Friday, October 24, 2008

My bittersweet relationship with breastfeeding

There is nothing in the world like having a child. I never knew I could love someone so much. I knew when I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed. I never said I was going to try, I said I was going to do it. I even went to a Le Leche League meeting in August to set up a support network in case I had trouble, at the advice of another breastfeeding mom. The first day was rough for both of us. We didn't know what we were doing and he had a hard time latching on. But the next day we had the help of a very good nurse at the hospital, and from then on we were a great team. BBZ is 1 month old now, and I have breastfed him every single day since the day he was born. I breastfeed "on demand", which is exactly how it sounds. Every time he wants to suck, I bring him to the breast. No pacifiers, no bottles, for at least the first 2 weeks. Talk about demanding, I see where they get the name. I was lucky enough that he slept 3-4 hours at night right from the beginning. He eats just about every hour when he is awake, but at night he is now on a very strict 3 hour schedule. He gets up every three hours and is up for about an hour. So that means I get to sleep in 2 hour increments. I would complain, but I know it could be much worse! I think I have figured out the best and worst parts of breastfeeding. The worst part is that I am the only one who can feed him. N has started giving him the occasional bottle, but I have to feed him at night otherwise I get to engorged and sore, so N can only help occasionally when I can pump. Even after N gives him a bottle he still wants to nurse. He acts like he is still hungry, but I think it's the close intimacy that he desires. It's a work in progress...N and BBZ need to develop their feeding relationship just like BBZ and I did. Saying I am overwhelmed is an understatement. Not all the time, but sometimes. One day a few weeks ago I cried all day because he seemed to never get full. I swear I nursed him all day. I was suppossed to go to a LLL meeting that evening, but I was so emotional I didn't want to, but I knew it would be the best place to get the support I needed. I planned to take a short nap before the meeting and ended up sleeping from 6pm-11pm, and so did BBZ. I guess it was a rough day for both of us. The best part of breastfeeding? That I am the only one who can feed him. It is both the worst and the best feeling in the world. To look down and see him getting all of his required nourishment from me is indescribable. He had his 1 month check-up yesterday and he weighs 11lbs! And everything that is going into his little body is coming from me. What an amazing phenomenon! One last thing to say about breastfeeding...I wish it was more accepted in public. I hope to become more comfortable feeding him in public as we get better at it, but I am always anxious when we go out around town because I worry about where I will be able to feed him if I need to. Luckily he has been sleeping the whole time every time we've gone out, so I haven't had to choose between staying in the booth in the restaurant to feed him or going and sitting in a dirty bathroom stall. LLL is all about feeding in public, but I am still a little uncomfortable with it. Hopefully as he and I get better at it I will become more comfortable. It's one of the most natural things in the world...why does it make me so nervous??? I guess it's something I just have to come to terms with.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Baby Boy Z is 1 month old!

What a month! I cannot believe he is one month old today!
His first bath Snuggling with mommy Pretty baby boy Hanging out with daddy Gazing at mommy

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Childbirth Story

My childbirth story
Happened on 9/23/08
When I was pregnant I loved hearing others' birth stories and imagining what mine would be like, so maybe some will be interested in this, and some won't. I will say that I plan to tell all the details, so if you have a weak stomach or otherwise don't want to hear those details, you may want to pass. Consider yourself warned.
If I could choose one word to describe my birth experience it would be traumatic. I don't necessarily mean this in a bad way, but I had a hard time sleeping the night after because the experience echoed repeatedly in my mind so much so that it was very difficult to settle down. When I think of all that happened on September 22nd and 23rd, it sometimes still keeps me up at night. Labor started at around 7pm on September 22nd. I didn't know at the time it was labor, but I happened to notice the time when I had a contraction that felt a little stronger than the ones I had been having all day. I had another around 7:45pm, then another around 8:15pm. It was about 10pm when I realized they were coming in a bit of a pattern. I told my husband that I was going to see if I could get some sleep incase this was it (yeah right) so I went upstairs and laid down. Sleep was a joke, so I instead went downstairs and suggested he go to sleep because I was pretty sure we would be heading to the hospital tonight. I started writing down my contractions, which were about 15 minutes apart. At about 11:30pm, they were closer together - about 7-8 minutes apart. I started to get nervous. I figured that if I had to go to the hospital anyway I might as well go. I woke N up and told him I was starting to freak out. He suggested I call the doctor and find out when I should go to the hospital. The doctor on call was nice and suggested I take a shower and try to relax. I sounded like a good idea, and we got off of the phone. She didn't tell me when I should head to the hospital, so N and I figured we would stick to the 5-1-1 rule (contractions are 5 minutes apart, last at least a minute, for at least an hour). I took a shower, which really relaxed me, and drank some Tazo tea, and waited. The contractions were pretty intense and I started to tell myself it would be ok if I get the epidural, which was something I was going to try not to do. At 1:30am, after an hour of 5-1-1, we headed to the hospital.
We got there around 2am and went to the room where they would admit me. I was so worried that I wasn't really in labor and they would send me home. They had me change my clothes and hooked me up to the machine to measure my contractions. I had a couple while I was there, but it felt like they slowed down. I was apparently having small contractions in between the ones I felt that I did't even feel! The nurse checked me and I was already dialated to 5cm. I was really in labor! I insisted on having a Heparin lock instead of an IV so I could walk around the room and not be confined to the bed. She started the line and we walked to the labor and delivery room. The contractions got much more intense, and if you haven't given birth, you cannot understand this kind of pain. It hurts, but not like anything else I have ever felt. Let me say here what an amazing labor coach my husband was. He thought he wouldn't be able to handle it, but he did, magnificently. I was so impressed with his patience and calming effect, I swear I fell in love with him all over again during this experience. I did all over again when I later saw him gaze into his son's eyes for the first time.
The nurse checked me about every hour and at 5:30am I was dialated to 7cm. I had almost decided to have the epidural, but I really couldn't decide. I was more afraid of what was coming than what was happening at the moment. I was also extremely tired. It was like running a marathon after staying up all night. I decided to wait one more hour to see how much I progressed. At 6:30am I was still at 7cm. I opted for the epidural.
Let me say now that whoever invented the epidural was a genious. I was able to feel everything I wanted to and nothing I didn't. I got some sleep and felt ready to have this baby. There are definately bad sides to the epidural though. It really, really slowed things down. My doctor came to see me at around 9:30am and said I would probably have the baby by noon. I didn't. It took my body from 6:30am-1:30pm to dialate from 7cm to 10cm. Finally at 1:30pm, I was ready to push. The nurse and N held my legs as I tried to push. It didn't hurt, and I was very excited to finally meet this little person. The got a mirror and I was able to see his head as I pushed. I pushed for 2 hours and he would not come past my pelvic bone. The nurses told me to take a break around 3:30pm and came back around 4pm. They started to explain that the only part of his head that was coming through was the soft part. He had not turned and the way his head was positioned he could not fit through my pelvis. I started to cry. After all of this they are going to tell me that I need a c-section? That was the one thing I really didn't want. I wanted to feel him come out, I didn't want to have to recover from surgery while trying to bond with my son, this was the worst news I could have heard and I was very upset.
My doctor came into the room at what seemed like the same time and said she WAS going to deliver this baby as naturally as she could because she knew that's what I wanted. She said she planned to do an episiotomy and use forceps to pull him out. This was just as scary of a thought as the surgery, but I trust my doctor and said she should do what she felt she needed to. She asked if the epidural was still working since she was going to cut me to make room for the forceps, and that's when I realized I had only pressed the button once since 6:30am and it was pretty worn off. I wanted it to be because I wanted to feel as much if the birth as possible, but I sure didn't want to feel her cut me! I asked for a local anisthetic before the cut, which she asked someone to go and get. It took a few minutes for them to get it and in the mean time I could feel the energy in the room change. They gave me oxygen and told me to breathe slowly, the room filled with people and everyone was rushing around and doing things. A woman picked up the phone next to us and said they were preparing a forcep birth with variables...what variables??? I didn't understand what was happening and I reached out for N's hand and hoped he would tell me it was alright. My doctor asked me if I was ready and I said yes. I grabbed the hand bars near my legs and pushed...hard. I felt the forceps hit the inside of my left hip and my leg twitched. And then I felt him slip out...and there he was! Baby Boy Z was born at 5:02pm. They placed him on my chest and I gazed at him in a fit of tears and emotion. I couldn't believe he was here, and he was ok. They moved him to the warmer and I heard his amazing cry...a sound I dreamt about for months.
At this time I thought the hard part was over, but I was wrong. I didn't feel the incision when my doctor did the episiotomy, but I did feel the blood drip from the cut. Now was time for the stitches. I couldn't believe how much I felt. I looked down and saw my doctor and the resident I met earlier working quickly to stitch me up, and I felt every single stitch. I couldn't understand why I could feel it and I kept asking why I could. They pushed the epidural button a lot more times thinking it would give me some relief, but it didn't. It wasn't so much that it hurt, but it was extremely uncomfortable. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, they placed BBZ on my chest wrapped in a blanket. There he was, my little boy who I felt inside me for so long. I was in love with him. He felt like a stranger that night as he slept in his bassinet next to me. I couldn't sit up well since my bottom was sore and I couldn't lift him out of his bassinet comfortably. He didn't seem interested in nursing and the nurse wasn't much help. I barely slept as I listened and awoke to every peep he made. I finally asked the nursery to take him so I could get some sleep. I felt guilty about sending him away and punished myself for it until I finally fell asleep.
The next day he came in around 6am and stayed with us all day. I felt an instant connection with him and he no longer felt like a stranger. The nurse came in and helped me learn to nurse him and we did great. I can hardly believe it will be a month tomorrow that all of this happened. This experience has been the most natural, wonderful, scary, and emotional time of my life. My son is here, he's healthy, and I love him more and more every day. It's not always wonderful...I question myself a lot, wonder if he will be ok in the world, if he will be a good person, if I will be able to go back to work and leave him at a day care, and will I ever be able to get drunk again!?
Overall I feel like I have done something truely human and animalistic. As I stare at him now as he sleeps on my belly, my dream is that he will always do what makes him happy and will continue to love me even when it's difficult for him.