Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why Having an Infant Is Easier Than Expected

With every day that passes, I feel more and more comfortable with taking care of an infant (no longer a tiny sad!) and it's getting easier. Not to say it's been too hard, but definitely an adjustment! The first two weeks were pretty rough, but not overly so. It just took time for all of us to adjust to the new normal. 

I barely slept the first five nights Blair was home - maybe 45 minutes to an hour at a time, in between her feedings. I felt like I needed to watch her the entire time, and I even felt uncomfortable leaving her alone for a single minute while I ran upstairs or downstairs to grab something during the day. (Side note - oh, how things have changed...I can now sleep soundly for as long as she'll let me sleep!)

That fifth night was rough. We had talked about watching a movie and snuggling on the couch, and I fed Blair at 7, confident that she'd sleep afterwards. Well, the joke is on us for making 'plans'...she cried and cried...and cried some more. When she wasn't eating, she was crying. This lasted from that 7pm feeding until 8am the next morning. At some point during the night when none of us were sleeping and all of us were crying, I seriously considered taking her back to the hospital nursery and asking them to 'fix' her, because I was sure she was broken. Luckily, my mom had already planned to come over Tuesday morning to stay with us for the rest of that week - it felt like a lifesaver after literally pulling an all-nighter! 

After that crazy night, things started to improve. Blair cried a little less, and we discovered she liked motion and liked to be swaddled, so we went out and bought a swing and a Halo Swaddle - both of which are still being used every single day. She even slept a 4-hour stretch during week 2! By the end of the 3rd week, she was sleeping 5-6 hours a night - definitely not complaining about that. 

In the first week or two, I kept focusing on how different life felt - after all, having a tiny newborn really changes your routine (what routine? ha). However, I started to realize that it didn't have to change much - we could still do most anything that we did before she arrived. After all, we could just put her in the car seat or stroller and take her wherever we wanted to go. It doesn't hurt that she falls asleep during a car or stroller ride! At week 4, we started jogging with her in the BOB stroller - it felt amazing to start working out again, even if it was really slow at first. I even tried a treadmill workout once that week, and I started to feel even more back to normal. For me, getting back into my usual routine has really helped. Plus, now that I've been a mom for six weeks, it's starting to feel 'normal' and it feels like she's been here for a long time, even though that's not really the case! 

Another thing I thought would be difficult was traveling with an infant. We had planned a weekend trip to the mountains in October before she was born, and I was admittedly a little nervous as the date got closer and closer. I'd heard disastrous stories about traveling with a baby, and we'd never taken her in the car for longer than hour at a time. However, I have to say that it was surprisingly painless and I'd do it again in a heartbeat! She did so great - we stopped once on the way there and back (3.5 hour drive each way) to feed and change her, but otherwise, she slept pretty much the entire time. It definitely added time to our trip (feeding and changing a baby can take way longer than you'd expect...), but it was really stress-free and even, dare I say, easy. 

I also tested her limits last week when we took her to Homearama to walk through the new homes, which happened to be in our neighborhood this year. I even put her in the Moby Wrap, which I was nervous about, since she hasn't really liked babywearing thus far. She ended up doing great, and slept almost the entire time (minus a few times I thought she was going to have a meltdown...but luckily didn't!). 

We're really happy she's been so laid back with traveling, since it seems like we're always on the go! After spending the first few weeks worried about how we'd ever get back to our 'normal' routine, I've learned that it's really not so difficult to adjust to the new normal because she tends to go with the flow, especially when it comes to running errands or traveling. As long as she's moving, she's happy....we've learned to never stop the stroller when we're out with her! ;) 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Blair {One Month Old}

It’s hard to believe that a month has already gone by - when people tell you time flies, it’s no joke! It seems like we were just at the hospital awaiting Blair’s arrival, but she’s been here for 4 whole (amazing) weeks.

She’s still teeny - she hasn’t surpassed her birth weight yet, but she should be really close now. We go back to the doctor next week, so we’ll find out then. Hopefully she’s at least gotten to her birth weight by then. I think her being in the nursery at the hospital for almost two days only taking in IV fluids is what caused such a drop in her weight, but she eats a lot now to make up for it! She’s getting a few ounces of formula as a supplement to help her put on weight, which was not ideal, but ultimately, I just want her to be healthy & grow! I read a lot of things in baby books to prepare me for childbirth and newborn care, but one thing I apparently missed was how hard breastfeeding is! Blair does great and didn’t have any issues, despite not getting the skin-to-skin time at the hospital and not getting to eat until the end of day two - but I’m doing everything I can to help her gain weight...including pumping throughout the day, drinking Mother’s Milk tea (tastes like licorice...gross), taking Fenugreek capsules 3x a day, and experimenting with Brewer’s Yeast (a few failed attempts later, I think I finally found an edible recipe!). It’s been a ‘round the clock’ job, but it’s worth it knowing that she’s getting everything she needs and isn’t starving. The first week was rough because she was SO hungry and I felt like she wasn’t getting enough to eat, but everything worked out finally!

One thing we noticed right away was that she was awfully fussy, especially in the evening. In fact, we had a rough night about 4 days after we brought her home - she was awake for 12 hours straight, crying. I fed her for what felt like hours on end, and she screamed when she wasn’t eating. Let’s just say, we were all crying that night! We finally figured out she has a little bit of colic and maybe a bit of reflux, too, so she’s been getting a few doses of gripe water every day. This stuff works like a charm most of the time - highly recommended! We also tried following The Happiest Baby on the Block/Dr. Karp’s ‘Five S’s’, which seem to help. We ended up going out and buying a swing and a Halo Swaddle that first week - two of the ‘S’s’ - whatever works, right?!

Luckily, things got way better in terms of sleep, and she does pretty great at night once we’ve gotten her to sleep. She sometimes doesn’t WANT to go to sleep at night, but once she’s out, she’ll sleep for 4-5 hours at a time. We found this out by accident, as we apparently sleep through my alarm I set for every 3 hours (sleep deprivation is a real thing...ha).

She loves car rides (especially to Starbucks...she’s going to be addicted like her mama is), walks in the stroller occasionally (sometimes not so much), eating(!), bath time, watching Paige, sleeping on my chest (but not so much in the Rock ‘n Play), and daddy has the magic touch for making her fall asleep - the only way I can get her to sleep is to feed her! :/

She’s not so crazy about the doctor’s office (but then again, who is?!), pacifiers (won’t take them at. all.), sitting in a dirty diaper for even a single minute (she lets us know it’s time to be changed ASAP), cold feet, cold wipes, or sleeping from 7pm-midnight (depends on the night...but I’m sensing a trend - I think she’s a night owl like I am).

The process of having a baby was actually really easy and a lot more pleasant than I expected, but taking care of a baby 24/7 is definitely as hard as people say it is! We’re getting into a routine, and I’ve been reading Moms on Call, hopefully to learn how to get a real routine going to make things easier. After a month, everything is finally starting to feel comfortable and a little bit less stressful. I can’t believe she’s a month old, though - I know there will be many more changes in the upcoming month!

Monday, September 29, 2014

{Blair's Birth Story}

I had a feeling all along that I’d go into labor earlier rather than later, so when my doctor told me how much progress I’d made at 37 weeks (3cm, 70% effaced), I definitely didn’t think we’d make it to 40 weeks. Add in a night of intense (but irregular) contractions that were 3-5 minutes apart during the 37th week, and I was sure she’d arrive before Labor Day. And then Labor Day came and went...and so did the first week of September...and then the second.

At my 39 week appointment, we talked about induction - something I was very adamantly against leading up to this point. I had even listed that in my birth plan, to avoid induction if at all possible. But at 39+ weeks, my perspective changed a lot...I was uncomfortable and just ready to get the show on the road! My husband had hoped all along that Blair would be born on his birthday, so when we were given the opportunity to choose her birthday, we decided to go for September 16th so they would share a birthday. At this point, I was still hoping I’d go into labor naturally before the 16th, but at least we had a plan in the event that didn’t happen.

That last week before we hit 40 weeks felt so strange - we knew that our lives would be changing within a specific number of days instead of just not knowing when it would happen. We finished up last-minute errands and cleaned up the house and tried to enjoy the last few days of just the two (or three, including Paige!) of us. It definitely felt weird ‘knowing’ that we’d meet our baby girl by the 16th after 9 months of waiting!

My last day of work was Friday, September 12th, and things started to feel a little more real at that point. My due date was Sunday, September 14th, and despite my hope that she’d arrive on her due date, she did not - so I finally accepted that an induction was going to happen. I spent the 15th trying to rest and make sure I’d packed everything and make sure the nursery was ready to go. I went to bed that night filled with a mix of emotions, from excitement to uncertainty and plenty of things in between.

We woke up at 5am on the 16th and headed to the hospital for a 6am induction time. It felt super weird to just walk into the Women’s Center at the hospital, not rushing in with labor pains, like I pictured happening. Instead, it was very casual and we got checked into our room and watched the sunrise as we waited for the nurses to come in and start setting up my IVs and Pitocin. We didn’t end up getting started until after 8am, so I had plenty of time to get anxious about everything that was about to happen! When the nurse came in and put in my IV in my arm, I got super light-headed and almost passed out - a little ammonia and some apple juice later, my blood pressure finally came back up to normal. I think it was just nerves and adrenaline that got the best of me, because needles and blood usually don’t bother me at all!

After I started to feel better, my doctor started the Pitocin and broke my water - another thing I was so sure would happen naturally, when I was out in public or somewhere super embarrassing. Let’s just say, glad that wasn’t the it felt like never-ending gushing afterwards (TMI). Unfortunately, when my water broke, my doctor noticed a bit of meconium...which I was told might prevent skin-to-skin immediately after birth since they would have to suction her lungs and maybe give her oxygen. I had hoped all along to not have to worry about this, but it’s actually a really common scenario when babies are past their due date. I tried really hard not to worry about it and focus on labor instead.

Three hours after starting the Pitocin, the contractions showing up on the monitor were so small that I hardly felt anything. My nurse suggested squatting on an exercise ball to get things going, so I did that and finally started to feel some real (and consistent) contractions! Unfortunately, Blair didn’t seem to like that and her heart rate was not staying consistent when I was bouncing on the ball, so we stopped that and instead I started walking the hallways of the labor and delivery unit. They increased my Pitocin ever so slightly and I made about a dozen trips around the hallways before I started feeling super uncomfortable. Every time a contraction hit, I could barely keep walking, so we finally decided to head back to the room. Once I sat down on the bed, I started to think maybe it was time for the epidural - after all, I didn’t want to wait until the pain was unbearable and then have to wait for the anesthesiologist to come in. When the nurse checked me at this point, I was already 5cm dilated, so I’d made it that far without any pain medicine - good enough for me! They told me to ask for the epidural as soon as I thought I needed it because I had to get through 45 minutes of fluids before I’d be able to get it. I’m pretty sure the ‘fluids’ are just a way to buy the anesthesiologist some time in case they’re working with someone else at the time. Toward the end of the 45 minutes, I was starting to feel serious pain and begged Michael to go ask how much longer until the anesthesiologist arrived. They said there were 5 people in front of me and I got super anxious - but it was less than 10 minutes before my new favorite person ever arrived(!). He did a fantastic job and I barely felt any discomfort from the needle, and within a few minutes, started to feel sweet relief. I knew going into this that I wanted the epidural, and I’m so glad I got one! It was nice to be able to relax and enjoy the experience - I honestly felt pretty amazing and could hardly believe when my doctor came in shortly after and said I was 9cm dilated and would be pushing within 30 minutes! I suddenly felt really unprepared, as I expected it to take a lot longer to make that much progress.

As we got closer to active labor, I started to feel a little discomfort again, but nothing like before the epidural. At this point, it was almost time to push, and my doctor came in and we did a few ‘practice’ pushes. She said to give it a few more minutes, and she went to check on a few other patients. Around 3:30, I started to feel major pressure, and knew that it was time. Michael went out and found my doctor and the entourage of nurses, and it was ‘go time’! Labor was nothing like I’d read about, but it was a fascinating experience nonetheless. My nurses were coaching me through the pushing - 3 pushes and then a break in between - and I’d never felt so exhausted in my life. Luckily, I pushed for less than half an hour before Blair made her appearance at 4:00pm on the dot! Michael was able to cut the cord, but then they immediately took her to suction her lungs, so I had to forego skin-to-skin. They brought her over to me to hold her before they took her to the nursery, but it made me incredibly sad that I didn’t get the one-on-one time right after birth. It was honestly so strange sitting in the room after she was born, with a newly flat stomach and no baby in my arms - while it wasn’t the experience I’d hoped for, I’m just glad she was doing well.

She had to stay in the nursery for the first two days, which was really difficult, but on the second day, she was finally able to breastfeed since she was no longer on oxygen. I went to the nursery every 3 hours to feed her that second night, and finally on our last day, she came into our room to stay. When my doctor and the pediatrician cleared us to go home that day, I felt super unprepared, since we hadn’t had any alone time with her before that point. It’s scary taking your newborn home from the hospital, but it’s even scarier when you literally haven’t had the chance to comfort her crying or change her diaper yet. It’s such a new experience and I was very anxious to be ‘on our own’ from that point on! 

We were discharged from the hospital that evening and got home around 8pm. She cried when we walked in the front door, and we realized she needed a diaper change - that was the very first diaper we had to change on our own and I’m pretty sure we both felt helpless and unprepared! That first night at home was intimidating and I don’t think I slept for longer than 30 minutes at a time - but it’s amazing how two short weeks later, we feel so much more at ease and navigating parenthood feels (slightly) less overwhelming! It certainly hasn’t been easy, but it’s been so much more amazing than I thought it would be. I’m constantly amazed at how quickly I recovered from childbirth - I honestly didn’t even feel like my body had been through 9 months of pregnancy and then labor just days after her delivery. It also feels amazing to be back in my regular clothes, just in time for Fall! We went for our first family walk 4 days after she was born, and I feel like I could go for a run at this point - which is crazy! This entire experience was so much different than I expected it to be, but in the best of ways. It’s hard to believe that I’m no longer pregnant and that we have a two week old baby at home!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Meet Blair Elizabeth!

Blair Elizabeth was born September 16, 2014 at 4:00pm, weighing a whopping 8lbs, 13oz and measures 21.5 inches long!