Tuesday, May 26, 2015

7 weeks PP (almost)

At 6/7 weeks post-partum, things are getting much much better. We've been able to fall into more of a routine which has been very helpful for me.  The last couple weeks everybody was gone; my parents went back to FL, my MIL was back at work (so no longer visiting during the week), and Hubs was at work.  I will say it is a lot being the only one here with the baby all day every day (and then being responsible for him during the night too so that Hubs can sleep and actually be productive at work) but it is okay. In fact, I had  a moment last week when I was out shopping with Jack where I just felt happy and content with my new life. I can honestly say that's the first true time that has happened. I thought: "yeah, I can do this. I AM doing this..."  That's a big relief.

It's not to say it's not still hard because it is, particularly around 4am when I've been with Jack all day, Hubs took him for a couple hours after he got home from work to give me a break, then I was with the baby all night too and then he just decides he doesn't want to go down again after his middle of the night feeding - it's then when I just have a slight breakdown from exhaustion and so much broken sleep and I bring him to Hubs crying. He's always good about taking Jack at those times though. He gets up quickly, grabs the baby and tells me to just go to bed and not worry about it. Sometimes I just cry with relief.  

Things are good though. Jack is sleeping for longer stretches during the night and is up a lot during the day so it seems he's got his nocturnal thing kicked. Hooray! I would say I'm able to have a pretty normal life now where I usually get an okay amount of sleep at night now (although quite broken up), often can get a chance to get in a nap in the late morning if I make myself take a break (hard to do when there's laundry, dishes, cleaning, food shopping, errands, showering, etc. to do), and now I'm able to predict with some amount of certainty how much time I have to run errands, etc. based on his sleeping and eating schedule. During the day he eats 4oz every 3 hours like clockwork now. It's pretty awesome. At night he stretches that to more like 4-4.5 hours. In his bassinet. In our room. NOT in the living room (or in my arms) anymore. That is EXTREMELY awesome.

Stopping breastfeeding/pumping has done wonders for me both mentally and physically. I made the decision to stop last week. It was hard for me to decide to stop but in the end I am very glad I did. It was just too hard. I couldn't the find time to do it, the amount of milk I'd get during a pumping session just kept dwindling and dwindling, I was exhausted, disappointed, feeling like a failure, feeling crazy... it was better for us both that I stopped. I have been a better mother because of it. And Jack is still healthy, happy and growing well.  I don't know what took me so long or why I beat myself up so much trying so hard to make something work that just wasn't going to work. I feel so much relief now.

I had my 6week post partum check up last Wed.  My c-section incision is infected. ::Sigh:: I kind of knew it but just didn't have time(?) to deal with that problem. I should have made it a priority but I just didn't. The doctor told me sternly: "You need to rest more so you can heal". I told her that's impossible. She told me to figure it out because that's what needs to happen. So, we flew my parents back up here yet again from FL a few days ago. Hubs ended up having to go to San Francisco for work all this week and there was a zero percent chance I'd be able to get any rest whatsoever without him here so it was either hire someone through care.com who I don't know and I'd have to teach them the ropes/worry about them with Jack, or just use that money to fly my parents back up again.  No brainer. Man, I'm glad they're retired!!  They'll be here through Saturday when Hubs gets home. I was a little worried about bringing them back since last time they were here I was in a bad place mentally and kept having crying breakdowns so I sort of equated those feelings with them being here, but things have gotten so much better over the past couple weeks. I'm feeling so much better and more like myself (albeit still constantly tired).  I'm not sure if it was post-partum hormones taking a handful of weeks to sort themselves out or if it was hormone changes from  BF (or maybe from actually stopping BF/pumping) but I'm just in a much better place now.

Anywho, back to the dr appt: So yeah, my incision is infected. I'm on antibiotics for the next week and have to clean and redress the area 3 times a day while getting air to it for chunks of time each day so that's fun. Besides that, I've been cleared for sex again! Yahoo! Only...not. I have had absolutely no interest in sex for oh, 9 months or so, so I'm not exactly champing at the bit to get some action. Poor hubs. But, that seems to be changing a bit as I go longer and longer without BF so maybe that's coming back. That means I'm back on birth control pills now. I am just REALLY hoping that those will get me back to how I was feeling 3 years ago when I went off of them for the first time when we started trying to conceive. (Y'know, before my hormones went mental from taking all kinds of fertility meds, then getting PG, then PG loss, then PG again, then BF... it's been quite a journey with that)

Other body changes: 
  • My weight has leveled off at about 5 lbs under my pre-pregnancy weight so that's good.
  • The extra flap of skin on my stomach that used to sort of hang over my incision scar has mostly stretched back. It's still flabby though and I'm sure it will be for a while until I can actually start working out..
  • I still cannot get my engagement ring back on my finger :-( I am so sad about that!! I've been able to wear my wedding band since about 3w PP but that diamond just will not make it back on. At this point I'm not sure what to do. Unless I start a weight loss program that thing will not be making an appearance anytime soon.
  • PP bleeding stopped somewhere between 5-6w after birth. It's been really nice to not have to wear a pad constantly. I feel bad for Jack who has to wear a diaper around the clock!
  • My face is fatter than it used to be and I now have ever-present bags under my eyes.
  • My feet went back to normal a couple weeks after birth (thank GOD) but my toes look horrific. I really need a pedicure. I wasn't able to reach my toes for while there and now I just don't have time! When I finally get one it's gonna be like that scene in Dumb and Dumber.
  • My back pain has mostly dissipated now which is a huuuuge relief. I have still been going to the chiropractor twice a week and am not sure if it's actually helping or not but I continue to go.  I think the excruciating pain was lingering stuff from the c-section and from my body (ligaments, etc.) going back to where they used to be before pregnancy. I'm so thankful I can walk and do things again without feeling like my back is going to go out on me at any moment.
  • Finally, my breasts are gross now. They are pretty much ruined, haha.  Flat, misshapen, no longer perky by any stretch of the imagination... The nips were relatively mutilated for a while there but they are healing up now which is a very good thing. Ah well - the price you pay to have this beautiful little guy: 

I'll take the sacrifice :-)

He is doing awesome. He's focusing so much more now. He recognizes mine and Hubs' voices and looks around for us. He looks at his toys, he looks at our faces...he melts my heart! And I just KNOW there's a real smile right around the corner. I cannot WAIT :-)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Baby picture post

Need to attention-whore my adorable child some more now that he's almost 6 weeks old!

Wide eyed at 3 weeks

Put the milk in my mouth mama! (4 weeks)

4 weeks

5 weeks

You can really see the dwarfism with his adorable little legs! (5 weeks)

It's so fun that he's starting to be more attentive to things now and able to focus! Can't wait for interaction :-)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Jack: One Month

Me: One Month

I would say I am doing better since my last post. Granted, I'm a week late since Jack is actually 5 weeks old today but things don't feel quite so hard and overwhelming at the moment. (Thankfully.)

My parents left this past Sunday. They were a HUGE help during a time when I really needed it but I'm actually kind of glad they're gone now because now this is "real life". THIS is now our life - mine and Hubs - and we're figuring out how to navigate it. It was impossible to start to do that until they left.  Over the past few weeks though I was having a hard time adjusting to all the changes and lack of sleep and lack of schedule, plus I was having excruciating back pain which made it very difficult to do much of anything so we really needed them. But my back pain has gotten much better (again: Thankfully) and little man has now started sleeping at night! I cannot tell you what a relief that is.  We've been able to get on somewhat of a schedule now and it has been so helpful for my mental state.  A couple weeks ago I also created a daily spreadsheet so I could track what Jack did every half hour of the day (whether he was awake, asleep, fussy, crying, etc.) plus when he ate and how much, when he had dirty diapers, when we gave him meds, etc.  Call me crazy but it has been SO HELPFUL.  There are seriously times I can barely remember my own name let alone the last time he ate or how much it was, and when my parents were here there were four adults participating in his care (seriously - FOUR for one little baby and I still felt overwhelmed - that goes to show what a mindfuck PP hormones are), and so I never really had a handle on if he was developing some sort of natural schedule or not. Turns out - he was! I was able to discover some relatively reliable times for naps, etc. and using the charts we were able to better "plan" his meals and sleep to work better during the days and nights (as much as you can plan with a newborn that is). Things feel so much more manageable in that regard now and it has helped me so much mentally.

Breastfeeding is still... a topic I don't like talking or thinking about.  I do feel like I failed there. 
I have been exclusively pumping for the last couple weeks. I hate it.  I hate the way it feels, I hate being hooked up to a machine milking myself like a cow, I hate the cracked and painful state of my nipples, I hate that I still have almost no supply to speak of...  I stopped actually nursing him a couple weeks ago for multiple reasons:
-Whenever Jack would nurse it would take him almost an hour - to the point where I didn't really know if he was still getting anything or just using me as a human pacifier - and then he'd still be hungry and we'd have to give him formula anyway. We never knew how much milk he was actually getting, and when he nursed sometimes he'd be really fussy and extra gassy. After 1 hr of nursing plus feeding formula, by the time he was all burped it was already almost time for him to eat again! It was like around-the-clock feedings.
-He seems to be a very gassy baby in general. We haven't been able to tell if it's due to my breastmilk or to the kind of formula we're feeding him so I started exclusively pumping and giving a bottle of BM for one feeding during the day to see if he got gassier after that vs. formula.  But honestly, we still haven't figured it out.
-I am barely producing milk.  At this point it seems most women produce at least 60ml (2 oz) per breast during each pumping for a total of 4oz each time - some women much much more. I produce 15-25ml from one breast and <5ml from the other each time I pump (why, I don't know.). That's less than 1oz combined each time (and that's with a hospital-grade pump that I ended up renting since I wasn't sure if the problem was that the Medela PISA I have wasn't strong enough). But Jack eats up to 3.5oz during each feeding so it takes me FOUR pumping sessions just to create enough for one feeding. Doing this has proven to me that even if I were to try every trick in the book to up my supply, it would never be enough to really BF him.  That makes me sad but I am also cutting myself some slack. I am unwilling to drive myself crazy trying to make this happen. Currently I still pump enough to give him 1 bottle a day so I am continuing to do that so he gets the antibodies, etc. that formula can't give him. Honestly though, it is really hard. It's almost impossible to find time to pump since I'm the only one here with Jack during the day and choosing pumping over sleeping in the middle of the night makes me so resentful since it's so hard to get sleep as it is. For now though, I'm continuing to do it. I don't know how long I'll keep it up. I really don't think I can for too much longer. I don't know if this means I'm not a good mom since I'm unwilling to do anything and everything possible to make this happen. Logically I know it's not true but emotionally, it's hard. I just try to remind myself that Jack is happy, healthy, and growing and that is what is important.

Other stuff:
I have just about mastered the art of doing EVERYTHING with one hand.  Preparing food, grooming myself, eating, laundry, cleaning, peeing... everything.  And my left arm is gonna be jacked soon since it is constantly holding the equivalent of a wiggly 10 pound dumbbell.

We have another appointment with the geneticist this afternoon for more tests regarding Jack's dwarfism.  There has been no real progress in that department yet.  As he's growing a bit I'm starting to see more signs of the dwarfism. His forehead is getting larger and slightly more prominent. I'm hoping it won't turn into hydrocephalus ("water on the brain") but that's a common complication with Achon kiddos. We'll see.  Hubs and I (and the doctors) do still think he has Achon, or maybe even Hypochondroplasia, which is very similar to Achondroplasia but is a bit more mild than Achon, but we'll have to see.

As mentioned in the picture write-up, Jack is starting to be able to focus his eyes on things now. Sometimes, that is my face. Those are my absolute favorite times. He'll study my face and I can see him looking at my mouth or nose or hair... It gives me hope that better times are right around the corner (as many of you awesome readers mentioned in comments in my last post - THANK YOU!!). I am feeling so much relief about that. I need to often remind myself during the really hard times that things will NOT always be like this and change for-the-better will be coming soon.

He slept the whole time.
Jack and I went on our first "outings" yesterday besides dr appts! I'm finally feeling well enough to do more things and walk some. We went to Kohl's and Walmart and then for a walk on a path around a nearby lake.
It was nice to go out in the world and just be a mom. Finally.  It was so different. I had to think about things I've never though about before: The order in which I would take the baby in and out of the car, when and where to put my purse and bags in the car vs. cart, figuring out how to fold up the stroller and fit it in the trunk, parking near the cart return so I could transfer him in his carseat right into the cart... These things seem like minutiae but they're all new to me!
Unfortunately, I did end up overdoing it yesterday and my abdomen/incision area was very sore last night. I was also exhausted by about 8pm (but had to do the night stretch with Jack) so I learned my lesson. Even though I don't want to, I really DO need to force myself to rest more during the day and try to fit in a nap at some point when he's napping so that I can make it through the night shift in one piece.

My 6 week PP checkup with the OB is already next week!  When we scheduled it I was still in the hospital and it felt SO far away. It's crazy that it's already almost here.  This time since Jack's birth has gone so quick but has also felt so long at the same time. It's hard to explain.

Okay, little man will be waking up soon for another feeding so I should wrap up. I just want to say a HUGE thanks to everyone who commented on my last post.  I think you all know me well enough to know that I try to be as frank as possible on this blog and talking about all of that stuff was difficult so I really REALLY appreciate the support. The comments that others have been in this place too was so so helpful to me. THANK YOU <3

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Postpartum "baby blues"

**Warning: This might be a hard post to read for loss mamas or anyone still fighting IF**

Postpartum hormones are no joke.

When I was pregnant, moms on my Success After IF (SAIF) groups would talk about them and I'd sort of pay attention like "yeah, yeah, I'll be hormonal, it'll be fine" but I didn't really put too much stock in it. In my naivete I think I assumed that since we had gone through so much with IF and loss I'd A) know how to handle it and B) probably wouldn't be too effected by it since we worked so HARD for this little guy and would be so THANKFUL to have him.

But I don't know how to handle it.

And the fact that we worked hard for him doesn't mean shit.

This is SO HARD.  There is no way to accurately describe it.  My whole life changed overnight. I thought I was prepared - mentally, emotionally, physically... But really, there is no way to truly prepare for the all-encompassing difference having a child makes in your life. I feel like I need to warn others who are still TTC or something: You want this but it is nothing like you are picturing!  You are not adding a baby into your current life, your life will become your baby. It will no longer be your own! You will be a slave, body and soul, to an adorable little blob of a baby. S/he will become your entire world in the blink of an eye. You thought you knew what exhaustion was but you will learn the true meaning of it real quick. You will have times when you wonder what the hell you did and question why you wanted this.  You will feel like you ruined your life and your marriage. You will wonder how things will get better - if you will ever sleep again or have a life again. You will wonder how things will turn out in the end and if you will ever feel happy again.

This is just the first month though. I have hope that it will get better.  NO, I KNOW  it will get better. That's what everyone says anyway; that this is just a phase and it's so hard and when you're in it it feels never-ending but that it does get better.  And honestly? It has to get better or no one would have a second child.

There are good times too.  I love Jack more than I know how to express.  There are times that I look at him and feel like my heart is just going to burst.  There are times I look at this precious little thing and can't believe he is ours and that we got so lucky. Times when I am so thankful that we are finally holding our son in our arms and we never have to let go.

People keep asking me how I'm doing. I don't know how to answer them.
Truthfully? I am a mess.  I love my baby but I am a mess. I can't get my shit together. My brain is mush and no longer works in the way it used to. Tiny decisions feel overwhelmingly hard.  It takes days to get one small task done.  All thoughts just swirl around and around in my brain and I can't make heads or tails of them. I cry.  I cry so so often. I am SO tired. I am afraid I'll never be myself again. I'm afraid I'm a terrible mother. I'm afraid this is my new normal. I'm afraid I won't be able to adjust.  I'm afraid that I will hate my new life.
....I'm afraid I made a mistake.
Oh, but by the way, I love my baby more than I can say and he is adorable and sweet and I'm so glad we finally have him!
Please tell me how I answer that in a text message? I sound like a complete crazy person.

I feel awful and guilty about having any kind of negative thoughts or emotions. I am so conscious of all the women I know who are still fighting infertility. Of those who had losses or those who had babies with severe health issues. All of the women who would kill to be in the position I am in now.  I realize how hard it may be for them to read this. But this is also my reality. And I want to be truthful about it because if I can't be honest here, where can I be?

The truth is, this is hard. (We need a more accurate word in the English language to describe just how hard.) Someday I know it will be rewarding.  Today is not that day. Right now, there are times when I wonder how I will make it through another day like this, or sometimes even just another hour. I feel so guilty wishing this time would be over and we'd get on to the "good part" where Jack can interact with us and be more of a person instead of just a dependent, crying (adorable) blob. I worked so hard for three years to have him and I should be enjoying it, dammit!! The guilt makes me cry. The exhaustion makes me cry. The all-encompassing feeling of being completely overwhelmed makes me cry...

People don't really talk about this part of parenting. "Baby blues" - HA. I think a more accurate title would be "exhaustion-induced lunacy".
A few days ago I reached out to other mamas in my SAIF group for help. I'm so glad I did.  They reassured me that this is all NORMAL. That so so many new mothers (maybe all new moms?) go through this phase and that this is the hardest time and it is harder than you could ever imagine until you're in it. But that is DOES end.  That you do move on from this phase and it does become rewarding and that this too shall pass.

I would not classify myself as having post partum depression (PPD) or post partum anxiety (PPA) but I think I can see just how easily it could happen. It's scary to feel out of control and like your brain isn't working in the same way that it used to. Add crazy hormones and severe exhaustion into the mix and that would be hard for anyone.
I am keeping an eye on my "blues" to make sure I don't need real help (therapist or meds) but if I do, I will contact my OB. In the meantime, I will continue living from hour to hour, often unable to think ahead beyond the next three hour stretch of change-feed-burp-soothe-sleep until this phase passes. And I will try like hell to enjoy moments with my beautiful son whenever my crazy brain allows me to.

Thank you for reading this jumbled mess.

Two links to articles on PPD/PPA:

Why So Many Women Don't Seek Help for PPD

This is What Postpartum Depression Feels Like