Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Nutrition 101

I am constantly in awe of my body.

As I now struggle to find enough to fill my own stomach I am even more impressed by my body's ability and wisdom to give Samuel exactly what he needs to survive and flourish.

Breast milk is amazing...  When I was refreshing my memory on milk storage I got to reading about it's traits.  It is antimicrobial.  Milk that has been in the fridge for eight days often has LESS bacteria than when it was first pumped.  Milk has circadian variations, which probably help babies to sleep longer at night.  Each mother's milk has antibodies specific to the mother and baby.  Also, it is very low in iron, since iron is an essential for bacterial infection...  When the baby's internal supply starts to diminish around 6 months the baby is ready for food!  On top of what it does inside a baby's body it is supremely helpful on the outside too!  It can be used to treat conjunctivitis (I've already used it on Sammy!), dermatitis, and insect bites and stings.  Last week it helped clear up his face after he developed a rash when lotion with milk was put on his skin.

At Sam's two-week check-up I mentioned dairy to his doctor.  Something in my body told me it was a problem.  After she assured me that it probably wasn't a problem: it's very rare, I went back to my hyper-dairy diet...  Within a few days it was clear something was really hurting Sam's tummy.  After less than a week of dairy-free living Sam went from all night grunting, squirming, and screaming to six hours of peaceful, beautiful sleep!  So, while breast milk IS amazing, there are some things your body just can't keep out of it for the sake of your baby, bovine proteins being on that list!

While I am desperate for a bite of yogurt and am daily tormented by the cheese Ben eats I will keep going.  I will do what I have to do to make clean and perfect milk for Sam, because on top of the amazing connection we are fostering and my deep love of single-handedly sustaining his life, breast milk is amazing enough for me to want to produce it just as long as is humanly possible.  I will figure out how to curb the nagging hunger and find things that make my tongue feel less deprived so that I can participate in one of God's most amazing, most perfect plans!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Birth of Samuel Arthur

My water broke with Ben.  I can tell you exactly when I went into labor.  I can give you the exact time I hit 8 cm, when I went through transition, how long I pushed...  Neat, tidy, according to plan.  Sam came differently.

On Sunday, May 6th we didn't go to church.  I didn't feel up to sitting in a pew and, to be honest, I was grouchy.  I was pretty antsy all day.  I took a whole chicken out of the freezer to cook the next day and we went to Annapolis for Philly Cheese Steaks for dinner.  On the way home something made me even antsier...  After putting Ben down for bed I noticed that the contractions that had been coming every ten minutes, on the dot for three weeks were a little closer.  We timed them for about an hour and a half and they varied from six to eight minutes apart...  Not labor, but something.  We decided around 11:30 that we should go to sleep because labor would probably start in the morning.  At some point after midnight mom stuck her head in our room, she had heard us talking and wanted to know if she should change her flight (she was set to leave Monday afternoon), I told her I was probably going into labor In-The-Morning, if anything happened over night I'd let her know.

I couldn't get to sleep because I was so curious about the timing of the contractions...  They weren't any stronger than they had been in weeks before, but they were definitely doing something different.  I got up around 12:45 and folded laundry and picked up toys while I timed.  They were still inconsistent, but were varying from four to six minutes now.  At 1:30 I figured I only had a few hours before labor actually started so I went and laid down.  The only way I could sleep was if I had as much contact with John as possible...  Another sign, I thought, that labor was coming... In-The-Morning.  Over the course of the night I had to get up every twenty minutes or so to go to the bathroom.  I was well aware, every time, that I only had to go because I was mid-contraction.  I'm not sure how many I slept through.

Around four a.m. I had a contraction that startled me in its intensity when it woke me up...  I thought for a split second "labor is starting!"  But talked myself down and decided to sleep more, since I would be in labor.. In-The-Morning...  The next one though (I'm not sure about the intervals at this point) was so strong that when John touched me to ask if I was alright I jumped out of bed and assumed the most comfortable position I could come up with: half bent, leaning on the bed.  John asked me if I was in labor and the only response I could muster was to wave my hand and grunt.  I think he interpreted this as a "yes" because he got out of bed and asked what I wanted.  I brushed him off again until I could get upright, still leaning against the bed post.  I finally told him I wanted the bath.  When I got into the bath he asked if he had time to shower, "oh yeah, just make it quick!"  John showered, and watched me as I worked through some tough contractions.  When he got out I asked for my mom and told him to call the doctor, we'd be headed to the hospital soon.  Mom came in and kept me company while John went about getting everything in order.  Mom asked me if I was ready to get out a couple times (I have no idea how many contractions I had in that tub), but I just kept saying to wait for John.  He checked in on me once or twice before we were all ready to get in the car.  Just before he came to get me though I had to throw up...  The only time I had nausea during my labor with Ben was during transition just before pushing...  I thought to myself, "we might be calling an ambulance..." but when I looked up at mom to say it the look on her face was so delightfully horrified I decided to keep it to myself and just smiled!

John came in, got me out, toweled me off and noted that we may have waited too long!  I just said, "we're fine!"  I'm not sure what John was doing while I was waiting in the garage for him, but I did mention killing him a number of times while I had another few contractions that were tainted with the vague urge to push...  That man though, he can drive!  Thanks to the time of day (almost 5am) and his superb skills, I spent very little time cursing the little car and was only mildly worried about destroying the front passenger seat with birth.

We got to the hospital at five, on the nose and the ER receptionist very quickly got someone to wheel me upstairs while John signed me in.  I'm pretty sure she had visions of delivering a baby herself.  As the orderly wheeled me up to the nurses station in L&D I was able to tell them my name before I began a contraction...  It was actually very rewarding watching the chaos ensue as she yelled, "WE'RE ACTIVE!!" and nurses came out of the woodwork to get me to a room.  The room was an absolute blur as they tried to get a urine sample (no go), get a robe on me (absolutely not), and get me into the bed (only John was able to do that after I hid in the shower for a contraction, fearing the monitors they were about to strap to me).  One of the nurses asked me (mid-contraction) if I was planning on a natural birth anyway...  I said, "no.  Wait, what?"  John said, "yes."  As soon as they got me down and hooked up one of the nurses checked me:  Fully dilated, totally effaced, bags still intact.  Infinite questions (including "Do you feel the urge to push?" emphatic nod), several contractions, and a couple of tears later the doctor walked in.  NOT MY doctor (any of them), Dr. Hundley.  I recognized her immediately and cringed as I turned to John and whispered "I hate her!"  She checked me and found me to be at 9 cm.  I was not surprised, she had the power to make me want to stop my labor altogether, but John told me it would be fine and I had to will myself to totally ignore her presence so I could birth my son...  After just a minute or two I had done it.  It was like she wasn't there, and Sam very much was...  I told the nurse asking me all the questions, "he's coming."  She said, "it's ok, we've got some time."  After another question I told her I didn't want to push with the monitors on, she said she needed 30 minutes of tape...  When I looked her in the eye and said again, "HE'S COMING." the doctor came over to check me and said, "there's the head, I need an amnio hook!"  She broke my water (which was the best feeling I have ever had) and with hardly a push Samuel was born at 5:19!  I practically tore him out of the doctor's hands and we snuggled like I had been wanting to for WEEKS!  John and I were both shocked by how small he was.  We expected him to be much bigger than Benjamin since he had stayed in so much longer!

Sam nursed like a champion right away.  Despite that though I was bleeding more than is reasonable so had to get a shot of pitocin.  As she gave me the shot the nurse asked, "do you have ANY pain receptors in your body?"  I said, "you know, I'm not so sure..!"  As the room emptied and Sam nursed she stuck around to finish everything up.  She kept asking strange questions and I realized that what she really wanted to know was, "why did you wait so long to come in..?"  I began my story with "I woke up around four..."  She stopped me, "are you kidding?!"  I was not.  "Wow," she said, "that's the way to do it!"  When she took us over to Maternity you could see the amusement in her face as she covered our chart with the nursery nurse.  "We triaged at 5:15, baby was born at 5:19..."  "When did you go into labor?" she had the same question...  "I think around 4..."  "Awesome!"

It was awesome; different, more hectic than I would have liked, but awesome!  And the boy we got, he's just as amazing, just as beautiful and sweet as the one we got with our perfect birth plan. I wouldn't have changed a thing!  Except maybe the doctor, but she didn't do much anyway!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

39 Weeks

My sweet, perfect Benjamin was born at 37 weeks and 4 days...  The second the nurse blurted out that stat I knew I would never forget it.  Thirty-seven weeks and four days...  Labor started spontaneously and went perfectly.  I could not have asked for a more amazing experience; I brought life into this world on my own, in good time, and in perfect order.

This One, this new little life who, I'm sure will be as amazing and enchanting as the last did not come at 37 weeks and 4 days.  He didn't come at 38 or 38 and 4 days...  I am sitting here, at 39 weeks shocked that I am still pregnant.  I know I know...  Forty weeks.  But he is big.  He is getting bigger and I am not.  I'm not worried that he is getting TOO big, that I will somehow be unable to assist him into the world on my own, but I would have liked to do that before he hit nine pounds.  Before I lost all feeling in my feet.  Before it became nearly impossible to turn over in bed or carry Ben up the stairs.

Mostly though, I'm tired of not holding him in my arms.  I want to see his face and touch his toes.  I am impatient to smell him and I'm trying to not let these anticipations ruin the last fleeting days we have as a family of three but I'm struggling...  We're all ready.  And I'm done!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Coffee Colored Venom & Penance

Wednesday was bad.
I had a chiropractor appointment and Benjamin was amazing. He was an angel. He obeyed, cooperated, stayed calm. I was SO proud of him. I told him, very much how proud I was as we walked to the car. I put him in the back seat and asked him to climb into his chair while I put the stroller away. Instead he clamored into the front seat... And fate stepped in.
There was a coffee in the center console cup-holder. It went right into the passenger seat. I opened the driver side door in time to watch the passenger seat gulp it down as Ben positioned himself in the driver's seat... I watched the coffee (complete with cream and sugar) come chugging out of the cup and felt the venom well up inside of me. The only thing I had to sop up what little I could was a small blanket, and because it was 22* out I couldn't take off my (new, lipstick red leather) gloves to try to make my (cursed, handicapped) fingers useful.
As the coffee disappeared into my new car the venom that was building pressure within me came chugging out like coffee from a styrofoam cup. Unlike the coffee I couldn't control, I could place this venom wherever I wanted. I chose my toddler. I sprayed hot, coffee-colored venom all over my precious boy in the form of screaming, yelling, throwing... And then silence. I called John so he could handle the logistics while I filled our drive home with silent, coffee-colored venom instead of the chatter, laughter, and singing that normally pervades our fresh-smelling car.
We got home and I did some screaming out of sight of that sweet boy before I got the call that we should bring the car right away to be cleaned. When I told my son that we were getting back into the car he lost it for the first time. He sobbed, "will hold you, please?! I need to stay home! We don't get in the car!"
We had a nice lunch with daddy. My car was thoroughly cleaned, inside and out, and so you'd think the venom would subside. It did not. The spewing continued throughout the hour and a half I tried to get him to nap (as if he could sleep in that sort of situation), and the evening until John got home, and even at bed time when he fought (just like he does every night) to not brush his teeth. I was a horrible person, a BAD mother that whole day. I could not sleep because I could not forgive myself.
I laid down in his crib after trying for over and hour to fall asleep. I lumbered, swollen belly first into that tiny space where Benjamin does his dreaming. I laid on my side in the half he was not taking up. He turned away from me, snuggle up to his pillow puppy and disconnected himself at every point of contact we had. I deserved this. I paid my penance. I silently cried as I prayed to God that he would not remember today, that the love I've shown him will make this a very tiny part of the picture he has of me. I begged God to protect his sweet little heart, to make me stronger and better, to give us time to recover from this venom. We laid there like that: he snuggling anything but me, my heart breaking as I stared at the back of his head for a long while.
Then he turned over. He flopped his whole body on top of mine and slid into the space in my bent arm that was made just for him. He put his hand on my face and went on sleeping, his little breaths lightly dusting my chin. Penance accepted. I don't know how long I laid there, long enough to get stiff. My bones cracked as a hoisted myself out of that little, deceptively sturdy crib. I felt better, almost healed.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bed Rest

Thuesday I had a really good appointment with the oncologist. He said the questionable spots didn't look that bad, that he wanted to see me in eight weeks but I would probably get my natural birth! He didn't even take a biopsy. After I got up from my nap though, things started to go down-hill. I noticed when I woke up that I had more than usual discharge and that it was quite watery. I gave it two hours to change while I sat and addressed Christmas cards. When it didn't slow down or thicken I called my nurse. Being that it was 4:30 I didn't get a call back (NOT normal for my ob office), so about a quarter after five I called the after hours number. The RN gave me the advice you would give a woman in pre-term labor (although I had no pain and very minimal discomfort) and called my ob. She called me right back and told me to go to Labor and Delivery, Dr. Rojas would be waiting for me. A good friend picked up Ben, and John and I headed to the hospital, informing the family on the way. Once we got there the nurse realized they didn't have my early registration (they generally send it over around week 20 or 21) but Dr. Rojas walked up and noticed me and PUSHED to get me into a room with an ultrasound machine. He stayed right on top of the nurses to make sure things happened quickly! The first thing he did was the ultrasound. He was VERY happy with what he saw. We were also happy with what we saw... Baby was very active, his arms and legs were flying all over the place and he was kind of looking around! Yes, HE!! Once we saw everything was good on the ultrasound Dr. Rojas did an exam. Everything seemed to look good, but he did notice I had a bit more discharge than he'd expect. He got out the swab (the swab is bright yellow, if there is any amniotic fluid it turns dark blue), and much to his chagrin it turned bright blue... He didn't expect it to turn blue at all, but he had never even seen this particular shade before. He didn't see any pooling, or any liquid actually escaping... But he was still pretty uncomfortable. He took a slide to look at, but that was unhelpful too. When it came down to it, he didn't see a lot of evidence that I was actively leaking, but SOMEthing seemed to be off so he put me on modified bed rest until after my ultrasound this morning.
Things looked good again this morning and with everything back to normal I was taken off bed rest!! We didn't get any very good evidence of his manhood and not enough of a look at his heart so we will be going back in several weeks and hopefully I'll have shots worth sharing. Don't anyone hold out hope that there was a mistake though... This IS a boy! He was quite cooperative Tuesday evening (during his more active time of the day)... The printer just wasn't working!
So, there you have it. Our boy is healthy, strong-willed, and a night owl!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New One

There is a new One a-coming. I feel like the coming was not-so-joyously told, but I HATE telling people I'm pregnant! I like it better when they find out for themselves. I think the awkward part is watching that shift in their face, that change in their body language, and the demeanor flux that mirrors the way you'll be treated for the next x-number of months... Don't get me wrong. It's a good change. There is a sort of goddess aura that surrounds a pregnant woman, and the attention is quite positive and in a lot of cases, useful. But a change it is. And I hate change. I'd rather not witness it.
We are 18.5 weeks (and yes, that half makes a difference). I started feeling her move at 12 weeks, John around 15 or 16. My OB was a little startled this morning to actually feel and see her! We are saying "she" because we don't say "IT" and there are absolutely no similarities between this pregnancy and my first. Truth be told though, I wouldn't be shocked to find out next Thursday that she is a he... These little buggers are unpredictable, aren't they?!
Speaking of bugger, that boy is... TWO. You know what that means; and if you don't, you don't want to. We can't complain too much though, he's the best TWO I've ever known and he's more and more awesome every day!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Jumping Back In

It's been a LONG while... I always mean to post, but life, love, and the pursuit of happiness are taking up a lot of time. Summer was a whirlwind. We had a deployment, trips to NV, two to MI, Anguilla (sans Ben) and lots of to-dos in between. We had an earthquake and a hurricane (both of which were mild and anti-climactic). We got lots new teeth, went through MANY phases, and are now, quickly emerging from baby-hood. We spent most of September doing absolutely nothing, which was much needed. This isn't much of an update, not really meant to inform, simply to get me back here, where I will make a pointed effort to share more often!