Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter and More Than You Want to Hear About Breastfeeding

Happy Easter to all!

Our Easter was sort of a blur for me, because I was sick for much of it.  I'm pretty sure I had mastitis (an infection related to breastfeeding) over the weekend.  We had all been planning to go to the Vigil Mass on Saturday night.  We were going to put the kids to bed early, then carry them to the car when it was time to leave, still in pajamas, and just let them lay on the pews and sleep through the Mass.  It worked for us last year.  I'd been feeling cold all day, and Tom kept saying I was crazy, because it was so nice out and the rest of the family was in short sleeves, while I was in a sweater and slippers.  As the kids' bedtime approached, it got really bad, and I was developing major chills, soreness, and other symptoms.  It was clear that I had a fever, so Tom ended up going to the vigil alone and I stayed home in bed.

When he got home at three in the morning (he'd gone out for delcicious unhealthy food afterwards with friends, as used to be our tradition before we had kids...I'm only a little jealous), I croaked out instructions to him as to where he could find all the hidden Easter goodies for the kids, and how I wanted them all layed out in their baskets.

Sly was so excited to see his basket in the morning, and kept saying, "I LOVE Easter!".  And we did our first-ever egg hunt for the kids, because we actually have a yard now (have I exclaimed this enough times yet?)

Sly changed into more a Spring-appropriate outfit later

I still didn't feel great, but the fever had broken, so I didn't feel like I was sick enough to miss Easter Mass entirely.  Though he didn't need to go again, Tom decided to come too so we bring the kids. We ended up at the Easter morning Mass, which I don't think I've attended for many years.  I wasn't prepared for it, so I didn't really have an outfit picked out (I feel like the vigil Mass calls for darker colors, and the morning Mass for brighter ones....but that might just be a personal opinion).  It's almost impossible to find a dress in my closet that both fits me and works for nursing.  I didn't even remember to wear a fun hat, let alone a nicer-than-usual veil!

And this was the best family photo we got, after many attempts.

Later, at our big family dinner, my uncle asked Sly, "So did the Easter Bunny visit you last night?"  Sly just gave him a look as if he thought he was totally insane, then said, "you're goofy."  We've never actually mentioned the Easter Bunny to him.  I just think it/he(?) is kind of silly, and doesn't really hold the same magic and legend status for me as Santa Claus.  We haven't explained how the baskets get filled, and Sly hasn't asked, so...I think we're all happy for now.

As the party wore on, I started getting feverish again, so we went home.  I sweated through another miserable night.  In the morning, I called up the midwives, and said basically, "I think I have mastitis, and I need antibiotics!!" But the midwives tend to prefer the least intervention possible, so I was told that instead I should spend the whole day "resting, drinking fluids, nursing my baby, and not doing anything else."  Ha - yeah right.  I think I actually laughed on the phone. 

I didn't get a ton of rest, but I tried to keep my workload light.  Thankfully, I seem to be getting over whatever it was, and the fever hasn't come back.

***

So I know we really should have done this long ago, but we haven't provided Sly with the actual word for "breasts". He knows all about how babies nurse from their mothers, and he asks me a lot of rather personal questions about it when I nurse Linus.  But each time, he's fumbling around in his speech, because he doesn't have terms for the parts he's asking about.  The other day, he asked if it hurt me if Linus pulled on "those little things" (nipples).

I should probably just tell him what everything is called, but I don't know - I guess I'm embarrassed about it?  Anyone have suggestions?

On a related note, today, Sly pointed to one of my breasts while Linus was nursing, and said "half gallon" then to the other, saying, "whole milk."  Oh my.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Busy Busy: Moving Day and Adjusting to Three Kids

I have a personal policy about never apologizing for my "blog silence" during those inevitable periods where I don't write a new entry for a week or so.  Sometimes, real life keeps you too busy to sit down and record it and there's no reason to be sorry for it!  So I'm not going to be :-)

But I just thought I'd leave a quick post just to check in, because I may not get much opportunity to write for a bit. 

We finally moved into our new house on Saturday.  The move went well, we miraculously managed to fit all our stuff into one load (um, but we may have rented the biggest U-Haul possible, and completely filled it to the brim...), and only a couple things got damaged (which is the price you pay for getting free help from friends instead of paying for professionals).  We've been very busy settling in and unpacking, and I'm not really internet-capable yet. 

I've mentioned before that I only have internet access through our desktop computer (in other words, no laptop, smartphone, etc.).  We did get internet hooked up in the new house, but the modem is in a weird upstairs corner, and the computer is all set up and ready downstairs....with no wireless card.  So I'm writing now from my husband's work laptop.  I asked him tonight if we could please go and buy the little thingy that lets it hook up to the internet, and to my utter amazement, Tom replied, "well...I've been thinking....maybe we should just buy a new computer."  What?!  I've been trying every tactic imaginable to convince him that we needed a new computer for the past two years!  Ours is really on its last legs.  So that should be nice, but we might not get around to going to pick one out for a little while - there is still SO MUCH to do around here.

The transition to having three kids has been...surprisingly rough.  I'm not sure how much of my recent stress has been due to the move, and how much is the adjustment to being completely outnumbered by little ones while I'm home alone with them during the day.  Linus has been a very easy baby so far, and he's still sleeping almost constantly.  But I find myself too often getting frustrated with the older two (Sly especially), and I hope I'm not suddenly expecting more from them than I should.  Having a newborn in the house makes them suddenly seem so big and old, but I have to remind myself that they're only three-and-a-half, and one-and-a-half years old...they both still need some babying sometimes.

I'll write more about these things when I'm able - thanks for sticking with me!  Have a blessed Holy Week.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Linus' Birth Story

"Put me back in!"

I had been warned by so many people that your third labor is often a "wild card."  Starting labor a week late was definitely unexpected, but other than that, the labor was much in the same pattern as my previous two kids.  And if anything, it actually went even more smoothly. I wish I could say that labor is less painful each time (wouldn't you think it should be?!), but it's definitely not.  Each time, though, I get better and better at dealing with the pain, and knowing what works best to help me through it.  So maybe in some ways, I could consider each of my deliveries "easier" than the one before.

 Building Towards Labor

I had been having contractions on and off each day for almost a week before I finally went into labor for real.  There had been so many false alarms and dashed hopes, and it was all very frustrating to deal with.  When labor started with my other two kids, it was very clear - but this time around, I was becoming convinced that my body was trying and just couldn't do it (Tom said it was like turning the throttle without starting the engine).  A number of women who had gone through similar situations assured me that the daily contractions weren't for nothing - that my body was doing real work to prepare for delivery, and that it would make the actual labor go more smoothly when it finally came.  I didn't want to hear that, though, so I didn't really let myself believe it.

Tuesday was one week past my due date.  I spent the morning cleaning the whole house.  What else did I have to do?  I even vacuumed the stairs, which was quite a feat consider the weight of our vacuum and the size of my stomach at that point.  Tom told me to take it easy, but I think my nesting urges were taking over.

I was scheduled to go see the midwives for a non-stress test in the afternoon just to make sure the baby was still doing alright.  While I was lying in the bed strapped to the heart monitor, I had a number of uncomfortable contractions.  The test finished up, baby looked good, and the midwife asked if I had any questions.  I told her that I was pretty much done being pregnant, and really just wanted this baby to come out.  She offered to check whether I was dilated, and to "sweep my membranes" if I wanted.  In case you are unfamiliar with the term, as I was, it is when the doctor/nurse sticks a finger inside your cervix and spins it in a circle to push the amniotic sac away from the cervix (not to break it).  Weird, I know.  Supposedly it releases prostaglandins which can help start labor.  She checked me, and I was already five centimeters dilated (I guess those contractions had been doing something afterall!), and then she did the - quite uncomfortable - membrane sweep.

I went home and settled on the couch to wait it out and see what might happen.  Tom was fortunately working from home that day, since he had needed to keep an eye on the older kids while I went to my appointment.  I continued having the occasional contractions, but wasn't getting my hopes up yet.  But two and a half hours later, things started to get real, and I knew it was finally finally time!  My dad was enlisted to come get the kids.  Unfortunately, it was 4:30pm at this point, and he was working in an office on the complete opposite end of town, so it was going to take him a while to get through traffic.

 The Hamburger Incident

So...earlier in the day, before I had known that labor would actually be starting, I had pulled out some ground beef to defrost, and had a conversation with Tom about all the ingredients I would be mixing into it to attempt some yummy restaurant-quality hamburgers for dinner.  Fast-forward to about 4:00 when contractions were starting to build (and I was already at LEAST five centimeters dilated, mind you).  Tom offered to make the dinner instead.  Fine and dandy.  Now fast-forward to 5:00, when I'm definitely in labor, and having to breathe through each contraction, and getting anxious because my dad is still not there.  Tom says something about how he'll just throw in a frozen pizza real quick instead (I figured he wanted to eat something himself before we left.  I figured the hamburgers were obviously totally out of the picture by that point).  I reminded him that the frozen pizza was all gone.  He said, "oh, well, I'll just figure something out", and went down to the kitchen, fortunately taking the kids with him to let me have some peace and quiet.

About fifteen minutes later, I hear pans banging all over the stove, and the unmistakable smell of hamburgers cooking.  What the heck?  I got really annoyed that instead of getting the kids' overnight bag and the other things I had asked him to collect around the house, or calling up the midwives for me, he was down there cooking hamburgers.  For who?  I certainly didn't want one, and I figured my dad was just going to feed the kids dinner.  We never even eat before 6:00 anyways.  I'm sitting upstairs alone and in pain, and he's down there surely making a huge mess in the kitchen [this fact was very much confirmed later], and he can't hear me when I call to him because he's banging around and sizzling up stupid hamburgers while I'm in labor!!!!

And then the kids must have sneaked away from him, because suddenly they were both upstairs with me, fussing because I wouldn't let them climb into my lap while I was sitting on the fun-looking exercise ball, and I started yelling for Tom to come up and get them RIGHT NOW!!  When he got up the stairs, I started into him: "Why the heck are you making hamburgers now?!  I DON'T WANT A HAMBURGER!!!!!"  He replied that he needed to feed the kids.  I yelled, "WE DON'T NEED TO FEED THE KIDS!  MY DAD CAN FEED THE KIDS!" and then we both started yelling, and things got ugly, and I finally screamed - yes, right in front of my children - "I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!!" and I slammed and locked the door in his face, and went to sit back on my exercise ball, and cry angry tears through the next few lonely contractions.

It was a bad moment, man.  I'm not proud of myself.  Truly, a woman's most animalistic instincts come out when she's in labor.

My dad finally arrived, and my emotions eventually settled down a bit.  The drive to the hospital was pretty silent, because Tom and I both needed some time to cool off.  Once we arrived there, I think there was an unspoken agreement to just forget it had ever happened, and deal with the business ahead.

Transition

My doula, Bethany, arrived within minutes and I got changed into the gown.  The midwife came in and checked me again - almost 8 centimeters dilated already! 

I was ready to get to work, so I asked the nurse to find me a birth ball.  Sitting on the ball had been my salvation with the other two labors - it feels great to just stay on it almost until it's time to push.   The nurse frowned and said, "oh...there are a lot of women here today who use the midwives...all the birth balls are in use."  Me, Tom, and Bethany exchanged looks of horror.  The nurse could see how important it was for me, so promised to see what she could do.  A few minutes later, she entered triumphantly holding a ball....the dinkiest little exercise ball I've ever seen. I'm not kidding, it was about a foot and a half off the ground.  I gave it a half-second chance, and it failed utterly.  I was practically sitting on the floor.  Not happening.

So I ended up just sitting in a chair for most of the labor.  It was a little harder for Bethany to sit behind me pressing my pelvis during contractions (which is always the thing my body "wants."  My labors follow a very similar pattern each time), but it worked.  Tom's job during contractions was the stroke my arms in a downward motion, helping me to stay loose and relaxed. 

I find that I'm very focused and business-like during my labors.  I know what I need, and I just ask for it.  By this point, I'm not hesitant to assign tasks to my husband or my doula as needed.  Between contractions, I either chat with them both or encourage them to chat together while I just relax.  When I feel a contraction about to start, I say, "ok!" and everyone gets into position, and stops talking until it's passed.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was already in the dreaded "transition" phase of labor.  When Stella was born, transition was really rough.  But transition with both Sly and Linus just meant slightly more intense contractions.  I realized later what made the difference: my water had already been broken before transition when I had Stella.  When an amniotic sac is still intact, it makes the contractions more gentle. 

During all of my births, I have had to ask the midwives to break my water for me.  All three midwives have also remarked about the unusual thickness of my sacs...haha (sorry, that's kind of a gross detail.  At least I will not be sharing with you the photo Tom took of it afterwards!).  Labor tends to slow way down for me towards the end, I ask the midwife to break my water, and then things pick right up, and a baby soon arrives.

Baby is Born

The slow-down started happening, and things were getting more painful.   I moved to sit upright in the bed.  Tom and Bethany were enlisted to place icy washcloths on my forehead and chest between contractions.  They were coming farther apart at this point, and between each one, I closed my eyes and almost fell asleep. 

Eventually, the midwife suggested she check me, and we consider breaking my water.  I was almost completely dilated, except for a small "lip" of my cervix.  She did break my water, and then wanted me to try other positions to make that lip move out of the way.  I absolutely did not want to try any of her suggestions.  I wanted to just recline in the bed and not support my own weight.  So I asked if she would be able to move it out of the way manually.  It just took a couple contractions, and she had cleared the way.  Baby was all ready to go, and I had the ok to push with the next contraction.

I was again disappointed my how under-equipped the hospital was that night, because they couldn't find the "mirror on a stand" which I had used when I had the other kids.  Some women have no interest in watching themselves give birth, but I find it extremely motivating to be able to see that my pushes are actually doing something.  The nurses searched every delivery room for the mirror with no luck.  So I had to do it blindly this time. 

It took the first contraction for me to remember what "pushing" is supposed to feel like, and where to focus my energy.  But I was ready for the next one.  In one gigantic and drawn-out push, Linus went from not even crowning yet to being completely born!  I was so determined to just get him out!

They put him on my chest immediately.  Tom started bawling with joy, as always.  I stared into space in shock and relief, as always, my whole body twitching with adrenaline. Labor was about six hours total, which is my fastest yet.

Anyways, Linus was perfectly healthy.  I didn't tear or have any complications, so my recovery has been fine.  I have to say, I am so so happy not to be pregnant right now.  And it's wonderful to have a snuggly little newborn in the house again.  I'm already getting sad because I know how fleeting this time is.

meeting their new little brother

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Baby Number Three!!

Well, he's finally arrived!

 
Linus Joseph
Born 10: 11 pm on April 1st
8 lbs 8 oz. and 20 inches long
 
We're all doing well, and I'll give more details about the birth soon.
 
Deciding to surprise us all by being a week late was his first-ever April Fool's joke :-)

Friday, March 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 38)

Well, I'm three days past due now, and the baby is still quite snug and happy on the inside....but I promise all my "takes" won't be about that (despite it being the most prominent thing on my mind these days!).

 -1-
After my due date (Tuesday) came and went with no baby arriving, I decided to do what I could to help things along.  I was reading lots of articles online about "natural ways to induce labor"  (and I just saw that Ana linked to a great past post about many of these methods, which you can read here). 

Wednesday morning, I did a bunch of them in succession, and to my pleasant surprise, something actually "worked."  I began having contractions!  They continued through the morning, some of them strong enough that I figured I was to the point where I'd better take some action and rally the forces.  I had Tom come home from work (with his laptop, so he could at least keep working until it was time to go to the hospital), my mom came over to pick up the kids, and our doula was put "on notice" and kept in touch with us by phone throughout the day. 

All afternoon, Tom and I sat around waiting, writing down the timing of my contractions and feeling pretty excited that we would meet our baby soon.  But as the day wore on, things started slowing down.  I tried all the labor-inducing tricks again, and they just weren't working anymore.  By early evening, I finally admitted defeat as the contractions totally fizzled out. 

And then I just felt such a sense of guilt.  I had inconvenienced so many people in my rush to get my labor going.  Tom had lost a lot of time he could have used to finish up a pressing project for work, my doula had surely cleared her schedule and arranged childcare for the day, my mom had committed to watching my kids, and my dad was prematurely excited (and texting/calling just a little too often) about the impending birth.  My mom offered to keep the kids overnight anyways, just in case things should start up again.  But they never did.  And I had to drive over and pick them up in the morning.


-2- 
So yesterday, I decided to just let it go.  I'm not going to try to force it.  When it's time, it will happen.  That's not to say that I'm not still anxious to meet my baby, or that I'm not still fearful about the possibility of an induction.  But I have a lot more peace about things now.  I can't just put life totally on hold waiting, and I can't let myself get disappointed and cranky each day that baby doesn't come.  And if I'm honest with myself, I haven't set myself up to have a very focused Lent this year, so it's good for me to just offer up this time of waiting.


-3-
While packing up our books for the impending move, I was happy to discover a couple good Lenten titles that I didn't know/had forgotten we owned.  We have a TON of great old (and by old, I mean, many from the late 1800s/early 1900s) Catholic books - most of which Tom acquired from various generous friends before we were married.  But with the huge pile of books already on my "must read" list, I don't often take the time to dig through our own bookshelves and see what little gems might be there.
 



I just finished Fr. Weiser's The Easter Book, which explains many historic and ethnic Lenten and Easter practices.  It's a companion to his Christmas Book which I read during Advent.  I would recommend both titles to anyone looking to celebrate the Liturgical Year in their families [I found ours for a few bucks each at the local Catholic used bookstore...the one I linked at $60 is overpriced, so shop around if you are interested in getting it].  Last night, I started on The Passion Of Our Lord by Cardinal De Lai [our version is an old one, so I can't vouch for the quality of this re-publication that I linked to], and hope to finish it before Easter.  I'm not far yet, but it looks like it will be informative and inspiring - it shares reflections on the Gospels of the Passion.


-4-
So.....there was a guy murdered in front of his house on the street next to ours a few nights ago (it was a drug-related thing...).  Tom and I got the scoop from some neighbors who actually witnessed it, and (wisely, I believe) decided *not* to mention the incident to our parents.  No need to freak them out.  But my dad must have seen it on the news, because now he keeps e-mailing us updates about the case.  But I have to say...it does make it a little bit easier to have to leave this house in a couple weeks.


-5-
We don't let Sly watch much tv.  If Tom had his way, Sly would probably never see a single show or movie for his entire childhood.  But a couple mornings a week, I do let him watch a half hour to an hour of whatever's on PBS.  He enjoys it, and it seems to be a short enough time not to have a negative effect on him. 

But my mom is one of those people who literally has the television on 24 hours a day.  When Sly goes over there, it's ALL he does.  When the kids were over her house on Tuesday, I know (from talking to him later) that he watched at LEAST three movies (Toy Story, Puss in Boots, and Homeward Bound), plus some "kids' shows".  I don't have a problem with him watching a movie every now and then, but that is just ridiculous.  When I picked the kids up the next morning, I felt like I had to spend the day helping him to "detox" from the zombie-like state he was in...

I have brought it up before, but I don't think my mom gets why it's a concern.  I'm not sure she'd really know what to do with him the whole time, if she couldn't rely on the tv.  It's sort of a sensitive situation....but I do need her free babysitting services sometimes!  Anyone deal with a similar situation before?


-6-
I should have posted this a few weeks ago, but...better late than never, right?  A friend shared with me a great guide that her priest put together to explain Lent/Easter and the various Liturgical activities, symbolism, events, etc. connected with them. 



Fr. Smith's Lent and Easter Guide 2014 [this opens up a dropbox where you can download the pdf]

The other guides on here also look very useful! 


-7-
As we've been packing up their toys, the kids have started to make fun with other objects around the house.  The past few days, the big amusement has been climbing together into an empty laundry basket, and tipping out of it, laughing.  Sometimes I wonder why we have toys at all...


Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

No Baby Yet...

Just in case anyone was wondering.

Today is my due date.  I know plenty of people go past their due date, so I really shouldn't be complaining or feeling as disappointed as I am.  Since my other kids came a little early, I was just totally mentally prepared for the same thing to happen this time around.  And then it didn't.  It's that darn "wild card third baby" thing everyone talks about.

I've never felt so "ready" before, though.  When I went into labor with Sly a week early, I had been fully anticipating going past my due date.  It took me five hours of contractions to finally admit to myself that it was the real thing.  I didn't have my bags packed or the car seat installed or anything fully set up yet.  When Stella came five days early, I still hadn't finished knitting her baby blanket or picking up any of the little baby items we needed to replenish.  But this time around, the bags (one for me at the hospital, and one for the kids for wherever they end up staying) are fully packed and waiting in the car.  I have purchased every last thing I "need" for the baby (including his very own pacifier clip, which I suddenly felt the urge to run out and get yesterday).  Everything is laid out and set up.  I've been extra on-top of the laundry to make sure no one will run out of clean clothes or diapers for the few days when I'll be unable to wash things.  I'm ready.

The most discouraging part was that last night at my midwife appointment, she had to initiate the discussion about all the things that would need to happen as I continued to stay pregnant past my due date.  I had to schedule a couple non-stress tests for next week.  And if nothing happens after two weeks, I'll have to head in for the dreaded induction

If I was planning on having an epidural for the birth anyways, I'd absolutely be saying "sign me up for that induction TODAY! I am sooooo ready to get this baby out."  But as I'm hoping for another natural birth, enduring the tortuous (and quite unnatural) Pitocin-induced contractions I've heard so many horror stories about is absolutely not what I want.  I know that I can deal with the sufferings and pains of birth, but I'm not a martyr. 

It's frustrating too, because I have a lot of things I need to get done for the new house - appointments to schedule, etc., but I have to just keep my schedule open, because I have no idea when the baby might arrive.  I can't put anything on the calendar.  I've shown up to a few social events in the past few days that I had been assuming I wouldn't be able to attend....and then just feeling rather depressed that I'm there at all, because it means I didn't have my baby yet, as hoped.  I haven't been planning any meals or keeping many groceries in the house, because I worry I may end up not using them and letting things go to waste.  So every dinner for the past week has come out of a sort of a last-minute scrounging effort, once I've admitted to myself that this day is, unfortunately, not going to be the day either.

Sorry for all the complaining in this post.  I know I'm not being very rational right now.

Anyways,  I should go see what sort of dessert I can whip up from things we have in the pantry, since today is the Feast of the Annunciation...another great potential birthday for any little babies who might decide to be born today....(please, baby!).


Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Little Jane Austen Fan

I wrote once before about a cute little book Stella's godparents gave to her: 




I don't think I've actually read the book to Stella yet, but recently, I keep finding it in her bed in the morning or after naptime, so I can tell she's become interested in it.


Last night, while I was putting her to bed, she noticed the opened book lying on the floor.  She pointed to it yelling "guy! guy!" until I handed it to her.  She then proceeded to kiss the page, and I'm *pretty* certain she was kissing Mr. Darcy.

What can I say?  She has good taste in literary men :-D


***

FYI: I'm not in labor yet.  I'm trying not to be too disappointed.