Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You want some advice? Don't listen to "advice".

Fact: You will get more "advice" from complete strangers while being pregnant and in the first year of your babes life. More often than not, this advice is off the wall and not asked for at all.

I was that person that read every magazine, book, and article I came across. I figured the more I read, the more I would know, and the more I would be prepared. Then of course, I would have those random people come up to me and give me all the advice they had about raising their child. Finally, like most women (and men!) I just got sick of hearing everyone trying to tell me the best way to do things.

So, here is my advice. Don't listen to them. Why? Because your baby is exactly that, your baby. You and your partner are the only ones who will know your baby like no one else. You. Not the random person on the street, not the sales clerk who tells you those diapers don't work, no one. You will find out what you baby likes and doesn't like. What works and doesn't work. You'll figure it out.

Here are a few things that I got the most "advice" on:

Poop: You hear that babies "eat, sleep, and poop". You'll even hear that poop gets everywhere. Well, poop gets everywhere. I had no idea. You'll also cheer when your baby poops. You'll get excited. For poop! You'll wonder how one, small, little kid can make so much poop. My favorite experience was changing my daughter and she had poop in her hair. Yes, her hair. And on her shoulder. HOW? No idea. Still don't know. Poop. Get used to it now.

Sleep: "The best thing for a baby is to co-sleep", "co-sleeping is so dangerous!", "Your baby shouldn't even be in the same room as you." I could go on and on and on about all the advice I got about sleeping. Even my favorite "sleep when your baby sleeps". Well, guess what? If I slept when my baby slept nothing would get done. I'm lucky enough to work from home & be a stay at home mom. I have absolutely no idea how working moms have a clean house, laundry done, and dinner made. My hat is off to you women. Because more often than not my house is a mess, I have at least 2 loads of laundry to do, and I don't decide on dinner till around 4 PM. When my baby is sleeping I can actually get stuff done! As for sleeping at night, again, do what is best for you and your baby. I honestly said while pregnant that my baby would never sleep in the same bed as me. Night #1 baby was in bed with me. Yep, our first night home. And she stayed there until she was 8 months old. We even had not 1 but 2 different bassinets in our room. She didn't spend 1 night in either one. At 8 months we transitioned her into her crib in her nursery. Some nights she still ends up in our bed before the night is over. But that's okay.
My child is 11 months old and she still has not slept through the night. She did once. One time. I'm up to my eyeballs in "advice" about that. None of it worked. Nothing. We've tried crying it out, we've tried rocking her to sleep, we've tried it all. What works? Me getting up and nursing her back to sleep. I like my sleep too. And if me getting up to nurse her for 5 minutes at 2:30 am to get 3.5 more hours of sleep is what I need to do, then that's what I'm going to do. I can guarantee that is not going to work for everyone. And yes, I envy every single one of you who had a baby sleep through the night at 6 weeks.

Planning: You know those plans you have? Plans to be on time, plans to do anything? Throw them out. Yep. Throw them out. You will realize that this little precious miracle comes first. And that little baby has its own plans. More often then not, those plans will not go along with your plans. I hate being late. Huge pet peeve of mine is being late. I can honestly say I don't think I have been on-time to anything since having Hannah. And just when you think you'll be on-time for something, they'll poop, it'll go everywhere and you'll spend the next 30 minutes cleaning it up. Even your birthing plan. While it's great to know how you want things to go you have to understand that things don't always go the way you want them to, especially while in labor. Voice what you want to happen to your OB. Make sure they know. They'll help you make that happen as much as they can. But, things happen. Be flexible. It will make your life so much easier. Most things with a baby you just can't plan for.

Breastfeeding: I saved this one for last. Simply because this has to be the #1 topic when "advice" is given. And here is where thing's get tricky. Breastfeeding is hard. It is so incredibly hard. Not because the actual act of breastfeeding is hard. But because everyone will tell you how to do it. Your doctor, baby's doctor, lactation consultants, nurses. You name it, they'll try to tell you how to do it. How to fix it. How to make it better. Then you'll get the strangers advice. Oy vey! Not to mention all the press right now about mom's breastfeeding in public. Why don't you just make it harder!! If you want to breastfeed your baby, do it. Don't listen to all the advice unless you ask for it. I had to tell numerous people to leave my room when I was breastfeeding, including lactation consultants! It is a natural thing. Your baby will figure it out if you want to do it. If you don't, bottle feeding is great too. Your baby, your body, your choice. Don't stress about it. That will just make everything that much harder. My absolute favorite "advice" I got from a complete stranger was about breastfeeding. She told me my nipples would crack, they would bleed, and breastfeeding would hurt. She told me to slice a raw potato and put it in my bra between feedings. A freaking raw potato. I can't make this up. FYI my nipples never cracked, or bled, and once my milk was in it didn't "hurt" to breastfeed.

Parenting is the hardest, most rewarding job out there. I am by no means an "expert". I just can't stand all the advice that people feel entitled to give you. Don't listen. Smile (or tell them to go eff themselves) say thank you (or go away) and go about your day like nothing happened. That's my advice.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hannah's Birth Story

Welp, this only took me a month. 

Yep, my little baby girl is one whole month old!!

I know parents say this all the time but, I can't believe my baby is already a whole month old!! Needless to say, this last month has been a complete and utter whirlwind. With Hannah gracing (haha her middle name is Grace!) us with her presence to all the different holidays and the visitors we had that wanted to meet our sweet baby girl. Last week was the first full week that Doug and I really started to get into the routine that we will be doing for the rest of our lives. Hold. the. freaking. phone. She's here to stay folks.

I don't have to say this, but obviously Hannah arrived early. 4 weeks early actually. From my lack of posts, the end of my pregnancy sucked. Completely sucked. At 35 weeks (12/6/12) I ended up in Labor & Delivery because I had a massive migraine that had lasted for about 2 days. My OB was really concerned about me developing pre-eclampsia so he ran every test that he could possibly think of. Thankfully, all my blood work came back great. However, I was showing all the physical signs of pre-e. Not so good. They tried giving me something for my headache and 3 bags of fluid to see if that would help. No such luck. After about 8 hours I asked to be sent home. If there was nothing that they could do for me while my little babe was still in me, I would rather be at home then stuck in the hospital. We made an agreement with my OB that I would have an outpatient MRI the following morning and that I would see him in the early afternoon to see how I was feeling and go over the results of the MRI. The next day I was still feeling like hell but the MRI came back completely normal. (Which Doug and I both knew it would). My doctor was really considering delivering me that day. He was 99% certain that the placenta was secreting too many hormones getting ready to push the baby out and my body could just not handle them all. (He couldn't be more right!!) Unfortunately, delivering a baby at 35 weeks comes with lots and lots of risks. Risks that I just was not willing to take. There is such a huge difference between 35 and 36 weeks with development of her lungs. As much pain I was in, I still knew I could endure the migraine for one more week.

The following Thursday (12/13/12) my doctor took one look at me and said "Do you want to get this baby out?" My immediate answer, "Yes! Get this baby out. I'm not kidding." He didn't hesitate. He called the neonatologist that I saw the previous week while being in L&D and cleared it with him. (Since she would still be considered "premature" he had to say that the benefits of delivering her outweighed the risks). Then called to schedule my induction. I pleaded with him to try to induce me before going straight to a c-section. Although I was 36 weeks and my cervix was posterior, completely closed, and I was not effaced at all, I still wanted to try just for my piece of mind. Even though the doctor told me I had a 2% chance of delivering vaginally, I still wanted to try. We had everything set up and Doug and I were out the door for our last night as a family of two. Mind blown.

That night was laid back but totally crazy. We had to make sure we had everything ready for all of us. Then, we had to try to relax. Yeah, right. Doug was a mess. He hardly said anything to me for a while. He was so nervous that we didn't have everything ready (we totally did) or that we would forget something important (I knew we wouldn't). He spent the majority of the evening either staring into space or running around the house like a crazy person. We ended up having breakfast for dinner (one of my favorites!) and tried to go to bed early to get a good nights rest. Let's face it, it was probably the last "good nights rest" we would have for years.

While my intentions were good, I ended up waking up at 2am starving (and completely freaking out!) and stayed up for the rest of the night. around 4:30 AM I made some coffee for Doug and took a shower. We got a few last minute things together and were out the door by 5:30 AM. At the hospital, we got settled into our room, got through all the registration nonsense, and I got hooked up to all the monitors. Around 8, my doctor came in and we got things rolling. They did the initial blood work CBC to check my levels, ordered the pitocin, and some morphine for my head (BONUS!) and we discussed what would happen for the rest of the day. We decided to try the pitocin till 4:30 PM and then reevaluate the situation. He still felt that there was little to no chance of me delivering vaginally and told me to be prepared for a c-section. While he was still in the room, my CBC came back and showed that my platelets were at exactly 100,000 which is the cut-off point for some anesthesiologists to give an epidural. So he ordered that too. (Double bonus!) We knew that if I was to have a c-section I would need it, and if I was delivering vaginally I would need it too. So either way, I was getting it. And instead of waiting and chancing my platelets dropping any more, I signed up to get the epi. For anyone who's scared of getting an epi, it's so super simple. Best advice I have is to stay still. Worst part about an epi is you cant get up and they have to put a catheter in. But even for that, they wait till the epi has kicked in before putting that in!

I had my epi in place and meds pumping through my body before the first contraction started. Fabulous!!! The remainder of the morning and afternoon was pretty boring for everyone. (My mom came to the hospital around 9 and my step-dad joined us around 3.) Unfortunately for me, the morphine for my head wore off pretty quickly and when the contractions started picking up frequency and intensity so did my migraine. I went from like a 4-5 pain level to like an 8-9. I wanted to cry so bad but the pressure it takes to cry would send me over the edge. We get a bucket of cold water with ice and wash clothes to put on my head and turned all the lights off. I closed my eyes and told myself it would be over soon. "Soon" couldn't come soon enough!! I should mention while all this was going on we had the news on because it just so happens on this day was also the day of the Newtown, CT shooting. By this point, nothing could make my headache any worse so I was fine with the TV being on. I contracted every 2-3 minutes for 60-90 seconds for 6 hours. Then 4:30 came and went, so did 5. At 5:10 my nurse came in and asked if my OB had been by, when I answered "No' she walked out of the room and called him. He said he was tied up with another patient but to check me and to give him a call back. She came back in and did the exam, to no surprise, I hadn't changed at all. The only thing that had changed was my cervix was "a little bit soft." At 5:30 my OB walked in and said "C-section?" Without skipping a beat I said "C-section." It was like he didn't even need to ask me. He could tell by the pain I was in that I just couldn't handle it any longer. The next series of events happened fast. Really freaking fast.

Doug and my mom were handed scrubs, I was thrown a hat covering for my hair. The anesthesiologist came in and moved my epidural. I was unhooked from the monitors and the pitocin was stopped. Then, I was being wheeled down the hallway to the OR. The decision was made at 5:34, I was in the OR by 5:38. 4 minutes. The only bad part was that the epidural wasn't completely numbing the left side of my body. Actually the whole day, I could still feel and move my left leg but my right leg was completely numb. It took (what I thought was) a long time to get my left side numb. The anesthesiologist was great, she kept telling me that she could keep giving me more medicine. That there wasn't necessarily a "limit" to how much medicine she could give me. Even if she hit the "limit" with one kind, she could switch it up and try something else. Weirdest part of the whole experience was when she moved the table. I mean like strapped me in with seat belts then actually tilted the table from side to side then forwards and backwards! Apparently, this helped and actually did the trick. I thought it was some kind of airplane contraption. My description really doesn't do it justice.

Once I was numb, scrubbed, and draped, Doug and my mom were let in. They came and sat by my head and we were underway. I can not explain the pressure and tugging that I then experienced. It didn't hurt, but I had to shut my eyes to hold my breath a few times just to get through the intense feelings. I later learned that when my OB started delivering Hannah he tried to pull her out feet first. Well the incision wasn't long enough (or big enough) to fit her big butt through so he had to push her back in and make the incision larger. He then spun her around and delivered her by her head.

Hannah Grace was born at 6:05 PM on December 14, 2012.
Tipping the scales at 5 pounds 12 ounces and 18 inches long.

She was PISSED. As an "I'm going to show you" notion, she decided to breath for a few moments, then stop, then take a few more breaths and stop. Thank you little girl for already giving me small heart attacks and you were not even 5 minutes old. My mom would run over to the warmer, snap a picture, and come over to show me. Hannah finally settled down and continued breathing without her little "stops" after a few minutes. However, she was totally "mean muggin" for the next few hours. Including our "First Family Picture" when Doug brought her over to me for the first time..

Pretty much immediately after this picture was taken, she was taken out of the OR and to the recovery room were I would be taken when I was out of surgery. Doug went with our precious babe and my mom stayed with me. Thank goodness. Because the rest of the surgery was awful for me. Since my platelets were low, and the initial part of the surgery took longer than expected, I lost more blood than the originally intended. And he couldn't stop it. He tried staples. I bled through them. He tried a few stitches. I bled through them. He then glued me together and used steristrips. Which thankfully held. All in all, I lost more than 1/2 my blood supply. My mom was freaking out. It took every ounce of my being to not throw up (which it way I have that green blanket thing around my face) or fall asleep (loose consciousness as they called it). I started shaking. Good thing I was strapped to the table because I prob would have fallen off. Then I got thirsty. Like started pleading and offering money to the nurses and OR staff to get me a glass of water. I honestly told one nurse that I would give her $1,000 if she had a glass of water waiting for me in the recovery room. She laughed at me and said 1) she wouldn't take my money because 2) there was absolutely no way I was getting a glass of water. Damnit. However, I would be able to have some ice chips once I got situated in the recovery room "if I was good." I didn't care what I had to do, I was going to get ice chips. Stat. Good news, my headache was completely GONE before I was even out of surgery.

I was lifted as I shifted onto a gurney and told to "shut my eyes" as I was wheeled to recovery. When I opened my eyes again, my darling husband was holding our sweet baby girl. I couldn't believe it. I was a mom. Our baby was actually here. It wasn't just a dream. I was then asked what I felt like 100 questions and  my stats were taken. Thankfully, my BP and HR were looking great despite the amount of blood I lost. After a few minutes a nurse brought me ice chips. If I could move, I probably would have jumped up and kissed her. I never thought ice would taste so good. Once I thought about it though, I had eaten a bowl of cereal at 2:30 AM, it was now about 7:15 PM and this was the first thing I had ingested all day long. I blew through an entire cup in about 5 minutes and asked for more. I was even brought juice!! I was so happy. Once I got myself under control, I then asked to hold my little girl. I wanted to do skin to skin ASAP. The nurse that was caring for Hannah took her vitals one more time, stuck some strip around her foot to monitor her oxygen level while she was with me and undressed her to her diaper. She was then placed on my chest and it was honestly the best feeling in the world. 

Much too soon for me, the nurse wanted to take her off my chest. Really it had been about 20 minutes but the lab people had come to do blood work on her as well as me. Her levels were awesome. Her glucose level never got low, and her oxygen level stayed between 98%-100%. However, she was doing this sort of grunting thing. She had swallowed/inhaled some fluid when she was pushed back inside me and she just wasn't sounding as great as the nurse would have liked. So, she called the doctor and they decided to send her to the NICU just for observation. Because her levels were doing so well, they assured me that it was just for observation. She didn't need anything done really but that she was experiencing something called TTN and basically just wasn't transitioning well to being outside of me. I looked at Doug and told him that this was not up for discussion, he needed to stay with her. I had enough nurses around to care for me, I would not be okay unless I knew he was with her, and that he wouldn't leave her. I had some crazy motherly nightmares and fear while I was still pregnant that she would feel like she was alone. I was not about to let that happen. So away they went.

After about 10 more minutes, my recovery nurse said she felt I was ready to be moved to my post-partum room (the room I would stay in till I was discharged from the hospital.) I was once again detatched from all my monitors and my epi was taken out!! My mom and step-dad could also come to see me in this room. My mom left the recovery area once she was able to hold Hannah and I started feeling a little better from the surgery. She wanted to call our family to tell them that Hannah was here and she wanted to see my step-dad. Two nurses gathered up all my stuff and away we went! Once again, I was told to shut my eyes so that I wouldn't get sick to my stomach. Well, that didn't help. As soon as we got to my room, my stomach exploaded. I was shooting blood and "stuff" out my neather region I was vomitting so hard and I started crying because it hurt so freaking bad. Of course, my parents arrived right as this was all happening. My mom came in to help while Tom stayed in the hallway. He didn't need to see the war zone that my body was excreting.

Once I was all cleaned up, he came in for a few moments and then went to the NICU to see Hannah for the first time. For the remainder of the evening, my mom and him switched off between the two places. I continued to get sick about every 30 minutes so I wasn't allowed to go and see my girl. It ended up that my baby just wouldn't cry allowing herself to open up her lungs and push all that crap out. The nurses tried, my husband tried, and finally my mom was called in. Even she couldn't get Hannah to let our a full out wail. She would wimper but not scream. In the end it took a bath to have her start screaming. To this day, she still is not a fan of baths.  Luckily, at 2:30 AM (I had now been up for 24 hours) Hannah was released from the NICU and brought to my room. As soon as she came through the door, she was taken out of her swaddle and handed to me for more skin to skin and for us to start breastfeeding. She latched right on and we havn't looked back since. 

We were in the hospital for 4 days and the only hiccup we had while there was Hannah started having a high bilirubin count so we put her under the light for 12 hours. She hated it. 

Since being home, we have had little to no complications. She did loose her 10% weight and got down to 5 lbs 1oz when she was 1 week old but by 2 weeks she was 5lbs 14 oz! She sure does love to eat! But more on that soon...