Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Really Reflux?

"No more fussin' and a-fightin', baby, hold me tight" ~ Johnny Nash

My poor baby bird. While she has taken to breastfeeding beautifully, she has not taken to digesting breast milk quite so well. Fussing after many feedings, especially in the evening. Forceful spit up, sometimes up to an hour after she's eaten. Shrill crying and squirming as if in pain. It breaks my heart to see her suffering.

Healthy cheeks, yes?

I now realize how easy we had it when Q was a newborn. He hardly cried and was content to snooze almost anywhere. And breastfeeding him was fairly simple, despite my forceful milk letdown and oversupply issues. We got through that rough patch once I understood what was happening and then it was smooth sailing. Essentially we were spoiled by his serenity.

So, I'm now in the process of trying to figure out if she just is extra sensitive and needs some time to let her digestive system mature or if it's GERD or if it's a milk protein allergy. I've been trying to not eat dairy, but whoa mama, that is not my bag, baby. I'm already a vegetarian, so being a vegan (except for eating eggs) while nursing is no fun at all. I'm a hungry hungry hippo as it is. And all of this stuff that shouldn't have dairy in it does (wheat bread made with nonfat milk? really?), so I've "cheated" quite a few times. She seems a little better, but again, is her system gradually maturing or is it something more serious? I just can't figure out what it is and I have a couple of weeks until her next doc appointment.

Oh, and I did call her pediatrician a couple of weeks ago about all of her spit up and discomfort and she didn't seem too concerned since Z is gaining weight well. She said it could be that I have a forceful letdown, which is true. I mean, my milk can gush like a fire hydrant and I hear her gulping and gasping sometimes. Apparently that creates gas and bubbles and can be pretty uncomfortable for her. So, I've taken the doc's advice on dealing with that and perhaps that's helping.

But then she has a rashy face and that could be a sign of a milk protein allergy. Or is it just a heat rash? It's been pretty warm in the Bay lately.

I've talked to a couple of experienced mamas who have had babes who shot milk across the room after nursing or who were medicated for reflux, and it was something they just grew out of. So, is my baby really suffering that much? Is this just par for the course? Am I torturing myself by taking a major food group out of my already restricted diet?

Yeah. It's so much fun being indecisive me. 

I just want us all to be healthy and happy. A baby who ceases with the binge and purge and a mama who isn't starving herself trying to figure out what she can eat. And a daddy and a big brother who aren't distressed by baby's cries, for that matter. For now we're keeping her upright as much as possible. For now we're doing a lot of babywearing, which she seems to love (shout out to Baby K'tan). For now I'm assuming that she will grow out of this phase and her system will mature. Please let that be the case. Mama's having pizza tonight.

Mamas, have your babies had reflux or a milk allergy? Please share your story and tell me everything will be okay. Tell me I'm just on minimal sleep and maximum worry, as is typical of the mama of a newborn.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

9/11 Rewritten: Zoe's Birth Story, Part 2 of 2

"Pretty bird, pretty bird, we've been waiting on you" ~ Jenny Lewis

So the night wore on and I stalled out at a not-quite-ready 8 centimeters. I was getting through my contractions and they were coming every couple of minutes, but my body was tired. We were not having a 9/10/11 baby. Plus, they had to wait four hours to give me another dose of Penicillin, so they wouldn't break my water until then. Felicia reminded me of how fast I went last time when they broke my water, so we knew that would make things really happen. The nurse suggested getting moving again, but my body felt so tired. It was getting late and I started to realize how much the time of day impacts labor. When Q was born, it was a time I still would have been up and about. But all I wanted to do was rest, so I got on the birthing ball for a little while, drank a ton of ice water, went pee a gajillion times, and then got back in bed to sit as upright as possible.

As soon as my IV was done, we asked the doc to break my water. Once he did that, it was on. And I mean ON. It sent me right into transition, and my contractions were getting more intense than I ever remembered experiencing with Q. They were on top of each other and I went into survival mode. I felt overheated and overwhelmed. Off to the bathroom one last time and I got nervous that I would have the baby right there on the toilet. Felicia talked me through it and fortunately I made it back to the bed. I managed to tell them I needed to push. Now. They called the doc and we hear that he also had twins that were just about ready to be delivered. Oh hells no, I thought. This baby wasn't going to wait for some other mama to deliver twins! I couldn't vocalize it because I was trying not to hyperventilate. The nurse said she'd be able to deliver the baby if need be. Um, yikes?

The doc appeared a few minutes later and quickly prepared to deliver the baby, letting me know that I could start pushing if need be. And I did, even though it made me nervous that they weren't quite prepared to catch LL. Either I have a selective memory about Q's birth or this really was a more intense delivery, because, whoa, there's something giant coming down through that canal. The pressure was ridiculous. But I pushed like I've never pushed before. I let out guttural moans as I pushed, which surprised me because I was pretty quiet through most of my contractions. And even though the moans were helping me feel better, apparently they weren't helping baby come out any faster. "Okay, now a push without any sound," said the doc. Moments later, the doc asked for one last big push and a couple of small ones, and that baby was just about out.

"Okay, here she is, come deliver your baby!" I looked down at her glorious face and pulled her out and up toward my chest as she let out fervent cries. She looked absolutely perfect to me. Just beautiful. Even though she was crying and breathing rapidly and covered in goo. They let me hold her for a lengthy amount of time as T cut the cord and as they talked about my 2nd degree tear and as I delivered my placenta and as the doc stitched me up. I didn't care about any of that because my little lady was in my arms. Finally. At 3:27am on 9/11/11.

They eventually pried her away from my vice-like grip to put her on the scale as the nurse commented on her healthy size and predicted 8 and a half pounds. Gasps all around as she weighed in at 9 pounds, 4 ounces. How the heck did I push that not-so-little lady out of me?! No wonder the pressure seemed unbearable. No freakin' wonder I had 2nd degree tearing.

She was having trouble nursing as her breathing seemed labored, so they just said there seemed to be extra gunk in there that they wanted to get out. She also had to have her blood sugar tested since she was over 9 lbs and ended up having low blood sugar, so they sent her off to the nursery with T in tow. They told me to try to get some rest, so suddenly there I was alone in a dark hospital room. I was overwhelmed with adrenaline and love and exhaustion and worry, so I lay there in a half asleep state that I kept startling out of. When the nurse finally came back and assured me that the baby was fine and was given a bit of formula for her low blood sugar, I felt more at ease.

We were transferred into our postpartum room with our new bundle to get settled in. With nary a wink of sleep all night, the sun started to rise on 9/11 and T and I were left to contemplate her name.

"So,  Zoe then?" I asked T, knowing what he would say.

"Zoe." He answered, tired but confident.

Zoe means life in Greek. What a perfect way to give new life to a day when 10 years ago so many lives were lost. Thank you, Zoe, for blessing us with your precious arrival and for giving us such a beautiful association with 9/11. Oh, happy day.

Here is Part 1.

Monday, October 10, 2011

9/11 Rewritten: Zoe's Birth Story, Part 1 of 2

"Get thy bearings, know your time. Don't you worry, weather's fine. All the world knows what I'm saying." ~ Donovan

I woke up on that Saturday morning disappointed yet again that I hadn't gone into labor the night before. I was tired. I was anxious. I was ready to meet my baby girl. I had a nonstress test scheduled for Monday and I could only hope that she would be born before I had to worry that something could be wrong with LL getting overcooked inside me. Or that she would be too big to birth naturally (a little foreshadowing for you). I cried alone in my bedroom and looked up toward the sky and asked my mom for help. If there's anything you can do, Mom, please help me!

I felt a bit better after that and decided that I would walk around and do some window shopping to get my mind off of the constant is-this-really-labor-or-just-more-damn-Braxton-Hicks?! Q stayed at home with his Nan while T worked on the French drain with his dad (his version of nesting apparently), and I headed to Bay Street. I walked around, belly button protruding, with occasional contractions that were starting to get more cramp-like, but I paid them no never-mind. I looked for some fall fashion inspiration for when I no longer carry this baby around inside of me. I didn't find much for me, but I did find some adorable jammies and hats for baby girl and a tee for Q. When the salesperson asked when I was due, I told her I was due last Thursday and thought maybe baby was just waiting for me to buy more clothes for her (more foreshadowing). I went home feeling refreshed and continued to get BH's but nothing regular.  Well, until later that afternoon anyway.

I was so hesitant to believe that it was really happening, but I started to get this nervous energy. The anticipation and excitement I remember from when I went into labor with Q. Contractions were becoming more regular and slightly stronger, so I paced the house. T kept Q occupied while I began to time my contractions. They were starting to come about 8 to 10 minutes apart and lasting just under a minute. By about 5:30 we called T's parents and they came to take Q to dinner. I wondered if this baby would be a 9/10/11 baby because I was supposed to go faster the 2nd time and, hello, pretty cool birthday, right? But I also realized it was very likely that she would be born on 9/11. While I realize how much pain and negativity is associated with that date, I immediately told myself that she would be the light amongst all of that darkness. That at least there would be something positive associated with that date from now on. In any case, I was mentally prepared for whenever she arrived.

After texting our doula and then giving the doctor a call (and finding out that my OB was out of town and that another doc from her group would be on call), we decided we could wait a bit more before heading to the hospital. We ate a little something and got everything ready to go. By about 8:15, my contractions were only 3 minutes apart, though they still didn't feel unbearable to me, but the closeness of them made me decide it was go time. I looked up at the sky and noticed that the moon was just about full. I laughed to myself, remembering the old wives' tale that many mamas go into labor on a full moon.

Photo by Brandon Doran

We got to the hospital a little after 8:30 and found that labor & delivery was super busy that night (full moon, hmm?). We had to wait for a space in triage, but once in there, it didn't take long for them to see that I was 4 cm and about 70% effaced. Phew! I was so relieved to know that it was really happening and I'd be meeting my baby girl soon. Real labor! No more Braxton Hicks blue balls! Felicia was on her way and my dad wanted to be there, too.

In our labor & delivery room, Felicia created a calming atmosphere with a string of white lights and began to massage my feet with a lovely lemon verbena lotion. This time we got it together to make an actual playlist, so we put that on and I blissed out to some of my favorite relaxing tracks -- well, I at least felt somewhat chill in between contractions as I sat there with an IV of Penicillin (Group B strep positive again). Things were moving along, but not as fast as expected, so Felicia suggested we go on a walk when my IV was done. And as soon as we did that, the contractions started coming harder and faster. So we only walked for about 20 minutes or so before returning to my room . . . where the contractions slowed down again.

To be continued . . .

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

MIA: Flyrish Fam Time

"Mother's young gal, hold your belly" ~  Desmond Dekker

Sorry that I didn't get it together to organize some blog posts or guest bloggers during Z's early days. Some other mom bloggers (with newborn twins, no less) give mamas like me a bad name -- not that I needed their help or anything. But I have so much to write about and I will get back to it eventually! Here's a glimpse of what we've been up to in the meantime.

 Tears at preschool (mostly Q's), fussy evenings, golden big bro & baby sis moments, milk drunk smiles, baby acne, heat rashes on both babes, first rain of the season, spit-up showers, overgrown hair (mostly Q's and mama's), babywearing, red wine reunion, visits from good friends and fam, and utter exhaustion (mostly mama and T).

And yes, I'm working on Zoe's birth story, so if I get some extra time (ha!), that will be coming soon.