Monday, March 16, 2015

Baby Gemma

A little late posting, as usual, but my daughter, Gemma, arrived safely on February 25th.

Brand new.

I'm happy to say that the homebirth was a success. I may write the longer birth story out later, but it was pretty straight forward. I was 40weeks and 5 days pregnant. I woke up just before midnight Wednesday morning. My contractions were 6-7 mins apart and kept coming, so around 1:00am I decided that I was probably in labor and going to have the baby and that I should wake up my husband. It didn't take long after that for things to start feeling more intense. I called the my midwife at 1:49am when the contractions were ~5mins apart.

Susan arrived about 2:30am and checked me right away. I was only 8cm. Jill, the birth assistant arrived a little later. I was able to sit on my ball for awhile. Eventually the contractions got pretty hard and I was up pacing trying to deal with transition. Soon I felt the urge to push, which I ignored because I was thinking this would be like Michael's birth and after transition, my contractions would slow down before pushing. But then the urge to push came again. So Susan checked me again and my cervix was gone and she wanted me to push. My husband and Jill grabbed my legs and all of a sudden I was pushing. I had 3 contractions (about 9 mins) and out came Gemma at 4:29am. Much faster and less pleasantly than the laid back pushing I experienced with Michael, but I suppose if something is going to be difficult, it was good that it was quick. And although it was quick, I still came out in one piece, no tears or stitches needed (although I'm doubtful that would have happened if I had pushed my first out so quickly). 

Having her in my arms was fantastic. She cried for a good while but was very alert after that. She has a bunch of hair. Susan and Jill made themselves scarce for awhile after the placenta was out and I got to just hold Gemma and drink her in. No one took her away to clean her or examine her. Eventually I decided I wanted to know how big she was and we weighed her, 9lbs 2oz... almost a pound bigger than her brother. Susan dressed her right there for me to watch. The baby was never out of my sight. 

Susan and Jill inspected the placenta in the kitchen and filled out paperwork. They brought me juice and made me some breakfast. They started the laundry and cleaned up (although there was very little to clean). They left around 6am. 

Michael had spent the night at his grandparents and they were taking him to school that morning, so I called them when they were on there way and asked them to bring him home instead to meet his sister. He was excited, although the Hotwheels car carrier that his grandparents had bought him the day before was probably more exciting. That's 5 for you.

I have been pretty delighted with Gemma. She has been a much more agreeable baby than Michael. She spits up a normal amount, versus the spit-up fountain that was Michael. However she has become very fussy and sometimes inconsolable since she was 2 weeks old... which may be colic. It's difficult, but I don't take it personally (and that's not a joke, if I did take it personally I'd be weeping on my bed right now instead of blogging... not being able to comfort your baby is awful). As unpleasant as this is, it will pass eventually. 

She took to nursing pretty well, although I'm sorry to report that establishing nursing with Gemma has been just as difficult and painful as it was with Michael. Actually, it was more painful in a way because my uterine contractions while nursing hurt a lot this time and I didn't experience that with Michael... probably because my uterus was more stretched out since this was my second child and it had to work harder to shrink down. I also got mastitis at one week just like I did with Michael. I had chills all night and woke with a high fever so bad that I could barely walk or see. (That was kinda scary. I'd never had a fever like that.) But I have kept on nursing. Gemma is getting super chubby all over and seems to be gaining well. I've said it before and I'll say it again, giving birth is easy, breastfeeding is hard.

So that's where I am right now. Happy. Busy. 


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Long overdue update

It has been so long, but that is really a good thing. Still staying at home. Michael is 5 now and has been going to preschool part-time for a couple of years. Kindergarten next year. Me and the husband are fine. Cats are cuddly as ever. Not too much happening in my world.

We took a family trip to Yellowstone National Park in June. This was something I have always wanted to do... I had never been to a national park and with Michael old enough to have some stamina, it seemed liked a good time to do it.

Auto-timer in front of Fairy Falls in YNP

Michael doesn't look so thrilled in the picture but he really did enjoy the trip. He still talks about the buffalo and geysers. But the picture is precious to me because it is really the first picture of our family of four! Yes, I was (just barely) pregnant during our trip. I'm kinda proud to think of gestating the first couple weeks of the pregnancy in mountains of Yellowstone. 

Some setbacks (my broken wrist and the follow-up hardware removal surgery, then later a hack of a physical therapist herniated my back for me... but we won't dwell on that) made us put off TTC#2 for a few years longer than we planned. But when we finally got to it, it was encouraging that I'd had consistent periods since Michael was a year old thanks to my continued use of metformin, so we were optimistic that we could probably get pregnant on our own without returning to the RE. The surprising thing was that it happened the first month! We never thought we'd be that lucky.

It seemed too good to be true for awhile. I got back in touch with my high-risk MFM for my early pregnancy monitoring. I had low progesterone again and had to get back on prometrium for the first trimester. And since this was a planned pregnancy, I was taking baby aspirin and 5,000 mcg daily folic acid to combat my MTHFR

I also had to find someone new to deliver this baby. Dr. McSoothy retired after the hospital that I'd had Michael in closed it's OB unit and I wasn't looking forward to finding a natural-birth friendly provider again. My MFM doesn't do deliveries, so he wasn't an option but I discussed my dilemma with him and he recommended a couple of local midwives. (Just so we are 100% clear, my board-certified, maternal-fetal medicine specialist, gave me the names of local midwives that he likes working with and that he felt were fully capable of delivering babies or knowing when to transfer me if conditions were not safe for home birth.)

I'm not sure if I've ever said it on this blog, but I have definitely said it somewhere that I would not be comfortable with home birth. But since Michael's wonderful birth and the lack of birthing options around here, home birth had definitely gained appeal with me. Even with as wonderful as Michael's birth was, I will never forget how upsetting it was for him to be taken away from me for so long for baths (cause newborns are so dirty?) and for the dr. to check him (couldn't do that in the room?) and the judgey nurse chastising me for sleeping in my hospital bed with him (this one still makes me so angry, how ridiculous). It's true, you never forget how you are made to feel when your babies are born, and my experience was mostly good but there are a few parts I do wish had been different. This increased the appeal of home birth. So I interviewed some midwives. 

I selected my midwife, Susan. She's a grandma and a former labor and delivery nurse. She teaches neo-natal resuscitation in hospitals. She's delivered thousands of babies. She's been practicing from before it was legal to be a midwife in my state. I'm confident in her abilities. Sometimes I'm not so confident that things will go as well for me as with Michael's birth... it just seems impossible to me that I could get so lucky twice, but we will see. If not, I'm a big girl, I've done it before, and even if it isn't as easy, I'm going to do it again. And if I can't for some reason we don't live too far from a hospital.

And the pregnancy has been mostly really good. I was happy with myself and had been exercising well and pretty fit going into pregnancy. I had finally made the move to become a vegan about half a year earlier (I'd been an ovo-lacto vegetarian for ~23 years,  it took that long to say good bye to cheese and ice-cream) and I think it made me feel a lot better. But despite my seemingly good health I was already experiencing swelling in the first trimester which just seemed awful because I was really plagued by swelling with Michael and I certainly wasn't happy about starting that so early. 

Susan was not happy with me being a vegan. She doesn't think they get enough protein. She felt vegans grow poor placentas and have trouble with blood pressure and swelling. But I was eating so healthy! So many greens and whole foods. No trash here. I am fairly hard headed and just wanted to point out all the gleaming wonderful, healthy, superior things about being vegan, but the fact was, if she was right, I was already seeing the negative effects of my "super-healthy" diet. (This isn't to completely disparage vegan pregnancy. There are plenty of vegans that never have these problems but in my specific case, I had to face the facts, it just wasn't cutting it. Maybe there is something about me that predisposes me to this kinda of problem.) And I knew how much worse it could get from my previous pregnancy (although I was only vegetarian then). And aside from the physical discomfort of swelling, I had blood pressure problems at the end of Michael's pregnancy... I was basically declared preeclamptic. My placenta had stopped working properly. Michael had no fluid left. Things were scary. I did not want that again. So I decided to listen to her advice and give a modified version of the Brewer Pregnancy Diet a chance. I had to reintroduce dairy to my diet. I choke down a cup of Greek yogurt for breakfast. I chug 50 grams of whey protein shake daily. I try to make other good protein choices throughout the day too. It's not always tasty but my swelling issues immediately resolved. And if I've been slacking on my protein and start to feel a little puffy, I just get right back on it and it resolves. I don't really like it, but it seems to work. So I'm really grateful to Susan for suggesting that to me because no other medical provider I've had ever said anything to me about it. (Ina May Gaskin mentions it in her Guide to Childbirth book, but I never gave it a second thought when I read it.) 

So that brings us to now. I'm 38 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I'm pretty close to the end. I'm not swelling and my fluid levels and blood pressure are still good. My MFM is pleased and isn't talking induction like he did with Michael. I get quite a few contractions a day, but I can't feel most of them. I didn't really have any contractions with Michael until right before I had him, so all these contractions kinda make me anxious. In fact, anxious is just the best word to describe me right now. The end of pregnancy is a very exciting thing. It can be very uncomfortable and the prospect of labor is a little scary. The thought of having this long awaited baby is so tempting and often I just want it to be over, but this will likely be our last baby. Two babies are enough for us, so I'm a little sad that this portion of my life is about to be over. But I'm ready for the next. 

So that's where I am. I'll try to not delay too much in posting after I have the baby in case anyone reads this. I hope all is well in blog land. Until next time.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

We went camping

And it went pretty well.

Cause it could have been a disaster. And I'm so thrilled that it wasn't.

I love camping, which is kinda weird because I hate bugs and heat and humidity and sun and more bugs. And although I'm a seasoned Girl Scout (Gold Award recipient here), we didn't camp much outside of  summer camp in my troop. So I've never really had a true tent camping experience where I was responsible for everything (supplies, meals, entertainment, etc.), but I really wanted to try.

For our first camping trip as a family I made the decision to go somewhere close to home (in case it was a disaster and we needed to cut our losses and come home). We selected one of the state parks close to home. Unfortunately I failed to consider the impact a motocross track in this park would have on our experience. Dirt bikes and ATVs everywhere. Constant noisy engines. Lesson learned, we won't be going back there again. But other than the noisy neighbors, it was a good weekend, hot, but not too awful and there wasn't any rain.

I was most worried about cooking since I haven't cooked on a fire for years and I don't recall being that good at it back then either. Plus, I don't eat meat and my husband and child do, so that always makes meals a little harder to begin with... something I'm used too, but still a challenge. I downloaded an e-book called The Family Camping Handbook from Kitchen Stewardship. It was a good book and had some very helpful tips and ideas. I'd say it helped me feel more prepared and less anxious. It was a rocky start, but most of our meals turned out ok.

The Family Camping Handbook recommended posting your meal plans at the campsite, so I stuck mine to the cooler, which would have been ok, but the packing tape didn't stick it promptly fell off as soon as we got to the campsite. We'll do better next time.

Skillz. I haz them. 

We spent 2 nights in motocross hell, arriving on Friday and leaving on Sunday morning. There was a youth fishing activity setup on Saturday morning to celebrate national Kids to Parks Day (yeah, that's a day apparently). Michael actually caught the first fish of the day (which was also the biggest fish), so he won some prizes. This was his first fishing trip, so I'm really glad it was such a positive experience.

So cute! Michael looks like he actually knows what he's doing.

Catching a fish was very exciting for everyone. 11.5 inches, that's my boy!

Sup. Just chilling with my prizes and this sweet Participant ribbon. Yeah, I rock these Crocs.

There were some tense times, but mostly, I was really thrilled with how well everything went. We brought a little shovel so that Michael could dig little holes to keep himself occupied. I also learned that my kid LOVES bugs. Rollie-pollies are his favorites, but worms are a close second. He entertained himself for hours looking for bugs. There was also a playground close by, so that was another favorite activity. We also brought sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and books and some rainy day stuff (just in case).

Heritage Iron, excellent reading material for tractor obsessed 3 year olds (and 33 year olds). 

Yup, that's a bug, please keep it over there, away from me.

Camping makes me feel good. Being outside makes me feel good. Having less clutter around helps my mental state. I was less frustrated with Michael... partially because he was being so cool and keeping himself entertained but also because parenting was more equally split between my husband and I (my husband tends to plop down with the computer when he gets home from work and this creates tension in our house, so a computer-free weekend was just what the dr. ordered).

We also learned some things about camping together and we can use that for our next excursion. Here are some of the lessons learned from the weekend:

-Make sure there isn't a motocross track at the campground.

-Level the camp stove before cooking on it! Tin foil shims work well.

-Be picky about firewood. The park sold us fairly green wood that was nearly impossible to burn.

-Smaller meals, more snacks.

-Keep and empty bottle on site for Michael to pee in if needed.

-Lots of drinks to keep Michael going since dehydration happens easily and kids don't know to tell you they are starting to feel dehydrated.

-Tent fan! Bring an extra tarp to make your own shade too.

-Keep the schedule light. Think "island time".

We plan on camping some more this summer. Camping might not always be this pleasant. Trips with rain, heat, and forgotten supplies are going to happen, but I think the overall experience that camping can bring is worth the risk. Camping also provides a cheap vacation, and here in the Ozarks, we are rich in outdoor wonders so it's especially easy to take advantage of that. My family never camped and I've always wanted to camp at several of our national parks and this is helping to get us there. But most importantly, I really want to impart a love of nature on Michael. Aside from raising a generally good kid, raising a kid that loves and cares about his environment is my personal goal as a mother. I'm going to need some more sun screen and bug spray.