how it went, especially since she would get a report from the cardiologist in the next few days that would tell her everything.  I told her as best I could with my layman language what we were told.  She, too, seemed optimistic and seemed to think that we shouldn't worry.  However, at least she acknowledged that no one was really okay with their baby having any kind of invasive procedure.  And she explained that if he had to have the cathertization procedure, they would thread the catheter up through his leg.  And I know it would be when he's somewhere between five and seven, but he might as well be a baby.  How am I supposed to sit by while they thread some kind of tube up my baby's leg and into his heart?  The only thing I can hope is that it will correct itself.  But given how things have gone thusfar, I'm not holding my breath.  And I am no longer determined not to worry since I think I have ample reason to worry now.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wiz and Worry

So my sweetie is almost two weeks old now.  Last night we had to wake him up several times to get him to eat and I got so worried.  Back in the hospital his sleepiness was what kept him from gaining weight and kept us at the hospital extra days.  Up until last night we'd been doing much better with not having to wake him.  He generally would wake up on his own and fuss and let us know he was hungry.  But last night he just wanted to sleep and sleep.  So naturally, I panicked and thought this was the secret to SIDS.  Needless to say, I didn't sleep well all night.

We called the pediatrician's office this morning and I felt a little better when the nurse didn't totally poo poo my fears.  She said she thought it was most likely just that he was sleepy and not hungry and so there was no need to constantly wake him to eat, but that she would call back in a little while to see if he was still having this problem.  So, of course, then he was acting hungry at 10:30 and when I went to nurse him, he fed perfectly and I got to feel like a paranoid first-time parent when the nurse called back.  She was nice, though, and didn't patronize me for it.  I'm sure she deals with paranoid first-time parents all the time and I doubt I'm the worst of them.  Anyway, the positive aspect of this was that she said there was no longer any need to wake him at night if he wants to sleep.  Now, whether we'll ever get another night where he wants to sleep for long periods of time without eating or needing a diaper change, who knows.  But if we do, I guess there's no need to freak out.  I hope I can manage not to.  No promises, though.

I find it very difficult to simply let myself be happy with him.  It was such a struggle for us to get pregnant and then my pregnancy was very difficult.  I was nauseated through the entire nine months.  I was even starting to think the nausea was in my head and so it wouldn't go away after I had him, but apparently it was really a pregnancy symptom because it was gone immediately after he was born.  Suddenly the foods that grossed me out sounded good again.  Weird how the female body works.  Anyway, all of that combined with the difficult birth I had and the difficult time we had with him in the hospital where he wouldn't eat and lost too much weight makes me extra paranoid that this isn't really meant to last.  Or that I'm fighting fate and so soon it's going to be taken away from me.  I guess that's a rather ego-centric way of thinking.  But I admit that I am a little afraid of letting myself be happy for fear that it will get snatched out from under me.

On a lighter note, we have also been having issues with urine.  You would think that when we take his diaper off, we get a lovely little shower, and that has happened more than once.  But the biggest problem is that he manages to pee down the back of his diaper and get his back wet over and over.  And, of course, this not only ruins whatever he happens to be wearing, but it also soils the bassinet sheets or the changing table cover, whatever he happens to be lying on.

I believe, though, that I discovered the cause of this problem as well.  When Mike changes his diaper (which, since he is an awesome daddy, he does frequently), he tends not to put the back of the diaper as far up his back and not to tighten it as much as I do.  I think maybe he's afraid of hurting him by making it too tight.  But I think it's causing his diaper to slip down enough that when he pees, it goes up his back and leaks out of the diaper.  Boys and their pee, it never ceases to amaze me.

Fortunately, I think we have resolved both problems.  At least for the time being, we're back to "normal", whatever that means.  Of course, next Monday I'll be doing this all myself, so totally new ball game.  And it would be really nice if my darn incision would heal.  It would make everything involving taking care of him so much easier.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Breastfeeding Woes: Part 2

We finally got to return home on Tuesday, the 27th.  I was very excited to be going home to my own bed and my own shower.  The shower at the hospital was about the size of a postage stamp and the hospital bed was one of the most uncomfortable beds I've ever slept in.  Plus, I missed sleeping in the same bed as Mike.

On the other hand, once we returned home, we would no longer have the safety net of the nurses or the nursery if we really wanted to get some sleep.  Now it was all up to us.  Someone was tossing us in the deep end and telling us to swim.  Of course, my mom was staying with us for the rest of the week so we at least had some floaties to grab onto.

Once we did return home, the first order of business was to orient our dog Nickel to the new addition.  I was not really that worried.  He is a sweet dog and pretty obedient (to me, at least).  But he had also been home several days without us (my mom had been staying at our house to watch him), so he was certain to be extra excited to see us.

My mom had brought one of Elijah's hats home a few days before to let him smell it.  She said that he seemed interested in it, but still calm.  This time I had my mom take Elijah into the nursery while I went out with one of Elijah's shirts to say hello to Nickel.  Mike had managed to make it home for a few hours a couple of the days we were staying in the hospital, but Nickel hadn't seen me since last Thursday when we left for the hospital.  So I wanted to greet him right away to let him know that I had missed him.

He was very interested in smelling Elijah's shirt and I petted him and praised him for being calm while sniffing the shirt.  Then Mike took him for a walk to tire him out.  When they got back, we finally introduced Elijah and Nickel.  Nickel was very sweet and calm and Elijah didn't seem to mind being sniffed in the least.  I was extremely glad that something, at least, was going according to plan.

Soon, however, it was time to try nursing again.  The same problems continued, only this time there was no nurse I could call to my room to help me figure out what I was doing wrong.  So instead, the pumping and feeding by bottle was still on.

Then things seemed to get even worse.  Elijah found the bottle so easy to eat from that eventually when I tried to put him to the breast at all, he would just fight and fight until I gave up and gave him a bottle.  I really wasn't sure what else to do.  Now he would no longer even latch on at all.  I was really starting to contemplate the possibility that I would just have to pump out my milk for six months and give it to him by bottle.  That was such a detestable scenario to me.

For one thing, it took SO much longer to feed him.  With the bottle you had to get up, retrieve the milk from the fridge, possibly transfer it from its container to the bottle, and then heat up the bottle.  Then you could feed him.  And of course most of the time, we still tried to get him to nurse at my breast, so that fight took a few minutes.  Then Mike or someone else would feed him while I pumped for fifteen minutes at least.  And once Mike went back to work in a few weeks, it would take even longer because I'd have to feed and burp him and get him content enough to lie down by himself before I could even start pumping.  And if we returned the pump we rented, it would tag on an extra fifteen minutes because I could only pump one breast at a time.  If he would simply nurse, it would cut the time it took to feed him into like a fourth.

But the worst thing about it in my opinion was that this was supposed to be the one thing that only I could do for him and it was supposed to be our special way to bond as mommy and son.  Now if I pumped when he was fed, I couldn't even be the one to bottle feed him.  And even when I did get to feed him, feeding him by bottle just couldn't be the same.  I already felt like I had missed out on so much not getting to birth him vaginally, now I was losing this, too.

Finally, one day I was talking online to some friends on facebook and one of them suggested I try a nipple shield.  One of the lactation nurses had also mentioned this tool in passing, but hadn't really explained it thoroughly because it was pretty much right before I was leaving the hospital.

So my mom and I went to the store at the birthing center where you could buy all sorts of new mommy items, like slings, pumps, girdle-type things to help get your belly back into shape, etc.  We didn't see the nipple shields anywhere on display, but the saleswoman asked us what we were looking for and we told her.  She apparently had them behind the counter because you had to pick a size.

The saleswoman was very helpful.  She related how her daughter had problems latching when she was born and she had to use a nipple shield for awhile to encourage her to latch.  She said that she felt terrible because she felt like her daughter preferred the nipple shield to her, but that she went to a support group and 90% of the women in the group had been forced to use the shield at some point, but that of all those who had used it, none of them still were.  She said that everyone in the support group indicated that at four weeks, babies turn a corner in breastfeeding.

She then showed us the various sizes of the shields and helped us pick the one most likely to fit on me.  And she gave us instructions on how to use it.  While we were there and she was telling us her story, another man had walked in behind us.  I didn't want him to have to wait on us, so I said she could go ahead and help him if she wanted.  But he was there to rent a pump and had to fill out some paperwork first, so she gave him the paperwork to fill out while she finished with us.  He also said that he was listening to our stories because apparently he and his wife were having some of the same problems.

On the drive home I mentioned to my mom that even though this breastfeeding problem is very frustrating, I was very grateful to live in a time and a country where there are all these tools available to help feed my baby my milk.  My mom said she had been thinking the same thing recently and we wondered what on earth women in third world countries or back in older times did.  Perhaps hand express?  Perhaps give the baby to a wet nurse?  Who knows.  The alternative is just too horrible to think about.

We returned home and at Elijah's next feeding, it was time to give the nipple shield a try.  Even though the saleswoman had explained how to put it on, I guess I didn't fully understand because it took me a few minutes and a few tries to get it on.  I finally did, though, and sat down to see if our last ditch effort was to be successful.

I pulled Elijah up onto the boppy pillow and close to my breast and offered him the nipple with the shield protruding from it.

He latched immediately and began sucking.

It was like on some TV show where the thing everyone has been waiting for finally occurs and the hallelujah chorus starts playing in the background.  I was so relieved and my mom and Mike were excitedly praising God for answering our prayers.  I was praising him, too, just silently because I didn't want to disturb Elijah.

Over the next few feedings I learned that the first feeding with the nipple shield wasn't a fluke as Elijah continued to latch and feed directly from my breasts--albeit with the shield in place.  I didn't even need to pump anymore as he was keeping my milk up just fine.  His cries even started making me feel the let down in my breasts.

The best thing was when on Thursday I left the house for a few hours to go to my uncle's fiftieth birthday party and Mike stayed home to watch the baby.  His mother and sister came over to help him and at one point he texted me that Elijah was getting fussy and rooting around.  Should he give him a bottle?

I didn't think we'd be much longer, but I didn't want my baby to be hungry so I suggested he just give him a small bottle to tide him over until I could get home.  We didn't stay much longer and when I did get home, Mike's mom informed me that they had tried to give him the bottle and he had started fighting it.  But when I sat down and pulled him to my breast, he latched on again right away and began feeding.  Apparently he now preferred me to the bottle.  Whether that was because my milk was warmer than the bottle milk or it was just more comforting to be close to mommy while he fed, I'll never know.  But that's okay.  There are some things I am okay with just accepting.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Breastfeeding Woes: Part 1

Mike and I stayed in the hospital five days.  I knew we were going to stay an extra day because of the c section, but had it not been for Elijah's problems, we would have left earlier than we did.

First, Elijah had some low temperature issues.  Apparently they want a baby's temp to be at least 97 degrees and he was coming up a little short of that.  I felt a little robbed because I think if he had been delivered vaginally and placed immediately on my chest after he was born, this might not have been an issue.  But que sera sera, so several times they had to take him and put him under the warmers to get his temperature back up.

But then once he finally got his temperature up, they said he had lost too much weight.  He weighed 7 lbs, 8 oz when he was born and most babies lose about 5% of their body weight after birth, but Elijah had lost about 9%.  Evidently, that was too much.

The problem was simply that Elijah was such a sleepy baby and he didn't want to breastfeed.  I could hold him against me and get him to latch, but then he would take two sucks and fall asleep.  Or sometimes I would do everything I could to get him to latch and he would just squirm and fuss until he wore himself out and then he would fall asleep.  And I didn't know what else to do about it.

I had read every book I could get my hands on about breastfeeding and had taken breastfeeding classes, but I still couldn't get him to feed from the breast.  Of course, I had also read everything there was to read about natural birth and that didn't end up happening either.

A few days into our stay there, Elijah's pediatrician came by to talk to us about how he'd lost too much weight.  She said that we needed to supplement with some formula and I needed to start using the breast pump for fifteen minutes every time he would eat so that my milk would come in.  I was feeling devastated and like a terrible mother who had let her baby lose so much weight that the doctor was now scolding her (even though in reality, the doctor was by no means scolding us).

She said there were three ways we could do the supplementation.  We could put the formula in a syringe and push it through a tube that would be near my nipple so he could associate getting the food with my nipple.  We could also do the tube and syringe thing but feed him with the tube next to a finger.  Or we could do a bottle.

Mike, being as exhausted as he was, said that he'd rather just try the bottle since it was the simplest way of doing things.  Well, that was the last straw for me.

Up until then I had been doing everything I possibly could to keep my determination to get this kid to feed from the breast and keep my patience with him when he wouldn't do it, but Mike's suggestion to me sounded like he was ready to give up and didn't think we would ever be able to feed Elijah from the breast.

Now before everyone goes and hates my sweet husband for this, remember this is just what it felt like to me.  This was, in no way, what Mike actually meant.  He just thought we could do the supplementing from the bottle and keep working on the breastfeeding.  But, of course, I was already fighting the urge to feel like a royal failure and riding the hormone wave, so that wasn't what I heard.

I insisted that I wanted to try the feeding through the tube next to my nipple and after the doctor left I got very angry with Mike.  At that point he insisted that he hadn't meant that he wanted to give up on the breastfeeding.  But like I said, there was no explaining it to me right then.  I was too mad.  I started to cry.

"I want my mom!" I shouted at him.  At which point he promptly picked up the phone and called her to come on out here.

My mom showed up about twenty minutes later.  She was at church with her brother and his family when Mike called her, so it took her awhile to get out of there and get over to the hospital.  I was still bawling my eyes out when she showed up.

I was trying to stop crying, mostly because it was making my nose stopped up and I couldn't breathe except through my mouth, which was getting very dry.  But I just couldn't stop.  The weight of the past few days was just overwhelming me finally and hormones bouncing around my body were making it much worse.

The lactation nurse insisted that I was doing everything right and that it was Elijah that was not doing what he needed to do.  But how could I blame him?  He's a baby; he's not supposed to know what to do.  I'm supposed to be able to coax him or help him and take care of him.  I'm his mother.

I felt like I was royally failing at being a mother already.  First, I couldn't birth him like I was supposed to be able to.  Then now I was letting him starve to death because I couldn't feed him.  I was getting sick and tired of my useless body letting me down.

It took several hours before I was finally able to stop the tears.  Our regular nurse brought in the equipment to feed him through the tube next to my nipple.  Once again, I tried to get him to latch--with the lactation nurse watching and assisting--but to no avail.  Instead he thrashed around and fought me until the lactation nurse put a glove on her finger and used the tube to feed him with her finger.  She told me I was doing what I was supposed to do, but that he was confused and didn't know what he was supposed to do.  What she couldn't tell me was how to explain to him what he was supposed to do.

After that we mostly stuck to the finger feeding.  Mike would feed him with the tube and his finger while I pumped with the hospital's breastpump.  We would also always try to get him to latch on to my breast and feed there, but the nurse admonished us not to try for too long because he would burn more calories fighting us than he was taking in, thus nullifying any feeding we were able to do.  In addition, I was wearing breast shells to pull my nipples out farther to help him pull the nipple all the way back to the back of his mouth where it needed to be.

After a few days of this, I started to produce more colostrum.  Eventually I was producing enough colostrum that we were able to feed him just the pumped out colostrum and didn't have to add any formula to it.  And a few days later, my milk was starting to come in.  I was producing more and more milk, which was still being fed to him, but unfortunately it was still being fed through a tube rather than through my breast.  He was still not interested in latching and drinking from the breast, even when I would hand express some milk into his mouth.

As the time grew closer for us to go home, my breasts were starting to get engorged and sore.  Even though this made me uncomfortable, at least it meant that I had the milk for him to eat, even if he wouldn't eat it directly from my breast.

The good news was that his weight was finally moving back up the scale, rather than down.  By the time they did send us home, he was back up to seven pounds.

Unfortunately, finger feeding with the tube was not really feasible at home, particularly if we were going to have to continue this long-term.  If we had to go somewhere public, people would probably be pretty confused by us using a tube and a bunch of syringes filled with milk to feed our baby.  Not to mention that it would be much more difficult for us than using a bottle.

So reluctantly, I agreed we had to start giving him the expressed milk through a bottle.  This also was contrary to my plans with him.  I had intended for him to have no bottles or pacifiers until breastfeeding was well-established.  But silly me, nothing ever goes according to the plan with babies, I guess.

In addition, this meant we needed to rent the hospital's breastpump to use at home.  I had a breastpump that I had intended to use eventually as a way to allow other people to feed him if I wanted to go out for the evening--after he was firmly established at the breast--but it was only a single pump.  The hospital's pump was a double pump and I would need that if I had to pump for fifteen minutes every 2-3 hours.  It would take twice as long with my pump.

I was afraid, though, that we would never be able to quit renting the pump.  We initially rented it for a week, and could easily change the rental to a month rental without incurring any extra fees.  But what if he still refused to nurse at the breast after a month?  Did we rent it for another month and continue trying to nurse him even if it wasn't working?  Or did we simply give up on the idea that he would ever nurse and just buy a double pump (thus negating the single pump we did buy--which is a non-returnable item, by the way, for obvious reasons) and decide he would just get all my milk through a bottle forever?

Would I never have the experience of actually nursing my sweet baby at my breast?

Elijah's Birth Story: July 23, 2010

First of all, let me introduce myself.  My name is Bonnie and my husband Mike and I just had our first baby boy on July 23, 2010.  His name is Elijah and he is just the sweetest baby I have ever seen.  I started this blog so that I could write about being his mommy since I enjoy writing and I believe that being a mom will be the most interesting job I'll ever perform.  So to start off, here is the story of Elijah's birth.

I was five days past my due date and I had had some contractions, but they were mostly Braxton Hicks contractions and were obviously not going to produce a baby.  I went to my doctor's office on Thursday, the 22nd, to do a non-stress test and have an ultrasound to check my amniotic fluid levels.  The NST came back fine.  His heartrate was fine and the nurse seemed to think there was nothing to worry about.  However, when the ultrasound tech did the ultrasound, she noted that my fluid level was a four.  Apparently an ideal level is somewhere between a seven and a ten and the lowest they let you go and continue the pregnancy is a five.  So she paged my doctor, who said she wanted to get me into the hospital that evening and induce me.

I made several phonecalls, including one to my husband and one to my doula, Ashley, and headed home.  My husband was just getting back from a two hour trip out of town for work.  Fortunately, he was pretty much all the way back to Kansas City.  He had to drop off the government car, though, before he came home. (He works for the US Department of Labor.)  So it took him awhile to get back home and then I wanted to eat before we went to the hospital since I assumed they don't let you eat once you're there.  So we got to the hospital about an hour later than we said we would.

Around 5:30 we did arrive at the hospital and they got me set up in a room and placed cervadil to encourage my cervix to efface.  I was already dilated a centimeter and effaced about 50% prior to that, so I was hoping the cervadil would push me into labor on my own.  Otherwise, they were going to start a round of pitocin in the morning.

I had decided that I wanted to have a natural birth if possible.  For that reason I had attended birthing classes and hired a doula to help manage my pain.  The main reason I had made this decision was because I was trying to avoid a c section since I did not want to have to be recovering from major surgery while attempting to care for a newborn.  And I had read plenty of things that indicated to me that the more medical interventions you have, the more likely the baby is to go into distress and, therefore, the more likely it is that they will order a c section.

Anyway, I slept most of the night at the hospital with the cervadil in that night, although I did have to get up several times to use the bathroom (those of you who are or have been pregnant will understand).  I was having contractions most of this time; most of them were slightly worse than the contractions I'd been having at home.  Around 5:00 a.m. I woke up again to more contractions.  These were strong enough that I could no longer sleep through them.

Mike woke up shortly after me and my nurse came back in the room around 7:00 a.m.  I was due to start a round of pitocin sometime that morning, but I asked her if it would be possible for me not to have pitocin since I was clearly starting to labor already.  She offered to check my cervix and then page my doctor and ask her if I could avoid the pitocin.  I had heard and read that contractions induced by pitocin were much much worse than contractions that occurred naturally and since I didn't intend to use pain medication if I could avoid it, I was also really hoping to avoid pitocin.

The nurse checked me and said I was dilated to 4 centimeters and about 60% effaced.  She went to page my doctor.  I was really starting to hurt so I asked Mike to call Ashley, my doula, and ask her to come to the hospital.

By the time Ashley got there I was obviously in serious active labor.  We never did time the contractions, mostly because I was on the monitors the whole time so there was no need to do so.  So I don't know how far apart the contractions were, I just knew that they hurt and they were mainly in my back.

My doctor approved us not using pitocin since I was already laboring and had progressed to 4 centimeters.  Ashley and Mike took turns pressing down on the small of my back to help relieve the pain.  Ashley was much better at the back pressure than Mike was, but later on that evening, he was starting to get the hang of it and do a better job.

This pressure did help, but back labor is the worst pain I have ever felt.  In fact, if I had only felt my contractions in my abdomen, I would say I would have been in about half as much pain.  The only other things that relieved the pain slightly were bending over at the waist and getting in the tub.  In fact, I could barely stand a contraction if I wasn't bending over at least somewhat to relieve the pain in my back.

They checked me again after a few hours and I was up to six centimeters.  By that time I was no longer simply breathing through my contractions, I was moaning and wailing somewhat.  I was trying to concentrate on my breathing, but it's difficult to do when you feel like your insides are on fire.  Ashley and our wonderful nurse, Jayne, were having to remind me to breathe in rhythm with them so I didn't start to hyperventilate.

My doctor came by not long after that and asked how I was.  Even though I was progressing, she suggested breaking my water to get the progress to step up.  I agreed since I really just wanted to get to a ten and get this baby out.  So she broke my water and I got back in the tub to relieve contractions that were getting much worse.

Finally when the contractions were coming one on top of the other, I was dilated to an eight.  By that time I was starting to scream through some of the contractions, especially the terrible ones that would tease me and make me think they were tapering off, only to come back up again.

I got dilated to a 9--almost a 10--and finally was saying "I can't do this anymore, I can't do this anymore" and asking for an epidural.  Ashley consoled me and told me that every mommy she helps gets to the point where they're saying they can't do it anymore and that usually it means they're about to start pushing.  So I agreed to have my cervix checked one more time.

I was still not totally a 10 yet.  Jayne said that there was just a tiny bit of cervix left and suggested that she put her finger on it and I push against her finger when I had a contraction.  It seemed like a sensible plan to me, but I hurt way too much to try it.

My doctor came back not long after that and checked my cervix herself.  She seemed to think I could go ahead and start pushing.  And I was starting to feel the urge to push.  So finally I got to start trying to push my baby out.

The pushing relieved the pain of the contractions somewhat.  However, even though Ashley and Jayne both said I was pushing properly, the baby was not moving down.  So we started trying everything we could think of.  I pushed lying on my side in the bed with one leg up.  I pushed on my back playing tug of war with Mike for a hospital sheet.  I pushed squatting on the toilet.  I even finally agreed to try pushing on my hands and knees, even though that position made the pain worse.

Still my baby would not move down.  My doctor told me later that Jayne had said she did not think the baby would come out vaginally, but mercifully, she did not tell me that until after he was born.  Ashley thought that my baby had been posterior (facing up instead of down), hence all the back labor, and that he was trying to turn and ended up transverse, or facing the side, which was making it near impossible for him to move past my cervix.

I pushed for an hour and a half with no meds and he hadn't moved at all.  At that point I was so exhausted that my pushing was not correct anymore.  I just didn't have the energy to push correctly any longer.  It had been all day that I had been laboring actively.  It was about 6:00 p.m. by that time.

So finally, even though I had really hoped to avoid it, I asked for an epidural.  Ashley spoke with me again to make sure this was my choice and I didn't feel like I was being coerced to do it.  I insisted that if I had to continue pushing for an hour or two or three, I had to be able to rest a little, which I could not do with the labor pains.  I think if the baby had made some progress prior to that time, I could have finished it without the epidural.

The anesthesiologist came in shortly thereafter and began the process of giving me the epidural.  I had two contractions while she was doing it and it was very very hard not to move, but I told myself that these were the last ones I would have to feel and that made it possible to stay still.  I thanked the anesthesiologist woman for working so quickly.

After that, Ashley asked me if I needed her to stay, or if I'd like her to come back when I started pushing again.  But I told her to go on home and have dinner with her family.

At first, I could still feel the contractions slightly in my upper abdomen and asked them to fix it.  After all, if I was going to go completely numb and not be able to feel my legs or feet, I might as well have no pain at all.  The epidural kicked in finally and I was able to rest.  I wasn't able to sleep because I was shaking.  The nurse said they were hormonal shakes, since I wasn't really cold.  And there was pretty much nothing anyone could do about them.

My mom and some of Mike's family came in for a few minutes to visit me, but left shortly thereafter to go to dinner and get some dinner to bring back for Mike.  Prior to that I'd been wandering around the room in the nude and so I hadn't wanted anyone else in the room.  But now that I could lie down and rest--although not sleep--I was able to cover up in the bed and could let people in for a few minutes.

I was hooked up to all sorts of tubes and such.  I had a catheter.  They placed an internal fetal monitor (mostly because the belt monitor was not working properly and I no longer needed to be able to move around).  And, of course, I had an IV.

Now that I had an epidural, my doctor suggested they start a pitocin drip in my IV to see if that would encourage the contractions to move the baby down.  So they started that after my visitors left.  I could see on the monitors how the contraction would shoot straight up and then come back down, rather than increase and decrease gradually.

A few hours later, after the nurses' shift had changed and we got a new nurse, it was time for me to start pushing again.  This time they threw my feet up in stirrups and the new nurse Lacey pushed back on one of my legs while Mike pushed on the other.  I pushed for about another hour and a half like that and once again was told that I was pushing correctly, despite the fact that I could no longer feel anything.

My doctor came in and checked again and still the baby had not moved down at all.

I wanted to cry, but I think I was too exhausted at that point to do any crying.  I knew I was really too exhausted to cry or care about almost anything when my doctor reluctantly suggested a c section.  She said the baby's heartrate was fine and I could keep pushing as long as I wanted to as long as his heartrate remained high.  But she said she really did not think that he was going to come out vaginally.

I was very angry.  Not at anyone in particular, but just at the situation.  Here I had labored so hard for more than ten hours and pushed for an hour and a half without meds, and then another hour and a half with meds, and still I was not going to get the vaginal birth I wanted.

But, as I said, I was so exhausted that I no longer could get that upset.  I asked my doctor if this would mean that I had to have any children by c section and she said no, that she did many VBACs.  That reassured me somewhat and so I agreed to the c section.

My mom came back in and hung out with me for the hour it took to get an operating room.  But then it was finally time to move.  They wheeled me into the operating room and refreshed my epidural with even stronger meds this time so I couldn't feel a thing.  It took longer to get me prepped for the birth than it actually did for my doctor to get him out.  I threw up the acid reflux preventative they gave me to drink and I was getting the shakes again.

Finally, around 10:00 I heard the beautiful sound of my baby's first cry.  My doctor held him up so that I could see him over the curtain, although it was hard to see him through the tears in my eyes.  I watched as they took him to the side of the room and cleaned him off.  Mike got to touch him and talk to him while they did this.  After that he picked him up and brought him to me.

He was all gross but the sweetest thing I'd ever seen.  Even though he was a c section baby, he ended up with that conehead that vaginal babies get because his head had already been engaged in my cervix and I had pushed on it for so long.

After I got to see him and hold him for a few minutes, he and Mike went with the nurses to the nursery to get washed up.  The doctors and nurses finished removing my placenta and then closing me up.  I was then moved to a recovery room where I had to wait for about 10-15 minutes before anyone came in to see me.

It was my mom who came.  Mike was still in the nursery with Elijah.  I had asked him to stay with Elijah the whole time so that at least one of his parents would be with him at all times.

A nurse came in shortly thereafter and told me that Elijah's temperature was too low and so they were keeping him under the warmers and as soon as his temperature came up enough they would bring him in to me.  A part of me was upset since I think that if he had been immediately placed on my chest after birth he would have warmed up a lot more.  In fact, if I hadn't been so excited that he was finally here, I probably could have gotten very upset that I didn't get my initial bonding time with him just after his birth.  This was another reason I had really hoped to avoid a c section.

It was about another twenty or thirty minutes before they finally brought him in and let me hold him.  He was just the perfect little baby boy.  I tried to nurse him, but had a lot of trouble.  He finally did latch on and nurse at the left breast for about ten minutes.

It was past midnight when they finally moved us to our postpartum room.  Mike set up his cot next to my hospital bed and lay down.  He was exhausted and I knew I should be exhausted, too, but I think I was riding on hormones and adrenaline.

The nurse came in and checked his temperature again and said it was low again.  I suggested that I take my top off and hold him against my chest and put blankets on top of us.  I was feeling a little hot anyway.  The nurse said that was a good idea so she gave him to me to hold for an hour or so to try to get his temperature up.

That was the obvious medical goal, but I was actually thinking of something else.  I hadn't gotten to have my time holding him just after his birth like I wanted, so even though I was doing nothing besides holding my sweet baby boy against my chest and watching him sleep, that hour passed much too quickly.  I hadn't gotten to hold and bond with him immediately after his birth, but this time kind of made up for that.