Friday, February 27, 2015

Liam Albert: Two Months Old


It's unbelievable that my sweet little babe is 10 weeks old! Time moved quickly prior to having a baby, but something about this new period in my life has made time move exponentially faster. (Except for those late nights where he never seems to stop nursing and I just want to go back to sleep...) :)

Liam was "officially" two months old on February 18, 2015. Here's where he's at these days in his growth and development!


Stats
At your two-month appointment, you were 13 lbs, 3 oz and 23 inches long. That puts you up another (almost) 3 lbs since your 1 month appointment and you've almost doubled your birth weight! You're in the 72nd percentile for weight, and are about average for height. Your head, while I can't remember the circumference, is 95th percentile. No wonder we needed forceps!

Eyes: Your eyes right now are hazel. They look green in some lights and brown in others, so we're anxious to see what color they end up! 



Hair: Brown! Thank goodness you've got a lot of it, because it's covering some nasty cradle cap right now.
Likes

  • Motion - whether it's your swing, your stroller, the baby carrier, the car, swaying, walking the halls, rocking or bouncing - moving is the name of the game. You somehow know if we are sitting and "moving" you, and yell at us until we get our butts off the couch and stand up!
  • Talking: You've recently found your voice and you love to chat with us all the time! You're chattiest after a good meal and good night's rest, and especially when you're on the changing table.
  • Your hands: You have been obsessed with your hands since you were in the womb. You are constantly moving your hands and arms, touching your face, touching our faces, sucking on your arms and hands. The only time your hands aren't in motion or by your face is when we swaddle them to your side (you don't love that).
  • Kicking: You're starting to figure out you have appendages from the waist down and you love to kick them! Your leg strength is also amazing and you're able to "stand" and push off our legs with our help for a couple of minutes!
  • Smiling: Oh you have the sweetest smiles, especially the ones that reach your eyes! You have Dad's left dimple and it melts my heart when you smile big enough to see it in those chubby cheeks! You smile so big at us, both when we smile at you and for no reason in particular. To die for.

You also still love bath time with Dad, you've become fond of napping, and you love sleeping with Mommy.
Dislikes

  • Tummy Time: We're working on it. You like it better when you have the help of a Boppy pillow.
  • Your Crib: Again...working on it. We try to have you nap in there at least once per day. You usually make it about 45 minutes before you're done and at that point, we move you back to the Rock 'N Play. 
  • Hiccups: You get them all the damn time.
  • Being Motionless: See above on your love of moving

Milestones

  • First smile
  • First laugh
  • Holding head up
  • Almost rolled over!

Favorite toys

  • Swings
  • Mirrors
  • Bouncy seats
  • Activity mats - You have a couple of these and love to sit under them, looking at the lights. You also like 
  • Wubbanub - not sure if this is a toy, but you love your Wubbanubs! We have two - Giraffe and Elephant! You like having them when you are falling asleep and they are good to soothe you, but you don't "need" them all the time. 
Sleeping
Is getting better! When you go to bed, you sleep a good 4-6 hour stretch. After that, you still wake up at least once - sometimes for your paci, and sometimes to eat. Sometimes you like to cluster feed from about 5-7am, which makes mommy very tired and look forward to our morning nap! On the day of your 2-month appointment (shots!), you slept 8.5 hours. I look forward to when you do that all the time!

You'll sleep just about anywhere, and don't need any specific circumstances to catch some ZZZ's. We are trying to help you establish good sleep habits, and working on transitioning you into your room/crib. You're sleeping most comfortably in your Rock 'N Play and you're doing that in your room. You take about 3 solid naps per day. One in the morning after you eat, one mid-afternoon and one late afternoon. They are usually at least an hour, sometimes two or three! You take naps in your crib, but so far have only been able to last for about 45 minutes before you need to get moved into your RNP. You also sleep SUPER well in your Fisher-Price Cradle 'N Swing. You could stay in there all day if we let you!
Eating
You love to eat and you HATE when your meals are late or cut short. In fact, when you get super pissed, we call you LeAnn: Because you scream like a girl! :) (Parents of the Year!)

You are still eating about 8-10 times/day. You are exclusively breastfed, and take bottles, too, so other people - like Daddy - can feed you! When you have a bottle, you take 4-5 oz, and when you nurse, it can be for 20 minutes or an hour. It tends to make you sleepy and you forget what you need to do!



Other highlights/notes:

  • We went on two trips: One back home to Iowa for a week in January when you were 6 weeks old, and one to Macomb, IL to have a besties weekend with Harvey and Stetson (and their mamas, and SJ). We are going to Seattle in March!
  • Swaddling: Still figuring this out with you. You act like you hate it (see hands comment above), but once you're in and calmed down, it helps you sleep. Once you wake up though, we always find you trying to wrestle your way out of that thing and you get REAL pissed. 
  • You love European kisses - when I kiss you on one cheek, then the other, then the other.
  • You're like your dad in so many ways. Most notably: You will laugh and smile and chat with me for hours, and the second I put my phone in your face to take a photo or record, you stop. Deadpan. SO MUCH LIKE DAD! Stinker.
  • You are super expressive and always make funny faces. I take photos of them all, don't worry.
We love you so much and watching you grow & develop is our greatest pleasure!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Truth About Maternity Leave

I had an extremely romanticized version of what my maternity leave would entail when I was pregnant.

In my mind, it was daily walks with my babe, frequent play dates (ie, mamas drank wine while babies slept), daily trips to Target to get out of the house, watching new TV series, crossing things off my neverending to-do list, reading a lot, freelancing, and of course, blogging every day so as not to forget one precious moment of my sweet baby's first months. I imagined being in a blissful state of baby euphoria for 12 wonderful weeks.

Ha. HA. Ha. HA. Ha.

To those who think being on maternity leave means laying around all day watching TV in your pajamas, sleeping when baby sleeps, lunching with your working friends, crossing things off a long to-do list, and basically hanging out for 12 weeks (if you're lucky) -- you're only partly right.

Do I spend most days in my pajamas? You bet. But mostly because I can't fit into much else, and because I spend a large portion of my days with one or both boobs out, with either a baby or a pump attached me. So yes, lots of yoga pants/pajamas/nursing tanks, and lots of television. There is little else you can do other than watch TV or read when you are feeding the baby, no matter if you do it from your breast or a bottle. Oh, and I get peed, pooped and puked on pretty much at least once every day, so - why dirty my cute clothes and create more laundry that I don't have time to do?

Of course there are days where we snuggle, all day long, in my bed, with My DVR or Bravo shows on marathon. I will admit that and I am not sorry for it. After all, these are the days to cherish.

Sleep when baby sleeps? SURE THING. Great idea in theory, but if any new mom has actually been able to do this, I would love to know how. For me, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've taken a nap during the day when Liam is sleeping. Why? So many reasons.


For one, my baby in particular didn't do a lot of daytime - or nighttime sleeping at first. He is super alert and spent a lot of time in the beginning wide awake during the day, so therefore, I COULDN'T sleep. 

For another, I've found it impossible to just close my eyes and sleep when Liam is sleeping because I can't shut off my brain - my mind is racing with the millions of things I need to do, people I need to call back, laundry I need to do, showers that need to be taken. Not to mention that I've got one ear open for any squeak or squeal that needs my attention, and I have to make sure he's breathing every five minutes. Maybe I need to pump. Maybe I've now gotten out of bed, had my shower and/or coffee, and don't feel tired anymore, so I want to actually get stuff done, like laundry, the dishes or tidying up the toys. Maybe I want to take the sleeping baby out for a trip to the grocery store before he wakes up and goes berserk. Or maybe I've got Liam sleeping, in my arms and just want to stare at his beautiful face and kiss his soft little head and smell his new baby smell until he wakes up and starts screaming at me again, and I forget how angelic and so very precious he is.

In the early days of maternity leave/Liam's life, days were unpredictable. Some days I literally sat around topless because he was eating so frequently, there was no point in getting dressed again. His sleeping during the day was all over the place, as he was still adjusting to figuring out his days and nights. He ate ALL the time. To be honest, those first few weeks in general are a complete blur, as they were spent in a haze of complete and utter exhaustion and frequent hysteria. I was lonely when Bryan went back to work and all the visitors went home. I was overwhelmed with responsibility. I cried a lot. I still do. I was scared something would happen on my watch and I wouldn't know what to do. I was exhausted and bored, and I felt guilty for thinking these things and not "soaking up all of these special moments."


Now that Liam is a little older, I have  better idea of what a "typical" day looks like. He wakes up for the day around 7am. I nurse him and then we both go back to sleep for another 1-2 hours (if I'm lucky). This is the only time I sleep when he sleeps; I'm exhausted from the previous night. We wake up, eat again, then have some play time/tummy time/awake time before he's ready for a mid-morning nap. Rinse, recycle, repeat. If I plan to do errands or anything, I usually try to time it so that I feed him and load him up in the car seat so he'll take a nice snooze while I'm running around. he loves the car, so it's nice to have him in there when he's calm and not screaming his head off (happens from time to time). Same for if we want to get outside or walk anywhere - I'll feed him, play with him for awhile and load him in the stroller or into the Baby K'Tan and off we go. He falls asleep nearly instantly with any type of motion. 

We figure things out as we go - for example, we know that for Liam, after he's been awake for 2 hours, he is tired and ready for a snooze, otherwise he gets super cranky. Obviously, I'm more comfortable taking him out on my own than I was only a few weeks ago. I don't feel like I'm going to die of fear when I drive a car with him in it. I know that it's OK if I take shower and he wakes up while I'm in there, and God forbid...CRIES! Even better, now I know he likes to hang in the Rock 'N Play while I'm in the shower, so long as I bring it in the bathroom with me. I know it's OK to set him down for a minute and walk away to take a breath if he's being hysterical. Some days, I feel like I know what I'm doing. And then the next day comes and something changes and I feel like we're back to the beginning.

We work on trying to create good sleep habits during the day. But we also break all the "sleeping rules". Whatever works.

We're getting closer to finding out when bedtime is. Most days it's a crap shoot, and that's OK - he's only 10 weeks old! We've found that whenever he does go "to bed," he gives us a nice 5-hour stretch of sleep to start the night. Obviously, the later this happens the better, because it coincides with when I sleep. But some times, he'll go to bed at 6pm, which doesn't help anyone out if he just wakes up at 11pm.


Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being home with my boy. He is growing and changing every single day, and now that he's 2 months old (what!), he is really starting to get a personality. He smiles and "talks" -- it is so nice to see those things after weeks of feeling like you give and give and give to this little being who does nothing but take. It's gratification of sorts and makes all the hard moments and days worth it. It is so rewarding to know that everything he knows about life and the world, he learns from me and Bryan, and watching him discover and experience things for the first time is indescribable.

But it was hard being here alone every day at first. Some days, it still is. 

My advice to other new moms on maternity leave, those just beginning maternity leave, or about to take maternity leave? Celebrate the wins where you get them. Did you make it outside the front door today? Amazing! Did you get the baby to sleep in his crib, even if for 15 minutes? Congrats! Did you make your coffee before noon, finish it by 2pm and only have to reheat it 3 times? Hallelujah!


Today, I completed 22 minutes of a 30 minute workout during the 90 minutes my son was sleeping. The rest was walking back-and-forth to his room to put his pacifier back in or rocking him back to sleep. But 22 minutes is better than zero.

Set goals for yourself every day. Start small - that might mean taking a shower every morning or calling a friend you haven't talked to in awhile. Work your way up to getting out of the house, for the first time, and then as often as you can and feel comfortable with. Everything you do for the first time will seem terrifying and daunting, because it is, but just rip off the band-aid and try it - you can do it, I promise.


You will have days where you can't wait to go back to work. Where you're counting the minutes until your husband gets home so you can have 5 minutes to yourself. Where you wish your baby would stop yelling at you when you set him down for just one second. You will feel guilty for thinking such things, for wishing this time away. Don't - its normal.

But do keep perspective. My new mantra is "This too shall pass." That goes for the good and bad days. Not every day will be bliss with your baby. Take each day as it comes. Try to take advantage of this time off. It's cliche, but time really does go so fast. Face each day with a clean slate, and fresh eyes, because for every bad day, there are a million amazing moments you'll want to bottle up forever.

PS - Ain't no shame in the Mommy/Baby selfie game!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

It's Complicated: Birth Story Part 2

After Liam was sent off to the NICU and I had been all stitched up, Bryan and I began calling family and close friends to let them know our good news. At this point, it was about 8:00 a.m. and we were exhausted, given that we'd been up for basically 24 hrs.

One note here: One thing I was looking forward to the most was telling my Dad that we named his first Grandson after him (Albert is my dad and Grandpa's name). He was very happy and humbled at the honor and now calls Liam "LiBert." Oh, Dad.

 Dad and Liam meet!

Anyway, in any birth, part of the recovery is pressing on the stomach to make sure the uterus is contracting down (shrinking). By the way, having someone press REALLY hard on your tender belly that was just housing a kid is SUPER PLEASANT. (note sarcasm). Since I spiked a fever/infection during delivery, I was also getting monitored for that.


My L&D nurse pressed on my belly and, as is normal, blood came out. 15 minutes later, she does it again. More blood, but this time she seemed concerned. The blood, while normal, was both clotted and there was a lot of it. She told us that when women spike a fever/infection during delivery, they are more prone to hemorrhage. She said we weren't there yet.

We went through this process several times, and each time, more clotted blood exited my body en masse. The nurse started weighing each output and finally, called in a doctor.

I'm pretty out of it at this point, drifting in and out of sleep. I know something is wrong, but it doesn't seem too serious yet.

The doctor explains that the bottom of my uterus is not contracting, which was causing me to clot and bleed in excess. He gave me some medication to help and we kept monitoring. A short while later, there did not seem to be any signs of slowing down. The next step was to insert a device that was designed to balloon while inside and press against the bottom of my uterus and stop the bleeding that way. 

As this is happening, there are about 20 people in the room. Doctors are explaining what's happening and prepping us for the next steps should this effort not work. By now, it's a few hours later (rough guess..I'm so exhausted and out of it, I have no idea). 


I remember being SO effing thirsty. I hadn't had any water since 830am and I couldn't have any now with my current situation, in case they had to operate. 

Other moments of clarity: after they gave me the medicine to try and stop the bleeding, I was laying there, and still receiving my epidural for pain through all this. It's me, Bryan and my nurse. All of the sudden, I hear the loudest fart imaginable. I look around, shocked. "Was that ME???" I asked, horrified. Everyone laughed and the nurse said, "Oh yeah, we forgot to tell you - that medicine causes uncontrollable diahrea." Umm, seems like a detail most people would want to know.

Thankfully, I had not shat myself (yet) and so I held on to a small shred of dignity that I still had.

Let me be clear: my husband and I are best friends. We share everything with each other. But we do not fart in front of each other, pee with the door open or talk about our bowel movements. We just don't. 

So by now, not only has Bryan seen my 10 CM vagine, he has seen copious amounts of blood exit from said vagine and now, he is hearing me fart like a man. All of this is what it is and I know he didn't care - but I'd like him to want to sleep with me again someday.

Anyway, when they realized the device was not working as planned, things became much more serious. We were told I needed to have a procedure done where they would go in through my femoral artery and look for what was causing the bleeding. Then they would embolize it. If that didn't work, they would have to "remove my uterus." 

As in, a hysterectomy. As in, Liam would be our only child.  


This is when the severity of my situation hit us both. Keep in mind, I'm still pretty loopy. I remember looking at Bryan, tearful and panicked, and he was so comforting. And ultimately, if the choice was my life or no more biological children - the choice was clear. 

Everything after that happened fast. I had already lost a lot of blood and had a transfusion. When all was said and done, I lost 3L of blood and got two blood transfusions. 

I remember a lot of people coming in to talk to me and reassure me. Bryan walked me to the room where they were operating. It was a tearful, terrible moment saying goodbye. Bryan told me later the doctors pulled him aside and said that if worse came to worse and I couldn't consent to have the hysterectomy, he would have to do it. He couldn't bear the thought of having to tell me that my uterus was gone and that he'd been the one to tell them they could take it.

I'd like to take this time to talk about what a rockstar my husband is and was. I mean, imagine your son, born hours ago, taken to the NICU and then your wife being threatened with either loss of uterus or life. I know he felt torn between me and Liam, and I kept encouraging him to go to Liam, and take pictures, get updates and give him love. I couldn't have made it through the emotional roller coaster without him.

Dad keeping tabs on Liam

I was "awake" during the procedure. I remember hearing them talk. I remember shaking uncontrollably, dry heaving intermittently and not being able to move.

Anyway, I'll save the gory details but several hours later and the procedure, while a close call, was successful, and I was recovering. I have never been more thirsty in my life. Keep in mind, I last had water at 830am and it was now 830pm. I was so desperate I was sucking water off sponges. 

Bryan's parents came that day, which was a comfort to us both. I stayed on the labor and delivery floor for the night and Bryan and I finally got some rest. It wasn't until the following evening when I got to go to the NICU to see Liam 
for the first time since labor. 

Our first meeting :)

It was so emotional. I tried not to cry but it was impossible. Seeing him, knowing he was OK and then seeing how he recognized me was amazing and overwhelming and a relief. 



The next day, I was finally able to move into post partum. I hated not having Liam in the room with us, but we spent every day, morning to 11pm, in the NICU with the baby. I was pumping and breastfeeding, so I made sure to be there every 3 hours. I was discharged on Sunday and Bryan and I stayed in a hotel near the hospital for two nights until my mom came into town. 


excuse my engorged breasts...

Liam was kept in the NICU while they checked him out. He was threatened with brain damage, meningitis, and other stuff. Him being in the NICU was not in our "plan" but there was not much we could do but keep positive and love on that peanut as much as we could. He ended up being so healthy, and we could take him home on Christmas Day, after he finished 7 days of antibiotics. Merry Christmas to us!


 

Our labor/delivery and everything that followed was the best and worst day of my life. More than anything, we are just thankful for our healthy, beautiful boy. If it would have turned out that he was the only one we'd get, I would be happy with it, because he is so amazing.

Being Liam's mama the past 7 weeks has been awesome and I can't wait to tell you more about it!