Our NICU Experience

It’s probably a bit late to be writing about our experience in the NICU with T but I do still think it’s important to share our story. My heart always went out to parents whose babies were admitted to the NICU but I never expected to be one of them. Having your baby admitted to the NICU is frightening. Very frightening. I feel a little bit like an imposter writing that because, while T was admitted with respiratory distress, we weren’t dealing with some of the extremely harrowing situations that some parents are forced to deal with in the NICU. We were very lucky that T’s situation wasn’t ever dire but it was still a scary experience for us.

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T was born at 4:50 in the morning. His apgar scores were very nearly perfect. A couple of the nurses wanted to give him 10s because he was so healthy and vibrant but in the end he was given 9s because “they just don’t give 10s.” T was amazing. He seemed so healthy and just fantastic but as the day went on we noticed that he was breathing very rapidly. We asked the pediatrician about it when she came to visit him and she said it was a little fast but that it seemed pretty normal.  As night came he seemed to be having more and more issues breathing and we asked one of my nurses about his breathing because we were becoming concerned again. The nurse took him to the nursery on the mother/baby floor for some testing and monitoring.  They weren’t happy with how he was doing in the nursery, so they called one of the NICU doctors to come look at him.  By 11 pm he was being admitted to the NICU with mild respiratory distress.

The doctor that admitted us was very concerned about infection because I was GBS positive when T was born but because he came so quickly I wasn’t able to get any antibiotics while in labor. It would be a very serious situation were he to get a group B strep infection because newborns do not have the blood-brain barrier that adults do, so the infection could easily travel to his brain and cause meningitis. It could also cause sepsis and pneumonia. Obviously that would be a very serious situation for a newborn. They started T on antibiotics immediately, put in a nose cannula for oxygen, put in an IV, and did a chest x-ray. It was extremely scary because they were talking about possibly needing CPAP and a feeding tube. I sat there stunned, trying not to cry (and failing a great deal) while they poked, prodded and x-rayed my newborn.

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Thankfully his CBC from earlier in the day was good (there wasn’t yet any sign of infection) and the x-ray was also good but showed a little fluid in his lungs, likely because he was delivered so quickly. They decided at that point to just monitor his breathing and administer the antibiotics. I was so relieved because it meant I could still breastfeed. He was already being taken away from me and moved out of my room; I was so afraid of breastfeeding being taken away from us as well. Thank goodness it wasn’t. It was a very big deal to me that I be able to continue nursing him. Probably because it was the one thing I felt like I, and no one else, could still do for him. It made me feel needed and productive, part of the team.

It was very difficult to no longer have him in room with me and to see him hooked up to so many wires and that first night was very scary but then things started looking better. Because all his tests looked good and there were no signs of infection, they became less worried about it being GBS related. They tentatively diagnosed him with transient tachypnea of the newborn. (Which did end up being his formal diagnosis and basically means he had fluid in the lungs and he needed to be monitored until he was breathing better on his own.) The nurse that we had the first night (whom we loved) was very proactive and since he was doing well after they got him all set up in the NICU, she turned off the oxygen and kept him on forced room air all night. We were all really happy because his oxygen saturation levels were remaining good most of the time without the oxygen. Our first NICU day nurse was a little more cautious and ended up putting T on oxygen the next day because his saturation levels would fall when he was nursing or crying. It was disappointing because it felt like a step back but obviously we wanted to do everything that he needed.

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Our second night in the NICU, we once again had our amazing, proactive nurse back and she managed to not only ease T off the oxygen and put him back on room air but she was also able to take down the amount of air that was being forced through the cannula from three liters to two and eventually even down to one. I can’t say enough good things about the nurse we had those first two nights. She was so compassionate and caring. She helped to make our NICU stay a bearable experience. A NICU stay, even at the best of times, is difficult and exhausting. I had just given birth but there wasn’t really any resting or recuperating. I was back and forth from my room to the NICU every 2-3 hours around the clock, catching an hour or two of sleep when possible. I was exhausted. Nursing the baby, attending to my own recovery, visiting with E when my mom brought her over to visit – it was a lot. I am so thankful that PB was by my side (and losing sleep) every step of the way. We did it together.

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We had a different day time nurse the next day (two days after he was born) and she was probably our second favorite NICU nurse. She was just another compassionate, caring person.. That day was a big one for us. T’s nose cannula came off and they also removed his IV. We were so excited! It was so nice to hold him without all the wires and tubes. The end was in sight – or so we hoped. The doctors wanted to monitor T’s breathing for a while to make sure that he was doing well breathing on his own without any assistance. He was not going to be discharged that day but I was.

Thankfully the hospital I delivered at is amazing and super baby friendly. Even though I was being discharged, they allowed me to stay in my room for another night so that I could continue to breastfeed T every 2-3 hours. We were very worried about me being discharged before T and what we would do to not have that take a toll on our breastfeeding relationship. In the end the hospital completely removed that worry. My midwives, the nurses, and the other hospital staff worked together to get me the latest discharge possible that day and then simply let us stay on in my room on the mother/baby floor until the next day.

T did great that day and through the night. At rounds the next morning, his attending doctor said that she thought he was doing great and he was ready to go home. When she told us that, even though I was expecting it, I almost burst into tears. It was such a relief to know that our baby was healthy and we could take him home.

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While it does seem like I should have written this post much sooner, it also feels somewhat timely as this weekend is the NICU reunion. We plan to go take part in the festivities as a family (Hopefully….  both kids are sick, so we’ll only be taking part in the festivities if they are markedly better.) but we also plan on donating some baby hats that I have knitted and crocheted to the babies of the NICU. While T was in the NICU one of the nurses mentioned that they love getting donations of handmade hats and small blankets to give to the babies that are admitted to the NICU and this is one way we can give back because we received such great care while we were there. This weekend T will be 20 weeks old, so I’ll be donating 20 hats. One hat for each week of life. And, yes, I plan to continue that trend. My ultimate goal is to make and donate one hat for each week of T’s first year of life but more on my NICU hat project later!

Little Man is Four Months Old

4 months! Already! Oh man… Can our sweet little guy really be four months old so soon? Time, as always, is just racing by!

Lately Bubs loves: being held (always!), his swing, looking at our faces, his little monkey toy that he was given for Christmas (the paddles on the ends of each leg are perfect for gumming on), bath time (and peeing during bath time), scratching at and touching everything, looking at the sky and trees while we’re on walks, his pacifiers, and making lots of noise.

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This month was a big one for T. He went on his first long car trip (to New York) and did wonderfully! He slept most of the way there and the way back. I believe I nursed him once during each trip and also had bottles of pumped milk for back up so that we didn’t have to stop a bunch of times if the little guy was extra hungry. It worked out really well! A long trip juggling the needs of two dogs, a toddler, and a baby was daunting but it ended up going so much better than I anticipated. We had a lot of family in New York who had yet to meet T, including two of my aunts and my paternal grandfather, and everyone was delighted by him. He’s already a little charmer and stealer of hearts because he’s such a sweet guy2/6. The trip was probably the biggest first of this month but some of his other firsts included visiting with the Easter bunny (he was all smiles), using the bumbo (he now joins us for dinner each night seated in the bumbo), and crib attempts (we’ve given up halfway through the night both timed we’ve tried to get him to sleep in the crib because he’s been so congested this month that he’s waking a ton while sleeping flat, so he’s been sleeping in his little bouncer chair).

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Speaking of the congestion, it has been over a month that he’s sounded all snuffly and snorty. He’s not acted sick at any point, so I am hoping that as the weather warms and we can turn of the heat that his congestion will clear up.  We’ll continue using saline spray until then to try to get the little guy the relief that he needs. Congestion isn’t the only issue poor T has been dealing with month. He also had a resurgence of cradle cap, a mystery rash all over his torso, and irritation under his chin. We’ve gotten the cradle cap under control besides some residual flakiness. The irritation under his chin was likely due to his extreme drooling habit. Liberal application of Aquaphor and attempts to keep him at least mostly dry have helped with that little issue. Then there was the rash… all over his torso, very red and rough – it wasn’t pretty. The pediatrician examined him and thinks that Bubs just has a serious case of some very dry and sensitive skin. We’ve graduation from lotions to creams in terms of moisturizers for him (with Aquaphor on the particularly bad areas) and we’re hoping that will make a difference for him. The redness is already disappearing and looking better but his skin is still extremely dry and scaly.

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Our big guy is A BIG GUY. 15 lb. 15 oz. and 26.15 inches! He’s not fat (though he has a good amount of baby chub and, of course, cheeks for days), he’s just a solid little dude. And so tall! T is in the 91st percentile for height (and around 65th for weight). Because he’s so tall he’s already in six month clothing (and likely soon to be on to 9 month sleeps and such). It’s kind of crazy! E was 26.25 inches at five months of age but didn’t hit a similar weight (15 lb. 4.5 oz.) until she was eight months old! My goodness, I can’t even being to wonder what he’s going to weight at eight months!

Sleep has been a big rough this month. I’m blaming the congestion. His sleep pattern is all wonky but he usually wakes twice a night (between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.) lately. I’m hoping that we can get back into a good routine to help him sleep a little better soon. It’s not terrible as it is but it could be a lot better! He’s not nursing a ton when he wakes at night – I’m thinking he’s waking due to the congestion usually, not because he’s hungry. Let’s hope that the congestion clears up soon and the crib transition goes smoothly. Maybe then we’ll start getting longer stretches of sleep.

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T is very handsy lately. Not only is he grabbing at us and his toys but he is pulling his pacifier out of his mouth and using his hands to push his toys (and blankets and anything else) into his mouth. He also sucks on his hands and his fingers all the time. This does not particularly help with the drool situation. Bubs now rubs his eyes with the back of his hands when tired (Hello, adorable.) but also tends to just rub his hands over his head and face a lot in general. This means he is constantly scratching himself with his razor-sharp baby fingernails. That would be bad enough on his own but when combined with his dry skin… well, the poor guy often looks like he was attacked by a wild animal.

This last month with our Bubs has been really fantastic. His squishy newborn phase was cute but he’s just getting more and more fun as he gets more interactive and animated in his expression! T is almost constantly making some kind of noise when he’s awake. He’s such a happy baby – smiling, hooting happily, and screeched and squealing with joy all the time. He’s laughing more and more now, sometimes just because I’m talking to him! I love it! In addition to being a happy baby, he’s also such a sweet baby. He will now grab at and hold my hand whenever I reach to him. He will also reach out to touch or pat my face sometimes. Way too much cuteness. I love watching him interact with E. He babbles to her and smiles and laughs at her. I can’t get enough of that!

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As he gets older, we all love this sweet little man more and more. We love you, Sweet T!

& Three

Not to be outdone by his sister, T turned three months old this past weekend! (Technically he should have turned three months on Feb. 29 but as this wasn’t a leap year I guess he turned three months old sometime between Feb. 28 and March 1.)  A three-year-old daughter and a three-month-old son – I am one lucky mama.

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T is just so fun these days! He’s so interactive right now. He coos and squeals and hoots like a little monkey. We have wonderful “conversations” where neither of us understands at all what the other is saying but the meaning is perfectly clear. He such a happy guy and has big ol’ gummy smiles for everyone. I love his vocalizations and smiles! They brighten up my days. T loves watching daddy and if daddy’s holding him he loves loves loves to rub his face on daddy’s beard. It’s hilarious!  I wouldn’t think that would feel good at all but T is all about it. He itches his face on daddy as if he were a bear and daddy were a tree with this “Oh yeah, that’s the ticket.” look on his face. I can’t help but laugh! Speaking of which, he recently laughed for the very first time but it has only happened once or twice since. I can’t wait for lots of baby giggles! Our guy rarely cries but if he does it is almost always because he’s hungry and he is not being attended to as quickly as he would like. He gets pretty hangry!  (Just like his daddy. ;) Sorry, babe, but you know it’s true!)

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T seems to have found both his hands and his tongue this week. He clutches his hands together (which is just too darn adorable), often sucks on his fist or his fingers, and actually seems to use his hands to push things into his mouth. He has managed to get his pacifier back into his mouth after dropping it this way. Of course all this new hand movement means he sometimes pushes/pulls his blanket up over his face while he’s in his swing or that he tries desperately to eat his bib.  And lately, boy, does he need that bib. He’s constantly blowing spit bubbles and sticking his tongue out. He’s a slobbery mess sometimes. He drools a little bit but it honestly wouldn’t be so bad if he weren’t actively spitting on himself so much!

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T has definitely started taking notice of things more and more. He avidly follows us as we walk about the house (with his eyes and by turning his head) and started to notice and interact with the toys on his activity mat. He reached out and purposefully grabbed daddy’s finger last week, so I think we’re pretty close to the point where he’s really going to start interacting with and enjoying his toys. I also think he’s probably not too far from rolling over!

T’s sleep was a bit messy the past month. He was doing pretty well but then he hit a growth spurt and since his sleep was messed up anyway (and he kept getting his hands out) we decided to ditch the swaddle. Of course right after we did that he started dealing with some stuffiness and was having trouble sleeping due to breathing difficulties from the congestion. It was like the perfect storm of sleep issues. Thankfully I think we’re getting back on the road to normalcy and hopefully his sleep will follow. We’re past the growth spurt and he is doing well without the swaddle. The congestion is clearing up now, so more restful nights should be in our future! He primarily sleeps in his swing during the day. I sometimes try to put him in the pack-n-play napper but he really doesn’t sleep as soundly or as long there as he does in the swing. We hardly ever used the swing with E and she primarily napped in the pnp, so he is pretty much completely the opposite of his sister in this regard. Of course, with E i was able to nurse her to sleep for every nap and with two now that’s just not always possible.

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In addition to dealing with sleep issues, we’ve also had to deal with some skin issues this past month. T has had a decent case of cradle cap around the crown of his head but it also cropped up on his forehead at his hairline and in his eyebrows.  Thankfully Aquaphor and gentle scrubbing during bath time (while he splashes water everywhere) really seem to help. We haven’t fully gotten rid of it but we’re able to keep it at bay for the most part. Most of his baby acne has cleared up nicely but he has had a little bit of dry skin on his cheeks and he tends to scratch himself around the eyes (he rubs his eyes a lot), so some days he really gets all slathered up with Aquaphor.

Our tall boy just continues to grow. He’s currently wearing 3-6 month clothing but I’m pretty sure he’s ready to expand his horizons to 6 month clothing as well. He’s a robust, healthy, little man! He has outgrown most of his newborn cloth diapers but isn’t quite fitting into his one-size diapers, so we’re kind of stuck in that tricky middle ground. I pulled out our flats and covers and I think those with doublers because he is a heavy wetter should get us through. It’s kind of sad to pack away so many articles of clothing that he has barely worn because he’s just growing so quickly but it’s also kind of fun to put him in cute new outfits as well. I have to say it has been fun to have both a girl and a boy to dress up!

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He’s such a sweet, happy baby. We really couldn’t ask for anything more! Big love to our little man!

Three

Three!

My sweet girl is three years old today!  Happy 3rd Birthday, E! My doodle, my hunny-bunny-kins, my doll baby.

3yoEmI don’t even know where to begin…  E is so many things all rolled up into one adorable, curly-haired, little package. She’s the apple of her daddy’s eye, too smart for her own good, incredibly sweet, a copy cat, independent and sassy, and very,very loved. I adore the little person that she is growing into. It has been an utter pleasure to be her mama.

3yoEm3Somehow E has turned into a total girly-girl.  She loves frilly skirts and dresses, tights, the color pink, and anything sparkly. She loves to have her hair up in a pony or a barrette but hates having it combed. Her favorite TV shows are Dinosaur Train and Team Umizoomi. She would do almost anything for a piece of chocolate and has an affinity for stickers. Her favorite foods are: pizza, pasta, cheese, fruit, and yogurt. She;s also starting to kind of adore cupcakes!

E also loves to color, draw, paint, sing, and dance. She’s a creative little girl and just absorbs everything we teach her like a sponge!  She’s doing very well with her colors, numbers, and letters. She is such a little mimic right now and has an incredible memory. She’ll often repeat thing we said or did days ago and is even quite good at linking concepts and ideas together (this all can sometimes combine to be just a little embarrassing at times – for example: the other day in the middle of dinner she announced, “I crapped my pants!” Thankfully, she hadn’t! Okay, okay, I wasn’t that embarrassed… I giggled for a minute straight.). She is always watching, so PB and I have really had to step up our game in monitoring what we say and do!

3yoEm2E often surprises me with her sweetness – laying her hand on my cheek as I’m slumped in a sweaty pile on the floor after a workout and telling me that I’m beautiful, hugging other children when they cry, comforting her brother without prompting, climbing into her daddy’s arms and telling him that she missed him while he was at work. It’s just too much to handle sometimes! She loves her family and friends and is constantly asking people, “Do you want to come to my house?” She’s just such a sweet little thing. But don’t worry, she has her moments where she gets in fights with her little friends over toys, doesn’t want to share, and gets quite angry with us, too.  All part of being a toddler!

E continues to be a fantastic big sister. She loves her baby brother and has named all of her baby dolls after him. She wants him to lay in her crib with her every morning and asks to hold him nearly every day. I don’t think she has ever once acted jealous of T. She’s such a little helper where he is concerned and she dotes on him. We do sometimes have to remind her to be gentle with him or to maybe not stick her fingers in his mouth but really she’s just lovely as a big sister.

I am so proud of the amazing little person she is and I am incredibly grateful that three years ago this little girl came into our lives. They are made richer and more vibrant by her mere existence. She is so very loved. <3

Little Man is Two Months Old

Our sweet, chubby little T is two months old!  Wasn’t I just posting his one month update?  I’m pretty sure I was…  who’s stealing all my time?

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Oh, right… it’s him.  (And his big sister.)  Honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I love spending time with my fantastic little family and have so many projects that I want to work on (around the house and for E’s upcoming birthday – let’s not even talk about the fact that she’s going to be three) that I wish I didn’t have to “waste” time sleeping!

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T has changed so much between one and two months.  He’s so alert and responsive now when he is awake (though he still spends a lot of time sleeping).  He recognizes mama, daddy and E and pretty much always has a happy smile for us.  I absolutely adore when he looks at E and gives her huge grins, melts this mama’s heart.  And PB says his face lights right up when he sees me.  Of course, I don’t hate that!  He truly is a sweet little guy.  In addition to becoming much more expressive, he has also become much more vocal.  He does a lot of cooing and makes many other happy little noises.  I think we’re all loving how much more interactive he has become in this short time.

Currently T loves: blowing spit bubbles, scrubbing his face (whether with his hands or on our shirts), being held, and eating.

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T is a big boy, weighing 12 lb. 13.5 oz. at his doctor appointment on Friday and measuring 24 inches tall.  So tall!  No wonder he’s out growing clothes so fast!  I mentioned in his one month update that he was losing his hair.  He did end up losing most of his hair that he was born with but new hair is growing back in and he now has a healthy little crop of peach fuzz.  What’s funny though is that not all of his hair from birth fell out, so he randomly has some long hairs here and there among the peach fuzz, particularly at the crown of his head.  The hair that is growing back in seems to be the same color as the hair he was born with (dark brown), though might be just a little bit lighter.  His baby acne is looking much better and though his left tear duct is still somewhat clogged it seems to be much better than it was around one month of age.  He’s a handsome little dude!

Some of T’s firsts for this month include: first bottle, first New Years, first snowfall, first time meeting his cousins, and first time out with the double stroller.

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My little sweet T still loves to kick kick kick, particularly when he is happy or angry.  He has also started grabbing and will randomly grab hold of anything that happens to come in contact with his hands.  He has yet to managed to really yank E’s hair but I’m sure the day is coming!  His love affair with the pacifier has started to wane as he has started to discover his hands.  He is sucking on his hands more and more and has even managed to capture his thumb a few times.  It’s pretty cute to see him sucking his thumb.  E was an early thumb sucker too.

T is a good little sleeper and pretty consistently sleeps from around 11 p.m. until 7:30 a.m. with one wake-up sometime between 4 and 5:30 a.m.  I’m pretty happy with that right now!  There has been a night or two where his long stretch of sleep has been as long as seven hours!  He continues to be a champion when it comes to breastfeeding.  The only time he ever gets really fussy is when he wants to eat.  Little guy is a chow hound!

I wish I could adequately put into words what a joy he is in our lives.  Like the wild things, we want to eat him up we love him so!

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We’re doing our best to soak up and make the most of every moment with this little dude.  We all love you so much and we’re so lucky to call you ours!

Life After Labor & Working On Working Out

This past Saturday marked 8 weeks since T entered the world.  Eight weeks since labor and birth and I can’t imagine not having this little man in our lives.  He’s amazing.  E’s amazing as a big sister.  I just love watching them together and we’re loving being a family of four.option1 I could go on and on but I’m not writing this post to gush about the kiddos.

I wanted to write a little bit about my post-partum experience with baby #2, how everything has been this time around.  Really I want to skip ahead to getting the okay from my midwives to workout and how that has been going but I figure I should hit on the whole healing thing before I get to that.  First, a little bit about my labors and births for comparison.  With both babies I was on heparin, was Group B Strep positive, and was seeing midwives for my primary prenatal care.  With E my water broke before contractions started, labor last for 29 hours, two doses of antibiotics (with a reaction called Red Man Syndrome to the first), epidural at 24 hours of labor, pushed for an hour and 15 minutes or so, and I had a small tear that required a stitch or two.  With T the midwife broke my water while I was pushing, labor was three hours and 20 minutes, did not received any antibiotics or an epidural, pushed for maybe 15 minutes, and did not tear at all.  Quite a bit different but both very positive birth experiences, for which I am extremely grateful!

I was very lucky and healed quickly after both deliveries.  I was never in extreme pain and my bleeding tapered off to a normal period-like amount by the next day in both cases.  Speaking of which, the post-partum bleeding after T last for about five weeks (spotting until that point, not consistent bleeding).  I think I only bled for about two weeks after E.  I actually felt pretty physically normal within days of both deliveries, though I do think that happened more quickly after T because I didn’t have any tears.  This time around I did have some soreness deep in my lower abdomen (not constant, just when I moved now and then) that I don’t recall having after E.  I guess I am just one of the lucky mamas that physically bounces back very fast after having a baby.  Then, of course, you have to consider the emotional hurricane that comes along with the flood of post-partum hormones.  The post-partum period can be a tough time emotionally and there were definitely times where my emotions got the best of me.  I was up and down for the first couple weeks following both babies – there were tears over things that were probably not tear-worthy – but since I knew what to expect the second time around it seemed a little easier if only because I knew what was happening and that it was normal so I was able to just accept it.

Now, onto what I really want to talk about!  I went in for a follow-up visit with my midwives and got the go ahead to start working out at six weeks post-partum (two weeks ago).  I was pumped!  Though life with two kiddos is pretty active, I was missing being purposefully active and working out.  It’s good to get that sweat flowing!  It is so nice to be back to it and I have been getting in some kind of workout, even if it’s just a couple of sets of squats and push ups in the evening, at least five times a week for the past two weeks.

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Now I worked out until quite close to the end of my pregnancy but, man, I feel like I have lost so much strength and power in the last 2.1/2-3 months that I haven’t really been exercising.  I feel almost like I am starting from scratch again.  I suppose I am in a way with my core!  Since getting the go-ahead to workout I have been working on rebuilding my core from the inside out (see this set of exercises).and focusing on strength training and stretching.  I really want to get my power and flexibility back!  Since I have not yet been back to the gym (babies have to be three months old to go to kids klub, so my membership is on hold), I have been working out at home, mainly doing HIIT workouts or Jillian Michaels’ videos from the BeFit YouTube channel .  Both are great at home workouts because they usually require very little equipment and since we got a new TV for Christmas I can actually access YouTube from my TV using the remote, making it super convenient.  This Thursday I will be starting a Body Rock 30 Day Challenge with a friend.  I did this challenge in the summer of 2013 and had good results in regards to improved strength and muscle tone, so I wanted to do it again.  Luckily I have a friend who is doing it along with me and that I can report back to, keeping my accountable.  I’m pretty excited because PB is building me a Lebert Equalizer out of PVC!  I can’t wait to use it!  I want to build more muscle so my body can amp up the calorie torch-age and I can, hopefully, get closer to my pre-pregnancy weight.

Right now, I’m still 14 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight and I would be lying if I said I was happy with that.  It’s kind of disappointing to have so far to go when the weight came off so quickly and easily after E.  Granted after E I still had work to do to get toned up and my post-pregnancy body was different than my pre-pregnancy body even at the same weight but I was back down to my pre-baby weight quickly.  Heck, eight days after E was born I was only four pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight.  Not the case the second time around!  While I am concerned about my weight, the shape of my body (jiggly belly is jiggly), and how my clothes fit, I am trying to be kind to myself and I am sure to never say anything negative about my body in front of E.  For her sake, and my own, I accept my body at every stage and will embrace it – after all it created these two beautiful little people that I love so incredibly much.  So, while it would certainly be nice to lose the rest of this baby weight, my goals have less to do with my pants size and much more to do with feeling strong, fit, and healthy.

And of course, I have to mention running…  While I can’t wait to get back to it, I have yet to go out on a run.  Running during the week with no gym access and two little ones just isn’t happening and the weather lately has made me less than excited about getting out on the weekends.  I really am looking forward to getting back to running again but I’m okay with waiting for now;  I’ll ease back into it soon!  On a day when it wasn’t too cold, I did manage to bundle up both kids and load them into the double-stroller for a hilly three mile walk.  It’s a start!

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So, there you have it!  My post partum experience with baby #2, from healing to HIIT!

T’s Birth Story: Part Two

I posted Part One of T’s birth story on Tuesday.  Here is the end!

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It wasn’t long before it was time to push.  That brings us back to that word again — Intense.  The feeling of everything that was happening in my lower body was so big, so overwhelming, I can’t even begin to try to describe it.  Everything was so intense.  There was some pain, yes, but it was more than that.  So much more.  Feeling the baby move into and through my pelvis made me feel like I should be breaking apart.  There was so much pressure everywhere.  And while I wanted to push, my body had to push, I also didn’t want to because it honestly felt like there was a good possibility that I would turn myself inside out.  I pushed for maybe 15 minutes, groaning and crying out, PB cheering me on.  (I  don’t know exactly what he said since I was so inside myself but I’m pretty sure he told me I was doing great and he told me after the fact that the midwife told him to quiet down.  I guess he was getting a little enthusiastic in his support.)  The room seemed chaotic between my vocalizations and PB, the nurses and the midwife all talking at once.  I recall the nurse who was applying counter pressure on my hip telling me I could hold her hand at one point and I grabbed her hand like I was drowning.  The midwife decided to break my water while I was pushing and things really got moving after that.

I knew the baby was right there because of how big everything felt, I gritted my way through a couple crazy intense pushes and the head was out.  As soon as the baby’s head was out I just wanted to rest.  I leaned against the head of the bed expecting at least a short reprieve but the cord was wrapped loosely around the baby’s neck and the midwife said to me, “Holly, I need you to push now.”  I gathered myself and by the time she was repeating that statement I was forcing myself to push, even though all I really wanted to do was pause and rest.  Another moment of intense pressure and the baby’s shoulders were out.  The rest of the baby slid right out and into the midwife’s hands once the shoulders were free.  The baby was born at 4:50 a.m.

Suddenly all the pressure and intensity were gone.  Instant relief.  I was in such a haze from the sudden cessation of all the crazy labor sensations and there was such a feeling of doneness that I have absolutely no idea what was happening around me.  Was I still holding PB’s and the nurse’s hands?  I have no idea.  I’m sure the midwife was saying something but I have no idea what.  I do recall PB saying, “It’s a boy!” but it sounded to me as if he were saying it from very far away (though I could hear the emotion and excitement in his voice).  And then the baby was being passed up to me between my legs.  I clutched him to me and clumsily turned around and sat down on the bed.  I think I just stared at him, in awe of what I had just done.  He was pink and alert.  As soon as I saw him, I was amazed by how much he looked like his sister and said as much.

(Incidentally, my mom arrived at the hospital –  had walked through the door to my room and was on the other side of the curtain — just in time to hear PB announce that the baby was a boy.  I can only imagine what that moment was like for her.)

Somebody got the baby a blanket and I held him skin to skin while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing.  After about 10-15 minutes, the midwife had PB cut the cord and then helped me deliver the placenta.  I was not at all jazzed about needing to push again but it wasn’t too bad in the end.  She gave me a quick check to make sure all was good.  I had no tears from labor, though there were a couple small abrasions.  Someone, I don’t recall if it was a nurse or the midwife, asked what his name was and PB and I looked at each other and just knew which of our name choices was right for him.  I confidently told them that he was Tobias Edmund.

The nurses and midwife helped get me cleaned up a little, brought clean blankets for T and I and then invited my mom into the room.  I continued to hold the baby skin to skin and he had his first go at breastfeeding.  The midwife helped me get him latched on.  I don’t think I really needed the help but it was nice to have the support regardless.  He latched on pretty quickly and immediately started going to town.  He was a natural just like his sister.

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I continued to do skin to skin with T after he was finished nursing until the baby nurse showed up to get his measurements and evaluate him, which was about 45-60 minutes after he was born.  I was really pleased to have had such a long time to keep him with me and hold him (and particularly to do skin to skin) after he was born.  I remember I had to hand E over only a few minutes after she was born but she was much more purple when she came out.  After they took him to get his weight, I noticed that he had peed and pooped while I was holding him (caught mostly by the blankets I had tucked around him).  At birth the midwife and one of the nurses wanted to give him Apgar scores of 10 but one of the other nurses told her they don’t give 10s and so his Apgars were 9 and 9.

His weight was 8 pounds 10 ounces and he was 21.25 inches tall at birth.  He was a tall little guy!  He got the Hepatitis B and vitamin K shots and after he was all checked out by the nurse, PB got to hold his son for the very first time.  Seeing the man you love hold one of his children for the first time is simply amazing.  One of the nurses that came in after T was born told PB that she doesn’t normally get emotional at births anymore but that she was in the hall walking past our room when he called out, “It’s a boy!” and that all the emotion in his voice made her tear up.

By this point I was starving, so the nurse brought me a chicken salad sandwich, fig newtons and a fruit cup from the fridge in the L&D.  It wasn’t the best thing ever but, like I said, I was starving, so I ate while PB and my mom got a closer look at T.  Throughout this bonding time with baby, before they moved us over to the mother/baby unit, the nurses would now and then palpate my abdomen and make sure my uterus was shrinking like it was supposed to.  That was very uncomfortable and painful.  More so than I recall with E (but, of course, I had had an epidural with her).  I wanted to swat their hands away even though I knew they were just doing their job.

Eventually our room in mother/baby was ready for us and a nurse came to help me get cleaned up and ready to go.  Getting up and using the bathroom was a little bit of a horror show due to the blood but it felt good to get out of bed, get cleaned up and put a new hospital gown on.  I’m sure I was tired by this point but I just remember talking happily with all the nurses and feeling rather elated.

We finally made it over to mother/baby shortly after 7 a.m.  It was around then that I noticed that my tailbone was extremely sore and the contractions caused by the oxytocin released during breastfeeding were much stronger and more painful than they were when I nursed E after labor.  Funny how much things are so much the same and yet so different.

Once we were settled in our room, we were focused on soaking up every moment with our new little man.  We couldn’t believe we had a son, another sweet baby to love.  It all seemed so surreal and it had happened so fast.  Later that morning, my mom brought E over to meet her brother for the first time.  She came in, climbed into bed with me and I held her in one arm and T in the other while my heart swelled and soared.  I was so excited and happy to see her.  E marveled at him, gently touched his cheek, gave him kisses and was immediately in love with him.  She said she loved him and was just so sweet.  She declared him to be “so strong” and said that he smelled like cupcakes.

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Everything was wonderful, until late that night when T was admitted to the NICU, but that’s a story for another post.

T’s Birth Story: Part One

I decided to post T’s birth story in two parts because it’s quite lengthy!  Unfortunately I do not have any photos to accompany the first part of the story because it all happened too fast for any photos to be taken.

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41 weeks, waiting for baby.

I was due November 19 but baby didn’t make an appearance until 10 days later.

At my appointment that Monday (Nov. 24) I was 1-2 cm dilated and 60% effaced (no change from the week before) but baby had dropped to 0 station (a good sign but no real indication that labor was imminent).  I had a non-stress test done and we discussed where we would go from here since I would be a week overdue in two days. The midwife wanted to get me scheduled for an induction around 42 weeks just in case the baby didn’t come on its own before then, so we discussed what that would entail.

The week ticked by, we celebrated Thanksgiving and on Friday we headed into maternal fetal medicine for an ultrasound.  Everything went well with the ultrasound — baby, placenta, fluid levels and blood flow all looked good.  However, the high risk OB was of the opinion that I should get scheduled for an induction sooner rather than later.  I was overdue and on a blood thinner for a clotting disorder, she was getting anxious to get baby here.  Basically, things looked good with baby and I and would until they didn’t.  She didn’t want to wait until they didn’t.  With an induction they could make sure that I stopped taking the blood thinner at the appropriate time and also ensure that I got the antibiotics I needed due to being Group B Strep positive.  While we were in the MFM office, the doctor called the midwife and spoke with her about getting me scheduled to be induced as soon as possible.

Okay then, this was happening.

Later in the day we heard back from the midwife, and I was scheduled to be induced Saturday evening.  I would come in around 5 p.m. and they would start the whole process with Cervadil.

That evening we ate dinner, put E to bed and sat down to watch a movie with my mom (who had come down on Tuesday to make sure she was here when baby arrived).  We finished watching Divergent rather late and I went up to use the restroom just before midnight.  I was feeling edgy and anxious in addition to my stomach being off.  PB came up a little while later and I told him that I wasn’t feeling well.  I started crying and told him that I was anxious and scared about labor.  I felt very uneasy and had a lot of nervous energy.  I didn’t want to hold still.  I was getting contractions now and then but figured that they were just Braxton-Hicks since I had been getting them frequently throughout the pregnancy.  Eventually in the midst of everything I realized that the contractions were happening fairly regularly.  I told PB that I thought I might be having contractions but that I really wasn’t sure.  He told me to try timing them and see what happened.  He was very calm and tried to sooth me as much as possible.

We lay down and he dozed off while I started timing contractions using an app on my phone — this was at 1:37 a.m.  At that time my contractions were anywhere from 11 to 7 minutes apart.  I was able to breath through them pretty easily but it was becoming more and more apparent that this was it.  I woke PB up about 40 minutes later and let him know what was happening.  He put a call in to the midwife to see when she would want us to come in to the hospital.  At the time she was prepping to go into a c-section with another mama and said she would call us back in a few minutes.

At 2:45 my contractions suddenly went from being 8 ½ minutes apart to 3 ½ minutes apart.  I mean that quite literally.  I had contractions at 2:33 then 2:41 and then, boom, 2:45 and 2:49.  The contractions were getting more intense and I was just pacing around the bedroom at this point, pausing when a contraction hit to lean over the bed.  My back was starting to really bother me through the contractions.  I was still feeling pretty scared at this point.  I knew labor was happening and I was scared, even though I know that fear is not at all helpful to the labor process.  I don’t know why but I was much more scared of the labor process this time. We woke my mom to let her know what was happening and started to get ready to go as we were calling the midwife again.  PB told her what was happening and she said to come on in.  PB also started trying to get in touch with Rachel, a friend of ours who was supposed to come and stay with E so that my mom could come to the hospital.  We set off and mom waited at the house until Rachel arrived.

We got to the hospital around 3:30 a.m. and my contractions were still 3-4 minutes apart.  We immediately went up to labor and delivery.  At the desk one of the nurses offered me a wheelchair but I told her no and paced around while PB filled out paperwork.  Things were getting even more intense and a few minutes later when PB offered to get me a wheelchair, I accepted because my back was really bothering me.  We got back to our room in L&D rather quickly and it was kind of a whirlwind from there.  To be honest it’s hard to remember it in a linear fashion, it’s all jumbled up in my mind like it happened all at once.

I got changed into the hospital gown, trying to maintain my calm, and per hospital regulations had to be put on the fetal monitors to check on the baby.  At some point before climbing onto the bed the midwife (Bev) asked when I had last taken my heparin and I asked her about an epidural.  She said it was unlikely that they would allow me to have an epidural since I had just done an injection of the blood thinner at 10 p.m.  (The reason being that they won’t risk a bleed occurring in the spinal cord.)  I felt a little panicked by that but felt a little bit like – Okay, well that natural labor that you thought you wanted prior to having E is happening now.  Time to see what I could do.

I was not at all excited about being monitored because I really did not want to lay in the bed, even with the head elevated so I was mostly sitting up.  The pain in my back from the contractions was getting worse and it was starting to spread to my hips and upper thighs.  But I dutifully climbed into bed and did my best to focus on relaxing during contractions to let my body do what it naturally wanted to do even though things were getting more and more uncomfortable and painful.  The monitors were secured and one of the nurses got an IV placed (on her second try), even though it was looking unlikely that they would get the antibiotics from the pharmacy in time.  The midwife checked my cervix around then and asked if it was okay for her to see what happened during a contraction (which wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it was going to be) and I went from 5 cm to 7 as she checked me.  By that point we became even more aware that labor was moving fast and there wasn’t going to be any time for antibiotics or an epidural.  (During all of this PB was calling and texting with family to update them on the baby situation.)  I told the midwife that my back and hips were hurting a lot.  Okay… I probably told her a few times.  The midwife raised the head of the bed as high as it would go and had me get on my knees, turn around and lean over it to see if that position would be more comfortable.

And here’s when things started to get really intense and chaotic in my head.  That is the word that best describes this whole experience.  Intense.  Capital I.  Mostly I am left speechless by the whole thing, trying to summon up the words to accurately portray how insane and miraculous and big this was.

Leaning over the head of the bed was better but not that much better.  The midwife had me try a few things to see if they would help with the pain but nothing seemed to make much of a difference until she tried counter pressure.  PB stood on one side of me (the left) and held my hand with one hand and pushed against my hip with the other and a nurse did the same on the other side.  The counter pressure on my hips helped a great deal and made things more bearable.

By this point I was so inside my self, unable to focus on anything other than what was happening in my body, that I don’t even know what was said to or around me.  I know the nurses and the midwife and PB were all talking to me but I hardly remember any of it.  By this point my vocalizations had become much louder and dramatic.  Groaning and grunting, I was that woman.  You know, the one that alarms people who are walking down the hall and scares the other mothers that have just been admitted in labor.   I simply couldn’t help myself.  There was no way I could have gone through labor silently.  Now and then the nurses or the midwife would remind me to keep my vocalizations low-pitched.  I don’t know the whys of it but it really does help you focus, whereas I could feel myself becoming a bit more frantic when I would allow myself to slip into higher pitched vocalizations.  In between contractions PB continued to keep in contact with family and friends, doing his best to keep them apprised of the situation.

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Stay tuned for the second part of T’s birth story!

Little Man Is One Month Old

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Yesterday was T’s one month birthday! It’s kind of mind-boggling that just one month ago T had just entered the world and our lives. Spending the last month with this little man – getting to know him and make him part of our family – has been emotional, challenging and unquestionably amazing.

He’s such a sweet little guy. I love taking a few moments just to watch him and marvel at him. I know I don’t get as much time to do that as I did with E but I make an effort to take time just to focus on him, on his sweet newness, because they grow and change so quickly in these early weeks. (Of course, I could still say the same about E…) I want to soak it all in, every little bit of him. His facial expressions kill me and I adore the gummy little smiles that I am blessed with now and then. His tiny hands are the best. I don’t know what it is about baby hands (and my babies’ hands in particular) but I’m kind of obsessed with them. They are a wonder to me.

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Right now T has terrible baby acne on his cheeks, chin, chest and arms; is losing the hair on the top of his head; just got over a pretty awesome case of cradle cap; gets has a red, watery, goopy left eye thanks to a clogged tear duct… and is beautiful.  He to stretch upon waking, yanks daddy’s chest hair, is as gassy as they come, sleeps with his mouth open (just like his sister did) and I’ve already had to cut his fingernails three times. He’s amazed us with how strong he is already. He has some real force behind his kicks, picks his head up and looks around when held up to our shoulders and even grabbed hold of my finger one night and after a bit of maneuvering managed to get it into his mouth and hold it there.  He already gives responsive smiles, which is just awesome! T typically sleeps about three hours at a time at night but he has slept longer on occasion. Namely on Christmas Eve he slept six hours straight and on Christmas he slept five hours straight – the gift of sleep for mama!

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Mama and daddy love you sweet boy!

A note about E:  Watching E become a big sister and dote over Bubs has made my heart explode with love a hundred times over. She is so sweet with him.  She constantly wants to hold him, kiss him and hug him. If he’s crying, she becomes very concerned and runs to fetch his paci.  She can frequently be a little too enthusiastic with her affection and so we have to remind her to be gentle but she has yet to show any jealousy. That’s not to say that there haven’t been any growing pains. There have definitely been a few – namely she has regressed a bit with potty training (she asks to wear diapers more than she used to) and she has become somewhat clingy with me – but overall I feel like we can’t complain even a little bit because she has been so welcoming, loving and enthusiastic to and about T. I really don’t think we could have expected any better.

I particularly love listening to her talk to T. She tries to reassure him when he cries, telling him that it will be okay and she’ll come get him in a minute. She also frequently tells him that she loves him and that he’s so good.  E will often give him a big hug or stroke his face and say, “Awww!” Watching them together makes my love for each of them swell.  I just want to squeeze them both and kiss all over their sweet little faces.

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HALO SleepSack Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: I received a HALO SleepSack Swaddle in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own.

I was very excited when HALO approached me about reviewing one of their SleepSacks.  We swaddled E for months after she was born and I knew that we were likely to do the same with our second baby.  Since we were coming into cooler weather and we would be using the SleepSack right from the beginning, I choose the newborn microfleece swaddle in their gender neutral Bee Buddies print.  The SleepSack Swaddle also comes in cotton and plushy dot velboa.

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T wearing the SleepSack Swaddle with arms swaddled in.

I am very happy with our SleepSack choice.  The mircofleece is very soft and cozy feeling and is a very nice medium weight fleece, which is great for this time of year.  I think the cotton muslin SleepSack would be an excellent choice for summertime.  The newborn size is specified for babies 19 to 23 inches in length and 6 to 12 pounds.  T is already 9 lb. 6 oz. and 22.1/2 long and we’re still going strong with the newborn swaddle fit-wise.  I’m sure he will continue to grow like a weed but I think that we’ll be able to use this size swaddle for a couple more weeks at least.

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We’ve been using our SleepSack Swaddle every night since we brought T home from the hospital.  We have other swaddles that are similar to the HALO SleepSack that we used with E but we have been so pleased with the SleepSack Swaddle that we haven’t even pulled any of them out of the dresser!  Some things we love about the SleepSack Swaddle: it’s super easy to use, because of the zipper you can change a diaper without undoing the swaddle (though it can be a bit tricky), it keeps T warm and cozy, and you can swaddle baby with arms in or arms out.  Papa Bear has even said that he wants more in larger sizes.  One minor drawback (and this could be true with many swaddles, I just haven’t used any of the others in so long that I don’t really remember) is that if T is squirmy the upper edges of the swaddle can sometimes creep up and touch his cheeks and chin.  This isn’t a super huge deal except that it sometimes causes him to wake and start rooting because something is touching his cheek when he might have otherwise drifted back off to sleep.

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T wearing the SleepSack Swaddle with arms out.

Overall we really like the HALO SleepSack Swaddle and given how well it has worked for us we would likely like the other SleepSack products as well.

Recently HALO recently released a new product – the HALO Bassinet Swivel Sleeper.  The Swivel Sleeper Bassinet allows baby to sleep right next to mom (and dad), which keeps baby close for bonding and easier breastfeeding, but also gives baby his own separate sleeping space.

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The bassinet makes the frequent nighttime stirrings of a newborn more convenient for a new mom, particularly if she is breastfeeding.  The bassinet has two swivel points, which allow it to be pulled into the bed next to mom and to swing open like a door to allow mom in and out of bed.  The baby is so close at hand that it is very easy to reach over and sooth her if she is fussy or pick her up and place her to the breast if she is hungry.  Mom doesn’t even have to leave her bed!  The bassinet’s other features include a nightlight, nature and womb sounds, music, and gentle vibration.  It can be adjusted to fit beds 24-24 inches high and is designed for babies from birth to 20 pounds or five months of age.

Check out this video of the Swivel Sleeper Bassinet in action!

You can follow HALO on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube.

 

And now onto the exciting stuff – Enter to win your own HALO SleepSack using the Rafflecopter widget below!  Giveaway will be open until Sunday, December 21 and I will announce the winner on Monday, December 22.(Giveaway open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Some current sleep recommendations for infants are:

  • Place baby to sleep on his or her back at naptime and at night time.
  • Use a crib or bassinet that meets current safety standards with a firm mattress that fits snugly and is covered with only a tight-fitting crib sheet.
  • Remove all soft bedding and toys from your baby’s sleep area (this includes loose blankets, bumpers, pillows and positioners). The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using a wearable blanket instead of loose blankets to keep your baby warm.
  • Never put your baby to sleep on any soft surface (adult beds, sofas, chairs, water beds, quilts, sheep skins etc.)
  • Never dress your baby too warmly for sleep; keep room temperature 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Never allow anyone to smoke around your baby or take your baby into a room or car where someone has recently smoked.

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