Monday, November 28, 2011

Coming out of the fog

And I'm not really sure I'm out of it... Little Alex is almost four weeks old, and I can't believe how quickly time has passed. I seem to have no time to do anything, and unfortunately blogging, both posting and reading, has dropped to the bottom of the list. It turns out that I really did need to have a job to find time to blog! I miss it, and will try to include this as part of my routine going forward.

Alex and I have good days and bad, and I could write many posts about all of it. During the day, she will sleep and sleep. I wake her every three hours to feed her, which seems to take about 1 1/2 hours each time. So then we have about 1 1/2 hours of downtime to sleep, take a walk (which seems to help my spirits), do a little laundry, or feed myself (which for the first time in my life I seem to forget). And during the night, she won't sleep for longer than 1-2 hours, so we're doing the feeding thing about every 2-3 hours, and it's more often 2 hours than 3. I try to take naps during the day, which I can do most days, but some days it doesn't happen, which screws everything up for another day or two. Breastfeeding is still going. I really appreciate all the people who gave me such thoughtful and helpful comments and emails! Such good advice and support from all my bloggy folks - thanks! Some days are good - she only wants about 4 ounces of formula in a 24 hour period, and some days aren't that good - up to about 12 ounces of formula in 24 hours. I am not being as good as I should regarding pumping and trying to stimulate my breasts more than what Alex does. I haven't pumped at night in weeks - too tiring. And whole days go by without pumping. Right now my MIL and grandmother-in-law are staying with us, and I don't really feel like pumping in front of them - I'm barely comfortable whipping one boob out in front of them and then covering it with my baby! But they leave on Tuesday, and I'm going to try to commit to one full week of everything I can do to increase milk production, including lots of pumping!

In three weeks, we are leaving to go to Denver and stay with the in-laws for three weeks, and I'm very nervous about the trip. Not necessarily the trip, but living there for three weeks. Right now, I have all my stuff set up between three rooms: my bedroom, living room and kitchen. This includes a bouncy chair set in the pack n play, a swing (which is just the best invention ever), a fabulous rocking chair, two changing stations (day-time in my bedroom, night-time in the living room), and a bottle cleaning station in the kitchen. None of that is going with me to Denver, except my MIL keeps telling me that she bought a pack n play. That's nice, except for the fact that Alex is not a big fan of sleeping flat on her back - she's most content propped up in a swing or the bouncy chair. Or her favorite place, my arms! And the only thing that is going with us to Denver is my arms... Before giving birth, I read so many books and talked to a bunch of people about sleep routines, and raising babies, and I was convinced I knew what I was going to do. I really liked the idea of Babywise, and I was going to follow it perfectly! And then I had a baby... In the middle of the night, when all I want to do is sleep, and all baby wants to do is fuss and cry if you set her down, I am ashamed to admit how many times I fall asleep in bed with Alex sleeping on my chest, something I swore I would never do. It's amazing what we will resort to doing when desperate for sleep! I've nursed her in bed, and fallen asleep while nursing (something I didn't want to do), kept her in my Moby wrap for hours, fed her to sleep, and other things that my sleep-deprived mind can't remember now that I swore I wouldn't do in this way. I really wanted to have a schedule, and get her to sleep through the night quickly, and it seems I have turned into a bit of an attachment-style parent - something that is fine for others but I really didn't want to do myself. I like the ideas, but knowing I am going back to work 12 weeks after birth makes me very nervous about keeping up the ways of attachment parenting. I worry sometimes about undoing the bad habits that we've clearly started, but I keep telling myself that you can't spoil a newborn. But at what point does it get better? I keep thinking about the time I go back to work. Granted I have eight more weeks left, but in the four weeks so far it hasn't exactly gotten better as far as the night feedings. Well I guess during the first week it was constant because she was starving, so that's better. I know I'm rambling, but I just really hope that it will get better here soon because I can't imagine trying to function at a job after the nights I have if her current schedule continues!

Besides worrying about sleeping when we go to Denver and when I return to work, things are getting better. I'm getting the hang of this mommy thing, and I'm having the time of my life. When things are rough, all I have to do is look at her precious face, and my heart melts, and everything seems better. My dad came to town for Thanksgiving, and it was amazing seeing him with Alex. I love how smitten he seems with his new granddaughter. It's moments like those that make everything else in the world disappear, and I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Breastfeeding Woes

During my pregnancy, I read two books on breastfeeding, plus all the sections in the many pregnancy and baby books I've read. I took a class about breastfeeding. I spent countless hours researching different breastfeeding issues online, and I asked lots of questions of my friends who have gone through it. And I bought all the supplies I would need. I was prepared. But I wasn't prepared for the one issue I didn't expect: no milk! Here we are, one week after giving birth, and I don't really think my milk has "come in". Engorgement? Hasn't happened. People talk about having super huge full and hard breasts. Yeah, not so much. I'm still soft and floppy.

It all started so well. I had a c-section, so hubs took the baby back to our room without me while my doc was sewing me up. One of my concerns about having a c-section was being able to nurse quickly - within that magical one hour window after birth. So I was happy to get back to my room pretty quickly - within about 20 minutes after birth. But then the nurse told me to wait to nurse until the lactation consultant came to help me with my first feeding. I consented for about 10 minutes, and then I insisted on feeding my baby - she was my baby, I was going to try myself! Why did I have to wait? And it was a success. Baby Alex latched on immediately, and she suckled like a champ. I think we had about a 30 minute session that first time, about 15 minutes each side. I was so proud.

For the next couple days, everything was looking so good. The nurses wanted to see one poop in the first 24 hours - we gave them 7! She was latching great, and we were feeding every 2 hours. Alex was born Tuesday evening, and on Thursday I had a friend come by and visit, and she asked how everything was going, and I responded that it's much easier than I thought it would be - everything's great! How wrong I was.

That night at our 1:00 am feeding, Alex took one boob just fine. But she wouldn't take the other - she absolutely refused. But I just chalked it up to being full or sleepy or something - no big deal. Then at the next feeding at 3:00 am, she refused both boobs. I struggled for an hour and a half by myself, and finally the nurse stopped by, hearing the crying. She would have been a great drug dealer. The night before, she convinced me that Alex needed to suck a lot, and perhaps we should try a pacifier to calm Alex between feedings. It didn't occur to me that she was fussy between feedings because she was hungry! Of course Alex loved the pacifier, and so I thought it was a success, even though it went against what I had read about breastfeeding and nipple confusion. Well then Thursday night she said that Alex was refusing to nurse because I didn't have any milk to entice her as my milk had not yet come in, and now she was confused by the pacifier, and she didn't want to latch on anymore. So then she convinced me that I needed a nipple shield to help her latch - something I had seen cause much difficulty with a couple of my friends. So with the help of a nipple shield and a bit of sugar water sprayed on the nipple shield to entice her, Alex finally latched at around 4:30 am after crying since 3:00. But then about an hour later, she was fussy again, and wouldn't latch even with the nipple shield, and my drug dealer nurse convinced me that Alex was hungry, and was refusing to latch because nothing was coming out. Finally through tears, I agreed to give her formula as I felt like I was starving my baby. For the first time in days, I saw my baby swallow and voraciously drink. She was finally full.

On Friday, we met with the pediatrician before leaving the hospital, and she said we should do the following: Every 2 1/2 to 3 hours, I should nurse Alex for 10-15 minutes on each side, then pump for 15 minutes. While I pump, I should feed Alex 1-2 ounces of formula, as much as she'll take. This should help increase my milk production as I'm telling my body that the nursing isn't enough by the use of the pump. The whole process takes about 1 1/2 hours when you include bottle and pump set up and washing, and then we get 1 1/2 hours off to sleep or for me to eat. Repeat - 8+ times per day. Needless to say, I'm exhausted.

I can see improvement over the weekend. I went from barely getting a drip of milk in my 15 minute pumping session to getting enough to almost cover the bottom of the pump bottles. But it's pitiful. We went to the pediatrician yesterday, and she asked how much I was getting. It's not even measurable - you could tell she wasn't that impressed. And so then we went to the vitamin store, and I loaded up on fenugreek and blessed thistle - herbs that are supposed to help with production.

I'm once again disappointed by my body. My baby is doing her part - she has a great suck, and that was part of the reason why the pediatrician said she wasn't worried about me supplementing - as her suck is so strong, she should be able to go from breast to bottle easily. And this has proven true. I have even been able to wean her off the nipple shield in the last couple days, so that is a success. And my nipples went from sore to not too bad. Another success and evidence of a good latch. But my body is not cooperating. It's been a week, and everything I've read says that my milk should be "in" by now. Yes I have some milk, but I don't think this is what they're talking about when they say milk should be in. People have been having babies for thousands of years, and this should all be natural, right? But I can't help but think that if this was in the time before formula, my baby would not be thriving and I would be starving my baby. But then again, I wouldn't have a baby at all if it weren't for science, right? Once again, my body refuses to do what it was designed to do, and I'm forcing it to behave, or at least hoping it will.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Alex is here!

This is a little belated, but I'm finally getting the chance and the motivation (at 2 am) to log in and announce the arrival of our little girl, Miss Alexandra Louise! Born on 11/1/11, at 5:03 pm, 7 lbs, 3 oz, 19 inches long. With the cutest and biggest cheeks ever. As they were pulling her out of my belly (yes, ended up with a c-section - birth story to come), they saw her face and cheeks and figured she would be a huge baby. But no, not huge, just huge cheeks. That and a fabulous double chin. Here are a couple pics, one right after she was born, and one when she was first meeting one of her brothers Kodiak.