Tag Archives: newborn

Kid x 2

It would be great if you could experience having two kids before you have the first. Oh, the things you would then appreciate when you just have one! I had no idea! 

  • Mornings. It took me months to get into a good morning routine with Declan. Once we did, it was awesome. I would get up around 6, get ready, have my all-important cup of tea, then go get Declan up sometime around 7-7.30 and get him ready before we both left shortly after 8. My 30-40 minutes of peace every day was heaven. My chance to sit still, read a book, and drink my tea in silence. Now there’s a BABY to fit in. A baby who is sorta on a schedule but not completely. A baby who can’t hold her own bottle yet. A baby who can’t be put down for very long. Argh. I miss my quiet cup of tea SO MUCH. But on days that I get everyone up, fed, dressed and out of the house before 9 I feel so FREAKIN’ ACCOMPLISHED. Almost more accomplished than anything I’ve ever done in my career. It’s absurd. 
  • Sleep. Declan has only had one bad night so far since Ophelia arrived, but ohmygoodness was it bad. It was in the early days so O was still waking every 2-3 hours. Declan had night terrors around 10.30pm and would not go back to sleep. I ended up bringing him into our bed for the first time ever, where he woke crying every hour or so. Combine that with feeding Ophelia and trying to get her back to sleep each time and I was a giant mess in the morning. 
  • Quality time. The arrival of Ophelia means Declan and I don’t get to spend so much time together. I don’t get to put him to bed as often, and I miss the silly fun we would have. He’s been going to daycare on Mondays, which was always our day out together since it was my day off. We spend less time doing creative stuff and a lot more time watching TV. I know that as Ophelia grows I will be able to hang out with Declan again, but it will never be quite the same. Seeing him with her is amazing though. He sings her songs when she cries, strokes her head, gives her many kisses, and is fascinated by everything she does. I wanted him to have a sibling so much, it will be worth the disruption. 
  • And finally, dinner time. Sitting down to eat dinner together is definitely something I took for granted before. Now we have to work around Ophelia’s schedule and only occasionally will she let me put her down long enough for me to finish my dinner and tidy up afterwards. I get frustrated far more quickly when Declan is taking forEVER to eat, since I’m constantly aware that the baby might start fussing at any moment.

Ophelia is a million times easier than Declan ever was, but I’m still finding it hard. Breastfeeding only lasted a month. I’ve had days full of tears-for-no-reason. I dread putting her down for the night because it can take forever. I simultaneously can’t wait for the newborn days to be behind us, while realizing that once they’re gone they’ll be gone forever (we are two and DONE). I also do not want to hasten Declan’s growth even a little bit since it’s already moving too quickly and he’s so much fun right now. I wish I could freeze him at this age until Ophelia is a year old, then move things forward again. :)

Some things are definitely easier the second time around. I used to obsess about Declan’s naps – I don’t worry at all about Ophelia’s. When the darkness does hit me, it’s not quite so dark because I have Declan as a permanent reminder that this too shall pass. I’m less worried when Ophelia fusses (though admittedly she fusses a LOT less often than Declan did so this isn’t difficult). I’m not concerned about her starting daycare. I know that she WILL eventually sleep through the night. Christian and I WILL get some of our evening time back. We WILL be able to go out as a family again without an excess of planning and hassle. Is it easier to the point that we would ever consider another? Nope nope and nope. I’m 38 forgoodnesssake. 


 

Oh Ophelia

Ophelia Rose arrived at 1.43pm on August 23 weighing 7lb 2oz! Her birth story could not be more different than Declan’s. At exactly 39 weeks, my alarm woke me for work at 6.15am. I hit the snooze. When it went again at 6.24am, I hit the snooze, rolled over, and felt my water break. I hadn’t felt a single contraction, so it was completely surreal to be telling Christian that I was in labor. I popped downstairs to tell my visiting parents that we were off to the hospital so they could get Declan up and get him to school, and we headed out. At the hospital, they confirmed I had indeed “grossly ruptured” and put me on a pitocin drip since I hadn’t yet felt a contraction. I was undecided about an epidural this time, since part of me feared that the epidural was to blame for Declan’s long delivery and the fluid in his lungs that sent him to the NICU.  By 5cm, however, I was at an 8 on the pain scale and all doubts went out the window – the epidural man was called. After that took effect, we waited for me to start “feeling pressure” which didn’t take long. The delivery cart arrived, the doctor was called, and I started getting extremely nervous. I started pushing and … seven minutes and three contractions later … she popped out! It was ridiculous! What was even more ridiculous is that they placed her on my chest and within minutes, I had her latched and breastfeeding! After the trauma (there really isn’t any better word for it) of Declan’s arrival and our major struggles with breastfeeding, it was a miracle. 

Two days later I’m sat in the hospital room, eating a brownie while Ophelia sleeps, and waiting for Christian to arrive so we can be discharged. The first night was simply awful. She fed and cried nonstop from 10.45pm until 4.30am. I finally called a nurse in tears after the bazillionth feeding to have them take her to the nursery so I could pass out for a couple of hours. The next day and night were much better. Nurses gave me tips to help make sure she has enough at each feed so that she shouldn’t want another one immediately. The lactation lady helped make sure we were getting the right latch. I took full advantage of the nursery overnight and got quite a bit of sleep. I know damn well there are many sleepless nights, zombie days, and emotional breakdowns to come in the weeks (months, years!) ahead of me, but goodness. I could not be more thankful for a quick delivery, NO NICU (yayyyyyy!), and the ability to breastfeed. Here’s to home, Netflix, and a proper cup of tea. Welcome to our crazy family, Ophelia!

Things I Never Said Before.

Declan has inspired me to utter many strange comments and questions. Most are directed at Christian, some are to Declan, and a couple are at daycare: 

  • Has he done his giant poop yet today? 
  • Where did I put the emergency nipple?
  • Is poop coming out the sides?
  • Baby vomit isn’t that gross. 
  • Baby pee on the wall is better than cat pee. 
  • Oh good, he farted. That means he’s still alive. 
  • It’s only vomit. I’ll brush it out. 
  • Yay! Poop!
  • Please try to make dinner without making a sound. 
  • Do you think we need to upgrade nipples?
  • Yay! Burp!
  • Was that a dry burp or a wet burp?
  • What color was his poop today? 
  • Can you come here and look at his penis?

I think we’ll leave it there. 

 

In Pursuit of a Happier Mum, Or Why I Said Goodbye to Breastfeeding

The cloud has finally lifted!

Declan is almost two months old and I have officially given up breastfeeding. I almost didn’t want to publish this post since I know many people are huge advocates for breastfeeding (justifiably so) and will judge me for giving up so “easily” (nothing about this has been easy), but hopefully, at the very least, sharing my reasons might serve to reassure another mum going through the same struggles. I know all the cons of formula (so please don’t tell me about them) and I do have some guilt but, in the end, finding a happier mum for Declan was more important to me than persisting with something that was making me (and him) so miserable.  

I have been battling postnatal depression since Declan was born. I have had happy moments and sometimes whole days of relative calm, but most days have been spent alternating between anger, frustration, and sadness. Horribly, I often found myself angry with Declan. Angry when he wanted to feed again. Angry when he cried. Angry when he wouldn’t sleep. I knew that it was completely irrational to be mad at a tiny baby, but I couldn’t help it. Sometimes I hated him. How awful is that? When I wasn’t angry I was crying, and when I wasn’t angry or crying I was feeling guilty about both. None of these states were good for Declan and they certainly weren’t good for me. Over the last few weeks his feeding increased in frequency to the point that I didn’t feel like I was doing anything but nurse. My milk supply seemed fine and the doctor didn’t see a problem with how often he was feeding (it’s normal for it to fluctuate, apparently, and sometimes growth spurts can last several weeks), but I was finding it more and more stressful and depressing each day. His naps would last 20 minutes at the most before he woke up and demanded more food. 

Some selfishness did factor into my decision, as much as I wish that weren’t the case. I hated that I was the only one who could feed Declan and I resented that I couldn’t easily go anywhere or do anything. If this had been my only problem I’m pretty sure I would have persevered with the boobs, but when added to the depression it just made everything worse. I was having panic attacks about how we were ever going to leave the house for more than two hours, or how we were going to deal with me going back to work. Just making the decision to stop instantly made me feel calmer about the future.
 

Things improved immediately. Declan only woke once the first night to feed, and he went immediately back to sleep (a very rare occurrence – it would sometimes take me two hours to get him back to sleep after breastfeeding). Christian has been able to take on more feedings when he’s home. He’s napping for longer during the day. I no longer feel constant stress and dread about the next feed, and I’m not worried about how much he’s getting. 

On the first day after we made the change I went to Walmart to buy cat litter and formula. Alone. Leaving Declan at home with Christian. It was HEAVEN. I have never been so excited. I put on makeup and real pants (unusual for Walmart, I know) and practically skipped around the store. It was possible to leave Declan with Christian while breastfeeding, of course, and I did a couple of times, but it always came with the added stress of having to pump and store breastmilk every 3ish hours. No longer the case! 

A few days later, the night feedings continue to be much easier and I’m feeling GREAT. I even caught myself having a thought that began “if we have another baby…” That’s the first time I’ve been able to contemplate doing this again since he arrived! His naps are still somewhat longer and we’re getting more happy awake time than we are crying/fussing awake time (from both of us!) It feels like a miracle!  I haven’t felt this calm or happy since before he was born. This is how it’s SUPPOSED to be!

I don’t wish we’d done this sooner, because I’m really happy I was able to give Declan 8 weeks of breastmilk, but I’m so glad we’ve done it now while I still have a few weeks of maternity leave left to actually enjoy the little man. What a rollercoaster.

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Edit: I may have spoken a wee bit too soon about the longer naps! They only lasted two days and were likely a side effect of his two month vaccines. Oh well! 

Edit 2: This doesn’t mean I don’t still get frustrated or cry, I do, but the emotions no longer completely engulf me. 

Wisdom from the First Month

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I knew having a baby would be hard work – it is. I also knew that I wouldn’t be getting much sleep – I’m not. Here are some other pearls of wisdom from the first month of Declan, in no particular order:

  1. If the baby falls asleep in a position that hurts your arm (or neck or back or hip or alloftheabove), your pain is irrelevant, DO NOT MOVE.
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  3. Staring into a baby’s wide open eyes and willing him to fall asleep does not work. Neither does ordering him to sleep, nor explaining rationally why he should be sleeping.
  4. Maternity leave is boring. Dull, tedious, repetitive, mind-numbing, boring boring boring boring BORING. Most of the time you cannot do anything about this because there is a baby attached to you.
  5. Getting more than 40 minutes sleep at once will be a cause for celebration. Getting more than 2 hours straight will make you feel like you are capable of ANYTHING.
  6. You might feel like an idiot reading a book to a tiny baby that clearly doesn’t understand a word. If so, make it easier on yourself in the first few weeks and read a book that you’re interested in rather than wearing yourself out now on the baby books (plenty of time for that later). For the record, we’re going with Harry Potter.
  7. There is “research” to both fully support and thoroughly oppose everything you are doing. EVERYTHING.
  8. The baby blues are real, do not feel bad about them.
  9. You will need more diapers than you think you will.
  10. Babies sleep a lot and cry little in hospital. This pretty much reverses as soon as you get them home.
  11. You will never appreciate a cup of tea more in your life than the morning after a rough night.
  12. You may develop baby-related OCD. If the baby slept well after a certain sequence of events, you will attempt to repeat those events as closely as possible in the hopes for more happy sleep. It won’t work, but you’ll keep doing it anyway.
  13. Attempting to apply order, logic, or reason to a baby’s behavior will drive you crazy.
  14. “Sleep when he sleeps” is utter crap. You’ll want to use any time he’s sleeping during the day when he’s not attached to you to do things like eat and pee. Seriously. It can be immensely difficult just to find time to eat something, never mind take a nap. Also, being awoken from a daytime nap to do another feed just makes everyone grumpy(ier).
  15. Cloth diapers are the best burp/clean-up/general purpose rags ever. Buy a bunch. As for their success as diapers? No idea.
  16. It takes 15 minutes for a baby to fall into a deep enough sleep to be moved without waking. The discovery of this fact was a MIRACLE in our house.
  17. The internetz talk about how babies love bath-time and how you might want to incorporate this as a regular part of a soothing bedtime routine. Not true of all babies. NOT TRUE AT ALL. I suspect Declan will grow up to be quite a dirty kid given his (loud) negative opinion of baths so far.
  18. Pumping breast milk is the least sexy thing you will ever do in your life.
  19. Get out of the house as soon and as much as you can. Daylight helps.
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  21. Showering helps, too. Pop the baby in something secure and take him into the bathroom with you. We found that the noise of the water had a calming effect, but even if it doesn’t – take the time to feel human, even if it means he cries for an extra 10 minutes.
  22. And finally, wine helps. Enjoy a glass right after a feed to maximize the time before the next one. I find late afternoon/early evening the hardest time of day, and the time when the blues are most likely to return. This is now my glassofwine time.

What have I missed?

A Happy Post

This one is for my Dad, who requested that the next blog post be happy. I didn’t intend for my last two posts to be tear-jerkers, but I wanted to share my experiences for two reasons – one, so I wouldn’t forget those initial days and feelings, and two, so that other struggling mothers might find some reassurance in the fact that they are not alone. But now for some happy!

Declan has been breastfeeding well for almost two weeks now, and is consistently gaining weight. Today, he actually latched without the nipple shield for the first time, which should make my life easier. Just as we celebrate the boob success, however, he has forgotten how to sleep for more than 40 minutes at a time, so there are certainly still some tears from me in the wee hours. But that at least is something I fully expected as part of this adventure. Most of the time we’re feeling pretty good about life, even if we do both have greasy hair and smell of sour milk. Here are some happy observations that prove we’re not always crying!

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  • Declan looks scared when I sing to him, particularly when I sing songs from Joseph, but it does usually distract him from fussing. Christian is thoroughly unimpressed by my song choice, and by the fact that I am singing in general (I’m a terrible singer), which just makes me do it even more.
  • Changing his diaper often makes him sneeze several times in a row and then sigh, which is adorable.
  • He has probably eaten his own weight in cat hair since coming home.
  • Lying him face down on my chest usually soothes him instantly. This doesn’t help me get any sleep, but it does make me feel immensely loved.
  • His hair is ridonkulous (and yes, he looks like a hipster in this photo).

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  • It is already easy to see his development as he focuses more on people and is increasingly aware of his surroundings.
  • He sometimes extends his arms in very thespian-like gestures, as if exclaiming dramatically about the hardships of life as a baby.
  • He likes to headbutt Christian in the face. This is likely due to reflux, but it’s pretty hilarious.
  • When he’s swaddled and sleeping, we can just prop him up anywhere and leave him.

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There is nothing that anyone could have said that would have prepared me for life with a newborn, but most of the time I do feel that progress is being made! We took him to visit the office yesterday (I put on real clothes!), and today we have plans to take him for a walk around the neighborhood. It feels like this has been my life forever and that each achievement has taken ages – I have to remind myself often that he’s only three weeks old (tomorrow) and has only been home for just over two weeks. Crazy.

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Declander and the Curse of the Crying Mummy

Our time in the NICU was hard, but in many ways the first days/weeks* at home were even harder. I was thoroughly unprepared for how overwhelmed and incompetent I would feel as a new Mum. As soon as we got home, any progress we’d made with breastfeeding backtracked. We no longer had the nurses to help and reassure me and my stress levels peaked (again). Declan rarely woke to eat, so we were constantly setting an alarm to make sure he didn’t go more than 4 hours between feedings. He spent most of the feedings alternating between screaming at my boobs and falling asleep.

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Eventually, and thanks to some neighborly advice, we discovered that gas relief drops would calm him enough to latch and we started moving forward again. For the first few days we were still supplementing with breast milk by bottle and I was still pumping. This meant that the whole process took at least 90 minutes and usually around 2 hours. Then there were just 2 more hours until the alarm sounded for the next round. I was a wreck (again). I felt like I was falling into a deep, dark hole and there was no relief. I saw a future in which I would never sleep more than an hour or so, and I would never be able to do anything except feed and cry. I wasn’t finding time to eat and barely had an appetite anyway. I dreaded each feeding and cried with Declan whenever he couldn’t latch.

Four days after coming home and with guidance from the lactation consultant, we decided he was spending enough time feeding that I could stop pumping. Hallelujah! But we were still setting the alarm for feedings and good LORD how I hated that sound. All I could think about during each feeding was how much time there was left until the next one began. This made me even more irritable when Declan took his time about it. Our life was a giant countdown clock on repeat. It didn’t help anything to think like this, but I couldn’t stop. I begged Christian to let me give up breastfeeding.** I worried that Declan wasn’t eating enough and that my milk production was slowing. I cried some more, a lot more. Who knew there were so many tears in me?

One week rolled by since coming home and Declan returned to his birth weight. Our pediatrician recommended that we switch from wake-to-feed to feed-on-demand, which meant no more alarms! The first afternoon and night of this were amazing and I was full of optimism and hope for the future. But then the next day Declan woke every 90 minutes to feed. 90 minutes! Giving me barely time to catch my breath between each one. He hardly slept that day or night between feedings, fussing and crying the whole time. I cried some more (surprise), and desperately wanted to quit again.

The next day was calmer, with fewer feedings and less crying from both of us. That was yesterday. Today feels good so far, though I’m back to worrying that he’s not getting enough. It never ends. But I haven’t cried in 24 hours and that alone is progress. :)

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* The hard times/baby blues are by no means over yet.
** I imagine it won’t be the last time I make that plea.

Declander and the World of Beeps

Declan was born at 12.29pm on Sunday, February 15 weighing 8lb 7oz.

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Labor was both better and worse than I expected. We got to the hospital at 2.40am Sunday morning after having regular, frequent but mild contractions all day Saturday. I hadn’t dilated so they were going to send me home, but concerns about my elevated blood pressure led to the decision to induce me. The doctor arrived at 5am and broke my water, resulting in the most intense and horrifying 40 minutes of continuous pain in my entire life! The epidural man was summoned and he became the most important and wonderful man in my life as the pain subsided. Just a few hours later we were ready to go, and after 90 minutes of pushing Declan arrived in the world (with every nurse and the doctor commenting on the size and “roundness” of his head as he came out, as well as how much hair he had!). Unfortunately, he had the cord wrapped around his neck, which meant he had not expelled all the fluid from his lungs on the journey out. A NICU nurse was summoned and he was wheeled away with Christian on his heels. I was left alone bleeding, shaking, and crying. The adrenaline had gone and the world closed in around me. Soon after, I was wheeled to see him and we learned that his blood oxygen was a little low and his respiratory rate was high. They hadn’t admitted him and were waiting to see if he would clear the fluid and stabilize on his own. Some time (no idea how long) later, he did stabilize and they released him to us. It didn’t last, however, and some time (no idea how long again!) later they took him back and this time they did admit him to NICU. I was a wreck. Never have I experienced so many highs and lows and pain and relief all in a few short hours.
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Declan stayed in the NICU for two nights and then in the CCN (Continuous Care Nursery) for two nights. Each day we thought we would be taking him home, only to discover they wanted to keep him for another 24 hours. He cleared the fluid relatively quickly and came off the oxygen, but then his glucose levels were slightly down so they didn’t want to take him off the IV until they recovered. Once they did, he lost 5% of his body weight in less than 12 hours, so they didn’t want to release him until that had stabilized. It was torture. I was summoned every 3-4 hours to attempt to breastfeed him, while pumping milk in-between and attempting to recover from labor. After 48 hours I was discharged from labor & delivery so we had the added challenge of trying to secure a room in the hospital so we could stay close. Breastfeeding was not successful. The lactation consultant didn’t work weekends or holidays, so I wasn’t able to see her until Tuesday. The nurses were amazing, but I became thoroughly overwhelmed by so much varied and often counter advice. When Declan was on the IV he wasn’t really hungry, so that didn’t help. Both the NICU and CCN were bright spaces full of beeping (sometimes screaming) monitors, crying (sometimes screaming) babies, and nonstop movement. We could draw a curtain around our space and dim the lights, but the stress never really left.

My emotions were the hardest thing to deal with. On the first day I was an utter wreck because I thought Declan was going to die. On the second day I was an equal wreck because I’d stopped producing milk. I had no perspective – everything destroyed me. I cried to Christian, I cried to the nurses, I cried to the lactation consultant (when she finally showed up, she was pretty wonderful), I cried to the pediatrician, I cried to my OB. So. Many. Tears. Christian was amazing – supportive, kind, helpful, patient, reassuring. I most definitely would not have survived without him. I knew in my rational mind that we were very lucky – Declan was born at full term, was a good weight, and had minimal medical issues. My hormonal brain was unable to accept that, however, and I cannot be grateful enough to the nurses for their endless patience with and concern for my delicate state of mind.

Eventually, finally, we achieved moderate success with breastfeeding, Declan stopped losing weight, and we were able to bring him home on Thursday, February 19. The roller-coaster didn’t end in the days that followed, but that’s a topic for another blog post.
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Welcome to the world, Declan! Despite all the tears, your mum thinks you’re pretty awesome.