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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Letting go

Well, the rented baby scale has left the building.......again.  We returned it once before, but hopefully I'll be able to let go of it for good this time.  After knowing EXACTLY how much breast milk Dylan has been getting each day for almost 3 months, I'm pretty much terrified.  I'm definitely not really over the weight-loss scare that we had when Dylan was 3 weeks old, but everyone else is confident that he is now doing fine.  The lactation consultant has been urging me to bring back the scale for a while (even though we were renting it from her store!) and to "trust the system" of breastfeeding, but it's been incredibly hard to do after our rough start.

It helped to talk with the pediatrician at Dylan's 4 month appointment a few days ago.  Dylan's weight is still right around the 25th percentile, but the doctor said she wasn't really too worried about it, and she also voted that I return the scale. 

In the end, I'm not sure if using the scale was a good idea or a bad one.  Certainly, it reassured me that Dylan was getting enough to eat, but I also clearly got kind of very dependent on it.  Maybe those suckers should come with a sticker: "WARNING: This scale is like crack for OCD breastfeeding moms; use with caution." 

Anyway, it's gone now, and I'm trying to take my first steps on the road to Scale Addiction recovery.  Wish us luck!  

Dylan at 1 month, just over 9 lbs

Our last weigh-in this morning; Dylan at 4 months, just under 14 lbs...still wearing some of his favorite socks!

Friday, September 9, 2011

To Vermont and back again

We successfully made it to Vermont and back!  It involved many, many hours of obsessive planning on my part, and what seemed like about enough baby clothing and gear to outfit an entire Babies 'R Us store, but we did it.   

On the two plane rides to get there, Dylan slept for only about 30 minutes total, and he did fuss a little bit, but I think he did about as well as you can expect a baby to do on such a big travel day.  He had his own seat on the plane, which he didn't use much, but we were really glad to have the extra room.  Dylan was kind enough to hold off on having a tantrum until we got into the rental car and were on the way to the hotel.  Then he melted down big time and had his biggest screaming fit ever, but at least he wasn't bothering anyone but us.  
First plane ride!  They even gave him a pair of wings.
 We were pretty worried about how Dylan would sleep in a strange hotel room, but he slept like a champ.  We did break down and pack the exercise ball (and pump) that we use every night to bounce him to bed, which seemed kind of crazy but was totally worth it.  We took a risk and decided to use whatever crib the hotel had.  What they brought looked like a scary metal prison crib, but it had a nice clean mattress and worked just fine, especially since Dylan still sleeps swaddled and doesn't move around much.  The room also had awesome blackout curtains, which probably helped with naps and keeping him asleep in the morning--we tried to keep him on our Texas time-zone schedule, which meant getting him to sleep until 8 a.m. East Coast time, which he did!  I think I even had to wake him up one morning.

Quick diaper change at the Thursday night cook out
Dylan got to meet tons of adoring friends and family members, and it was pretty nice for us to be able to pass him around to have a little bit of a break.  We were also fortunate to have a great babysitter--a friend of the bride's family-- who took care of Dylan during the rehearsal dinner and wedding ceremony.  We decided to have her watch him at the same location where we were the whole time, just in case he flipped out (and because I still had to be the one to feed him), but he did fine with her.  It was VERY strange to try to give someone babysitting instructions for the first time.
Hanging out at the "camp" on Lake Champlain
The bridesmaids (can you tell I've been indoors with a baby all summer??)
The happy couple and their awesome personalized wedding arbor
We did have Dylan out and about during the reception; Jeromy wore him around in the front carrier for a while, where he eventually conked out.  
Enjoying the reception
Dylan and I with his Grandma "JMo" and his great-grandmother Titus
I guess we were ALL pretty exhausted by the time it came to head home; Dylan magically slept for most of both his car seat!
All tuckered out on the plane!
It was a wonderful trip; Vermont was beautiful and the wedding events were all just perfect...and most of you know I'm picky about wedding stuff. 

That said....we're pretty relieved that we can now just stay close to home for a while!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

New Mama Drama

Things are starting to settle down a little bit finally, after being a bit bumpy over the last few months.  The first big thing that happened was having to spend the night in the children's hospital when Dylan was 11 days old.  He developed some weird sores on his belly, chin, and nose that actually turned out to be staph when the pediatrician took a culture from them.  You can imagine my reaction when I heard "staph"; in fact, I'm pretty sure that the doctor purposefully called Jeromy's phone and told him instead of me.  So we spent 24 hours at Dell Children's Hospital for Dylan to be monitored and tested further.  The absolute worst part of it was that they wanted to do an IV in case he had to be given any medicine quickly.  There were 3 ER nurse trying to find a vein in his tiny little hands while Jeromy and I did our best to keep him still and calm.  Well, after they had poked him THREE times, he was screaming, and Jeromy and I were both crying almost as hard as he was.  They finally told us that it's much easier to just do one in the scalp, but that they don't usually do it that way automatically because it freaks parents out.  At that point, we just wanted them to get it done.  
Hanging out with Dad at the hospital
By the time we were actually admitted and Jeromy had gone home to deal with our poor dog and get some overnight stuff, it was almost one in the morning.  It was a long night, but luckily they had a fold-out couch and a cot, so Jeromy and I could both stay in the room with Dylan.  The next day several groups of doctors came in to see Dylan and ask us a bunch of questions; I think over the course of our stay, about 12 or 15 doctors and interns looked at him and talked to us. They ended up deciding to have the pediatric infectious diseases specialist handle our case, which, of course, was pretty scary sounding. After looking at him, though, she decided that she wasn't too worried, and he was finally released with no treatment except an ointment we had to apply to the sores, which went away quickly. We were so lucky that there was nothing too serious wrong, but it was NOT an experience you want to have in your first two weeks of being a parent. 

The other drama that we've been dealing with pretty much since Dylan was born is the breastfeeding.  I've had mixed feelings about how much to write about the issue, since no one likes an over-share, but I really feel like part of the problem is people NOT talking about it.  I've been so shocked by how many friends or family members, upon hearing that I've been struggling with breastfeeding, have revealed that they had issues, too, although I haven't really found anyone whose problems were the same as mine.  

I don't think I can even begin to go through every detail and aspect of the breastfeeding saga, there have been so many issues that may or may not even be related to each other.  The most persistent problem is that breastfeeding has been very painful for me.  I have quite a bit of damage that isn't really healing, and we're not sure why.  I've seen three different lactation consultants, my OBGYN, and a dermatologist, and none have been able to figure exactly what's going on.  Dylan and I both definitely had thrush at some point, but we were treated for it pretty quickly.  I am also taking a prescription medication for vasoconstrictions, which is a fairly rare condition where the compression from nursing causes all the blood to suddenly drain from my nipple, which hurts quite a bit (sorry if that's TMI).

The scariest part of the breastfeeding was that, when we first met with our third lactation consultant, we found out that Dylan had LOST weight, and was back down to the weight at which he left the hospital.  I had been using a nipple shield, and Dylan had probably not been getting enough milk through it, which caused my supply to go down.  Suddenly we had to start an intense regimen that involved me nursing Dylan, and then pumping (with a rented hospital-grade pump) for 10 minutes right afterwards while someone else gave him a supplemental bottle of formula or pumped milk.  We had to do this at every feeding, which meant that someone else had to get up with me in the middle of the night.  Without the shield, the pain was getting to be almost unbearable, and I ended up taking 3 days off from nursing (pumping exclusively) to try to heal, hoping that the pain would improve.  It didn't help much, but I was too nervous to have Dylan only taking a bottle for much longer, so I had to slowly work back up to nursing at every feeding. 

Luckily, my mom was able to be here with us, and Jeromy's mom even flew back out to help when my mom had to go back to Colorado for 4 days.  I can't imagine how we could possibly have managed without them; Jeromy would have had to take more time off work for sure.  My mom ended up spending a big chunk of the summer here in the Texas heat, instead enjoying the beautiful Colorado weather.

We've also been renting a super-accurate scale that we use to weigh Dylan to see exactly how much he is getting at each feeding.  He seems to be taking in enough most of the time, and he has gained weight well over the last several weeks, but it's still been a constant worry, at least for me.  
Chillin' on the scale

At this point, the pain is definitely better, but is far from gone, which is pretty frustrating.  I'm using a crazy cocktail of prescription creams from the dermatologist, and we're also trying to see if Dylan's latch can be improved somehow.  He's had a couple sessions of cranio-sacral therapy, which is definitely a little on the alternative, how-can-that-possibly-be-doing-anything side, but I'm willing to try anything at this point. 

It doesn't help that when you try to do research or get help with breastfeeding issues, you run into a whole lot of what I would have to call breastfeeding propaganda.  "If it hurts, you're doing something wrong," and "just nurse more frequently" are phrases that you'll keep hearing.  There is definitely a contingent of "lactivists" out there that are pretty much rabid about breastfeeding, and don't seem to acknowledge that is is really, really hard for a lot of people, and that it just doesn't work out for everyone. We're making it work right now, and I really hope we'll be able to stick with it for a full year, but it's definitely been an on-going struggle.  

In other news, in just a week and a half, we are all getting on a plane and heading to Vermont for my brother's wedding!  I'm really excited, but of course this also means that I'm doing one of the things that I do best: obsessing.... about traveling with a 3-month old.  We have to take 4 airplane rides.  I'm going to have to breastfeed in public. We have to keep him happy and get him to sleep in a strange place without the swing, the bouncy seat, etc.  You can imagine I'm freaking out a little bit.  

SO.....experienced for traveling with an infant????  Stuff to pack, not pack?  Tricks for peace, quiet, and infant happiness?  

Practicing his "flying" skills in preparation for our big trip

Sunday, June 26, 2011

More pictures, and the Birth Story, FINALLY

Tiny dancer

First family photo that didn't involve me in a hospital bed
Tummy time
Sleeping boys
Well it's been almost a month, but better late than never, right?  Hopefully this doesn't contain too much over-share, but it does talk about dilation, water breaking, etc, so consider yourself warned!

On Friday, May 27th, I went to my OBGYN for a "fetal non-stress test" to make sure that the baby was still doing ok, since we were almost a week past my due date.  Everything looked fine, and I went home happy because I had convinced my doctor to push back my induction date to the following Thursday, just to give things a little more time to get started on their own.  My doctor still said that she didn't think I'd make it until then, but I was getting a little worried, because I had been 3-4 cm dilated for almost a month without having any other real labor signs. 

That evening, we went out for dinner with my mom and future sister-in-law, who was on her last day of her visit to Austin.  I was REALLY uncomfortable at dinner, trying to sit and eat in a normal posture around my belly.  I told Jeromy afterwards that I didn't think I could go out to eat anymore, it was just too uncomfortable.  We took a short walk, also very uncomfortable, and I spent more time that night sitting and bouncing on the exercise ball, also to try to get labor going.  

We turned in pretty early, and as we were getting ready for bed, I told Jeromy that I was having weird and pretty intense back pain that was coming and going, but that it surely couldn't be early labor, because Dr. Hart had told me several times that the baby was in the right position (head down, face towards my back) so I shouldn't be having the much dreaded "back labor."  Jeromy fell right asleep, as always, but I was so uncomfortable that I couldn't sleep and got up again at about 11.  I started trying to use the contraction timer that we had downloaded on our phones, but it seemed really weird to be timing pain that was in my back.  I was also confused that the contractions seemed longer and closer together than they should be in pre-labor; some of them were already 1 or 2 minutes long and occasionally came right on top of each other.  I don't even remember what all I did for a few hours, but at about 1:30 I decided to work on finishing up the hospital packing, just in case.  By 2 a.m. I was feeling kind of out of it and in enough pain that I was having trouble packing, so I went ahead and woke up Jeromy.  He doesn't exactly wake up and get going easily, so he was kind of stumbling around, too.  Shortly after he woke up, I started throwing up, which really freaked me out and made me worry about getting dehydrated.  Jeromy kept asking if it might just be food poisoning, but I decided to go ahead and call the doula hotline.  I felt awful for waking the doula (Amy) up...she sounded so sleepy!  She gave me some tips for dealing with back labor, and listened to me go through a few contractions.  Since I was still pretty much able to talk through them, she told us to call back when I couldn't. By the time Amy called back at 3:30, I was in a lot more pain, and the contractions were pretty long, although I had kind of given up using the timer.  She decided to head on out to our house, so Jeromy and I went ahead and both took showers and tried to work on packing.  The warm shower seemed to help with the pain, so I decided to try a warm bath for a while.  Jeromy let the dog out of her kennel, and went to watch for Amy so that she wouldn't ring the door bell and wake up my mom and Victoria.  As soon as Amy got here, she told Jeromy to either eat something or take a nap, so he went to sleep on the couch while she came in to be with me in our bedroom.  I spent the next couple of hours laboring in bed, in the bathtub, and various place in between when a contraction hit me.  The dog snuck upstairs and woke my mom up, who immediately knew something was going on and came downstairs, although she left to take Victoria to the airport at 5:30.  She came in and out a few times to see how I was doing, but by that point I was not very coherent.

Amy kept getting me to change positions; I hadn't realized that the worse a contraction feels in a certain position, the more effective it probably is.  She was really great about helping me breathe and stay hydrated, especially after I got sick again.  Around 6:30, I started feeling really miserable; I was terrified of how I was going to feel on the 25 minute car ride to the hospital, and I was feeling like I couldn't take it much epidural was starting to sound pretty appealing.  At that point I was probably starting to go into transition, which is the most intense part of labor.  I had Amy wake up Jeromy, and somehow we got me dressed and got everything into the car.  They put me in the back seat so I could lay down if I wanted, and Amy followed us in her car.  Amazingly, the car ride wasn't too bad; I only had a few really bad contractions, and then we were there.  Because it was still early, we had to go in through the E.R.  As soon as I got out of the car, I had a really awful contraction, dropped my purse, and leaned against the car moaning for a minute or so.  Luckily, a security guard who was driving around saw me, pulled over, and ran to get a wheel chair.  He wheeled me in while Jeromy and Amy got all of our stuff.  When we got into the hospital, the E.R. check-in staff was trying to ask me all sorts of questions through one of those plastic barriers with tiny holes in it, which made me really grumpy; I could hardly understand what they were saying.  Finally, Amy and Jeromy came in and told them how close and long my contractions were, and they sped things up and got me up to the labor and delivery floor.  My memory is really fuzzy from that point on, but I remember there being tons of people bustling around.  They wanted a urine sample, so Jeromy helped me into the bathroom, where I got sick again, and where my water finally broke.  After that, things happened even more quickly; Jeromy somehow got me into a gown, I made it to the bed, and they checked my dilation; I was already at a 9 and half (they let you push at 10), which meant that we were well beyond the point of an epidural, and it was a really good thing that we left for the hospital when we did!  

Because I was having so much back labor, they had me get out of the bed and do some contractions leaning over and squatting, in case he needed to get turned into a better position.  Those contractions were the worst of the whole labor, and I felt like I was wailing and moaning a ton, although I was told afterwards that I never got too loud.  Then I was back up on the bed, laying on my side, and they told me I'd probably be ready to push in just a few more contractions. I was convinced that they were lying to me to keep me motivated. Somewhere in there, they put in the IV and put an oxygen mask on me.  The oxygen mask kind of freaked me out, and we're still not entirely sure why they insisted on it; Amy said that they might have seen the baby's heart rate dropping during my contractions.  Then doctor and (it seemed like) about 12 other people showed up, and I started pushing. As I had heard, pushing actually made the contractions less painful, although it was very hard work.  Amy had Jeromy feeding me ice cubes between contractions, and generally encouraging me.  Jeromy's favorite part of the whole thing was when, at one point, he took off the oxygen mask to give me some ice, and I pointed at the mask and said, "I'm not in love with this."  Apparently that was the only real sentence that I managed to utter the entire time I labored at the hospital.  I really didn't like having the oxygen mask on my face, but it probably did help, because I sort of started hyperventilating a few times.  Amy was amazing; she got right in my face to coach me into breathing more deeply.  Pretty soon they started telling me that he was crowning, and that it would only take a few more pushes; again, I thought for sure they were lying to me.  But sure enough, after only 30 minutes of pushing, Dylan came out with one big push.  They put him right on my chest, and he immediately peed all over me (not for the last time.) 

Not too long after Dylan was born, my mom arrived at the hospital to bring Jeromy his camera, which had gotten left at home.  We hadn't had time to call anyone or send out texts yet, so she assumed I was still in labor.  Jeromy met her at the hospital entrance and asked if she wanted to come up to see me.  She said she did, and asked him how dilated I was.  He told her I was at a 10, and then brought her into the room where I was holding was fun to be able to surprise her!

I'm definitely pretty amazed with the way my labor went.  My modesty pretty much went out the window (everyone told me it would, but I was doubtful), and I definitely made lots of very unladylike noises that I never thought I'd make.  And I really am pretty shocked that I was able to do it without any pain medication.  My mom and brother both admitted that they would have lost a bet on that one.  I think a lot of it had to do with getting pretty lucky in my labor, though.  If I had gotten to the hospital and only been 6 centimeters dilated, or if my labor had been too much longer, I'm sure I probably would have gotten the epidural.  I also think that hiring a doula was incredibly helpful for both Jeromy and me; we both kind of needed someone to tell us what to do!

So there's the super-long birth story!  Little did we know that labor and delivery would be the easy part, and that the more challenging parts were still to come, but that's another blog post...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

He's here!

For those of you who haven't heard the news...

Dylan Titus Smith was born on Saturday, May 28th, 9:17 a.m. after about 11 hours of labor.  He weighed in at 8 pounds, 5.5 ounces, 21.6 inches long..."not a little baby," as one of the hospital nurses said.

We brought him home on Monday and are kind of settling into a routine of feeding, sleeping and diapers; it feels a little crazy, but things are going well overall.  We have had lots of help from my family, and Jeromy's family is on their way!  Jeromy has been taking wonderful care of both me and Dylan...he's a complete natural at being a Dad!

I'll try to do a "birth story" post soon, but for now, here is a picture extravaganza (not really in order, but I didn't feel like messing with it):

Dad's awesome burping

Getting ready to go home

First outfit!

SO tired....
Meeting Big Sister Lainey

With Uncle Travis

Heading home!

With Grandma Titus
With Grandpa Titus

Friday, May 27, 2011

Eviction Notice

Dear Doctor (a.k.a. Baby Boy Smith),

You are quickly getting to the point of being considered "late."  Now, while it is true that your parents do not have a perfect record of being on time, we try to be punctual around here, especially for Very Important Events.  Being born definitely falls under that category, wouldn't you agree?

If you don't make your big entrance by Thursday morning, your parents are going to have to go to the hospital for an 5:30 a.m.  And you should know that we DON'T do 5:30 a.m. around here.  Then, Mom will be injected with a yucky medicine that makes everything hurt more than it should.  The doctor will make you come out, whether you like it or not.  No fun for anyone, except maybe the anesthesiologist, who will make out like a bandit.  Is that what you want? 

It's tempting to fine you for being late, like an overdue library book, but we're pretty sure that you won't grasp the concept of money for a few more years, so it probably wouldn't be a valuable learning experience.  So we're going to go with good old-fashioned threats.  For EVERY day that you don't come out on your own, mom is going go out and buy you a completely ridiculous baby outfit.  Then, when you DO finally come out, she is going to take pictures of you in each of them, and post them on the internet.  Yes.  And don't think that Dad will save you from this fate, either.  He might try, but he won't be able to protect you forever, because, guess what?  He goes to work.

This could be you.

Also, we will look into buying THIS for you:

Consider yourself warned. 

Love, Mom and Dad

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Smith Baby Watch 2011: Update

I had my 40 week appointment today.  After e-mailing with my doulas, I was all ready to let my doctor "strip my membranes" (which I won't get into, but basically it can help get labor started) but we decided to wait, because, get this....I have a nasty little cold.  Oh yes.  I managed to make it through flu season and cold season without catching anything, even when Jeromy got pretty sick, but NOW of all times, I come down with something for the first time in my pregnancy.  So as much as I am ready for Doctor to come on out, I am NOT ready to try to bring on labor while I can barely breathe.  According to one of the doulas, your body will usually hold off and not go into labor while you are sick; hopefully she is right.  Being handed my baby for the first time and coughing in his face is just not in The Plan.  

So the membrane stripping has been delayed until next week, when I will hopefully be feeling better.    I am, however, scheduled for an "induction massage" on Saturday, which may help things along a bit (using pressure points), but will mostly feel good and help me relax. It might also bring world peace and solve global warming, because massages are just that good. 

I feel pretty lucky that my OBGYN is still being very patient and mellow; apparently some doctors start getting really antsy and pushy once you hit your due date.  She hasn't tried to scare me with any talk of a huge baby or a weakening placenta or anything like that.  She did, however, go ahead and schedule me for an induction on the 31st, if nothing has happened by then.  It kind of sucks to start thinking about having to be induced, but I'm glad we have a plan.  

So we're still kind of hanging out, waiting.   Just picture me bouncing on an exercise ball (to help the baby drop a bit more), blowing my nose repeatedly, while Jeromy watches basketball on TV and makes me tea.  Pretty exciting for our last days as a young, childless couple, but we're just glamorous like that!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Intense Baby Prep Checklist and a personal question

  • Car seat bases installed and inspected.....DONE. The EMTs were very impressed by Jeromy's installation skills, but they still uninstalled and re-installed them again anyway, just to make sure we knew how to do it.  They also had us practice strapping a creepy baby doll into the seat.  
  • Newborn/3-month sized clothes washed and hung in the nursery closet...DONE.  
  •  Baby gear set up...DONE.  Entirely by Jeromy and our dads, I should add, although I did hand Jeromy pieces of the swing while beached on the couch.
  •  Nursery decorated.....DONE.  
  • Hospital bags packed....done as much as possible, since we still need to wear and use some of the stuff you are supposed to put in there.
  • Infant CPR class.....DONE, just this past week.  We couldn't get into one until May 10th, which made me hyperventilate a little bit, but we made it.  We each got our own sanitized plastic baby face to snap in and out of  the shared practice dolls.  Which wasn't creepy AT ALL.  Also, Jeromy and I BOTH (separately) asked a lady in the class when she was due...who had given birth to her twins 5 weeks earlier....oops.
  • Stock freezer with easy meals....DONE.  Jeromy hit the kitchen a few weekends and made about 17 servings of tortilla soup and bolognese sauce.
  • Pre-registration with the hospital and anesthesiologist (ALMOST spelled that right on my first try).....DONE.  Got the shock of my life when I talked to the lady at the anesthesiologist's office; apparently once they give you ANYTHING through the IV--Pitocin, epidural, etc--the anesthesiologist goes on "standby" for you until you deliver....for $90 every FIFTEEN MINUTES.  That's before insurance,
  • Mom back in Texas and within a two-hour drive at all times....DONE.  It's a good thing, too, because I think if the baby had come early, I would have refused to leave the hospital until my mom was around to be there when we brought him home.  Plus, the plan is for my parents to drive in and take care of the Pampered Puppy Princess while we are at the hospital.  
So are we missing anything???  Anything else we need to know about ahead of time?  Because I swear, if I get to the other side of this whole thing and start talking about the birth experience, and all of a sudden everyone is like, "ah, yes, I remember when the giant winged dragon flew through the window and bit me on the arm.  No one warns you about that part, do they?"  I will feel very betrayed.

Finally......a questions for previous birth-givers that might fall under the TMI category, but I would like to know....did you have your membranes stripped to get labor going?  Effectiveness?  Pain level?  Pros and cons?

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    The big nursery reveal!

    We finally put the finishing touches on the nursery this weekend!  I'm really happy with how it turned out.  Hopefully it will be "boy" enough for Doctor.  

    Here is kind of a "before" picture:

    And here it what it looks like now: 
    (You should be able to click on each picture to see them larger, if you want!)

    Reading nook!

    Stuffed owl from Aunt Heather

    This is actually a copy of the last page of an adorable book that one of our shower hostesses gave us.

    Reading owl art in the reading nook

    Fancy bib that Uncle Travis and Aunt Victoria got for Doctor on their Laos, I think?
    Jeromy and his Dad put all the furniture together, and Jeromy very patiently hung all the pictures this past weekend, although he did declare that it was the last picture collage wall he'd ever do.  I made the crib skirt, large turquoise and plaid pillow cases, baby quilt, and changing pad cover....yay for sewing lessons. Now we just need a baby to come sleep in it!