Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Six Weeks

I started writing this at 12:20 AM on Thursday, April 17th.

Exactly six weeks ago, we pulled into the driveway with a brand new, less than six hour old baby boy. Ours to keep, ours to love and ours to lead to Christ. He slept the whole way home. We sat on the couch until 2:00 AM, taking turns with my parents holding our sweet boy and marveling at God's goodness.

I am blessed beyond measure.

I'm here in the same room six weeks later, overflowing with love and thankfulness. God is so good, so much better than I deserve. I have screwed up so many times in my life but He continues to show me grace and forgiveness. The added blessing of this little life to nurture is more than I can understand.

He finally fell asleep at midnight after a rough evening. I went to karate and Little Buddy fussed for his daddy the entire time I was gone, refusing a bottle and crying the whole time. He, of course, quieted down the moment he was put to my breast again. Poor R was/is burned out from the hour they spent together. I know he feels terrible about how that time went down.

R was everything to SSA growing up, sole care-giver and provider. He gave the bottles and changed the diapers and rocked him to sleep. But here I am, doing so many of those things myself for Little Buddy. I'm afraid R doesn't feel bonded to Little Buddy or that he resents having him here because it's not the idyllic infanthood R remembers with SSA. I worry that he resents me for breastfeeding and co-sleeping because Little Buddy associates me with food, comfort, and rest. I worry that he blames me for wanting another child. I worry that he feels less-than or connects this current situation to us using a donor. I worry that he is experiencing postpartum depression for dads.

But I know we will get through this. Little Buddy will eventually learn how to take a bottle. R will be able to provide more and more of his care as time goes on. And, knowing we trusted the Lord with the outcome of our IUI, I can trust that our family will come through this time intact and stronger than ever.

I'm bowing my head in prayer, kissing his wispy hair poking out of the Moby wrap that Little Buddy is currently sleeping in. Lord, please help us. Help Aaron and Roger figure out their time alone together. Help Roger interpret Aaron's needs and cues. Give Roger signs and assurances that Aaron needs him and loves him. Help Aaron learn to take a bottle. Bond my boys together and let their time alone be a blessing for them both. And Lord, please, help us all get some sleep.

Six weeks ago, I fell asleep sitting up with this sweet new life in my arms. I can't believe I'm so lucky that I get to do it again tonight.

God is so good.

Monday, April 14, 2014

How does your garden grow?

We planted our vegetable garden yesterday! We are now the proud nurturers of six rows of veggies: two zucchini and one each of snow peas, butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and artichoke. Not holding out much hope on those last two but we decided to try since they are two of our favorite veggies. We used Miracle Grow Garden Mix for the rows this year and I will look forward to reporting if we see a difference in viability and/or yield.

The next big task is the flowers. I have two 5' planter boxes that get full sun, five containers that get part sun/part shade, and need two hanging baskets for full sun. The five containers usually go okay, a mix of begonias on the deck and mexican petunia in the yard. I think I have a large container in a shady enough spot for some impatients this year.

Our planter boxes have been tough the past few years, usually petering out by July. Same with the hanging baskets. We really only have the funds and time to plant those once a year and I can't seem to find anything with real staying power.

Right now I'm considering black or brown eyed susans and some coneflowers for the planter boxes. The one issue with that being height, since the boxes are 18" high already. That would be quite a wall of flowers! I really need something that can take the sun and heat since we stay in the high 90's in this part of NC.

For the hanging baskets, R wants to go back to wandering jew (the only thing that has survived before). Since that can be a little boring, maybe I could add mandevilla vine to the baskets for color.

Any thoughts or suggestions for the boxes or baskets?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Five Weeks: Busy, Different, Good

I'll be changing Aaron's name on the blog to Little Buddy and will edit previous posts to reflect that change. Just a heads up!

I never know how to begin these updates. I mean, everything is going well. It feels like Little Buddy has been with us forever. Life is different in big ways but the same in many ways. We are full and busy. What else is there to say, really?

Busy
Life is really full with two children! It comes as no surprise but there you go. Getting out the door takes longer. You have to plan backward by twenty to thirty minutes, making sure the baby is fed, clean diaper, bag is packed... And that's just for baby! Still have to make sure the big girl is dressed with shoes, fed, uses the bathroom, has an activity for the car. It's a lot!

Bedtime is a challenge. Little K needs to have a snack, take vitamins, allergy meds, inhaler, brush teeth, brush hair, use bathroom, put on pj's and headgear, and a bedtime Jesus Calling. That doesn't count the nights we have bath and need to blow dry her hair. And somehow during all of that we have to keep Little Buddy happy. So, at least fifteen minutes before Little K's bedtime, we have to nurse, change diaper, and change into pj's. And then pray, pray, pray he doesn't start fussing in the middle of our big girl routine.

Different
There are so many ways that parenthood the second time around is wonderfully different! Everything seems less urgent, less stressful. I know that so much of that is because we've done this before. But there is the added blessing of my milk coming in quickly and no baby blues/PPD.

I'm surprised at how much I've learned from my sister! When Little K was born, the current parenting tools (baby wearing, baby led weaning, extended breastfeeding, natural/homeopathic remedies, cloth diapering) weren't as mainstream, so I didn't pursue them. My sister lives is Austin, TX where that style of parenting is HUGE. With her experience with Baby M and her wonderful doula friend, B, she has been able to really embrace these parenting trends and pass those values on to me. It is so cool and humbling to be learning from my younger sister!

Speaking of such things, we have ended up cloth diapering! Woohoo! I talked for years about wanting to do it but ended up choosing disposables for Little Buddy. That only lasted ten days. After that short time, we realized just how draining disposables would be on our finances and made the switch. I am LOVING cloth diapering and am SO happy we are doing it! I'll blog about that more later.

Good
Life is just so good! Little Buddy is such a sweet baby, usually only crying when he's hungry or tired. We are still dealing with the two hours of bedtime fussing, which I've just decided to accept. We have a sweet bedtime routine, with quiet play time, fresh diaper, bedtime story, nursing, and gripe water. Then it's into the Moby and I bounce with him on my birth ball until he falls asleep. The fussing usually starts at the end of nursing at 9:00 and ends around 10:30. It's rough but we're coping. Honesty, with everything that was hard with Little K, if this is Little Buddy's the only hard part, I'm good!

My body is healing well. My emotions are stable. We've resumed all of our regular extracurricular activities (church, bible study, karate...). Our house isn't clean, per say, but we're staying on top of trash, dishes, and laundry. At five weeks, what more can you ask for?

Life is crazy and life is good. Guess we'll call it crazy good.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Happy Pie Day!

I started writing this yesterday but then life happened. Oh well!

First and foremost: happy birthday to my wonderful husband! R turns 49 today (Tuesday) and we are doing... nothing. He is SO not a birthday person and is insisting that today is simply Tuesday. No special meal, no special activity. The only thing we are doing is dessert: a homemade pecan pie, his favorite.

So, Happy Pie Day to my love! Happy Pie Day to the man who changed the explosive poopy diaper last night. Happy Pie Day to the man who stayed up with me while Aaron fussed in the Moby wrap at bedtime. Happy Pie Day to the man who made the bed this morning. Happy Pie Day to the man who watched Little K while I was at BSF last night. Happy Pie Day to the man who watched Aaron while I took Little K to karate. Happy Pie Day to the man who takes such amazing care of his family. Happy Pie Day, one and all!

Friday, April 4, 2014

One Month: God Bless the Mommy's Bliss Company

Forgive the lack of whit and the poor grammar. Mister Aaron decided 5:00 AM was an appropriate time to wake up for the day. News flash: He's wrong.

Aaron had his one month well-baby visit yesterday. Here are his stats:

Birth Weight 8lb1oz, One Month 10lb4oz
Birth Length 21", One Month 22.75"
Birth Head 13.5", One Month 14.5"

I went into the appointment with a few concern, which the doctor was able to address for us. The first is his baby acne. His poor face is seriously broken out and he has whiteheads. My poor guy! She confirmed that it's just baby acne and suggested Neosporin. I also talked to my sister, whose pediatrician recommended cortizone cream on the worst spots. We will be giving those a try today and see if either make a difference.

The next concern was the consistency of his stools. He and I both have a cold right now and it has effected his feedings. He has been getting tired quickly lately while feeding and been taking longer naps than usual. This is leading to some engorgement for me. Combined, this means he ends up getting a lot of foremilk and not enough hindmilk, so he is gassy and his stools are very liquid/oily. The pediatrician suggested pre-pumping in order to get some of the foremilk out of the way as well as provide me with some relief. This will only be for a little while; once our colds are gone, feeding should go back to normal.

The last concern was for the recent change in Aaron's attitude in the evenings. I have joked with R that, come 8:30 PM each night, my breasts must suddenly be filled with rage-juice! Our little man just takes up this scream that doesn't abate until after 10:00 PM no matter what we do! It's so frustrating! She had a few thoughts on combating it: swaddling, swing, baby carrier... all things we have tried before. I asked about gripe water and she said that it has worked for some of her patients although not all.

I happened to have a bottle at home Mommy's Bliss Grip Water at home, so decided we would give it a try. His fuss came early last night at 7:30 PM, so I gave his a full one month dose: 1tsp. PRAISE GOD IT WORKED!!!!! His fuss was gone within three minutes (believe the package - it does, in fact, work in minutes!). And here's the best part: the rage didn't come back! I am so incredibly thankful! For the first time in a week, we had a nice quiet bedtime with a sweet boy who fell asleep in my arms instead of screaming in a Moby wrap.

I think I need to write Mommy's Bliss a letter and send them a rainbow unicorn. Seriously the best thing ever.

Next Week: Losing the baby weight, going back to work, dairy-free life, sleep training. Exciting, I know.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happy Belated Birthday to Me: Photo Dump

Yesterday was my birthday and we kept it super low-key. R got me a gift certificate to my favorite salon so I could get a cut. My last haircut was the day after our IUI, so it had been QUITE a while. Little K and I made a dairy-free birthday cake on Sunday afternoon that we finally cut after BSF last night. R and I took Aaron with us to lunch yesterday and he (Aaron) fussed the entire time in the restaurant. As we made our way back to the car, I told R: I remember now, this is birthday with a new baby. Heh. My parents did send me beautiful flowers, though, and I received lovely texts and phone calls all day.

I will post a real update later this week. Until then, everything is going really well. And here's a whole bunch of photos from the past two weeks.

Back Hair and Big Stretches

Sleeping Baby and Tiny Hands

Bowtie, Surprise!

Napping

Big Smile, Newborn Photo Preview

Pretty Birthday Flowers!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Aaron's Birth Story


When I woke up Tuesday morning, I felt a trickle of fluid between my legs and went to inspect: clear. I noticed that this trickle would appear every twenty minutes or so. I called the midwife at 10:00 AM to give her a heads up. Together, we decided to just keep an eye on it and she would call me back around 2:00. If contractions hadn't started but the fluid continued, we would head in to be checked. If the fluid stopped, we would do nothing. If contractions started, we would wait until we were ready to come in. The fluid stopped around noon with no contractions to speak of. When the midwife called back, we agreed to stay home and let her know if anything started again.

Late Tuesday evening, I started having contractions 45 minutes apart. We called the midwife and agreed that I would take a Tylenol PM and try to sleep. We were to call when the contractions became closer together.

At 2:30 AM on Wednesday morning, I woke up with contractions 10-15 minutes apart. We called the midwife to give her a heads up. She was excited to hear that things had picked up but suggested that we stay home as the birthing suites were close to capacity and my contractions were still pretty spaced out. R went ahead and got the truck packed while I moved to the birthing ball and tried to relax. My contractions fizzled out by 4:00 AM and, disappointed, we went back to bed.

When I woke up again to get Little K ready for school at 6:40 AM, my contractions were sporadic at best. Around 10:00 AM, they started back up at 30 minutes apart. I relaxed on the loveseat and watched Sherlock with my mom for the rest of the morning. I called the midwife at 12:45 PM when my contractions were 8-10 minutes apart again. She suggested that I relax in a hot bath for a while and call her back when they were 5 minutes apart. When I got off the phone, I decided I wanted to catch the last 30 minutes of the episode we were watching before getting in the tub.

My water broke in a gush just 15 minutes later.

I went into the bathroom to clean up, asking my mom to grab the phone and call the midwife back, when I noticed that the fluid was green. All of a sudden, everything sped up. My mom was great on the phone and the midwife told us to come in immediately. R put the cooler in the truck as I slipped on a pair of Depends and some dry pants. Mom took a quick picture of us heading out the door and then we were on our way!

As soon as we got in the truck, I set the GPS on R's phone, put on Hypnobabies: Easy First Stage in my earbuds, and relaxed into the hour drive ahead of us. Less than a mile from our house, my contractions went from eight minutes apart to three minutes apart. I vocalized an "Ahhh" during each contraction and rested in between. A few times, I talked to R and we shared our excitement about seeing our little man soon.

We pulled up to the birth center at 2:25 PM. There was one parking spot left in front of the birthing suites that was taken by the LabCorp van that pulled in 10 seconds before us. We were not pleased. I ended up getting out in front of the birth center and walked in alone as R searched for a parking spot behind the building. The nurse was waiting for us and was concerned that I may have driven myself there. I reassured her that R was just parking and would be in momentarily. I asked which room we would use and got myself settled on the birth ball before the next contraction started.

R brought in our things and the nurse took my temp, BP, and listened to Aaron's heartbeat. I reminded her that there was meconium in the fluid and she said the midwife would be in shortly. When the midwife, E, came in, she let us know she had a student midwife with her and asked if she could be a part of our day. I said yes, not knowing what a huge support and blessing the student, K, would be. They confirmed that meconium was present but that it was light and non-particulated, which meant we were safe at the birth center for now. E walked us through the possible outcomes: best - no fetal distress or decells, deliver at the birth center within 24 hours; anything else - hospital birth. It was now 3:00 PM and I was 5 cm dilated.

I continued listening to Hypnobabies until 3:15 PM, at which point I ripped out my earbuds and told R, "This woman is a lying [deleted]! These do not feel like warm hugs!" We both laughed and that was the end of Hypnobabies. I turned on my worship mix to chill out. I labored like that for another thirty minutes and then moved to the tub.

Although my contractions remained three minutes apart, they were growing in intensity. As I labored in the warm water, the nurse came in to listen to Aaron's heartbeat. She had a bit of a tough time finding his heartbeat and, when she did, we heard a slight deceleration that I found concerning. The midwife came in shortly thereafter to listen. After listening a bit while I was in the water, she decided to move me to the bed to assess everything. Getting out of the tub was terrible and lying down on the bed was worse. I was regretting my choice to go med-free and almost hoping that a hospital transfer was in our future. Thankfully, Aaron was fine and it was decided that we would continue at the birth center.

As I laid on the bed, I began shaking and trembling. In retrospect, I was heading into transition although, at the time, I thought I was just cold and under stress. I was discouraged to hear that I was only dilated to six, stretching to seven, and asked to get back in the tub. I had lost all sense of time and didn't think to ask for a time marker.

I was surprised that the midwife, student, and nurse all stayed with us when I got back in the tub. I had expected them to leave us for at least another hour since I had not dilated much. Again, in retrospect, I believe they expected that I was transitioning and that it wouldn't be much longer. As soon as I got back in the water, everything was so much more intense and so much harder! The student midwife was incredible during this time, really coaching me through each contraction and encouraging me to persevere through each one, not letting it get away from me. My "Ahhh"s changed, becoming much lower and more gutteral. When the contractions would get away from me, I would cry out, asking for help. When I was able to remember, I asked the Lord for help. Otherwise, that cry was nonsense plea for the pain to stop.

I was sweating in the water. The contractions felt unbearable. I whimpered in between contractions and fantasized about transferring to the hospital and getting an epidural.

I heard the midwife in charge say it wouldn't be much longer and said to her, "Please tell me I'm in transition." She laughed a little and told me I was. Grateful, I switched position to take the next contraction on my knees, leaning over the side of the tub. It was after that contraction they decided to move me to the bed. I visited the restroom and realized that, even if we transferred that very second, I wouldn't make it to the hospital in enough time for an epidural. I was going to have to go through with this crazy choice to go med-free whether I wanted to or not. Again, I didn't think to ask for a time marker.

I contracted once more in the bathroom and started crying from the intensity. The student midwife helped me to the bed, where I got on my hands and knees. They confirmed that I was fully dilated and told me to push as I needed in order to get Aaron into the birth canal. R stayed at my head, telling me how well I was doing and that we would meet our son soon. He reminded me that God got us this far and would see us through. I gripped his forearms as each urge came and would scoot toward him rather than really committing to the contractions. The midwife came to my head and talked to me about not pulling away from the pain but to, instead, push into it.

I think I progressed a little in that position but we weren't going to be seeing a baby that way. They moved me to my left side and had me push like that for a while. We started to see better progress. After a while, they had me on my back, pulling back my legs and having me curl around my body to get good momentum behind each push. R was on my left and the student midwife was on my right. They were both an incredible encouragement. Several times the midwife told me to reach down to feel Aaron's head, but I was sure I would only feel a little bit of his head. I didn't want to be disappointed by a lack of progress and, instead, just kept trying.

Everything hurt. The time between contractions was not relaxing - nothing more than a moment to catch my breath before the next contraction began. The worship music was still playing on my phone over by the tub and I heard some of my favorite songs between contractions. I was so thankful for the encouragement I heard in Glorious Ruins, which had been a big part of my pregnancy:

When the world caves in
Still my hope will cling to Your promise
Where my courage ends
Let my heart find strength in Your presence
I'll walk through the fire
With my head lifted high
And my spirit revived in Your story
And I'll look to the cross
As my failure is lost
In the light of Your glorious grace

Finally they convinced me to reach down to feel his head and I was SHOCKED at how much of his head was out! The top of his head filled the palm of my hand and I finally realized how close to the end we were! I understood that the current feelings I was experiencing were because he had been crowning for about five minutes already.

It took another five minutes for Aaron's head to emerge. I heard them say "No cord," confirming that his cord was not wrapped around his neck. With the next contraction, he was born. They quickly moved him to my chest as another liter of green amniotic fluid rushed out behind him. Two of the three medical professionals (I don't know which) in the room tried to contain the flood while the other vigorously rubbed Aaron in order to get all of that meconium-filled fluid out of his airways. It was 6:36 PM.

I kissed Aaron's head, telling him how much I loved him and how glad I was that he was out. Then I looked at R and said, "Let's never do that again." (I'm hilarious.)

Our boy let out some great cries, getting all of that nasty stuff out of him. He quieted down pretty quickly while we waited for his cord to stop pulsing. I heard them confirm that I received a shot of pitocin right after he came out, which I had consented to earlier. Someone was pressing hard, rubbing my abdomen. I felt a little tugging and reminded them that I wanted to pass the placenta without tugging or pulling. They agreed and said that they were just checking to see if there was any resistance or if it had already released. They asked me to push once more and the placenta was born. It felt very large coming out and R later confirmed that it was very big.

R was asked if he wanted to cut the cord and, initially, he declined. The midwife was surprised, as was I! I reminded him that this was his last chance since we weren't having any more kids. The midwife got everything set up for the cut and asked one more time. R decided he did want to cut the cord and later let me know that was a first for him, that he hadn't cut the cord for RJR or SSA.

Once the cord was cut, they had me scoot down to the end of the bed so they could change the green, dripping sheets. Eww. Once the bed was made again, the head midwife brought me a fresh drink and a bowl of frozen grapes to get my blood sugar back up. We were then left alone for about 30 minutes to enjoy our little man. During that time, Aaron nursed and R gave him a quick water bath to get the last of the green goo off. He latched on again immediately after and just kept nursing.

Soon, the midwives had me back at the end of the bed to check for rips or tears. I had three, one degree tears inside and one, one degree tear outside. Each received one stitch. Mom and Little K arrived right as they finished up the stitches.

The next bit is all a blur! Little K climbed right up in bed to see her brother. She gave him a stuffed animal and received her big sister present: a charm bracelet and little stuffed toy. She held him for a minute but he cried and cried. Mom tried to hold him, too, and he continued crying. We finally noticed that he had pooped in his blanket! Once he was cleaned up, he was happy to be held by everyone.

Mom and Little K had baked Aaron a birthday cake that afternoon, a beautiful dairy-free blueberry cake with orange creamscicle frosting. It was delicious! Little K wrote on the top is blue sparkly icing: Welcome Baby Aaron From Your Loving Family. *squee* Love!!!!

The midwives returned to do his newborn check and Little K watched the whole thing, asking questions all the way. Mom told us that Dad had left his office in Florida as soon as my water broke and would be arriving at our home around midnight. He couldn't bear to wait until after his meeting Thursday! Mom got me a bowl of the beef stew we had brought and fed it to me as I worked to keep my two (!!) children happy.

We originally asked to be discharged after the minimum four hours, at 10:30 PM, but they had to keep us for an extra hour because Aaron's pulse-ox levels were a little off. Mom and Little K left at 10:30 in order to get back to the house before Dad arrived. I was starving and had another bowl of stew while we waited out the hour. R loaded the car and I got dressed. Thankfully, Aaron passed the next pulse-ox screening and we were cleared to go home! We headed out at 11:30 PM and arrived home at 12:20 AM. I rode in the back seat with Aaron, who slept the whole way home. I took that time to update Facebook, the blog, and text.

My parents met us outside when we got home, my Dad giving me a big hug and kiss. When we came inside, we saw Little K asleep on the floor in front of the fireplace. We spent the next hour on the couches, visiting and staring at this beautiful baby boy the Lord had given our family.

R carried Little K upstairs and then we all finally headed to bed.

***

Late Thursday afternoon, we learned Aaron's Hawaiian middle name:

Makanakeakua - Gift of God

Mom shared with us that this meaning was threefold: the Lord had given us this wonderful gift of another child; a prayer for Aaron to receive God's gift of salvation early in life; and for Aaron to share the good news of salvation with others throughout his life.

***

In those first 24 hours, I was so focused on how hard med-free labor had been. How awfully painful and exhausting the experience was. How much I desired to NEVER experience that again. By 48 hours, though, I was commenting on how amazingly God designed our bodies. Not in how women birth children but in the amnesia that comes so quickly after they are born. By Saturday morning, the raw pain of labor and delivery were already a distant memory, completely buried under the joy and satisfaction of having Aaron here with us.

Even in the pain, God was good. And now, in the sweet presence of our son, God is good.