Thursday, December 16, 2010

Breastfeeding: Getting Ready to Go Back to Work

Big time gory detail warning here folks.

You’ll have to forgive me, but I have to do another public service post. I have found some great stuff that must be shared in regards to keeping up with breastfeeding when you go back to work. I have talked to my midwife, a lactation consultant and our pediatrician and have gotten a great framework on what to do. I love using this medium to help other moms out there where I can, so here goes.

Ladies, I had three months off for maternity leave, so what I am doing is based on that timetable. I had my son, and had about two months of getting a great start at breastfeeding. We had it down to a science. Now I am doing the following:

The Basis:

When you spend 8-10 hours a day away from your baby, your milk supply will decrease. There is something about the pheromones when you and your baby are around each other that plays into your milk supply. For some lucky moms, this won’t happen. For the vast majority of us, you need to plan on reaching a day when you will not make enough for your baby, and may need to supplement with formula. Knowing this, you can plan ahead and pump well before you go back to work, so when your supply takes a hit, you have reserves in your freezer ready to go so you can keep them on breast milk longer.

Getting Mom Ready:

  • A month (or a month in a half if you want a really great start) begin pumping.

  • Pump an ounce out of each breast a day at first.

  • Gradually build up to pumping a maximum of 4 ounces a day out of each breast. Don’t rush it – give your body time to build up to this.

  • Pump right after feeding your baby. (Not after every feeding. Build up to pumping 3 times a day. Again, don’t rush it. Give your body time to adjust to this volume.)

  • Try to do it when you have more milk. If you are feeling engorged, feed the baby, then pump.

  • Never pump at night.

  • There are some great supplements out there to help build your milk supply. There is a company called “Motherlove” that makes some of the best around. My midwife told me to get one of their “More Milk” blends that has “Goat’s Rue” in it. Their “More Milk Special Blend” is the perfect one, but they are all good. Use the Store Locator link to find where you can buy this near you.

  • Omega 3 supplements (fish oil, flaxseed oil) are also really great to take to boost your supply. These can be found at your grocery store. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water.

  • Important! If you get plugged ducts, fever, chills, mastitis, stop pumping until you heal up and are feeling 100% again. You are doing too much. I had luck with acupuncture to get myself under control again quickly so I could resume this regimen.

Pumping Tips:

  • Use the “Letdown” button – Some pumps have a “letdown” button. Check your owner’s manual to see if you have this feature. I have a Medela Freestyle, and the button is located here:

    When you pump, if you see your breast begin to stream milk out (as opposed to drops of milk coming out) hit the letdown button. Leave it this way for the rest of your pumping session. This helps the pump to be much more efficient at getting the milk out. It will do longer pulls on your breast, rather than shorter ones.

  • If one breast is having a good letdown (milk is streaming out of your breast rather than dripping out) and the other one is just dripping, use this technique to get more milk out of the slower breast. Massage from the very top of your breast down until you find a pocket where when you push on it, milk comes streaming out of the slow breast. Hold it there until it shops spraying out so hard (like, stop massaging - just press in on that spot). It helps you get more milk out in less time. You may need to hold it for a full couple of minutes until you fully drain that cell of milk out.

Getting Baby Ready:

  • The very best bottles for breastfed fed babies are the Breastfiow bottles made by First Years

  • Start giving baby a bottle a day. A great time to do this is to have dad give a bottle in the middle of the night so you can get a break and catch up on sleep!

  • Start with giving baby 1oz, then finish the feeding with breastfeeding. Build up from there. Check with your pediatrician for what’s normal and healthy, but my son takes 4 oz. a feeding usually.

  • If he is a natural at taking a bottle, just do a bottle every few days. Save your milk!

When you are back at work:

  • Ease back into work if you can. Work half days, do flex time, or go see him at lunch to feed him for as long as you can. They begin taking cereal in their bottles at 4-6 months old. The closest you can get to this age with breastfeeding, the better. Remember, the more time you spend away from your baby, the greater the chance of your milk supply decreasing, so do what you can to spend as much time as possible with your baby!

  • By law, your employer has to provide you with a place to pump and time to do it. Don’t be afraid to insist that they honor this.

  • When you pump have pictures of your baby around, something that smells like him, MP3 recording of his noises or anything else that would help you connect with your baby at a distance. The biggest thing is to relax as much as possible. This may be hard, feeding self conscious being naked at work, the anxiety around taking time from your busy day to pump, etc. Try to look at it as some quiet time to yourself to relax. Bring a good book with you. Put a sign on the door so that you feel comfortable that you won’t be disturbed.

  • Whenever you are home with the baby, you feed him through regular breastfeeding. Everyone else gives him bottles when you are not around. When you breastfeed, it will stimulate your supply.

  • If you have to start adding in formula, do it gradually. Start with giving an ounce or two a day and build up from there. Watch for gas and dirty diapers for clues that he’s having a hard time with the change and adjust as needed. Never change your baby’s diet all at once.

Good luck!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Two Months Old!

I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my calendar for this week and saw that another month has passed! Aaron is doing great, and he is growing like crazy! He is 11 pounds, 13 ounces. He is 25 inches tall which is in the 98th percentile for his age (makes sense! And, for those keeping track, that's 5 inches since he was born!). His head is 15.75 inches in diameter. He has gained about an ounce a week since he was born, which is the top end of what's normal for a breast fed baby! He is really filling out. When I changed his diaper the other day, I was amazed when I felt his thighs! He is close to having rolls on them! I see it in his face too. He is also has eyelashes now, and is making tears when he cries, which are both new things.

Aaron has had a bit of acid reflux this last month. I’ll feed him, and then if I have him anywhere other than up on my shoulder, he starts crying because it hurts. Poor guy! We got some medication from the doctor, but the problem is that acid reflux babies spit up a lot, and sure enough, as soon as we get medicine in him, he spits it up! I think he doesn’t like the way it tastes, so that might have something to do with it too. We also tried this homeopathic stuff called “gripe water.” He LOVES it! It helps a little. I talked to our midwife about it (they are trained in baby care from a medical perspective as well) and she suggested a chiropractor in town. I was nervous about this because I am not a fan of people messing around with the spine. She assured me that the treatment on a baby would be really non-invasive. I took Aaron last week to this guy, and sure enough, he basically did infant massage on him. Aaron liked it! After two visits, he appears to be completely cured! I am keeping an eye on him to see if it comes back. When it bothers him, he does what I call his “lizard tongue” where he is constantly sticking his tongue out (precursor to the inevitable spit up!) and if I see him do it I may take him back to this guy since it was so quick and easy, and Aaron liked the massage.

Aaron is in a real daddy phase right now. Chris walks into the room, and Aaron lights up like a Christmas tree! He just smiles and smiles at Chris. This really melts Chris’s heart. After being at work all day, to come home to this is pretty great. It is hard for guys in the beginning because babies are so attached to their mothers. It is easy to feel left out. But no, Aaron loves his father, and is eager to show it!

Allow me to take a second to gush over my husband. As women, we can’t help but think about what our guys will be like as fathers when we marry them. I knew Chris would be good at it. He has such a gentle, laid back personality. He has a very kind heart, and I just knew he would be a natural at this. He has just blown me away with both our boys in his ability to connect with them right off the bat! Noah was only here for four days, yet he knew who his father was and felt so comfortable with him; just as comfortable as he did with me. Aaron is no different. Part of it is that Chris is so involved! He’s up in the middle of the night with me, changing diapers, and soothing him back to sleep. He will cuddle up with Aaron on the couch for hours. He has helped me give Aaron his acid reflux medicine and does it better than I can do it. He has great instincts on what Aaron needs and how to take care of him. He is such a great partner in caring for Aaron! I loved my husband before, but to see him as a father to our boys makes me love him even more!

Another of Aaron’s latest things is that he is getting to be more impatient and insistent when he wants things. Namely, he is getting to the place where he will completely fall apart crying! It sounds almost like he is hurt or something, even though I know he is just fine. Every time he does this, it feels like I am getting kicked in the gut. There must be some residual chemical connection between us from being attached through pregnancy or something because of how I feel when this happens. For example, it is as simple as he’s hungry, he wants food NOW and I can’t seem to get it to him quick enough, even though we are sitting down, and I am getting ready to feed him. I understand that this is a phase that will pass, and lord I hope it happens soon. It is really tough.

Maybe what I am noticing is the development of a broader spectrum of emotions in him overall perhaps. Because, on the flip side, he is also smiling so much more, and even has a version of a baby laugh that he does when he is really excited! It is the cutest thing ever. He LOVES his toys, and is just so over the top happy to be down there playing with them on his play mat. I caught the best video of him doing his smiles and laughs the other day. He was lying in his crib for a moment while I went to do something. When I came back to check on him, he had clearly just discovered his mobile and thought it was the funniest thing he’d seen in a while:

Our sleep really hasn’t changed much in the last month. Aaron is still up every 2-3 hours to eat. It is pretty exhausting, but we are getting used to it. I am trying to adjust to his schedule. He starts his night about 8:00pm. If I go to bed when he does, over the course of the night I will get about 7 hours of sleep. The problem is, who wants to go to bed at 8:00? Chris gets home from work in the evenings, and I cook dinner. By the time that’s done, there’s not much time to do anything else other than go to bed. It’s hard because I always end up getting sidetracked on trying to get something done, and before I know it, it’s 11:00!

He is cute when he wakes up. Last night for example, I heard him grunting and shifting around. I got up and went to his bassinet to check on him. His eyes were open, and when he saw me, he gave me the biggest smile! It was so cute, and I love that he is so happy to see me. It almost made me forget that it was 3:00 in the morning! Everyone tells me to hang in there, and that at some point in the not too distant future, this will change. He is growing and developing so fast, I am sure they are right.

We are beginning to think about me going back to work (sigh!). It’s going to be hard, but I have to do it. The lady we were hoping to leave him with during the day has decided that she is too old to take babies anymore, so we are back to square one on child care. We have a couple of contenders that we have found. We hope to have that worked out soon (as in next week or so I think). I am off work until mid-January so I have another month left to go, which is nice.

Monday is our postpartum doula’s last day. I am scared! With her help, the last two months have been much easier than they would have been. Every day I get regular meals and showers. I also get some precious extra couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep. I also haven’t done laundry since Aaron was born, or had to do much to clean up my house. All that is going to go away, or will be harder to come by I should say. I know that I need to figure it out on my own. I can’t keep her forever! With her help, I have regained my confidence in my ability to be a mother of a baby, which is exactly what I needed her help with. Think good thoughts for me!

We are really looking forward to our first Christmas with Aaron. We had a blast shopping for him. I know he is too little to get what it is really about, but we don’t care! Last year, it was a hard holiday, after we had been looking forward to having it be about Noah, but then of course he wasn’t there. This year, we are really going to do it up just how we had dreamed and enjoy it. I hope to write about that in next month’s post. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday from the Wilkerson’s! We are grateful for each and every one of you, and thanks for following along in this journey with us!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Aaron's Smile! - 5 Weeks Old

I have been trying so hard to get a picture or video of Aaron's smile. It never fails that when I get the camera out, he suddenly stops doing it! Tonight I FINALLY caught him on video! Take a look...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

One Month Old!

Through my blog posts in the coming year, you will see a theme in these pictures of Aaron. I saw a sorority sister of mine did this with her baby and I absolutely LOVED the idea! So, Melanie, I am copying you and I hope you don’t mind! The numbers on Aaron’s shirt are stickers that correspond to however many months old he is. Over time, we will be able to see a fun progression of his first year as he grows. This picture shows him with a “1” indicating that he is one month old (and a “0” from when he was just born!). Next month, you’ll see him with a “2” sticker on him and so on. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

People have always talked about how time flies with your children. You blink and they are all grown up. I have no idea where the last month of my life has gone. We have been living in baby survival mode, with seeing to a newborn’s constant needs around the clock. It has been fun. I cry over just how glad I am that he is here. It is also so exhausting! We have successfully gotten into the full swing of breast feeding. I wasn’t sure that it would be something I would be able to do. After losing a child to a metabolic disorder, my heart needed to see my child have a full stomach, no matter how it got that way. I took my cues from Aaron, and after we got past the first few days of waiting for his MCADD test to come back (where formula was mandatory), Aaron was pretty clear in letting me know that he preferred breast milk to formula. He was a natural at it, and it has gone beautifully. Wow is it a lot of work though! I am the only one that can feed him. I really don’t get much consistent sleep as a result! He is up every three hours or so (sometimes sooner) ready to eat. He’s an aggressive eater and is quite efficient at it, but still, it is exhausting work. I plan to keep up with it though. It is the best after all, and if he’s game for it, we owe it to each other to keep going.

He is awake for a good long stretch in the morning, and again in the evenings. Chris and I try to talk to him, and interact with him as much as we can. He is so close to smiling, and it is wonderful encouragement to keep it up. He is a pretty easy going spirit, but one that sends pretty clear signals of what he needs. It is the perfect balance I think. I love how he communicates, with grunts and sniffs. He can be a bit melodramatic with his sounds sometimes. We love it! We just laugh and try to comply with what he wants.

He is also so strong! He fights to hold his head up. If you put him on his tummy, he will kick and squirm so hard to try to roll over. He isn’t close to being able to do that yet, but his determination is impressive! He has really strong kicks as well (as I remember well from when he was in me!). He also grabbed my hand the other day as I was changing his diaper and hung on for dear life! I am wondering how he will use his strength as he grows. It is definitely a gift he was born with!

My favorite time with him is in the afternoons. After the doula leaves, and I get some lunch, I’ll feed him one last time before his afternoon nap. Then we curl up on the couch together, and he just melts into me. If I don’t hold him close enough, he will curl his spine to get his head tucked up in the crook of my neck so my cheek rests against the top of his head. He settles in and sleeps deeply for a few hours. I’ll channel surf on the TV and snuggle on him. I feel like a human barcalounger the way he lays on me. It is really cute. He is just so sweet.

Aaron loves Curious George! A neighbor gave us a collection of Curious George stories as a baby gift. One afternoon when he was awake and feeling mellow, I grabbed the book and tried reading it to him. He loved hearing the sound of my voice, combined with focusing on the simple images in the book (not that he was really absorbing the story by any means. He just liked the elements of it!). He hung out and enjoyed the whole thing. He only had the attention span to make it through one story. Then he gets a little over stimulated. We have continued to read to him, and he does pretty well. Maybe he will be a good reader when he’s older?

Maggie is doing pretty well with him. She LOVES him and just wants to cover him in kisses. It is hard because we have to cut her off. She will kiss on him for forever if we’d let her! She is feeling a bit protective over him too. She is not a dog that barks. Now, when people come to our door and ring the doorbell, she’ll jump up and bark while taking note of where everyone is. We are glad that it’s all working well with her. She was great with Noah, so we aren’t all that surprised!

I am doing better with having visitors and have made a few tentative steps out in public with Aaron. It was really hard at first. I couldn’t handle being in any environment that took my constant attention away from him. I kind of had to just give in and be reclusive until I could learn Aaron’s signals better. Because he has some great long periods of being awake during the day, it has helped. If someone else is holding him and he is awake, I worry less. I can easily see that he’s ok. When he sleeps deeply and I have things going on around me is when I can get to be a bit of a basket case. Aaron overall is continually teaching us to trust again. It is a slow process, but every day we are building a new experience. It is so healing to have him here. Thanks for your patience. I know some are jealous that others have met Aaron, while they have yet to receive an invitation to come over. I am slowly working through our list of loved ones. I am busy a lot of the time with the basic tasks of caring for a new baby, as well as trying to get to you all. Some days it feels overwhelming and I am just not in a good mood for it. Some days Aaron is the one that isn’t up for it. We just do what we can.

These pictures were taken when Aaron was 2 weeks old from my favorite photographer Christie of Blue Columbine Photography. Aren’t they amazing? It was a fun afternoon. I met Christie in prenatal yoga when I was pregnant with Noah. She’s been such a kind and understanding friend through all of the craziness of the last year and a half of my life. It was so great to come full circle and celebrate this milestone with her and with her incredible pictures!

I also am trying to keep my trusty flip camera on me so you can see the living, breathing, and very active Aaron in action! Here’s a video of him playing yesterday on his play mat:

Chris also has all of our Aaron pictures up on Flickr if you need a bigger Aaron fix than what I have posted here! You can print your favorites if you want as well. Here's the link: Aaron Pics on Flickr

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Aaron - 12 Days Old

The world’s best dad is getting some quality time in with Aaron so I can write!

Somehow the better part of two weeks has passed since Aaron came into the world. As is the case with most families adjusting to life with a new baby, it has been a whirlwind! It has been joyful, hard, tiring, amazing, and many other things all wrapped up into one. All in all, I am just so glad he is here! He is filling a part of our hearts and home that has felt so empty for far too long. We are so absolutely in love with him, and are just amazed at how strong he is. It has been bizarre to compare our experience with Noah to this; sick baby versus healthy one. With Noah we had no frame of reference as to what is normal or not. Now that we have Aaron here, it has helped us accept the idiosyncrasies of our whole situation with Noah. Hard to do, but wow, of course he was sick. We get that now.

Let me start from the beginning. Last I left off, I had just told the story of Aaron’s birth. He spent the majority of that first night in our room with us. Early that next morning, a nurse came in and told us that they needed to move Aaron to the NICU nursery. They ran blood work right after he was born. Everyone had had a chance to review it and his blood sugar was a bit low for comfort. It was in the healthy range, but on the low end of what was still considered ok. This is the big thing we were watching for MCADD. MCADD is life threatening hypoglycemia. Until his newborn test came back with a final answer on whether or not he had it, we had to watch his blood sugars very closely.

Because of all the testing that had been done on him to date, everyone felt pretty certain that he didn’t have MCADD. The more likely suspect for the low blood sugar was his size when he was born. He was well above average for his gestational age. I didn’t realize it, but big babies tend to have blood sugar issues. It made me feel so glad that I let the acupuncturist put me into labor rather than waiting longer. He would have only grown more, and maybe made this more of an issue.

We always knew that Aaron could very well have to spend time in the NICU nursery because of his risk factors. I had mixed feelings about it going in. After losing Noah, I knew I would likely have separation anxiety around anyone taking Aaron away from me. Or, would I find it comforting to know that he was being watched that closely? Turns out the latter was true. I can’t say that I slept much after having Aaron when we were in our room together because I was so paranoid about every little grunt, noise, movement, or lack thereof for any brief period of time. It was a relief when the nurse wheeled him off and hooked him up to all those monitors.

The culture in the NICU nursery was not at all what I expected. Maybe some of you that have been through it can clue me in on this. Aaron was there for four days, and I hardly saw another parent there with their babies. For me, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else! The nurses almost seemed annoyed by how much we were there, but I really didn’t care. I can see why when they have free reign over all the babies without anyone asking for an active role in the care of their charges. Regardless, we were there as much as they’d let us, mostly around his rigorous feeding schedule. He had to eat at least every three hours, unless he wanted it sooner. Aaron came out being a really great eater (THANK GOD!) so we were there a lot.

Finally, the MCADD test came back. As we had expected, Aaron is free and clear of MCADD. He is not a carrier, so he’ll never have to worry about it with his own children. We were so excited! The news came in while we were in the NICU nursery feeding him. To look down at this beautiful boy and realize that this one is here to stay was a very emotional moment. The staff at the hospital all knew our story and what we have lived through. They were crying and hugging us too. It made them all feel really good about sending us off, knowing that we had really overcome some major hurdles to get here! The extra time in the hospital had given Aaron enough time to get his blood sugar levels stabilized enough that we could finally go home. There was nothing left to worry about. His pediatrician told us to “go home and enjoy him.”

Going home was a pretty nervous feeling for both Chris and I. This was when things had gone downhill last time. Even though we have confirmation that Aaron does not have the same issue Noah did, the physical memory of it all was hard to escape. It was also day four of Aaron’s life. Noah only lived four days so Aaron was soon to outlive his brother. I cried the whole way home. I worried about everything. I arranged with our post-partum doula to meet us at the house to help us get settled in. It was pretty crazy, getting in, getting all our stuff in, getting settled, changing a dirty diaper and feeding Aaron in the middle of it. As crazy as it all was, Aaron really didn’t seem to care. He adjusted to the change beautifully.

We’ve since been settling into a new normal around the house. Chris and I are getting to be a little stir crazy. We ordinarily lead pretty busy lives, so to sit around and watch TV and hang out all day is really not us! It is just what life needs to be right now as we jump to care for all of Aaron’s needs. Now that he is free of all the monitors and craziness of the NICU nursery, we have much more freedom to hang out and see what he can do. He is pretty amazing! He already shows signs of smiling! He’s done it quickly a few times, both in his dreams, and awake as well. I imagine it will be a while before he’ll do it long enough to get a picture. We’ll keep watching. He can also turn over onto his side if you leave his arms free when he lies down. He is really fighting to hold his head up on his own too. He also has really great long periods of being awake. It is so much fun to interact with him. He looks deeply into your eyes. Chris thinks he’s a deep thinker by some of the expressions he makes when you talk to him. He continues to eat really well. He just hit a growth spurt I think. His feeding times have grown from being 15 minutes to being closer to an hour. I will be honest and say that it has me pretty pooped since the burden is all on me with breast feeding! Chris has been a great help and is eager to jump in with diaper changes, or soothing him back to sleep once we’re done. He is such a great father to both boys in how he is just so willing and eager to do anything for them. I love how both kids seem to have such a strong understanding of who their father is. Aaron will hear Chris’s voice and will turn to look for him. I absolutely love it.

Healing from this child birth seems to be a bit slower for me than it was last time (that I can remember anyways!). The hormonal changes those first few days were pretty rotten. I also had mild mastitis for a few days last week. Wow, I can’t imagine the full blown version of that, since the mild version of it was pretty unpleasant! Thanks to my amazing midwife, she got me healed up using herbs and supplements so I didn’t have to take antibiotics. Life is finally starting to feel more like normal. We have been able to get out and go for short walks around the neighborhood the last couple of days, which has been wonderful! Fall has hit Colorado, and I just want to be out in it with Aaron.

Our post-partum doula is working out well. She shows up at 7:30 every morning. It is right about that time after a night full of waking up to change diapers, feed Aaron, and get him settled back down to sleep that we are feeling overwhelmed. She takes the baby. I go back to bed and sleep for a couple more hours. Chris gets up to walk the dog, and have breakfast. I wake up, and she hands the baby to me to feed him. She then goes off to make me breakfast. Then we trade off. She takes the baby and I eat and take a shower. In between, she does laundry, makes the bed, cleans up dishes, feeds the pets, restocks the changing table with fresh diapers, burp rags, wipes, etc. When she leaves at noon, we are in great shape and ready to face the day. I love her.

It’s getting to be time for Aaron to need me again, so I’m going to sign off. Thanks for your patience with us! We have both gotten a lot of calls, emails, and other notes from you guys. We owe you all so many responses back, but life has been more than a little nutty! Please know that all has been received and appreciated! Here’s some more pics of our boy:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Patience Please!

Chris and I are fortunate to be connected to a really loving group of people who have been cheering for us all along on this journey. We appreciate it more than we can say. I understand that you guys are all so anxious to meet the final product of everything we’ve been through. We want Aaron to grow up knowing you all and understanding how loved and appreciated his life is. I am feeling guilty because I have gotten lots of calls, emails, Facebook messages and such saying “when can we come over?” I wish I could say “Today! Right now!” but I can’t.

Chris and I both feel a strong sense of hyper-vigilance around Aaron because of our past history as parents. Noah died right under our noses at four days of age. The scars from that experience run deep. It isn’t that we are afraid that anyone would do anything to Aaron by any means. More that the distraction of having company would pull our constant attention away from Aaron and our need to continually see that he is ok. Some of the visits we have had so far have triggered this panicky feeling in us already, and has unhinged us for quite a while after the visit ended. Therefore, I hope you can appreciate our need to hold off on visits for a little while until we begin to build some days under our belts where we look at Aaron, feel anxious, and nothing happens. Aaron is one big strong boy, and every day he is teaching us to trust a little bit more, but the process is just going to take some time.

Thanks for hanging with us in the mean time. I plan to try to keep up on blogging so you all have a sense of how we are doing (as Mr. Aaron allows of course!). Love to you all, and I promise we will resurface again soon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Aaron's Birth Story

Hanging out on the birth ball during contractions.

Our boy is here!

I think have successfully fed Aaron enough to put him into a serious turkey coma (ala Thanksgiving) enough to be able to catch up on some blogging. I owe so many of you phone calls, emails, thank you notes and the like. Please forgive me as life has been a little crazy of late! I know many have asked for our stories of how he was born, and what life has been like since, so I am turning to my trusty blog to fill you all in! Please forgive spelling mistakes and weird sentences. Time is tight! Now to type as fast as I can…

Wow, has my life changed within the short span of just a few days!!! We are just absolutely in love with this little guy, and can hardly keep our hands off of him. He is so amazing in how strong he is, and how well he has adapted to life outside of me.

Aaron made a dramatic entrance into the world on October 14th. The day before I had one of my weekly visits to the acupuncturist. She has been helping me keep the PUPPPS away as well as toning down a number of other pregnancy discomforts. She saw me on this Wednesday, took one look at the exhausted expression on my face from lack of sleep, my extremely swollen ankles and feet, and looked at the itchy skin beginning to spread across my belly as we were starting to lose the battle of keeping the PUPPPS at bay, and said to me “you’re miserable, aren’t you?” I just about cried, I was just so glad to hear someone validate that for me. She asked if I was ready to get things started, and before she had the question out of her mouth, I was saying “YES!” She did some points to help encourage labor, and sent me home. That night at my 2am pee break (one of many), the pressure of my full bladder along with the incredible weight of the baby my water broke. I was pretty wired the rest of the night, waiting to see if contractions would begin. Chris was sleeping downstairs in the guest bedroom because of my constant restlessness and snoring, being that big. I let him sleep and didn’t wake him since I knew Aaron would need him as soon as he was out for whatever care was in store.

In the morning at a more decent hour, nothing had happened yet. I called my midwife, and she told me that I should make it my business to try to go into labor now that my water had broken. If I go to the hospital, they will give me drugs, which I don’t want. So, it’s time to pull out all the stops on the natural ways of inducing labor. She suggested a few things, but strongly encouraged that I go back to the acupuncturist for another treatment. I got an appointment for 4:00 that afternoon with my doctor’s backup (she was off that day), and did what I could with walking, herbs, essential oils and the like in the mean time. None of it worked. My 4:00 appointment came, and the acupuncturist pulled out all the stops with her treatment. She did two points on the back of my second toe that really kicked off. I had five contractions in ten minutes! I had my mom drive me to my appointment, and I am glad I did because I continued to have contractions the whole way home.

Chris got off work, and he hung out at home to wait for me to arrive back from my appointment. We called my dad to get us some dinner. I needed to load up on carbs for the marathon I had ahead of me, so he got me some pasta. I sat on the birth ball in my living room, watched movies, and hung out as things progressed. Chris would talk me through each contraction while he rubbed my shoulders, back and arms, and occasionally do a hip squeeze movement we learned from my doula that felt fantastic! My parents timed my contractions so he could focus on me. All of it was very tolerable, and exciting because I knew Aaron was coming!

I started to feel sleepy. I had hardly slept the night before after my water broke because I was so amped up. I had meant to take a nap that afternoon, but had gotten busy with the natural labor induction activities and hadn’t slept then either. I decided to lie down and close my eyes for a bit. I slept for about half an hour, occasionally waking up during a contraction. When I woke up for good, I was trembling pretty hard, and the contractions were very strong. We decided that we really needed to get to the hospital sooner rather than later. In between contractions, I made a run for the car before another one came on. My mom drove, and Chris rode in the back with me. Shortly after we took off from the house, I felt the urge to push! I was so desperate to follow what my body was telling me to do, yet, we live a long way off from the hospital and quite a drive left to go. My mom floored it, and she and Chris did their best to coach me through shallower breathing to try to slow things down. This boy had plans of his own, and as we were getting to the hospital, I could feel his head right down where it should be to come out. They insisted on putting me in a wheelchair(!!!) to get me up to labor and delivery. I sat in it crooked to save room for him. We had gone in through the emergency room entrance, and I vaguely remember people looking at me and saying in horrified tones “oh my God…”

They took me to triage where they do the initial check to see where you are. I was +3 station (meaning the baby’s head was right there and ready to come out). They didn’t even bother to tell how many centimeters dilated I was or put me into a hospital gown, and ran me on a gurney down the hall to a delivery room. The nurses were frantically telling me not to push, and holding my legs together. I really didn’t care at this point. I am strong, and I had held him in long enough. Fortunately, the doctor was right there quickly, and I went to town, and had him out in very short order. I had been at the hospital for ten minutes, if that. I delivered him right there, haphazardly thrown into a room on a bed in my street clothes. Nothing mattered. I was overcome with joy at this beautiful little boy that they had placed next to me on the bed. He was gorgeous, and so very alert and pink. He cried and cried, which was just music to my ears. I just looked at him in wonder, and was so incredibly excited and relieved that he was out. We had made it. I had had yet another amazing natural childbirth, and he looked so healthy and active. My mom and Chris were with me through the whole thing. Our poor doula had gotten there a few minutes later. It was just one of those things, though. Aaron had plans of his own, and he was ready to be born regardless of anything else going on in the world!

He was 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and 20 inches long. His head was 14.5 centimeters in diameter. A big boy! They let me hold him and bond with him for quite a while, and then it was time for him to be whisked off to the nursery to begin the rigorous checkup process that had been outlined for him by the Children’s Hospital. They patched me up, and got me moved to a postpartum room. We didn’t have time to bring up any of our things prior to his birth, so everyone brought my stuff up to our room. Our doula remembered that I wanted to go to the nursery to be with Aaron, and asked the nurses if I could do that. They said that would be no problem, and wheeled me in a wheelchair over to him and Chris in the nursery. Chris and I just sat there and looked at Aaron, played with his hands and feet, felt his soft skin, watched his chest rise and fall with each breath, and felt completely elated at this amazing baby we had created! I couldn’t help but cry a little with complete joy at his life, and the miracle of it after all that we have been through. I knew that I loved him deeply, but at that moment, the feeling intensified a million-fold. It had been a wild ride of a night, but here we were at the end with this wonderful spirit to spend our lives with, watching him grow.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

38 Weeks

I am still here, and this time with an attitude adjustment. Life with lots of contractions throughout the day is becoming the norm. It has been a week and a half since all that started. I have stopped keeping count of how many in a day. They just come and go, and I let them. I don’t fight it, or stress out. I know that this is all part of it. Sunday at about 3pm I started to really not feel well. When I was up on my feet, I would get dizzy and nauseous, so I lay down and relaxed the rest of the day. As long as I stayed horizontal, I felt ok. It was when I got up that I would feel bad. I felt a lot of pressure down low through all of it. Even though it was inconvenient as I had a lot of things I wanted to get done, I had a really nice afternoon with Aaron. He was quite active, and I played with his feet through my belly as we watched movies. Chris and I are really going to have to find some activity for him to work his energy out. Maybe he will be a runner? Maybe a cyclist like Chris? We will need something for those feet to do! I went to bed that night wondering if all this activity was going to be it, and if I would wake up in labor. Instead, I woke up feeling fine again, but he had clearly dropped quite a bit through all of it. He is sitting pretty low in my pelvis now.

All of the fear and anxiety I felt that I wrote about in my previous post I have had the chance to work on, and I am feeling better and better about it all. It still scares me, thinking about life after he comes, but I am feeling more confident in my ability to face it. What has been hard since is all the commentary from everyone around me, calling, sending emails, facebooking me and the like saying “you’re STILL pregnant?!” I have felt frustration and anger as well, both at having all this pre-labor activity, yet not the real deal yet, as well as everyone’s good natured exasperation layered on top of it all. This seems to be the way it goes for all pregnant women when you get down to the last part of it. Everyone is so excited and has such good intentions, and can’t help but openly put the cart before the horse in their expectations as to when things should happen. I remember it from last time and how I felt about it all. What is different about this time is that I hear people saying these things to me, and I feel like they are looking at me and Aaron and implying that there is something wrong. I am really sensitive to anything being wrong with Aaron after what I have been through, and so it strikes me a little closer to my core and makes me so anxious in a way that I know that no one intends. It has therefore been a hard week.

I had a really good day of being around all of my “hippie-earth-mama” cheerleaders yesterday. I saw the acupuncturist in the morning, the midwife in the afternoon, talked to my childbirth doula for a while after that on the phone, and then I had prenatal yoga in the evening. All were so kind and encouraging and the midwife in particular gave me the pep-talk that I have so badly needed (lord that woman is worth every penny!). She did her usual super-thorough evaluation of Aaron. He is measuring 40.5 weeks right now, and she estimates that he is comfortably in the 8 pound range (all is a guess of course!). He looks great, and perfectly healthy. I told her about the frustration that he hasn’t come sooner. Noah came at 37 weeks on the nose. Why hasn’t Aaron? Her opinion is that the human body is an intelligent being that inherently knows when something isn’t right, and Noah was very sick. We will never know for certain, but that he came so early could be tied to that. She told me to consider every day that Aaron stays in as confirmation that he is healthy. She really doesn’t think that I will go to my due date, and that this will happen soon. However in the meantime, I need to take advantage of my last bits of freedom to do whatever is fun. Go out to dinner with Chris. Go treat myself to a pedicure. Go see a movie. Go shopping. Take naps. Above all, insulate myself from whatever negative comments are around me in whatever way that I can, and just focus on these things. Today I have had a much better day. Maybe he really is holding out for my birthday? The midwife’s measurements have said all along that October 10th or 12th is far more realistic. That isn’t that far away. I really do need to live it up before I am tied to home for quite a while. I am also loving that he is further into October. The excitement and anticipation of seeing Halloween decorations come out, and being able to tie that to his birthday is really going to be fun as he grows up. He must really want it too since he is holding out on being born. So, I am learning to be more patient and to trust what is going on. Off to go put my feet up and see what’s on the TiVo!

Friday, October 1, 2010

37 1/2 Week Update

We’re down to the frustrating part. I am past the 37 week mark, so Aaron is full term. It is now October, which was also a milestone I wanted to hit. I have loved being an October baby (my birthday is the 10th), and would love to share that with him as well. Now it is any day, any second really, that he can come.

Everyone knows this, and so I get lots of phone calls, emails, and other communications from people saying “has it happened yet?” Believe me, I want to have him pretty badly at this point. I want to share him with everybody too. I will likely post on Facebook when I am in labor. Or, if I am not by a computer when it happens, I have an email list put together and ready to go so all Chris has to do is attach a picture, type up a sentence or two and hit send. So, I promise I will tell you! (And I love you for caring so much! Please forgive my grumpiness!)

This last week has been a little nerve wracking. Saturday, Chris and I went up to Woodland Park to hang out with my parents. After dinner as we were lying around and hanging out, I started getting contractions regularly. They were light. I could still talk and be normal through them, but they were coming regularly, so I gave the signal to Chris and we came home. Rather than being the trained, prepared and calm Bradley Method parents that we are, we panicked. We didn’t rush off to the hospital or anything, but both of us felt quite a bit of anxiety and frustration over the whole situation. It was late in the evening by the time we got home and settled, so I just went to bed. When I woke up, the contractions were gone.

I have really been trying to examine what I felt and why I felt it. I was anxious because I was technically still 36 weeks, which in the western medical tradition is considered pre-term. I know from my ultrasounds with the midwife that Aaron is of a fine size, but would they ferret him off to the NICU nursery away from me after he was born if he came that night? What other complications would this cause? I also hadn’t had any of the other usual signs of labor coming on, which made me wonder just what the heck my body was doing! It was also still September, and I had really hoped Aaron would come in October. Stupid thing to worry about I know, but it was part of what bugged me.

The big reason that I was so nerved up (Chris too) was that the reality hit around being so close to being handed an infant to care for again. What happens when the nurses hand him off to us and turn around and walk off? Our best instincts failed us last time. We lived the worst case scenario with Noah. This is a really hard responsibility to accept again. Hindsight, it was a blessing to have Saturday night and the contractions that I had because it has given me time to work though this issue (not that I don’t reserve the right to freak out again after Aaron comes!)

The thing that I keep coming back to with this that is comforting is remembering what life was like in the months after Noah died, but before Aaron came long. The word "unfulfilling" doesn’t even cover it. We had set aside all hobbies, interests and activities in favor of dedicating ourselves completely to being parents. We did it joyfully. Caring for Noah fulfilled a deep need that we never knew we had. To go back to our old life pre-kids was so unbelievably empty and depressing. Having Aaron around has rescued us from that life. As hard as it is to face the trauma of our last experience with parenting, it is completely worth it to not have to feel like we did those months.

I have also tried to think of the multiple ways in my life when I didn’t think that I was capable of something, but persevered on anyways. I know that I am capable of a lot more than what I give myself credit for. When I have pushed on despite fears and reservations, the blessings that have followed have been massive. So, as scary as this is, when Aaron is ready I will go to the hospital and push him out and will somehow figure out what comes next. The initial days with him will be scary, but over the long haul of his life, to watch him grow from baby to boy to man will be one of the most amazing blessings of our lives. How can we deny ourselves this gift? No, this must be faced. We will work through it, and every second of it will be worth it.

I have continued to have contractions quite often since. It has been good practice to meditate on this line of thought, and get comfortable with the fears I feel going forward. I have been able to begin to get excited. Ironically, just as I have been working through this and feel good about it all, the contractions have started to taper off! Monday and Tuesday I had about 20 during the course of the day. Wednesday I had around 35! Yesterday things slowed down, and I had about 15. Today I have had a few of them, but haven’t kept track. They are mostly small. Some have caused me to stop and breathe it out, but those don’t come enough to think that this may be it. Either way, I am being careful with myself, resting a lot and keeping life simple as much as I can.

Because of the contractions I keep having, I am keeping life pretty close to home. I am still working. I am pretty grateful for the distraction of my job. I come in, put on my headphones and get sucked into whatever projects I can find. I plan on being here right up until I go into labor. I have cleared this with my office, and they fortunately have no problem with it. When I am not at work, I am beginning to back out of social activities that take me away from home. When the contractions come and are more intense, it makes me anxious if I am out somewhere. I would so much rather be at home close to my comfort measures. Chris is eager to keep an eye on me too, so we are both sticking close to one another and not going anywhere aside from work.

My belly is no longer a smooth sphere. It is bumpy with body parts that are not my own. It is really bizarre. I can feel his movements so much more because he has no room left. Sometimes I can tell that this annoys him. He’ll kick a little harder, or make what feel like frustrated quick shifting around sorts of movements. Or maybe he moves this way because it feels good and it’s fun? Who knows. I am ready for him. My mother reminded me this morning that this is the beginning of a lifetime of waiting for him to do what he needs to do. That has helped me to take a step back and not worry so much. I want to be the kind of mom that gives him plenty of room to be who he is, and see what comes out. This is just the first step!

Friday, September 24, 2010

36 Week Update

Yep, still here! I suppose it would have been a little early for him to come sooner than now, though as you can see from the pictures I am enormous! Speaking of the pictures, I have a friend who does amazing photography. She grew up in the mountains and knows all sorts of cool places to get some natural Colorado pictures for just about any occasion. I love her stuff and was eager to have her come do maternity pictures. This was something I always wanted to do with Noah, but never got around to it. I was so glad to get it done with this pregnancy. It is amazing to be this big, and I love that I have it documented so I can look back and really remember this time and remember what I looked like! Also, Garden of the Gods and Rock Ledge Ranch are both places that are close to our hearts, as they are natural parks just down the street from our house where we spend a lot of time. This is where the photos were taken, and it was great to celebrate this pregnancy in our favorite places with pictures! If you want to see more of Christie’s stuff, go to Blue Columbine Photography.

So, how is our boy doing? I have had both a midwife and an OB appointment since I last wrote. As of the first of the week, Aaron was 6 pounds, 11 ounces. He is measuring a week or two ahead of schedule. Kind of funny, I am on an email list that sends you baby updates once a week. It tells you where your baby should be as they progress through their growth while you are pregnant. This week it said that the baby should be just about hitting 6 pounds. Ha! Yeah, right. Aaron appears to have hit that a while ago!! Not only is he well past the 6 pound mark, but his head is 10.4 centimeters. He is beginning to drop into my pelvis, getting ready for birth! I am feeling more and more pressure down low. He still has farther to drop before all is said and done, but it is clear that he is starting to get ready for his big entrance into the world! I am so excited for it and am feeling ready. The nesting has paid off. I have completed pretty much everything off of all of my crazy “to do” lists. Next week is week number 37. This was the point at which Noah came, so I am wondering how much longer this will be. Aaron will decide. It is all up to him now.

We registered for the hospital last week. Not my favorite task, but necessary. Every time I go to this hospital I get depressed. It is a beautiful place, don’t get me wrong. You don’t walk through and see sick people everywhere. It’s just that as a natural child birth mom, this hospital is the worst in the city when it comes to getting the birth experience that you want if you choose to go the less popular way of going natural. They hardly fall all over themselves to cater to this request. I am unfortunately bound to going there because of the experts I use. I am absolutely sure that I have really great doctors. The hospital itself is what leaves me hanging. I shouldn’t complain so much, since I did have a perfect birth experience last time (never mind that it took some lies and manipulation to get it). I believe in this path of child birth enough to do these things, even to the point of being nasty to fight for what I want. I just wish I didn’t have to.

The nurse we had this time was better than the one we had last time. The one we saw last time saw that we had a birth plan, read the top line about us wanting a natural birth, and then stuffed it into the back of our file without reading any further (see what I mean?). The lady we had this time actually read everything we brought which was a nice change. We told her up front that our baby is high risk of a life threatening genetic disorder, so that may have had something to do with it. She was very conscientious to make sure that she understood everything in Aaron’s care plan from the Children’s Hospital, and put those instructions on the top of our folders (both mine and Aaron’s) so that when we arrive when I am in labor, whoever will be caring for us will see that first. She also let us know that the management of the hospital will be notified that we are coming.

I have mixed feelings about that. These people have a hard enough time wrapping their brains around the fact that anyone would want to go natural, so the extra attention is really going to suck. I also understand that our case will make them nervous because of the potential liability it places on the hospital. Chris and I had prepared ourselves to wear our story on our sleeves when we came in to register, both for the special care that Aaron will need until his test results come back, and also to help us get the post partum care that we want with not being separated from Aaron for any length of time due to our own grief issues, so the extra care is needed with us.

Another part of this that was difficult was filling out the paperwork. For the rest of my life, when I fill out any kind of women’s health questionnaire, I will have to answer in a very abrupt, impersonal way how many pregnancies I have had, how many live births, and how many surviving children I have. Yes, it is relevant information for a care provider to know, yet it is a huge slap in the face to those of us whose lives have not gone according to plan. Ouch.

Now time to breathe in a big sigh. I made it, as hard as it was, through this milestone. It was important to do it now, and not on Aaron’s birth-day. I have time to recover from the hard parts of it, get my game face back on, and be ready for the real deal. This is just a hospital. Impersonal staff that I will never see again once this is all done, so who really cares? At the end, I get the prize, this amazing baby boy, and that is all that matters.

On a lighter note, Chris finished a major project that he wanted to see complete before Aaron came. For many, part of having a subsequent child means preparing the older sibling as well. Sometimes they have to move to a new room a little further down the hall. Sometimes it is moving them to a big-boy-bed so that the crib can be freed up for the new baby. Similar to those activities, we had to move Noah out of his room so that the nursery would be free for his brother. This was a painful task that had to be handled with care. Noah wasn’t here for long, but he did use a few things while he was here that are now precious keepsakes. We came up with the idea of building him a hope chest where his things would be kept. It would be our own special spot of remembrance whenever we want or need it. Chris is really talented with woodworking, so he built it with great care himself. It is made of solid aspen, which is appropriate since to date, Noah is the only child in this family to be born and spent his life in Colorado. Chris made it to match our bedroom furniture, as it will live at the foot of our bed. I think Noah would approve since the entire time he was at home, he was always in our room with us. I am absolutely in love with it. I love that he has a permanent place in our house. I love that in order to connect with his things that I am not digging through this drawer, or that shelf, or that corner of the closet. It is all gathered together in one spot. Chris also put a lock on it, so if I ever feel like his things are in danger of being messed with, I can lock it up. I love being able to hold his things, smell them and feel them in their small sizes just as they are. It makes it so much easier to give Aaron the room free and clear with no baggage. I have the best husband ever to help ease the transition in this way!

At this point, Aaron can safely come at any time. I am hoping my next post is one filled with pictures of our beautiful new son, and stories of how it all went. Granted, he could decide that he is just fine where he is, and I am posting again with more pregnancy stories in a couple of weeks! Who knows? Thanks for following along, and we will see how Aaron decides his story should go!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nesting (The After Picture)

Yep! This was my weekend. It felt GOOD to knock a bunch of things off the list. I should have the rest of it done after one more weekend (just pray that I don't think of too many more things to add to the list!)

Friday, September 10, 2010


I just went through all my notes to myself of things to do and made one big master list. Wow, that is a lot of stuff!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

34 Week Update

I meant to do this post a week ago! It is kind of funny and typical of where I am right now. I spent weeks in a pregnancy fog where I was not so organized about anything. Then all of a sudden, it was like a switch was flipped, and now I am completely the opposite! I am so focused on a very full to do list to get ready for the baby. In a word, nesting has hit!

Last time around, I didn’t really get what this was, and spent a lot of time feeling frantic, stressed and emotional around getting things done. This time, I know what it is, and I try to just go with the paranoia around whatever I feel needs to be organized in the moment. It just is what it is, and either denying the urge or getting stressed out about it just makes life miserable.

Every minute of my time is carefully crafted around getting things done. I have cleaned out my house, organized closets, gotten family to help me cook about 26 casseroles that are sitting in my freezer right now, my car is currently in the shop finally getting some repairs done, Chris and I have new cell phones, the hot cocoa has been organized in my pantry (spent a whole half hour on that and it felt very important at the time!), my soon-to expire drivers license has been renewed, I finished making Aaron a baby blanket, I plan on doing a Costco run this weekend to stock up on essentials, and I have a detailed list going of all that needs to be packed when we go to the hospital. This is just the tip of the iceberg! It is hard to just sit down and relax, to think back on this time I have spent being pregnant with Aaron, and feel peaceful. My mind is going a million miles a minute. I know that it is just all part of it. There is some animalistic part of us as human beings that knows what is coming and has this instinctual need to prepare. The best thing is to go with it. Chris has been a great sport through my madness. He laughs, shakes his head, and jumps in and helps where he can. I am lucky to have him!

I am getting to be pretty big and uncomfortable. Sleeping through the night is almost impossible. I have to take several pee breaks, and my hips ache if I lay on one side for too long, so I am tossing and turning a lot. It takes a lot of pillows to keep me propped up enough that I can be comfortable. I am also so big that I snore like you wouldn’t believe. Poor Chris has been either trying to tough it out, or giving up and going downstairs to the guest bedroom and I really don’t blame him! (As I was writing this, he went to Walgreens to buy ear plugs, so he clearly hasn't given up on me yet!)

At this phase, Aaron is gaining a half pound to a whole pound a week. He is getting pretty heavy to carry around as you can imagine! He is running out of room to do his famous somersaults that he loves doing, not that he quits trying! He is a very active baby, with very busy feet. I love feeling him move and am really going to miss it when he is out. He has finally settled mostly into the head-down position which is such a relief! He has to be head down for me to be able to do natural childbirth with him. He was flipping around so much all throughout the pregnancy, it has really made me nervous. I guess he just needed his time to have fun before he got serious!

I have had a couple of doctor and midwife visits since I last posted. The midwife did an ultrasound recently, and it was just so great to see him! She measured him to get an estimate of how big he was, and boy was he was measuring big! At that visit (32 weeks) he was 4 pounds, 10 ounces. He was measuring a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. She looked at the diameter of his head (already 10 centimeters and measuring 3 weeks ahead!), the cross section of his middle (this was measuring dead on where he should be), and his femur bone in his leg (measuring ahead – long legs on this boy!). He looks to be tall and skinny like us. He has lots of hair. She thinks he is measuring as though he will come on October 10 (guesstimate). That is my birthday and also 10/10/10! It would certainly be cool, but of course, technology aside, only he knows when he is coming! She also told us that IVF babies tend to come sooner. Since the typical 40 week calendar is based on estimating a due date when you don’t know when you got pregnant, it is a little awkward trying to make it fit with a woman who does know when she got pregnant. That has pretty much been weird from the start trying to work that out anyways, so it made sense to us.

It was really cute, because the whole time he was completely doubled over. His head and feet were facing down. His hand was holding onto his foot, and he was likely sucking on his toes. She got some great pictures of him holding his foot.

I also wanted to share pictures of Aaron’s room. We have worked hard on it, and are pretty pleased with how it turned out. Chris felt so strongly that he wanted this boy to have a bike themed room. He did a lot of searching to pull the elements of it together. It has been fun to see his idea come to fruition.

"Aaron Noah" in Chinese characters.

I am feeling more and more ready to do this. On one hand, I am sad that this phase of life is almost over. I love having him so close to me all the time, and feeling his movements. I don’t know what the future holds and if we will be able to do this again. IVF is extremely expensive, and the only way that I can have a healthy child. Is this my last pregnancy? I wonder that a lot. On the other hand, I have been pregnant for almost two years in a row, and I am ready to have my body back again. I have been on such a long journey to parenthood, and I am so ready to get to the payoff of having the actual child to care for in the end. It will be terrifying and have plenty of its own challenges given what happened to us in the past, but they are challenges that I want to face. This is what it takes to have meaningful life for us, and it has always felt right.

I hope to get one more update in before he comes. I have always said that my kids choose their birthdays, so ultimately Aaron will determine if that happens or not. I will certainly keep you posted as best as I can!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

30 Week Update

Lots to show and tell this time!

I am 30 weeks along, and fully into my 3rd trimester! I can’t believe that I am in the home stretch now. The time has flown by with this pregnancy. I am feeling really pretty good compared to what it felt like last time. My PUPPPS is non-existent thanks to the acupuncturist I see. She is now working on keeping the swelling to a minimum, which I appreciate. It is keeping me comfortable. My only complaint is that the summer feels particularly hot. I do mostly ok since my house and work are air conditioned. Not many places in Colorado are, however, so when I need to go to a friend’s house or to church or something, I get pretty miserable pretty quickly. Sleeping is getting also a little more interrupted as well with more frequent bathroom breaks, and being able to feel him move more and more. He does not like to have his space crowded in the slightest and has been fooling around with my bladder more than Noah did. This is to be expected though, and I love feeling him move.

We are beginning to think about life after this pregnancy. I have worried tremendously about what will happen when the day comes that Aaron has passed all of his tests, and the experts are certain that he doesn’t have MCADD and we are sent home from the hospital. It’s that special moment when you are turned loose with this new baby and told to go home and start being a family on your own. For me, it is a battle of head versus heart. My head says that I have a healthy child. There is nothing to worry about. I can go home and he will be resilient and will be just fine. My heart screams that this was when it all went downhill last time. How can I trust my instincts when it comes to his care, when the last time I did it, my child died? I have nightmares about this, and have had it hanging out there on the edge of my consciousness this whole time. I had an “aha” moment when I was at prenatal yoga one night. My yoga teacher knows all the best experts in the city when it comes to this time in your life. She has a wall of business cards of the people she refers her mothers to. I walked by that whole big wall and wasn’t even looking that closely at it, but there was one card that caught my eye, and I picked it up. It was for a “post partum doula.” Basically, this is someone who is an expert in all things infant care and mom post partum care. They come to your house on a daily basis the first few weeks after you are released from the hospital. They teach you how to take care of your baby, and monitor your progress as you heal from child birth. They also keep the house in great shape by doing dishes, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, walking the dog, and light cleaning. They help you get to doctor’s appointments as you learn to manage bringing your baby along and the gear that is needed. Of course! This felt perfect for someone like me that has experienced everyone’s worst nightmare in parenting and needs lots of reassurance! It was meant to be. I called this woman, and she is absolutely perfect. Everything that she has to provide is something I need. Since hiring her and knowing that I have this kind of care coming my way, I have felt such a huge weight lifted off of me. I have been enjoying my pregnancy more and relaxed quite a bit about how this is all going to work.

We are also starting to get serious about preparing for childbirth. We are taking a refresher course from our child birth doula. I originally really wanted to do the full gambit of Bradley classes again, but Chris talked me into doing this instead. I was hesitant at first, but now that we are doing it, it really is perfect. We know this stuff. We just did this a year ago. To have someone do an overview and remind us of the finer details feels right. I think we would be bored and drive the rest of the class crazy if we did the whole thing all over again because we just did it. With some practice, I am picking up the relaxation techniques again, and remembering the tools I learned to handle and minimize pain. Chris thought it would be cool to show you guys our secret weapon…our cards.

When we were going through Bradley class, we learned a number of ways to keep me calm, relaxed and peaceful during contractions (which makes them not hurt very much at all). It became clear that without some way to jog Chris’s memory when we were in the heat of the moment, it would be easy to forget the finer details and miss out on using some great natural childbirth tricks. So, I made cards for Chris to have and reference. They contain things that we have practiced with and know work well ahead of time, so when he needs something new to try, he flips to a new card, and viola! there’s a fresh bank of new ideas. My favorites are the guided relaxation cards, where Chris walks me through a favorite memory. We go through the five senses, and he describes everything about the memory for me.

Here’s how it works. I get into a comfortable position and focus on deep relaxed breathing. I breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. It is slow and methodical. While I do this, I scan my body for any tension, and release it. Chris helps too. He knows the areas I tense up most often (usually my shoulders) and reminds me to relax. A contraction will come on, and we go about doing these tasks. Meanwhile, Chris reads me a card to take my mind elsewhere so that I am not focusing on what my body is doing…

Guided Relaxation – Sigmund (a very loved dog I had growing up)

What do you see:
Just home from a day at school. I park my 1985 light blue Toyota Cressida station wagon in the driveway, get out and grab my black LL Bean backpack with my initials sewn onto it and hop up onto the big front porch of my parent’s house in Charlotte. I try to be as quiet as possible as I slip into the front door. Look on the floor for mail, and mom has already grabbed it. The house is clean. The living room with cream carpet, fireplace and red chairs is to my left. The dining room with the big brass chandelier is on my right. The wood staircase with runner to help give Siggs some traction is ahead of me. The whole house is bright with sunlight and open looking. I carefully set down my backpack, and sit cross-legged on the floor. Then I call out “SIGMUND! Pup pup pup pup pup pup pup pup puppy!!! SIGMUND!!” A large golden retriever dog comes barreling out towards me and dives into my lap. His hair is curly and somewhat wiry. He is wiggling all over trying to get closer to me in my lap.

(Chris breaks in and lets me know that the contraction is halfway over. I am on the downhill side of this one.)

What do you smell:
Dog! He smells kind of musty. Maybe he was digging (burying toys perhaps!) in the back yard today. Mom has been cleaning this afternoon so the house smells fresh and clean.

What do you feel:
Completely and truly loved! There has never been another creature so happy to see me! His fur when he was a baby was velvety soft. Now that he is full grown, his ears still retain that softness, but the rest of his hair is somewhat course, but still soft. He sniffs and sneezes. I feel him in my lap and remember when he was a baby and his whole body fit there perfectly. Now, just his head and front paws fit.

What do you hear:
His nails on the hardwood floor when he is woken up from his sleep hearing his girl call for him, desperately trying to get his feet to work for him to get him to me sooner! His grunts and sniffs in my lap, which he does with more gusto as I say hello to him and tell him how much I have missed him as I bend down and kiss his head. He wags his tail happily.

There are also cues outside of these stories on the cards that prompt him to wipe my face with a cool washcloth, to give me a sip of water, to take breaks himself if he needs it, to check my shoulders again to see if they are tensing up, etc. Chris is the kind of guy who feels best in any situation when he has clear instructions on what he can do to help, so he loves this.

The very latest news is that this weekend, my two best buds Mary and Jenny came over and spent a few hours with me giving the baby’s room a complete overhaul. I had a mess of a pile of baby things in the basement of stuff that either people had given me for Aaron, or that we had bought. In the nursery itself, there was also a jumble of things that had been thrown in the closet after Noah died to get it out of sight. All of it had to be gone through, cleaned up and reorganized so that the space could be used again. It was quite a job! We spent the afternoon hauling everything upstairs, and out of the closet, drawers and shelves, and get it all set back up again. It was so great to have them there. First of all, because occasionally we would unpack something, and find an item that was difficult for me to see. I had great support there as I faced it all. Second, if I were left to my own devices, I would put everything back where it was last time, which would end up being painful as well. The places where I knew this would be hard, we would make piles of everything that would go in an area (ex: all of THAT stuff goes on the bookshelves) and then task one of them to put it back up there in an order that made sense to them. It ended up being different, and it felt so much better to me. We pulled all the linens and clothes out and brought them down to the laundry room. Eleven loads of laundry later, all of it has been freshened up and organized back into the closet and drawers. The whole room is ready to go when Aaron shows up. It is organized in a way that makes complete sense. Mary was a great help there as she has a one year old, and knows the more practical places to put things. And Jenny is type-A like I am in how we organize things, and helped there too. It was great. I am so lucky to have these girls in my life!

Today, Chris started working on getting the decorative painting done that we want in there. Once it is all done I will post pictures. The room is bike themed. Chris picked out most of it, and it has been fun to see his vision of the space come to fruition! At the end of this weekend, I am so proud to say that for the first time in a little over a year, the door to that room has been open and stayed open. Instead of feeling grief over what that room represents, we are able to focus on the bright future ahead and feel excited about that. It feels so good to reclaim the space. I think Noah would approve. First of all, we kept one of his bees (his room was bee themed). Second, I believe that he had a hand in picking out this soul for us, and that this is someone that he loves and wants the best for in every circumstance. I know he would be so excited for his brother to have this space, and how we have worked out how to give it to him.

Good things ahead! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

26 Week Update

I am 26 weeks along and we are cruising through! The last four weeks haven’t been as eventful which is really nice. It is fun to be in the second trimester were all we are doing is watching him grow. And man is he growing! I am quite a bit bigger than I was when I last took a picture. I am wearing it well though. My back is surprisingly not as sore as you would think, and I am still moving around just fine.

I have hired a midwife. She only does home births, but she takes patients for what they call “concurrent care” if you are looking for that kind of monitoring even if you are delivering in a hospital. Basically, she will not deliver the baby, nor be at the hospital. I will simply see her for prenatal visits (and likely some postnatal visits as well) as I move through the rest of this time. I wanted to hire a midwife because of how I went into labor with Noah. I think about half the people in my life know that when I had Noah, my water broke, but I didn’t have any contractions or any signs of going into active labor. In the medicated child birth world, you go straight to the hospital where they give you lots of pitocin, the labor inducing drug to get things going. In the natural childbirth world, they call this PROM, or Premature Rupture of Membranes. It is normal and healthy, and you wait it out until your body and your baby decide to get things going on their own. This takes about 72 hours. It took me just under that time frame. I know that this concept scares the bejesus out of most, but for me I have no regrets. I got two and half more days with Noah than I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. We were both fine. I find it comforting in hind sight that he was the uber-nature baby. He came into the world when he wanted, and he left when he needed.

Doctors do not subscribe to this method of going into labor at all. There are a myriad of reasons why. Fear of malpractice suits, plus they make more money on medicated mothers, or maybe it is what insurance companies insist on for some reason. Either way, if it happens again with Aaron, I want to be cared for by someone that understands waiting for spontaneous labor, and is still a licensed medical professional, and has all the equipment (ultrasounds, etc) that my doctor has to monitor me more carefully. I also heard from a friend who uses a home birth midwife that the prenatal visits last about an hour. I probably see my OB for ten minutes when I go. The midwife on the other hand does a full checkup, measuring my belly, doing an ultrasound, checking blood pressure and pulse, and a number of other things. She also goes over how I am handling stress, what am I doing for diet and exercise, and helps manage the vitamins and supplements I am taking. It is a very thorough checkup! I find that incredibly comforting. Also, when I have questions, she is available all day and into the evening. She always picks up the phone. I don’t leave a message with someone else or on voice mail and wait for her to call me back. She is just always there. In moments of panic, she is a real lifesaver! I will of course continue to see my regular doctor too since that is who will actually deliver Aaron in the end. I am just covering all my bases and enjoying the best of both worlds by splitting my time between a doctor and a midwife.

I saw the midwife last Friday and she was remarking on how much weight I have gained in the last month. I have gained nine pounds! She then went over my diet with me. I am pretty anal about food and after I satisfied her that I am not living off of french fries, potato chips and the like, she turned her attention to check up on Aaron’s growth. That’s where we found the answer. He is measuring four weeks ahead of schedule! He has been growing like a weed, and frankly knowing that now makes a lot of sense. I have been hungry pretty much all the time lately. I have had a hard time keeping up on that for him! He has been in the middle of a huge growth spurt. Noah grew the same way. He was always measuring ahead. With two very tall parents this is completely normal and to be expected. In the ultrasound, Aaron looks great. He moves around just fine. His heart rate was in the 130’s. Everything looked perfect. He is just one big growing boy!

Aside from Aaron’s massive growth, as the summer is progressing, I am getting more and more swollen. My hands and feet feel like sausages. I haven’t seen the bones in my feet for a few weeks now. I have also been getting some braxton hicks contractions. The midwife says that this is normal and likely a sign that I need to slow down and rest more. Focus on staying hydrated and keep eating small snacks throughout the day. They don’t hurt and they aren’t coming regularly. I likely had them last time, but just didn’t get what they were. I haven’t had any food aversions yet. I am craving watermelon and the occasional Root Beer. I have always liked watermelon, but I don’t like Root Beer ordinarily! I don’t let myself have one except for every so often. Clearly Aaron loves it though! He is moving around more and more. There are times when it feels like he is knitting sweaters in there. He doesn’t kick so much as he feels like he is busy working on something!

As you can see from my previous post, the PUPPPS is back this time around. The skin on my legs started feeling a little itchy, and then right around 23 weeks it tipped over into being PUPPPS. PUPPPS stands for Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy, and it is an allergic reaction to the pregnancy, and in particular, some research is showing that it is an allergic reaction to male fetal DNA. It causes an extremely itchy rash akin to poison ivy and it usually pops up later in the pregnancy. Usually 3rd trimester, but because of the severity of how bad I tend to get it, it came mid way through second trimester this time. It is pretty rotten, and last time I had no choice but to take mega doses of steroids throughout the rest of pregnancy. This time I seem to be doing really well with the amazing acupuncturist I have found. She has a treatment plan that is really keeping it under control so far. I am so grateful! The midwife too has been pulling together a concoction of supplements that helps a lot too. Between the two of them, I am doing really well. It takes a lot of work keeping on top of it all, but to stay off of those drugs makes it very worth it! Pray that it works throughout the rest of the pregnancy!

Hope all is well with each of you! Thanks for reading!