Friday, June 28, 2013

Growth Spurt Blues

My baby girl is growing again.  At least that is what I am hoping for, in the past 2 days my easy darling Rosabella has turned into red devil baby and is only happy when nursing, and even after a long nursing session she is still hungry.  Yikes, it has been a LONG few days.  I hope that she calms down again to her normal sweet self.  Also I feel nervous about my milk production, since she ALWAYS seems hungry. If this continues past this weekend I plan to head off to my lactation consultant and see if anything is going on.

I went to a breast feeding support group at the local children's hospital yesterday.  I have never gotten a lot out of in person support groups, but I thought that I would give this a try.  It was actually the first time that Rosabella and I ever went anywhere by ourselves and the first time we used the stroller.  It was a better support group than I have been to in the past, but still not my cup of tea.  Rosabella was the skinniest baby there, but the most alert.  They have you weigh your baby at the start of the meeting, the feed during the meeting and weigh again at the end.  Rosabella did not feed well, she was lazy at the breast and fussy, so she gained less than an ounce after feeding.  It was depressing and I worried that this is common for her.  Rosabella was fussing and the RN running the meeting said that she still seemed hungry and I should put her back to the breast.  So we did that, but then she unlatches and cries and just wants to fuss.  Ugh.  The good news was that she weighs over 8 lbs now (8.5 lb completely dressed with a diaper on).  I don't think that I will go back, but I am glad that I went once.  Maybe the La Leche League next week....

A smile before the growth spurt started

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Day of Firsts - June 18, 2013

So today my darling girl is growing up.  I have wished for these milestones, but now that they are here they remind me that time is passing and I am going to blink and her babyhood will be over.  Today she smiled at me for the first time and looked like she really meant it.  She also has been discovering her hands belong to her and managed to suck her thumb for the first time.  She is also getting too big for her newborn clothes and is in a 3 month onesie today.  She is too big for the few items of clothing that belonged to her sister...  All the things we did not get to have with Grace, all the milestones, all the sleepless nights.  God do I miss her.  Rosabella helps, I cannot lie that having her has not been a balm for my soul and healing for my heart, but I still miss my first born girl with every heartbeat.

Thinking about my fur kids

On Glow there was a recent blog post about getting a dog after losing a baby.  The whole issue of having a dog as a baby substitute and how that affected you and your relationship with the dog and any paranoia about the dog's health.  I wanted to comment, but after reading the other comments I did not.  My perspective about pets acting as a child substitute is so colored by my profession and my loss that I was afraid what I had to say would upset others.  I love my pets, I spend crazy money on them and deal with issues that most people would euthanize before even thinking about living with (a 65 pound fecally incontinent dog).  You know that I never thought that I would have children?  I was going to be this professional woman with dogs and kids held little interest to me.  Obviously that changed!  However my pets have always held a higher place in my life than many people's.  My DH used to tease that I loved my German Shepherd more than him, I told him that I had known her longer.  I used to worry that when my dog died I would need to be hospitalized from the grief, but I found out that there are wounds that cut so much deeper... losing my baby was so much more painful than losing my dog could ever be.

After Grace died I actually became a little intolerant of people grieving excessively over their pets.  Telling me during a euthanasia that this is worse than losing a child or like losing a child did not go over well.  I stayed closed lipped and maybe seemed closed off, but better that then scream at them that my baby is dead and your dog dying is nothing compared to the heart break I feel every day.  Fortunately that has gotten better with time.

I have not gotten any new pets since Grace died, I have lost one, my sweet cat Louie, but not added any.  I know that my Audrey dog is old, really old.  She will turn 15 at Christmas if she is still with us and her age is showing.  Her hips are shot, she has bad arthritis in both knees and now is limping on one of her front legs as well.  She has inflammatory bowel disease, low thyroid and dementia.  She poops in the house 3-4 times daily.  She licks her legs at night and the noise drives me crazy for some reason.  I cannot tell her to stop since she is almost completely deaf.  I worry about her quality of life.  I worry that I am keeping her alive for the wrong reasons.  However, she eats, pees outside, loves to bark when she is in the yard at people she sees walking by.  If she is awake she follows me every where I go, even if she struggles to get up.  She has been with me through my entire adult life, I was 22 when I got her.  She has been with me through vet school, my internship, my failed business partnership, my marriage, the death of Grace and now the pregnancy and birth of Rosabella.  I cannot imagine life without her, but I know that I will have to experience that soon.  I will grieve her when she is gone, but it will not hurt like losing my daughter.

I will probably get another dog after she is gone.  Our pit bull is turning 9 in the fall and we need a dog for Rosabella to grow up with.  I could not have even conceived of getting another pet after Grace died, I could barely care for the ones we had, but when our pets die I like to think that they go to wherever Grace is and that she can  play with them and be loved and protected by them.  Maybe that will help me when Audrey passes, knowing that my favorite dog, the dog of my young adult life will be watching over my lost baby, the way she watched over me all these years.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

This post is just regular Mom blog stuff.  I have been feeling pretty good and normal the last few days.  Grace is with me, I miss her, I always will, but Rosabella is the main focus of my days, and nights.  I have a living baby to care for and honestly this is what we have been hoping and praying for.  So here are some of the baby items we have been given or purchased that I absolute love!

1.  My Brest Friend Nursing pillow: This thing is fantastic, I mean I thought who needs a nursing pillow?  Then I tried one at my Lactation Consultants house and what a difference!  I mean the baby is positioned perfectly, no cramping arm and you can even go hands free and do something (like type on your blog) while nursing.

2. Baby Hawk: This baby carrier rocks, it looks cool, is easy to use and Rosabella loves riding in it.  It also keeps prying hands away from her when we are in public.

3. Aden and Anais blankets: These are muslin, but super soft and big enough to swaddle her for some time.  I love that they are not heavy since Rosabella often needs to be swaddled to get to sleep and it is HOT here.

4. Thirsties diaper covers: We have not had a single leak or blow out yet using these over pre-folds.  They have lots of fun colors and are so easy to clean (other than the white cover).

5. Snappis:  We love these, no diaper pins, easy to use and work so well

6.  My home-made hands free pumping bra.  Take an old sports bra, mark where your nipples are with a Sharpie marker, then cut small holes over the marks.  Your pump flanges fit through the holes and keep them firmly against your breast while you pump.

These are some of the services that I have used that I cannot recommend enough

1. Home visit by a lactation consultant.  Without our lac consultant I doubt that I would still be breast feeding, she made a huge difference.  I read on the Rookie Mom's blog that you should have a home visit set up with one before leaving the hospital.  I completely agree.  The consultants in the hospital just don't trouble shoot latch issues and nipple soreness like one doing home visits.

2. Doula.  She made labor so much easier.  I felt supported and safe and I could not imagine having an un-medicated birth without one.

3.  Placenta encapsulator:  We debated on whether to have my placenta encapsulated or not.  In the end I did not see a down side, but now I am a huge advocate.  I really was close to having some PPD and I believe that the placenta capsules helped balance my hormones and bring me back from the edge.

4. Diaper service.  We will eventually launder our own cloth diapers, but this was a gift from my Dad, and wow how nice it is to just put out the diapers every week and then wake up the next morning to a bag of clean diapers.  Love it.

That is all for now.... and to end a cute picture of my second girl, the light of my life, who lives and breathes and reminds us daily that life can still be good, even when crap things happen to you (like your beautiful first born dying).

Nap time with Rosabella and Banksy

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Rosabella Grace's Birth Story

I cannot believe that my little Baby Bear has been here for more than 3 weeks already.  The time is flying by and not moving all at the same time.  I want to remember all these beautiful moments and forget about the fatigue and sore nipples!  But first and foremost I want to record the story of how I brought my second child into this world...

I worked on Tuesday May 21st as usual.  It was not a hard shift, I had a few surgeries and some regular appointments, but nothing excessive.  I was tired and having on and off contractions, not Braxton hicks, but the real deal.  Between surgeries I told my Office Manager, Michelle, that I was not sure that I was going to make it another 2 weeks when my maternity leave officially started.  She asked if I needed to go home and I told her no I was just having contractions and was tired.  I finished the shift and told every one that I would see them the next day.  I went home and was tired, we ate dinner (frozen pizza with added toppings, oddly the same dinner we had before going to the hospital to find out that Grace had died).  I did not eat dessert, which was strange since I had been doing so for the last few weeks.  We went to bed around 8:30 pm, again pretty typical for us, since Mark gets up at 5 am for work and I get up 3-4 times per night to use the bathroom.  I got up at 10 pm and midnight, nothing unusual there, but when I woke up at 3:30 am I felt this great urgency to go to the bathroom.  I jumped out of bed (well as much as you can when 37 weeks pregnant) and while rushing to the toilet I felt a gush of liquid down my legs and onto the floor.  I told Mark "Oh crap, I think I just wet the bed!"  Then when I wiped after using the toilet I noticed blood tinged mucous.  I started to get worried and Mark asked if my water had broken?  He then being the good husband that he is smelled the wet spot on the sheets that I had left to see if it smelled like urine.  When it did not and I continued to have a slow trickle of fluid down my leg we decided to get some advice.  We called the hospital and spoke with a triage nurse.  She said that it was impossible to say if I had wet the bed or my water had broken, but recommended that we come down to get checked out.  I had my hospital bags packed and ready, but Mark, despite my nagging did not have his even close to complete.  I got dressed and let the dogs out to go potty while he packed and then showered.  I was getting more and more anxious and kept doing kick counts to make sure that Baby Bear was okay.  We finally got all our bags into the car and were off to the hospital.  We got there and were checked in pretty quickly since I had just been in for an NST.  They tried to put us in triage room 2, but I refused since that is where I found out that Grace had died.  The nurses were understanding and put me in triage room 1 instead.  All during the drive to the hospital and while in admitting I could feel Bear moving and was having infrequent contractions.  Once in the triage room they asked me to change into a hospital gown and as I stood up a huge gush of fluid wet my pants and the nurse said "Well I am pretty sure your water broke at home."  I got hooked up to the fetal monitor and Bear was doing great and then the contraction monitor.  I got the lovely cervical exam and my cervix was soft, and 4 cm dilated.  Bear was ballotable, meaning that her head was not firmly affixed to my cervix.  We were told they only had one open bed in Labor and Delivery and they asked if there was room I would not use.  I told them that I refused to use room 10, and luckily room 6 was the one that was available.

Then hospital time set in, the hour to get the room ready stretched into 5 hours in triage.  At 5:30 am we called our doula, my parents and our respective work places to let them know we would not be in.  Mark did some sketches of me, since he promised to do some pregnancy drawings and had never gotten around to it.  I was starting to worry about the delivery, something that I had thought very little about.  We made some arrangements to have the cats fed, the dogs let out again and the dogs medicated.  I asked if I could order breakfast once in my real room and was told I was not allowed to eat!  Yikes, I really wish I had dessert last night.

Finally we were able to get into our real delivery room.  As we were getting settled I met our delivery nurse.  She said that she had spoken to our OB and he had seen my contraction monitor and he wanted to start some pitocin since my labor was not active.  I told her that I wanted a natural childbirth and would like to wait before starting interventions.  She said that she would let me go for a walk and see if we could get things started.  My parents and my doula arrived all around now.  The nurse was showing us the options on the TV in the room, Mark immediately asked if they got the NBC Sports network since there was a Penguins game that night.  Before he could even finish asking the question she said "No we do not get ESPN!"  After the TV tutorial I walked in the garden for 30 minutes, I had to go off monitor since the telemetry unit was in use with another labor.  She checked me when we got back inside, I was now 5 cm, and Bear's head was affixed, but my contractions were still only every 8-10 minutes and mild.  My doula suggested some nipple stimulation to try and get some natural oxytocin going which I did for 30 minutes, to no effect.  I took a shower to see if that would help and then we tried some other labor positions, using a peanut ball.  I went for another walk, but my contractions were strong enough that I did not feel comfortable off monitor.  At around 3 pm my OB came in, he checked my cervix it was 6 cm and 90% effaced, he tried some digital dilation of my cervix (yikes did that hurt).  He said that it was time to start pitocin and I consented.  They started the IV drip and my contractions picked up frequency and strength in 30 minutes.  Bear had been doing so well, but she started to have some heart rate decellerations during contractions.  They upped the pitocin and things really got moving.  I was doing well through the contractions, using relaxation techniques from hypnotherapy and yoga.  My doula told me to relax into my bottom and to be soft.  The contractions were getting more and more uncomfortable and frequent.  Mark was kind of oblivious, we kept having visitors and finally my nurse and Rose (my doula) were sending people away.  I was no longer able to talk through contractions and I knew that I could not take a whole lot more.  My parents were in the room, but not really talking or doing anything.  At one point they looked like they were really bored and at a movie.  At just before 5 pm transitional labor started.  The contractions were painful and intense and frequent.  Rose held my hand and told me to let go of the pain, and be in that moment and then to let it go.  They started me on oxygen since Bear was starting to get pretty stressed during contractions.  They sent my parents out of the room and got the delivery table ready.  I was told my OB was in the building and it was going to be soon.  I looked at the clock and knew that I could not take the pain for much longer I figured I could go until 5:30 pm, but after that I could not keep going.  I told everyone that I did not want to do this anymore, they laughed since what were my options?

Then the nurse said I was 10 cm and it was time to start pushing.  I was bewildered, since with Grace I felt the need to push, but this time I felt nothing like that, just the pain of the contractions.  I started to push, but my efforts were not effective and I was not making much progress.  The nurse and Rose and Mark were all coaching me and I was trying so hard, but I was so tired.  I would start pushing and just end up screaming from pain and frustration.  At one point the nurse asked if I wanted to scream all day or have this baby.  I really bared down and pushed as hard as I could, Mark told me that he could see Rosabella's head, that she was almost here.  They put the O2 mask on me again, I was so out of it with exhaustion and pain I did not even know why.  I asked if the baby was okay and they just told me I had to push her out.  I pushed again and her head came out more, and then again and her head was out, her shoulders were trapped and our OB had to manipulate her, but then with one more big push she was born.  I wish that I could tell you I heard her cry and felt safe, but I was so tired it was like everything down there was happening to someone else.  Dr Tutt allowed her cord to stop pulsing and then clamped it.  Then they laid her on my chest.  She was so big and pink and beautiful.  She looked at me and cried and I spoke to her and she quieted, she knew me and knew my voice.  She was here and so lovely.

I delivered her placenta and then Dr Tutt started to suture me up.  The nurse took Rosabella for her measurements and to examine her and apply her eye ointment and give her an injection of Vitamin K.  She was wrapped up and given back to me.  Mark was by my side and we cried with joy and amazement.  Our girl was here, alive and perfect.  Grace was with us in spirit, and Rosabella was safe.  We did it.  I did it.  My family was allowed back in and they held her and wondered at her.  So much healing happened in that hour.

Walking during labor

On O2 during transitional labor

Placing Rosabella on my chest

First look

Our Family on Earth

Our family with Dr Tutt

We did it!

Diagnosis: Resolved Failure to Thrive

So we finally had a good pediatrician appointment yesterday, Rosabella gained 7 oz in 4 days!  So she is now 7 lbs 5 oz, and only 5 oz less than her birth weight.  I do think that she had a growth spurt the last few days, she has been wanting to nurse hourly, which has taken it's toll on my nipples!  Thanks Em for the advice about the lanolin and cling wrap, it is saving my ta tas!  The pediatrician said that we could stop the formula supplementation and then we weigh her next week to see if she is continuing to grow on my breast milk alone.  We were a little tentative about cold turkey stopping especially since she has been feeding so much the last few days, so we decided to offer her a bottle if she has nursed for a long time and still seems hungry until this growth spurt is over.  If she is satisfied after a feeding then no bottle.  We feel a little more relaxed knowing that if she takes in enough calories that she can grow, although I am still sad that my breast milk alone could not accomplish that.  We will keep working towards our goal of exclusive breast feeding.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Who to believe?

Well I have to say that I am feeling better.  Our little girl loves to sleep and so getting 3 hours in a row once, sometimes even twice a night is very possible.  This also leads me to worry that she sleeps too much... I guess sometimes you cannot win :).  I took Rosabella to the Lactation Consultant on Saturday to weigh her, she was down about an once from the pediatricians office.  However she was not concerned at all, she said that she looked perfect: no dehydration, pink, alert, responsive etc.  She said that babies gain at their own rate and not to worry.  She said that Pediatricians want fat babies and push Moms to over feed to meet this 1 oz per day of weight gain and then spend the rest of the kids life trying to battle childhood obesity.  She said that I have plenty of milk and there is no need to supplement with formula.  So who to believe?  I have to say that before I had fertility issues and then lost Grace I considered myself pretty mainstream medically, but I have come to learn that I don't think doctors know all that much and that they rely so much on statistics and don't look at the patient.  I still have concerns about who to believe my pediatrician or my lactation specialist, but I lean heavily towards the lactation consultant, because what she says sounds more reasonable, but then I worry that I am disregarding mainstream medical opinion completely.

Then a little after I wrote the first paragraph our weight check with the pediatrician, she is down to 6 lbs 14 oz, despite our marathon of nursing for the last 3 days.  I am discouraged and worried.  He says that we should start giving 1 oz of formula after every time she nurses and then we check her weight again on Friday, if still no gain then blood tests and other diagnostics (stool examinations etc).  I feel such a sense of defeat now, whereas when I leave the lactation consultant I feel uplifted and capable.  I guess that I would like to just keep nursing and add in a pumped bottle daily, but my DH is too worried and wants to start the formula supplementation.  Honestly I will try the mainstream way for this week, it is not intended to be permanent,  but I am not happy about it.  It feels awful like I am force feeding her this mass produced fake food, instead of what nature intended.  I also know that supplementing with formula statistically decreases the chances of long term breast feeding success.  I know that I should just be happy that she is here, would I care if Grace had been fed formula or at the breast if it meant I got to keep her?

To end on a lighter note here is one of the pictures from Rosabella's newborn photo shot from a few weeks ago.

Sisterhood - Grace and Rosabella together

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Due Date

Yesterday was Rosabella's due date, and I had a horrible morning that I wrote about here.  The rest of the day was calmer.  I was calmer.  We focused on feeding her every 2-3 hours and monitored her wet diapers closely.  She ate 8 times and wet 6 diapers.  All normal.  I was amazed and how much a part of our lives she is and how I could not imagine that she was supposed to be born yesterday, not with us for over two weeks already!  If she could just gain some more weight...

Last night was limited on sleep and she has not had a really wet diaper yet causing me to go into panic mode.  I keep trying to remind myself that babies are pretty strong, especially my girl and I need to have faith in her and in myself.  It is hard.  I did some reading on PPD yesterday and I think that I likely just have the baby blues, but mixed with my anxiety about Rosabella and all the grief that keeps resurfacing about Grace I am kind of a mess.  I am trying to get out of the house at least once a day, it seems to improve my mood.  Yesterday we went as a family to Starbucks to buy coffee for the DH (none for me and baby!).  Today we go to my work to show her off and pick up dog and cat food.  I also need to call the lactation consultant and see if we can get Rosabella on a weighing schedule.  I would like to have her weighed at least twice a week and I feel more confident in the LC's scale than the pediatricians office.

I also joined a Facebook group yesterday of local nursing Moms.  They have a meet up twice a month and I would like to start going.  The more I connect with breastfeeding Moms, the more Rosabella seems normal.  So many do not grow as formula fed babies do.  Does this mean that we need two growth charts: one for formula fed and one for breast fed?  It is hard enough to breast feed and then feel like you are not giving your baby adequate nutrition.

I have also not written Rosabella's birth story yet.  I came home from the hospital without Grace and started writing like a mad woman, like if I did not get it down on paper the few precious memories that I had of her would disappear and I would have nothing.  With Rosabella I am so consumed with other issues I have not had time to write and then since I am emotionally low at the moment I don't want that tint on what was an amazing and beautiful experience.  I promise that I will start working on it soon to share.

Well it has been 3 hours since her last feeding and she is still sleeping so time to wake up my girl and make her MAD.

Friday, June 7, 2013


I have to admit that I have not been coping very well with being a mom to a newborn.  I am stressed and anxious and cry frequently.  I feel isolated and alone even though my DH is here with me.  I suspect that I am having some post partum depression, but lack the motivation to do anything about it.  Rosabella seems fine, but is still way off her birth weight, at just under 7 lbs.  The pediatrician wants to weight her again Monday and if she has not gained 1 oz per day then he is talking about further testing for failure to thrive.  I am a wreck about this.  I nurse her round the clock, my breasts hurt, my nipples hurt and still she does not gain the way she should.  I feel like such a failure, like I am going to lose her, they are going to find something wrong with her and I will lose another baby...  I am overwhelmed.  I am really thinking about giving up on breast feeding, I am not sure I can emotionally handle it and it does not seem like Rosabella is doing well with my milk.  I am so scared.  I know how to be pregnant and how to give birth, but I don't know how to get my baby to thrive.  FAILURE to thrive.  God I hate that phrase,  I just need to know that she is going to be okay.  Grace please keep watching over us and protect your sister.  I cannot lose another baby.  I cannot fail at this.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Her Perfect Skin

I have been having a lot of emotional breakdowns recently.  These first 11 days with Rosabella have been a roller coaster of emotions.  Joy, wonder, amazement, but also bone chilling fear, anxiety, inadequacy, failure and sorrow.  When I look at Rosabella she looks so much like Grace it stops my heart.  Holding her reminds me of the weight of Grace in my arms.  Sometimes when I look at Rosabella when she is sleeping she looks dead like her sister.  The difference is her skin.  Rosabella's skin is smooth and perfect and pink, with no tears or wounds.  Grace's was blue and bruised and torn.  The pictures that I share of her have been photo shopped to hide these imperfections, the signs that her sweet body was breaking down inside me while waiting to be born.  I have cried over those wounds, those signs that she was gone, that she had been hurt.  My perfect sweet Rosabella, and my darling Grace with her imperfect body and perfect soul.  How I wish I could have both my girls in my arms tonight and every night.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Baby Whisperer

So we had our lactation consult yesterday.  Doris is in her 60's a Grandmother and has 30 years experience as a lactation consultant.  Rosabella did her red devil baby routine, and she just swaddled her up and got her latched on my breast in no time at all.  We then switched sides and again no issues.  Like Rosabella knew this person was not going to take any silliness and she needed to get down to business.  After she left we had several more good feeds, until late last night when all the techniques were not working, maybe she was not hungry, but we couldn't tell.  Then a good feed at 6 am, but a bad one at 8:30 am.  Mark is rocking her right now.  Wow this is HARD.  Worth everything of course, but I feel like I am in way over my head.  We will keep trying and keep working to learn what she needs.