Archive for June, 2012

My heart is broken

Just 24 hours ago, my beloved grandpa took his last breath. My mom, step-dad, grandma and uncle were all there with him. My mom held his hand. He was awake, and suffering, and his final moments were exactly the opposite of what we wanted.

And that makes me cry. Hard.

He always said he had a bad heart, and the multiple heart attacks, pace maker, defibrillator, and daily medications would have you believe it. But just like 35 years ago when his doctor told him he’d have less than a year to live with a heart in that condition, he defied the odds. Last Thursday, the hospice nurse said she didn’t think he’d made it to Saturday. And yet? He pushed through until Wednesday, June 27 around 4:10pm. Probably just to prove her wrong.

I always tell people that I never really had a dad growing up. But the truth is, I did. I had my grandpa. I am the woman I am today because of him. Our relationship was stronger than any other grandfather/granddaughter’s I’d ever seen – in real life or in the movies. He was my hero. Still is. He protected me. And when he couldn’t protect me any longer, he taught me how to protect myself. He encouraged me and gave me the drive to be successful in life. And more than that, he taught me to be a good person. Someone who looks out for others. Someone who doesn’t take shit from people. Someone who loves a good joke, and a good laugh. Someone who sees the beauty in life, even when life deals you a bad hand. And someone who, above all else, loves his family more than himself. He would’ve given his own life for any one of his kids or grandkids, and I would gladly trade him places if I could. I would’ve fought the cancer for him. I would’ve taken on all the pain so he wouldn’t have had to feel a thing. I would’ve done anything.

But that’s not how life works. And now the man I loved more than anything has been taken from me. So now the tears I cry aren’t for him, because he’s no longer in pain. He’s with Jesus, just like he prayed for. I cry for me. I cry because I’m so lost without him. I cry because I know I’ll never be as happy as I was when he was alive. I cry because we’ll never play cards again. I cry because we’ll never come over for a pulled pork dinner that he made, even though he hates pulled pork, because he knows my husband likes it. I cry because I’ll never get another forwarded email. I cry because I’ll never get to hear another one of his stories, or listen to another joke. I cry because I’ll never answer the phone and hear his voice on the other line, teasing me about my “boy Pujols and how many home runs has he hit lately?” (Answer: not very many) I cry because my son will never remember him, although I’m grateful they had a chance to meet. My grandpa called him a “dandy” and a “little dumpling.” Even though he was sick and bedridden, seeing my baby boy made his day.

He was my rock and the person whose opinion mattered more than anyones. He was the only person I could never be mad at, even when we disagreed. A couple of years ago we tried to move to North Carolina and my grandpa was so mad at me that he wouldn’t speak to me for nearly two months. He said a lot of not-so-nice things about me to just about anyone that would listen. Everyone thought I’d be angry with him or that I’d yell at him. But I didn’t, because I knew why he was mad. He thought I was leaving him and he was acting out because he didn’t know how to deal with the sadness of me leaving. And the moment we decided not to move anymore, he acted as if those two months didn’t exist. We were right back to regular phone calls, emails, and visits.

I have nearly 200 emails in my inbox – all jokes, poems, photos and other random forwards from my grandpa that I just can’t bring myself to delete. Right now, I can barely bring myself to read them, so I read a couple and then I close the window because it’s too difficult. I also have several old voicemails on my phone from him that I’ve listened to a few times already because I just miss the sound of his voice so much.

I feel like I’ve lost a limb. Like I can’t function right anymore. Like something important to my survival is suddenly missing. I know people say that it gets better with time, but I’m not sure I believe it. I’m so scared of forgetting something about him, that the thought of time passing has me worried I’ll forget something. He used to talk about how he’d eventually be forgotten once he’s gone and I could tell how sad the thought of that made him. But I vowed to not let that happen. I’m going to teach my own kids everything he taught me and I’m going to tell them so many stories about him that they’ll feel like they knew him too.

One of the last things I said to my grandpa was that I would teach Desmond how to sing “Take me out to the ballgame”, because that’s the first song my grandpa taught me. He could barely talk and his eyes were closed but he made a half smile and nodded approvingly.

The next few days are going to be rough. I’ve been crying for nearly 24 hours straight now and I don’t see any end in sight. But I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other because my son needs me. And I need him. Because he’s the only thing that’s helping me cope with this sadness. He’s like a tiny, flickering light in a tunnel of sadness and I cling to him just as much as he clings to me.


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Three Weeks

I meant to write this post a few days ago, but as is to be expected, life with a newborn + dealing with my dying grandfather = the most unproductive period of my life, ever. So you know what that means? Bullets.

  • It took me a few days to get around to it, but I finally designed and ordered D’s birth announcements this week and I cannot wait to see how they turn out. I should receive them by Thursday and with any luck, I’ll get them addressed and mailed by next weekend.
  • On Friday, D’s stump (aka umbilical cord) finally fell off. I wasn’t there for the monumentos occasion but my husband told me about it. It had been hanging by a thread for a couple of days and finally made a break for it during a routine diaper change at my grandparents house. The hubs took him to the back of his SUV for a fresh diaper and I think it may still be rolling around back there somewhere. I have not looked for it.
  • We’re fairly certain that D is starting to react to certain things around him. He doesn’t quite smile but opens his mouth wide as if to say “awwww” or “wow” or “Ohhhh my!” His eyes light up and we can tell he’s happy and excited. He’s also very aware of his surroundings and started noticing the mobile in his pack ‘n play. Earlier tonight, he was being fussy so the hubs took him to his nursery for a change of scenery and he LOVED it. He’d stare at the maps on the wall, watch the sailboat mobile in his crib, and look at the stuffed animals on his bookshelf. It totally distracted him from whatever he was being pissy about.
  • Speaking of pissy, we had our first “up all night” experience. Typically at night, D will eat and then fall asleep for about 2.5 or 3 hours before waking up again. Then we’d change him, feed him, sometimes change him again (eating makes him poop-y) and he’d fall right back asleep. Well not last night. For whatever reason, he woke up at 2am and stayed up until about 3:30. Not really fussy – just awake. Then he snoozed in 15 minute increments until 7am. He finally went to sleep from 7-10am but has been awake most of the day with short (less than an hour) naps all day long. Let’s hope he doesn’t make a habit of this.
  • Bath time is still a big hit around here. We thought maybe it was a fluke the first couple of times, but he really does love his baths. Not so much the washing him down part as he does the hair washing ritual. We typically do baths in this sequence: cleanse with a washcloth, warm water, and Cedaphil from head to toe. Then rinse with a plain washcloth and warm water. Dry with a third washcloth, then wrap him up in a towel before washing his hair. One of us will hold him, all wrapped up, while the other one washes his hair. After that, we dry his head with the drying washcloth, then unwrap him and rub Cedaphil lotion all over him. I don’t know if his patience has worn thin by the lotion portion or if he’s just mad that we’ve stopped washing his hair (I suspect the latter), but for whatever reason, he’s not usually a fan of the lotion ritual. After that, we diaper him and finally dress and swaddle him. If it didn’t require so much work and washcloths, we’d probably do it every day, but as of right now we’re on an every other day schedule.
How I’m Doing:
  • Pumping is getting easier, at least pain-wise. I figured out that I don’t need to put the pump on the highest setting to get just as much milk. I can put it on the lower, much gentler setting, and not feel like my nipples are getting ripped off. I still hate that I have to pump every three hours, even in the middle of the night, but I’ve been reading “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) and it’s so damn funny that I really don’t mind getting up and reading for about 15 minutes while I pump.
  • My c-section scar is healing. I pulled the last of my bandages off today and inspected it. The scar itself really isn’t bad at all and won’t even be noticeable since it’s right on my bikini line. But fear of a c-section scar isn’t what’s going to keep me from wearing a two-piece in public ever again; it’s these damn stretch marks. The more my stomach shrinks, the more visible they are. Toward the end of the pregnancy, I had a few stretch marks on the right side of my lower stomach. But I guess those were just the really bad ones because now I can see tiny, light ones scattered all over the bottom of my belly. And that dark line that runs smack down the middle of a pregnant woman’s belly? Yeah, I still have that and it hasn’t faded AT ALL yet. So basically, my belly is a wreck still. The pain is mostly gone but it’s still a little tender/sore and also a little numb to the touch since I’m assuming some nerves were severed during the surgery. Things are improving though and I guess I should be a little more patient with the healing process. I mean, there’s a reason you’re given 8 weeks of leave for short-term disability after a c-section. It’s only been 3.5 weeks. I still have some time.
  • And now for the obligatory cute baby photo:


Oh and just for fun, here’s one of him enjoying his bath

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I’ve been crying a lot lately, which I know is to be expected from a new mother, what with all the crazy hormones and such. But the truth is, I’ve been incredibly lucky in the post-partum department. In fact, I’ve been so lucky that I’ve actually been hesitant to talk about it for fear that either a) it would sound like bragging or b) my bout with the baby blues was just delayed and I’d get hit with them hard about a month post-birth. I’ve only had two semi-weepy moments and they both had to do with loving this baby so much that my heart burst open and tears fell out. It sounds so sappy but it’s true. He is the most awesome, precious thing in the entire world and I love him more than anything, forever and ever amen.

And, quite frankly, all of that is the only reason I’ve been able to deal with what’s currently happening in my family right now.

My grandpa is dying. Maybe right this second. Maybe in an hour. Maybe tomorrow. Regardless, it’s happening very soon. If you’ve been a long time reader, or you know me in real life, you probably know just how close I am with my grandpa. He’s more than just a grandpa to me. He was the only father figure in my life until my mom met my step-dad when I was about 14. I lived with my grandparents until I was 12, so I’ve never really been satisfied with the word “grandpa” when, to so many other people I knew, “grandpa” was just an older person they were biologically related to that they saw a few times a year and who gave them a $20 for birthdays and Christmas. My grandpa was special; much more deserving of a better title, and so I’ve always tried to make that known but never really knew how.

Anyway, to put it simply, my grandpa means a lot to me. And I’ve been worried about his health off and on ever since I can remember. He’s survived multiple heart attacks, colon cancer, kidney failure, congestive heart failure, skin cancer, and probably several other ailments I’m forgetting at the moment. I was overjoyed when we were able to dance together at my wedding. And I’ll never forget all those nights of playing Pinochle these last few years. And even though he wasn’t feeling very well and was on oxygen, he still made the 45 min. drive up to my house to watch the Super Bowl earlier this year. That was the last time he was at my house. Shortly after, he had to have surgery to replace the batteries in his pacemaker/defibrillator, and when he didn’t recover as expected (he stayed weak and never regained his strength), tests discovered cancerous tumors in his stomach, on his liver, pancreas, lymph nodes, etc.  When he had colon cancer a few years ago, the chemo treatment nearly killed him. And he was probably 50 times stronger back then. This time, he decided not to fight it. He refused to see an Oncologist, knowing that the cancer was obviously very bad, and instead decided to have his defibrillator turned off. Then he stopped taking his heart meds and his blood pressure quickly dropped to 7o over 40. The tumor in his stomach made it difficult for him to eat so he pretty much stopped eating a couple of months ago and now looks like one of those starved Somalian kids with the bony limbs and swollen bellies. He’s now so weak that he doesn’t open his eyes and he can no longer swallow. He’s barely speaking, but when he does, he just cries out for Jesus to take him. He’s not in a tremendous amount of pain, thank God, but for a man that always prided himself on his physical abilities and strength, being bedridden and too weak to even take a drink of water is torture enough.

And so we wait. And we cry. And we talk about funeral dinners and memorabilia, obituaries and songs to play at the service. For some reason, talking about what has to be done is easier than sitting around talking about all the things we’re going to miss, and things he’s going to miss. I try to think about happier times, but they only remind me that I’ll never get to relive them. We’ve played our last game of Pinochle. Watched our last Cardinals game together. Ate our last meal together. Father’s Day was the last day that he was really coherent and having decent conversations. And I’m ridiculously thankful that he was able to hold on long enough to meet my baby. In fact, this baby is the only reason I haven’t fallen into some sort of depression. I spent so much of my pregnancy worried about developing post-partum depression that I never even considered that having a baby could actually keep me out of developing depression instead. But it’s so true, and when I’m overcome with sadness and tears, I look at him and breathe a sigh of relief because this tiny little human brings me so much happiness. He’s a little tiny ball of light in a world of dark.

So yeah, I’ve been crying a lot lately, but it’s not for the reasons people might think. I’ve got puffy red eyes, but it’s not from lack of sleep or frustration over a fussy baby. I welcome the fussiness. Because his tears are the only thing that make me forget my own.

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Baby Things

Since this is my first baby, I wasn’t really prepared for all the STUFF this kid needs. I mean, have you ever been in a Babies R Us? An entire department store packed to the gills with things for these tiny people. It’s kind of ridiculous and overwhelming.

I was fortunate enough to get a ton of stuff at my various showers, but if I had to put a dollar figure on it, I’d say that between the stuff we were given and the stuff that we bought, more than $3,ooo was spent on Mr. Adorable before he was even born. Of course, most of that went toward those big ticket items: crib, dresser, travel system, video monitor, breast pump, etc. So what about the small stuff? What are the little things someone needs to care for an infant every single day? Here’s my list:


  • Breast pump with second set of parts. I use the Medela Pump & Style w/backpack, and so far, really like it.
  • Nursing/breast pads – I leak A LOT so I wear these 24/7 in my bra
  • Nursing bras – a couple of sleep bras and a couple of regular nursing bras
  • Nursing-friendly tops or dresses
  • Milk storage bottles
  • Low-flow nipples (just yesterday we switched to Dr. Brown’s bottles)
  • Bottle brush
  • Drying rack
  • Fragrance-free dish soap
  • Paper towels (we go through a LOT of paper towels)
  • Burp clothes – a few that I rotate out for baby, and one for me to clean up any drips during pumping
  • Lanolin nipple cream
  • A boppy pillow with spare cover
  • An aspirator, in case of major spit up. We keep one in the bassinet and one in the car.
  • And for those rare cluster feedings when my supply can’t keep up, we supplement with formula. I like the ready-to-use Enfamil bottles in 2 oz sizes since that’s what they used at the hospital but that’s also the most expensive way to buy forumla. So when the time comes that we need to supplement more, we’ll look into the powders and mixes. Even if you plan on exclusively breasfeeding though, it’s not a bad idea to have a small stash on hand, in case of emergency.


  • Diapers (duh!) – we’re big fans of Pampers Swaddlers (size 1 since he was already too big for the newborn size) with the indicator line down the middle that changes from yellow to blue when the diaper is dirty.
  • Wipes – we also like the Pampers sensitive wipes. We’ve used Parent’s Choice brand too and hated them.
  • Butt Paste diaper cream
  • A&D ointment and gauze pads – This applies only to circumcised boys, and only for the first few days at home.
  • Changing pad and replacement covers. Right now, we’re using the changing area that’s built into our Pack N Play, so we keep a towel over it that we change out whenever little accidents happen.
  • Diaper Genie and replacement bags.
  • And here’s just a tip on diapering: At the hospital, the nurses would put the clean diaper under baby before removing the dirty diaper. Then, when you remove the dirty diaper, you just slide it out and his butt lands right into the clean diaper. Also, when folding the diaper to avoid it rubbing the umbilical cord, fold it inward. If you fold the diaper outward, then when he pees, the diaper wicks upward and can get pee on his belly and clothes. The more you know.

Bath Time

Right now, we’re just doing sponge baths at the sink until his umbilical cord falls off and we’re able to do baths in a baby bathtub. Here’s what we use:

  • 1 big towel, folded in half and placed on the counter
  • 3 washcloths – one for washing, one for rinsing, and one for drying
  • A hooded baby towel
  • Baby body wash, shampoo, and lotion – we were using Johnson & Johnson brand, but just switched to Cedaphil cleanser and lotions due to a mild rash

Misc. Tips

Baby nails are TINY. Much too small for me to risk using clippers. Instead, I waited until little dude fell asleep on me, then busted out the emory board and gently filed those puppies down. And unlike our nails, baby nails are super fine and almost shred when filed, so it doesn’t take much time or pressure to get the job done.

I’m a big fan of Bath & Body Works antibacterial hand soap. I have a different flavor in every bathroom. However, baby’s gentle skin is NOT a fan of the soap. Not that we would wash him with it or anything, but we noticed little red splotches on his legs where we would grab him for diaper changes. Now we use Dove sensitive skin bar soap to wash our hands and body. RIP my beloved B&BW soap.

Laundry: We wash baby’s things separately from ours, but we still use the same detergent for everything: Tide Free. And a fragrance-free fabric softener when necessary. No dryer sheets.

On pumping: In the hospital and those first few days at home when I was trying to get my supply to come in, I put the pump on one of the highest settings. In my mind, the more agressive I was with pumping, the more milk I’d get. Instead, I ended up with incredibly sore and bleeding nipples. I quickly learned that I could pump on one of the lowest settings and still get just as much milk without the soreness. Learn from my mistakes and don’t try to be a badass with the pumping.

Other awesome baby things: a pacifier can come in handy when baby is fussy due to gas. I’m also a big fan of the Halo Sleep Sack for easy swaddling and long-sleeve gowns for easy changing and to keep him warm when he’s not swaddled (long sleeves suck to put on and take off, but they also pull over his hands so he doesn’t scratch himself).

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Two Weeks

Wednesday marked two weeks since Mr. Adorable was born. I’ve always heard that those first two weeks are the hardest, and while I hope that’s true, I have to say that it really hasn’t been all that bad. In fact, I feel really blessed.

First nap at home

Of course it hasn’t been easy. No life with a newborn is ever easy, especially when you’re the primary source of food for your little one. But when people say how hard it is, but end their statements with “…but it’s worth it.” Well, it totally is.

Our little frog-monkey napping on daddy

I’ve been fortunate to have the hubs home with me to help when I just need a break to use the bathroom, wash some bottles and breast pump parts, or take a shower. He also takes care of the laundry, the dishes, the shopping, the errands, and pretty much whatever else I need him to do. And he does his fair share of diaper duty and middle of the night feedings, so it’s not like I’m solo-parenting here by any means, which makes a HUGE difference, especially since I’m still healing from the c-section and trying to minimize how often I go up and down the stairs in my tri-level home.

First bath – He loves having his hair washed

We’re still trying to figure out a routine. In the hospital, he was on a 3-6-9-12 feeding schedule in order to monitor his blood sugar. At home, we’re still on an every-three-hour schedule for the most part, but sometimes it’ll be 2.5 hours, or 3.5 hours, or 4 hours if we’re really lucky, and then we’re no longer doing feedings exactly at 3, 6, or 9. Which is fine, but it means some nights we’re going to bed at 10pm, and some nights it’s more like 11:45. I’m not much of a nap taker, so I’ve only napped maybe three times since we got home from the hospital.

We’ve had four successful (i.e. no crying) baths, and three car rides – two for pediatrician appointments and one to visit my grandparents since my grandpa is currently in hospice care and unable to get out of bed. The pediatrician appointments went well. The first one, little guy was 9lbs 4 oz, so a little below birth weight but otherwise completely healthy. We had a second appointment for a weight check and he had gained a whopping 5 oz, putting him at 9lbs 9 oz and therefore 2 oz above birth weight. His skin is a little blotchy so we’re switching soaps and lotions to Cedaphil in hopes it clears up. It’s nothing major, but the pediatrician commented on it and said Cedaphil should clear it right up. She also said it was fine for us to start practicing tummy time and demonstrated it by putting little dude on his tummy on the exam table. He was already picking up his head and moving around, which really seemed to impress her for only being 2 weeks old. He’s definitely a strong little guy!

Just hanging out

At one week and two days old, we had a photographer come to the house to do his newborn photos. We just got the proofs emailed to us yesterday and I have to say I’m really pleased with how they turned out. I’ll share a few of my favorites once I get the final disc.

So yeah, it’s been a crazy two weeks adjusting to this new little life of ours, but we’re loving every second of it.


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Preparing to give birth for the first time is a little like preparing for a trip where you have no idea where you’re going. You can spend hours coming up with the perfect birth plan, pack a bag full of all the “essentials”, take hours upon hours of childbirth classes, and you’ll STILL be thrown for a loop when the time finally comes.

I didn’t make a birth plan, per se, but having a c-section was definitely not part of the plan I had made in my mind. Then again, neither was having a 9 lbs 7 oz baby. I thought he’d be about 8.5, max. Anyway, I was open to the idea of a c-section if I needed one, but I didn’t let myself think much about it. It was always Plan B, and no one really spends all that much time thinking about Plan B. So I skipped those articles on BabyCenter.com, and skimmed what little is covered about it in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Because what I was expecting, was a 8lbs baby, born in the evening, after maybe 10 hours of relatively painless laboring thanks to my friend Mr. Epidural.

So while we’re on the topic of the unexpected, I thought I’d share some of my observations from the whole c-section/recovery process. Just in case you ever find yourself in such a situation. Consider it “c-section cliffs notes”.

  • First, just in case a surprise c-section happens, be sure to pack at least one c-section friendly post-delivery outfit. I took a nursing gown so I wouldn’t have to deal with pants hitting my incision area. And the other outfit I packed had pants that could be pulled up to my belly button without looking completely stupid.
  • Epidurals really are as great as everyone says. Unless you have a reaction (uncontrollable shaking or itchy legs are common reactions). It stings a little going in, but it’s a momentary pinch and burning sensation that’s over within five seconds. After that, bliss.
  • Catheters can be wonderful things. I was worried about having a catheter but thanks to the epidural, I never felt it go in and taking it out long after my epidural had worn off was painless. You never feel the urge to pee. It just magically appears in your little urine bag. I’m pretty sure I asked the hubs to check my bag a few times, just because I was curious how much was collecting in there. And I actually asked the nurse to leave it in a little longer than she had planned, simply because I wasn’t ready to start walking yet and wanted a few more hours of recovery/nap time without feeling the urge to pee.
  • Hospital room service is fantastic, but after about three days, the menu choices are definitely limited. Breakfast had the best food selection so even though I’m not a huge breakfast person, we made a point to order as much as possible from the breakfast menu. And since they give you so much, the hubs and I were able to share.

Waffle, cranberry juice, coffee, Raisin Bran, donut, fresh fruit 

  • Pain pills cause constipation. The nurses will give you Colace, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll need a little extra help when you get home. So if you don’t have a regular stock of stool softeners or laxatives, get some. Likewise, if you don’t have a regular stock of bathroom wipes and Preparation H, get some. (Side note: even though I stopped taking my pain pills before the end of the first week, I had a painful bathroom issue so bad that I ended up taking a pain pill for THAT. Sad, but true.)
  • Speaking of pain pills, if the kind you’re given at the hospital make you feel weird/nauseous, ask for another kind. There’s more than one way to manage pain.
  • Clean your incision area daily with soap and water. It’s not easy to shower daily those first few days at home, but I forced myself to do it because it was the best way to ensure I’d take care of my incision.
  • Stock up on pads and loose underwear. Bleeding lasts about 4-6 weeks and is basically like having a month-long period. And it does not matter whether you deliver vaginally or via c-section – you will have bleeding. Also, my incision is located right on my bikini line so my low-rise underwear sit right on top of the bandages. I used the mesh underwear from the hospital for the first couple of days, but when I ran out, started wearing my maternity underwear since they’re loose around the top.

Any burning questions? And from the c-section experienced mamas, anything else I forgot to mention?


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Until the birth of our baby boy, I’d never spent the night in a hospital. I’m familiar with hospitals, having worked in one in high school and college, but working in a hospital and being a patient aren’t exactly the same thing.

I’d read several blog posts and tips from people on what to pack, so I felt well prepared on the materials front. As for what I brought versus what I actually used, here’s the run down:


  • Change of clothes for the hubs
  • Nursing tank, pj pants, nursing gown, robe, underwear and slippers for me
  • Mini shampoo and conditioner
  • Mini deodorants – his and hers
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Granola bars, crackers, and Jolly Ranchers
  • The baby book, for getting baby’s foot and handprints.
  • Hospital paperwork
  • ID and insurance card
  • Two going-home outfit choices for the babers – including mittens/hats/booties
  • Baby blanket for the car ride home
  • nursing pillow (boppy pillow)
  • camera
  • iPad & charger
  • Phone chargers
  • Makeup (for when visitors come)
  • chapstick
  • hairbrush & hair ties
  • A couple of DVDs
So how did our preparing pan out?
Perfectly. We could’ve used more clothes for the hubs since we ended up staying in the hospital for FIVE. NIGHTS. which meant he had to run home after two days, but other than that, we had everything we needed. I didn’t end up using my makeup or my extra changes of underwear but everything else got plenty of use.
Things you DO NOT need:
  • Diapers
  • Any sort of baby feeding supplies
  • Any baby grooming supplies
  • Underwear or pads
Some people like to bring their own pillows and blankets from home, which is fine if it makes it feel more like home for you, but we didn’t feel like we needed it. Just one more thing to lug in and out of the hospital.
We were given so much stuff from the hospital, which was great because we felt like we had everything we needed to get us by for our first few days at home with baby. Some of the things we were given:
Gifts from the Hospital:
  • Diapers – about a dozen
  • Formula – about 20 bottles
  • Pacifier
  • A&D ointment and gauze pads – to care for his circumcision
  • Wipes – 1 package
  • Breast pump parts – 1 set – Medela brand
  • Breast milk storage containers – 25 (we took a couple extra bags of them)
  • Bottle nipples – a dozen
  • Nipple shields – 1 pkg (contains 2)
  • Aspirator – 2
  • Thermometer – 1
  • Comb – 2
  • Halo sleep sack – 1 (only NICU babies were given these)
I think next time I’ll bring an empty bag with us so it’s easier to haul everything back.

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Hospital Days

Recovering from a typical birth is no easy task. Neither is recovering from a c-section. When you do both – labor AND have a c-section – the recovery is, I would assume, twice as difficult. At least it was for me. In the recovery room, I was barely conscious. I wanted to hold my baby so badly, but I was still shaking like a leaf and so weak that I was worried I’d drop him. So I didn’t.

Once I was moved to the mother and baby unit, Mr. Adorable was taken to the nursery to get the rest of his tests completed. Everything looked great, except for his blood sugar, which was a little low. Apparently, since I was borderline gestational diabetic, his little body was trying to keep up with my inability to process complex carbs and sugars, so once out of the womb, he needed time to adjust to producing insulin just for him. Or something like that. They tested him twice, both tests coming back at 37 and 38 (they want to see at least 40) so off to the NICU he went. My gigantic 9 and a half pound baby had to go to the NICU. I felt terrible. Like I should’ve been better about my diet, because now our little angel had to get his foot pricked every three hours for the next couple of days so they could test him. Not only that, but he had to be hooked up to an IV and kept in an isolated room, all by himself. It was awful. Fortunately, the nurses in the NICU were awesome and made sure he was given the best care.

Here’s a photo one of the nurses took of him sucking his thumb:

As for me and my plans to breastfeed though, those pretty much went out the window since the nurses had to bottle feed him every three hours in order to test his blood sugar accurately. So from day 1, our little guy was given a bottle of formula every three hours. The first day I couldn’t get out of bed, so the hubs went down to the NICU for nearly every feeding while I stayed in the room, still hooked up to an IV, an Epidural which supposedly continued to drip some medication for pain, and a catheter. Nurses and aides came in every two hours to check my vitals and give me pills – motrin for pain, colace, and iron. I barely slept thanks to all the interruptions, but that’s their job, I suppose. They also helped me change positions in bed. With the Epidural still attached, I wasn’t supposed to lay on my back for very long, so they had to help me roll from side to side, and place pillows behind my back and between my legs for support. Every time I moved was excruciatingly painful those first couple of days. I was convinced they were giving me baby aspirin or something in my epidural line because I didn’t feel like I was getting any pain relief.

On the second day, I was really missing my baby. I also knew that I needed to attempt walking, so later that afternoon, the nurse removed my catheter and helped me into a wheelchair. As I stood up, I felt something warm run down both of my legs. When I looked down, a pool of blood had formed around my flip flop. The nurse aide helped clean me up and acted like it was no big deal. I wasn’t freaked out but I do recall thinking “huh, that’s a lot of blood.”

Walking was difficult, but the worst part was the whole getting up and out of bed movement. Anything that required the use of a stomach muscle was painful. I’d have to put the bed into a completely flat position in order to scoot myself to the middle of it. To get up, I’d put the bed into a sit up position so I wouldn’t have to pull myself up as much. I also had to have someone help me to the bathroom so they could hold my epidural bag. I really missed the catheter that second day. In a nutshell, it sucked.

I only made two or three feedings on the second day. By the third day, I made almost all of the feedings, minus one in the afternoon so I could nap, and the midnight – 6am feedings so we could sleep. I attempted nursing during some of the feedings, but since my milk hadn’t come in yet, neither I nor the baby had the patience to just practice latching. That was also the day that my epidural was removed and the nurse started me on Perccset. Except Percocet made me nauseous, so I didn’t take it, which definitely didn’t help matters in the pain department.

Day 3 was also the day I took my first shower and looked at my belly for the first time. Let’s just say, it’s not pretty. Stretch marks, surgical tape to cover my stitches, and still pretty swollen. Some serious recon is in order, once I’m fully healed, I thought.

Baby’s blood sugar was finally stabilizing around this time so the nurses were able to remove the IV. Only he had to pass three more tests – another 12 hours of monitoring – before he’d be released to the regular nursery/our room.

In the NICU – hooked up to monitors and an IV

The morning of day 4 (Saturday), my OB came by and when I told him that the Percocet had made me nauseous, he prescribed me a low dose of Vicodin. SO MUCH BETTER! I love me some Vicodin. And every time I took it, I felt like Dr. House, which is probably not a good thing, but I really loved that show.

The hubs attended a CPR class later that morning and we both attended a discharge class for parents of babies in the NICU. The NICU is such a depressing place. All these little dimly-lit rooms with monitors and beeping sounds and tiny little cribs. Some of the babies had been there for a very long time because their rooms were decorated like nurseries, with lots of stuffed animals and balloons. So sad. I couldn’t wait to get our baby out of there.

My parents came to visit almost every day, as did hubby’s aunt, and our friends Jen & Aaron. My in-laws are scheduled to come out at the end of June, and lots of folks sent flowers and cards. We definitely felt the love.

Saturday night, our little guy was finally discharged from the NICU and brought to our room. We spent a few hours with him before letting the nursery take over for the midnight – 6am shift. Figured we should probably take advantage of our last night of help before we were completely on our own.

Sunday was going home day and we were anxious to get out of there. We woke up early, ate breakfast, and waited for the pediatrician to come by and give us the all clear for discharging the baby. After that, we finished up some paperwork and waited for my discharge papers. We dressed Mr. Adorable in a Cardinals onesie, strapped him into his car seat for the very first time, tucked a blanket around him, and we were on our way!

Very exciting car ride home

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And a Baby Boy was Born

Birth Story – Part 1 – Laboring

On Tuesday morning, May 29, I woke up to hubby’s alarm around 7am with what felt like menstrual cramps. In high school, I suffered from extremely painful, debilitating cramps. The kind that kept me home from school once a month, until my mom finally took me to the gynecologist for birth control, which completely eliminated them. These cramps were a lot like those. Strong pangs in my lower abdomen that came in waves. A little after 8am, the hubs left for work and said he’d be back around lunch.

I was three days past my due date and wanted desperately to go into labor on my own instead of getting induced on May 31st. It’s a weird thing – wanting to feel pain – because it starts to interfere with your ability to decipher the pain. So of course, I consulted Twitter.

Twitter told me to try a few things – time the pains, lay down, see if anything changes or if they get stronger over time. Around 10 am, they were about 30-45 seconds long and coming roughly 10 minutes apart. I texted the hubs around 10:30 to say that he should probably not plan on returning to work after lunch. A few minutes later, he called to say he would be on his way home shortly. I continued to time the contractions, getting more and more excited with each one, yet also realizing that they were becoming more and more painful.

Once home, hubby scrambled around the house to grab any additional last minute items, load the car, and tidy things up. We left for the hospital at noon, with my contractions happening every 3 to 4 minutes and lasting for an entire minute. Just as we were arriving at the hospital, I had one contraction so strong that I had to grip the door of the car, grimacing the entire time.

Hubs dropped me off and parked the car. Then we walked through the long lobby, stopping momentarily for me to slowly walk through a contraction, and took the elevator to the L&D floor. We sat in the waiting room for about an hour before I was called back to be evaluated. I was only 2 cm dilated but I was definitely having the standard labor contractions. Apparently everyone in the metro area decided to have a baby that day because there weren’t any open rooms in L&D so we were placed in a regular looking room while my OB was called to see if I should be admitted or possibly sent home to labor for awhile.

Fortunately, my doctor said to admit me. At this point, my contractions were so painful that I had to remind myself to breathe through each one. I’d grip the side of the chair, close my eyes, and just take deep breaths. The contractions stayed pretty consistent at 3 minutes apart and one minute long.

Even though I’d been admitted, we still had to wait for an official room.

My veins are notoriously hard to find, even when not pregnant, so add swelling and probably a bit of dehydration to the mix, and well, let’s just say that getting my IV was one of the more painful parts of this whole process. I’d have to ask the nurse to give me just a minute to get through a contraction before she could start stabbing me again.

I think we waited nearly five hours for a room. There wasn’t much rush since I was only 2 cm dilated and my water hadn’t broken. And though I was in pain, it wasn’t unbearable. I wasn’t in tears or in desperate need for pain meds. I was just uncomfortable. And severely uncomfortable every 3 minutes. But in between each of those contractions, I was all smiles, excited to know that we’d be meeting our baby very soon. I remember the hubs laughing at me because one minute I’d be grimacing and breathing heavily and the next minute, I’d be all “Hey! We’re having a baby today!! Aren’t you excited?!”

We were told that my OB was on call that night starting at 5pm, which I took to mean she’d be there at the hospital some time after 5. Around 5:30, we were finally moved to an official L&D room. The nurse checked me and said I was 3cm dilated and asked if I wanted to go ahead and get an epidural. I had hoped to speak to my OB first and didn’t expect to get an epidural prior to having my water broken, so I hesitated at first. But, considering how busy the hospital was, I had heard it could take awhile for the anesthesiologist to get there anyway, so I said yes, let’s go ahead and order it. Just in case it takes about an hour or longer to get there.

Less than 15 minutes later, my epidural arrived. I was a little uneasy getting it when I still hadn’t seen my doctor, but I really wasn’t in a position to ask the anesthesiologist to just hold up for a bit and wait for my doctor. I was in a lot of pain, and had spent most of that time sitting on the edge of the hospital bed because laying down or leaning back was just too painful. The anesthesiologist had me sit on the bed, butt on one edge, legs toward the other, leaning over, hugging a pillow with my husband in front of me. Apparently most people are shown some sort of video that goes over all the risks of getting an epi, but since I hadn’t watched it, the anesthesiologist just dictated the risks to me as he got things ready. Just as he’s telling me about the potential for paralyzation, I felt a sharp sting in my back followed by a burning sensation (excellent timing, dude). I hummed to distract myself, and suffered through only 2 or 3 more contractions before the meds started doing their work. And it was glorious! I could still move and feel my legs, but the pain was gone. Gone!! This was totally worth the 10 seconds of burning needle pain in my back.

Things were quite dandy for a couple of hours.

At this point, things were moving slowly, but the good news was that things were moving. My nurse, Rachel, was amazing. She came in to check on me often, monitored baby’s heart rate closely, and really seemed to know her stuff. She was able to answer all of my questions, and I felt completely at ease knowing she was watching over us.

I can’t remember what time it was when a resident and another nurse came in to break my water. Thanks to the epidural, I didn’t feel a thing, but they said my “bag was thick” and difficult to break. After they broke it, some water came out, but not the huge gush I had been expecting. Still, the water was slightly discolored, which meant baby had had a bowel movement in utero. Besides just sounding gross, this is not good, folks. Nurse Rachel explained to me that NICU would now be present at the delivery in case the baby had swallowed any amniotic fluid. She assured me it was nothing to worry about, that the NICU docs would clean him up and suction his mouth and nose, but there was still potential for the meconium to get into his lungs. I was worried, but I knew there wasn’t anything I could do and I had the best docs around to help us should the worst happen.

After they broke my water, nurse Rachel started me on Pitocin to help my contractions be more productive. Around 9:30 p.m., I started to fall asleep. I figured I would need as much energy as possible later for pushing. We turned on an episode of LOST and dozed off, with nurse Rachel checking in on me about every hour or so.

At one point, nurse Rachel came in to turn off my Pitocin. She said it was affecting the baby’s heart rate, even though I was only getting the minimum amount.

Around midnight I was 6 cm dilated. Nurse Rachel had me roll over on my side to try to speed things along. When I was on my left side though, the baby’s heart rate dropped, so she had me switch sides.

It was around this time that I started to not feel so hot anymore. I started shaking and felt nauseous. I had a cup of jello earlier, and  two popsicles, so I wasn’t sure if it was hunger-induced nausea or hormone-induced. Whatever it was, I threw up and then it passed. The shakes, Rachel said, were likely a reaction to the epidural.

At 3:30 am, I was still 6 cm dilated.

Nurse Rachel called in another resident to compare measurements. He said I was about 7 cm and more than 90% effaced. Things were looking good, I thought.

A few minutes later, nurse Rachel checked me again and said I was still what she considered a 6. Either way, 6 or 7, I hadn’t changed since around midnight, and in labor, it’s important that there be a progression or change in my cervix. It was now almost 4 am and my cervix was starting to swell. Swelling cervix = bad news. It was basically my body’s way of saying “this baby is not coming out this way.” Nurse Rachel said she’d call my OB to report back. She said that since the baby wasn’t in danger (yet) and since I wasn’t in danger (yet) that I could continue to labor, or, I could start talking about a c-section. To me, a c-section was now probably inevitable, so I told her to let my OB know that if she recommended a c-section, that I was ready.

Less than five minutes later, nurse Rachel came in to say that my OB was on her way in. We were doing a c-section and I’d likely have a baby within the next 45 minutes.

Having a Baby

Things moved really quickly from there. Another anesthesiologist came in to increase my epidural for surgery. Nurse Rachel grabbed some scrubs for the hubs and showed him how to put them on. I’m pretty sure he was in a state of shock that it was all happening RIGHT NOW because he seemed like he was having a hard time putting on his hat and shoe covers.

And that’s about the time I threw up again.

My memory gets a little foggy here, but once the anesthesiologist administered more meds, I remember him sticking me with a needle to test the numbness. “Can you feel this?” he asked. I could. And now I was terrified that I’d feel the entire thing. My OB arrived and I was a shaking mess. Shaking, but unable to move from my arms down. She asked me to state my name, asked me what procedure I was about to go under, and who my doctor was. And honestly, it took all of my concentration to answer her.

I remember being wheeled down the hall and my OB asking a young guy with glasses if he was going to be her attending. He quickly joined us as we entered the OR. I swear there were at least 6 other people in there. A few nurses, a couple of people from the NICU, my OB, her attending, and the anesthesiologist. I was wheeled up next to the operating table and wasn’t sure how they were going to move me, so I tried leaning to roll myself over. I have no idea what I was thinking because I there was no way I could move myself. The anesthesiologist actually laughed a little at me and told me to just relax and cross my arms over my chest. I felt myself be lifted up and placed on the table.

One of the nurses grabbed a chair and sat my husband down near my head as someone else raised a blue sheet in front of me. They asked for our baby book and told the hubs to get his camera ready. I was still shaking and felt my mouth start to water again like I was about to throw up. Of course, I was flat on my back and scared to death that I would throw up and choke to death. I told the anesthesiologist that I felt like I needed to throw up. He grabbed a plastic tray and held it next to my head. I tried to turn my head toward it, gagged, and just shook my head no. Somehow, I willed myself not to throw up and laid my head back down. Just then, I heard a baby cry. I looked to my right and I could barely make out the wet, bluish babe with dark locks being cleaned off on a table a few feet away from me. His cry was so loud, I remember thinking, “wow, what a set of pipes on that kid!” while also worrying about him swallowing any amniotic fluid in the process. I couldn’t believe the baby on that table had just came out of my belly. Of all the planning, preparation, and waiting, I could never quite picture what our baby would look like. I could never imagine the face of the tiny human that had been growing inside of me for 9 months. It was just too…surreal. But there he was. And he was perfect.

It was only a few moments before the nurses brought him over to me so I could see him. But since my doctor was still working on sewing me up, I couldn’t hold him yet. Not to mention I was still shaking like a leaf and could barely feel my arms. The nurse handed him to the hubs and a few minutes later, I was lifted back onto the rolling bed and wheeled across the hall into the recovery room. And that’s when I passed out.

I woke up to the sound of my husband talking to our new baby. Our new, completely awake and alert and beautiful baby.

(Daddy’s first one-armed attempt at taking baby photos)

And we’ve been talking to him, telling him just how much we love him, ever since.

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