Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
It started with a cough, my cough. But I trudged through it thinking that it was from lack of sleep. Within a week Sarah started coughing so hard that she was throwing up in her bed at night. 24 hours after that Norah was coughing. By Wednesday, we were all feeling so rough that all three of us went to the doctor.
I had a sinus infection. I started antibiotics and some awesome prescription cough medicine and was feeling better within 24 hours. It was deemed that Sarah and Norah both had viral infections and that with time and patience they would resolve themselves. Sarah took Benadryl at night and was just fine.
Norah, however, started getting progressively worse. By Friday night she was running fever, unable to eat and crying this low, steady whine for all but 2 hours at night. Any time I would lay her down she would cough uncontrollably and wake up crying. So we stayed in the recliner and she slept on me. By Saturday morning I was in tears. Sleep deprivation had kicked in, yes, but Norah’s slow and steady whine of pain was breaking my heart and had me in tears. I waffled on whether or not to take her back to the doctor, but ultimately decided that things had gotten worse, not better and it was time to act.
Fortunately our pediatrician’s office has a few Saturday morning hours and we were able to get there quick. The doctor checked her ears and immediately saw that they were full of pus. However, there had been a case of RSV in Norah’s daycare class, so they swabbed her for that just in case. And wouldn’t you know it, it came back positive.
For those of you unfamiliar with childhood diseases, RSV is a virus that infects your lungs and airways. For adults and older children, it’s not so bad. It just manifests itself as a cold and moves on. For babies though, especially babies under six months old, it can be very dangerous. I know three babies personally who have been hospitalized with RSV.
So when the doctor sympathetically told me she had RSV, I felt panic start to grip my chest a little bit. The doctor could see it written all over my face, I’m sure. But he was so great. He told me that he listened to her breathing and she didn’t sound bad. As long as she was having four wet diapers a day and breathing ok we could treat it at home.
Fortunately my sister has a nebulizer, so we borrowed that from her and we’ve been able to do breathing treatments at home. Norah is such a champ about them, mesmerized by the buzzing noise it makes as it turns the albuterol into breathable steam. It hypes her up some, but it makes her feel so much better and her breathing and coughing ease for a few hours after doing a treatment.
My mom picked Sarah up Saturday and kept her overnight so I could devote my attentions to the baby. And we spent most of the day and evening Saturday in the rocker so she could sleep upright. Fortunately though, the breathing treatments started easing things for her so she was finally able to get some good rest in her own bed that evening.
Since then she’s been back and forth, sometimes having moments of feeling better and we get to see the occasional smile. Mostly though, she just wants to be rocked and doesn’t want to eat. She did wake up without fever for the first time this morning though, so that was a great sign.
Our biggest concern is now is keeping her hydrated. She won’t eat much because her nose is clogged and her ears hurt. And when she does get some down, her stomach is so full of mucus that she often throws it back up. We have trouble keeping the medicine down her too for that reason. I have to keep reassuring myself, she’s making enough wet diapers that she should be ok. The middle of the night is when she does her best feedings (of course), so some milk is staying down.
The doctor said this will likely be a 5-7 day run of illness before she gets truly better. I never knew how much becoming a mother would turn me into a big ball of empathy, feeling everything they feel 10 times worse. Please keep us in your prayers as our little girl continues to heal.
Oh hi! Remember me? It’s ok, I barely remember my own name these days.
Let’s start with this precious begonia.
Remember how I told you that she started sucking her thumb and was sleeping for 12 hours straight? Too bad that was just a fun, short break. Now she’s entered what Google has informed me is the four month sleep regression phase. Long story short, she startles herself awake at least three times a night now, wakes up, starts chirping like an overzealous bird and refuses to go back to sleep. This means that I am averaging about three hours of sleep a night, with no chance to nap because I’m back at work again. Fun times!
I mean it’s really a very good thing that she is oh so adorable… even if that does mean she starts laughing at me somewhere around 3 a.m. when I start pulling my hair out.
Speaking of pulling hair out, I have entered that joyous post partum phase where all of my hair is falling out. I brush it once and suddenly my hairbrush has been transformed into a pathetic looking chinchilla. My hair has gotten so thin that I’m starting to wonder if I have any strands strong enough to hold on. I’m thinking about giving it a good chop and letting it start over.
In other fun news, Norah caught croup from school, struggled to breathe one morning last week and gave me a panic attack. I took her to the doctor and they started her on steroids right away. They fixed her up in a matter of hours and she was thrilled to ride that sleeplessness side effect into every single night she was on the steroid.
We also had Sarah’s first “snow day” last week… which meant we had a pretty neat ice storm with accumulation. I know I have friends who live up north and may laugh at this, but we residents of the deep south are not equipped for such things, so schools were canceled and I got to stay home with my girls and slip slide across the icy backyard with my poor, confused dogs. Sarah enthusiastically declared, “Mama! It’s Frozen like the movie!” Poor kid, that may be the closest she ever gets to a real snow. We don’t even own gloves. I had to take a note out of my friend Susan’s book and put socks on her hands.
And me? Well besides the fact that I’m not sleeping and all my hair is falling out, I seem to be holding up moderately well. I joined a book club with a friend locally, and I get one day a month to go out, have a drink, eat and talk about books with friends. And these folks have extremely different reading tastes than I normally do, but it’s been great because it has forced me to read books out of my default YA zone. And the first book we read, while it had a boring start, ended up being a really interesting read. (And we got to discuss it while I ate a sweet potato pancake, blackberry grits and enjoyed a mimosa!)
We are also getting ready to replace half the floors in our house. We initially thought we were going to pay someone to install it, but Mark and I are just too cheap. When we learned the install price was double the actual floor cost, we decided to tackle the project ourselves. And by we, I mean Mark. He has been demoing our current floors and prepping them so we can install the new. So on top of mountains of princess toys and legos, we now have concrete and dust. All in good time!
And speaking of Mark, I’d like to just take a moment and tell you how proud and thankful I am for him. The man has been my rock during this whole sleep regression thing, and even had an awesome daddy-daughter day with Sarah last weekend so I could make an attempt at getting some extra rest. They colored with sidewalk chalk and walked to Dairy Queen to get ice cream cones that they enjoyed on the patio. Because, yes, even though we had a snow day Wednesday, by Sunday it was 75 and perfect patio weather.
Having a second kid is kind of strange. On the one hand, it’s a lot harder to have to figure out how to split your time between both of your children, how to make sure everyone is fed and happy, and don’t even get me started on the effort it takes to get everyone ready to go and out the door.
But on the other hand, it’s so much easier. I have done this all before and I know I will not only survive it, but I’ll do it pretty well and be prepared for the many other disasters and illnesses that loom on the horizon.
With Sarah, she would run a 100 degree fever and I would be frantically calling after hours at the pediatrician’s office, texting my doctor friend Susan and my nurse friend Cassie, and then grilling people about how in the heck they combat these fevers.
With Norah, she spiked a 102 fever in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago, and even though I felt that little panicky edge in my stomach, I immediately went into action with Tylenol, stripping her down and laying a cool rag on her head until I was happy with her 100 degree fever.
With Sarah, I would run and hide in back rooms when I nursed her, and felt like I constantly had to justify why I was still nursing her when she was older than six months. This time? I cover when I nurse, but I don’t usually leave the room (unless I need a time out). That’s lonely and, I think, was a contributor to my PPD last time. And you won’t hear justifications this time – it just is how it is and we roll with it.
And my husband? I’m even more proud of him this time around. When we first had Sarah, he had a hard time being alone with her. Granted, a lot of that had to do with her staunch refusal of bottles, but more of it had to do with uncertainty. This time though, he’s a changed man. Norah has been running low-grade fever after getting her shots yesterday, and he volunteered to keep her home with him while he worked so she could rest. And he handles both girls with such ease now. He let me get some extra rest last weekend and when I got up the three of them were huddled together on the living room floor playing.
Are there still worries? Of course. I think worrying and guilt are inherent to parenthood. The difference is that I know it’s going to be ok (eventually). We certainly aren’t perfect and we have a lot of trying moments and days, but we will get there and we will do it together.
As I was looking back through photos from this past year, I found myself in awe over just how big my Sarah girl has grown. She looked like such a little baby way back in January, but now she is a big, talking, silly little girl. I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about 2013, but we, mostly, had a really fantastic year.
I typed up a pretty lengthy summary, but feel free to skip all that and just watch the video.
In January we found out we were expecting another baby, which changed our whole world. Sarah would no longer be an only child, and my yearlong obsession with getting pregnant again came to a close. We let our families know we were expecting by allowing Sarah to walk into their homes proudly wearing a “Big Sister” shirt.
In February we took Sarah to her first Mardi Gras parade – the animal parade downtown. We missed the others we had planned to take her to thanks to illness. She also got sick on Valentine’s Day for good measure. We also got to see our little bean on the ultrasound for the first time that month too!
In March I quickly discovered that pregnancies show much faster the second time around. We spent a lot of time playing outside and going to friends’ birthday parties. We spent Good Friday at the pediatrician’s office after Sarah landed herself with croup. This meant we couldn’t go to church for Easter, but Nana and grandaddy were willing to let her come around them, so we visited there and hunted down a few Easter eggs.
In April Sarah turned two and we celebrated with a Alice and Wonderland themed “Mad Tea Party” in our backyard. Friends and family came and jumped in the bounce house and ate homemade cupcakes. A few days later my nephew Jacob turned two and we celebrated at his construction themed party. Sarah also got to meet her “Italian granny,” Sr. Martinette Rivers, while she was home for a month.
May was super exciting! Not only did we learn that we would be having another little girl, but we took Sarah on a big vacation that included her first trip to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. We hit up the aquarium and ate lots of great food before heading to the beach in Florida. We stayed there with Susan and her family and had a great time in the sand and water. Sarah still talks about the beach all the time. We will have to plan another trip in 2014!
In June my friend Tammy and her daughter Kiri came down for a visit from Indianapolis. I also got a new, bigger, family- sized vehicle that month to replace my tiny, but wonderful, Honda Fit. I also went to my conference in Denver in June with my friend Becki. In addition to the conference (where we won a big award for our magazine!), we ate at a lot of Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives restaurants, went to the top of a mountain and checked out some campy museums. That was the longest I’d ever been away from Sarah!
In July our cat Sam ran away and never came back. We held out hope for a long time without any good news. We also went to Austin in July to visit our friends Dana and Scott. We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool with the kids, and I loved the comfort the pool gave my growing pregnant body. Mys sisters also threw me a “Baby Sprinkle” in July, where close friends and family came and brought lots of goodies for baby #2, including some much needed diapers!
In August I started having excruciating pain in my right side that lead to several rush trips to the OB’s office and lots of tests. A GI doc finally figured out that I had a bulging ligament that was pressing on a nerve. When the baby would move a lot, she would hit that spot and it would get inflamed. It was horrible! We also went to Baton Rouge in August to see my Aunt Amy get married and I had a great time with my whole family and spent more time in the pool!
In September my coworkers threw me a baby shower and we started preparing ourselves for Norah’s scheduled c-section on September 23. Due to some horrible problems with Sarah knotting up her hair, we took Sarah to get her first haircut. On September 11 I was rear-ended and, for the sake of my 9 month pregnant baby, was taken by ambulance to a hospital where I stayed overnight to make sure we were both ok. I also had a false labor run on my sister’s birthday, and then went into labor for real on September 20, three days before my scheduled section. We welcomed Norah into the world at 12:38 p.m. and were immediately in love with our beautiful little girl.
I started October off by turning 29! Cassie came to visit from Pittsburgh and helped us clean and paint our house while she was in town. October is also when we began the long, hard road of dealing with colic. Norah kept us up every single night screaming hour after hour after hour. It quickly unfolded into months of sleep deprived torture. Mark and I learned the true meaning of being a team and worked out a way to take shifts with her all night long. It was terrible. We also took both girls trick-or-treating in October. Sarah went as Olivia the pig and Norah as Minnie Mouse.
November gave us no relief from the colic, but we learned that Norah loved the Moby wrap and we put her in that often. Sarah also learned to start sleeping through the long nights of screaming. We also took Norah to meet her great grandparents who live an hour away. We celebrated Thanksgiving at my parents house.
In December we started counting down until Norah turned 12 weeks – the magical age when the doctor and several friends said colic usually stops. At 12 weeks and 4 days old, Norah slept through the night for the first time because she found her thumb. We rejoiced! We took the girls to meet Santa (Sarah hated him, Norah liked his beard). We decorated for Christmas and then celebrated it with our families. It’s also the month Norah got her first honest to goodness cold – the same cold the whole family managed to share just in time for the holidays.
A new baby, a couple of big trips, a new car and a lot of love. You were good to us 2013!
Our first Christmas as a family of four was wild and fun and exhausting.
It started when Sarah caught some sort of coughing snot virus that she passed on to me by coughing directly into my mouth. So nice of her, huh? And instead of resting and recovering (hah!) I spent my time prepping for Christmas Eve and Day by cleaning and baking and wrapping like a crazy woman. I may have been feeling bad, after all, but Norah’s first Christmas would be memorable. And this was really the first year Sarah understood the whole Santa Claus thing and had requests.
The Christmas list of a two-and-a-half-year-old was surprisingly specific and included some of the following items:
1. Doc McStuffins shoes (Santa had to go to eBay for that one).
2. A Puppy Princess (Ummmm?)
3. All the mermaid things ever made.
4. A Doc McStuffins doll and a Sofia doll.
5. Butterfly wings.
6. Daisy Duck.
And she informed me that Sister wanted a ladybug.
We spent Christmas Eve eating Chinese food with Mark’s family and opening gifts. I have to say, Christmas presents are much more fun with kids in the mix. We all sat back and watched them rip through paper. And when Sarah was done opening all her gifts, she started opening everyone else’s. Obviously we were not moving quick enough for her.
Her grandaddy really surprised her with this awesome 1949 Pontiac pedal car that he bought and restored for her. She loves it! Her grandparents also loaded her down with a shopping cart and groceries. She immediately started moving the groceries from her cart to her car, and then put her baby doll in the car and took off. Girl’s got it down.
Santa came that evening and brought all the goodies and then some.
One of Sarah’s favorite toys was her Doc McStuffins doctor bag.
Her other was her mermaid costume.
And Norah? Well she was sort of overwhelmed.
Santa filled my stocking with my favorite chocolates, a gift card to TCBY and scratch offs (I won $24!) Good job Santa!
After Santa, we went to my parents’ house for family, food and more presents.
Sarah got an awesome Little People princess castle and Jacob got a Little People farm house. I love both of them and secretly want to play with them while the kids are away.
And Norah? Well she was rather drooly over this bear that makes the same noises as a mother’s womb.
I was so proud of Sarah and Jacob this year for sharing their gifts and not fighting. A big improvement on last year! They even sat and ate kolaches together while watching Raffi. And they dressed up as Mary and Joseph (or Jofus, as Sarah calls him). We volunteered Norah to be Baby Jesus, but she decided to go nap in her manger and skip the photo op.
We all got so many nice things and so enjoyed spending time with family. We did more family visiting Christmas evening, but our day after Christmas plans came to a grinding halt when my cold finally caught up to me and took me way down for several days. Sarah too. But I’m still glad we powered through Christmas. It was amazing and wonderful and I couldn’t be more thankful for my family and the time we got to spend together.
Last night was one of the most difficult nights I’ve ever had mentally as a parent.
Yesterday, I skipped the nap I usually take in the morning after we send Sarah to daycare. Norah is a terrible night sleeper, and so far that nap has been the key to my sanity. But I had a lot of work I needed to get up and do and her morning nap is the one reliable time I have to myself. So I got up and had a fantastic day getting work done. My sister came over and watched Norah some and worked on the nursery (which still isn’t finished), then my mom came over and watched her some more.
I felt good. I was tired because of the missed nap, but Norah had slept more like a normal baby the past three nights – going to sleep at 9, waking up twice to feed, then going back to sleep after. I could survive on that kind of sleep.
Bed time hour approached around 7, and Norah started getting fussy. But, hey, we thought, at least she’s doing it early so she’ll be asleep by 9 or 9:30, no problem. We got Sarah ready and in bed a little late, around 8:30, then started prepping for Norah’s bed time routine. She was screaming, but I thought once I bathed and nursed her she’d settle right down and I could climb into bed and in dreamland by 10.
Boy was I wrong. Norah was alternately screaming and staring at me with owl eyes for over EIGHT HOURS straight last night. Guys, this was not good for Mark’s or my mental health. About five separate times we thought we had her asleep, only to lay her down and have her start screaming less than two minutes later.
There’s something that makes it mentally tougher when you’re in your bed with the lights dim, just begging the baby to fall asleep. At 1:00 am, we eventually decided to just move to the living room and turn on the tv to make everything feel a little more normal, a little more sane. When she finally dozed off, we practically ran back to our room and put her in bed… only to have her back up again five minutes later.
I cried then. I cried that she was being cruel. I cried that it was unfair. I cried because I must have the only baby who does not sleep at all at night. After all, having a child that gets up to feed twice in the middle of the night then goes back to sleep sounds like a cake walk compared to what we’ve been experiencing, especially when there is no break, no chance to have one night to catch up on sleep. I was mad. Mark would doze off and start snoring and I got even more mad. I would put her in her bed, still screaming, and punch pillows.
Around 3:00 a.m. we moved to the rocking chair. I put my nose on her forehead and breathed in. I could smell the chrism oil that still stained her forehead from her baptism on Saturday and immediately calmed down. We rocked and rocked and rocked. And finally, around 3:45, she fell asleep. I kept rocking, scared she was going to wake up any moment and we would start all over. But I finally moved her back to her bed and she stayed asleep.
We fell asleep around 4 this morning, so of course Sarah was up shortly before 6. She came running in with nothing but a pull-up on, wanting to change into her Dora nightgown. I ushered her back to bed, where she stayed until 6:45. She then came loudly into our room neighing, declaring that she was a horse. It was so hard not to be grumpy when I was barely functioning on less than two hours of sleep. But she was laughing and smiling and asking for hugs and I remembered I had to be a mother to her, too. Mark and I both got up and got her ready for school. I was storming around the kitchen, snapping at my husband and my daughter while prepping her lunch. Then Sarah walked up to me, put her arms out and said, “I hold you mommy.” I stopped, looked at her, and scooped her up in my arms. She held me and loved me and brought me back to the realization that we have tough nights, terrible nights, but oh the love we get in return.
Norah slept for seven hours straight after that rough go, the longest she’s ever slept. I went back to bed and slept three more hours, waking up once to check on her when I feared she’d been quiet too long.
When she woke up, I nursed her, held her and smelled the holy chrism oil. I watched a video someone had posted on Facebook of a couple who couldn’t have children and ended up adopting twins, which promptly brought me to tears. I looked down at the little baby God has entrusted me to take care of. He knows I can do it, but I often doubt myself. The path to Norah has been a difficult one. I should have known birthing her wouldn’t make it easier. But I am so thankful she’s here. So thankful I get to hold her and nurse her and witness her first smiles. So thankful to have Sarah, my child whose imagination is limitless and knows just how to make me feel better. A little girl who is so perceptive that it startles me. So thankful for a husband who endures me yelling at him to stop snoring at 3am, and stays up with me in solidarity when I need it most.
This parenting thing can be so hard, but I am so thankful.
It’s hard to believe you’ve already been in our lives for a month. I feel like we just took you home from the hospital last week!
Your first month has been interesting. The first two weeks of your life, we called you our angel baby. You slept all day and all night and your dad and I were actually getting some sleep in the process. This may have had a lot to do with the fact that you were sleeping on my chest almost non-stop, but I didn’t care because you were a sweet, snugly little baby. If anything, you helped me sleep better.
Two weeks in though, things changed. You started getting somewhat mobile, and for safety reasons, we needed to move you to your own sleep space. What a disaster that turned out to be. We tried any number of sleep options, from the bouncy chair in the pack and play (which worked a couple of nights), to the bassinet (ha ha), before your dad finally figured out that we had to mimic the sleeping on the chest position. Now you sleep in the pack and play bassinet propped up on your tummy.
Colic kicked in at week three too, and that is still an on and off struggle for us, though it seems to be getting better. You like to stay up and scream all night and sleep all day. We’ve been making a huge effort to switch that, and, for the most part, it’s starting to work (though you do so hate being awake during the day).
You still want to eat every 2-3 hours at night, and when you slept 4.5 hours straight once, I woke up worried.
You are a very relaxed baby for the most part, and your grandparents joke about never seeing your eyes open. Your sister Sarah loves to rub your head and kiss your cheeks (and occasionally knock you over with a knee or elbow). This means you’ve already managed to catch two small colds in your first month of life. (Oh how I would have freaked out over this if you were my first baby!)
One of my favorite things about you is that you smile in your sleep all the time, and even sometimes when you’re awake. You can’t focus on much yet, but you love to look at lights and follow the sound of my voice.
You’ve struggled with a lot of tummy troubles, though gripe water seems to ease some of your pain. You love nothing more than being patted on the back and some loud shushing.
Norah bean, it’s hard to believe we’ve had you in our lives for a month already, but it seems like you’ve always belonged here. I just know that as the months start to slip by (and we all start to sleep better), that we won’t be able to remember life without you, and that’s exactly how it should be.
People keep asking me how I’m doing – how life is going with a two-year-old and a newborn.
For the most part, it’s really great. Sarah has really embraced the role of big sister for the most part, though she still has her moments of jealousy. She’s chilled out with the acting out and has settled back into her mostly normal routine.
Norah, for the most part, is a good baby. She breastfeeds like a champ, takes her sister’s occasional “hugs” with a chilled attitude, snuggles on our chests and chills out in her bouncy chair while I work.
But then when 9:00 p.m. rolls around, something changes. Like Dr. Jekyll emerging from the calm Mr. Hyde, my baby transforms into a screaming, writhing, wide awake bundle of pain – COLIC. I dread that hour. Not only for my own sanity, but because I know that my baby girl is in pain and unhappy. This madness was lasting every single night from 9pm to 3am. That would be SIX HOURS in the middle of the night with a fussy, unhappy, non-sleeping baby. Breastfeeding is met with squirms and screams, laying her down on anything besides our chests produces the same results.
After several days of this, my mind began to become unhinged. Only managing 1 to 3 hours of interrupted sleep a night will do that to you. I try to let Mark sleep as much as possible because his work schedule has been so busy. But usually around 1am, I cave and wake him up. I can’t take it anymore and I’m holding my baby, both of us bawling our eyes out. It’s not pretty. Mark takes her willingly and manages to soothe both of us, despite being awoken by two crying girls. So many nights I’ve sobbed to Mark, telling him that I’m losing my mind. He reassures me that I’m just exhausted – and he’s right. But I’ve come to dread night time. I start feeling sick to my stomach when we approach 9pm.
The toughest part comes when I finally get her to sleep at 3, she wakes up at 5:30 to eat, feeds until 6am and then Sarah is up and ready to go.
Fortunately, I have a few good things on my side:
1. Sarah is in daycare and goes every day. And by the time Mark takes her in the morning, Norah and I are both already snoring. (Except for four days the past two weeks when Sarah had to stay home with fever and then ringworm. That just made the exhaustion that much worse).
2. Mark. I would have lost it a week ago if I didn’t have his steady presence at my side any time of night.
3. My iPhone. Yes, I’m serious. It keeps my brain occupied when I’m still awake in the wee hours. (I’ve recently loaded a new app and am finally catching up on blog posts in the middle of the night though!)
But just so you’re not as scared for my sanity as I am, I can tell you that we’ve made a few major improvements since the longest of those dark and horrid nights.
1. Mark figured out a sleeping position for Norah that she will stay in that is not our arms. It involves the Boppy pillow and her being propped up on her stomach. Don’t worry, I make sure her airway is clear and she is in the pack and play.
2. Mommy’s Bliss gripe water – a Cassie recommendation. It doesn’t solve everything, but it helps.
3. Shushing and patting. That’s the only combination that works to get her back to sleep. Girl has straight up rejected the pacifier, just like her sister before her. And yes, we’ve tried many different brands.
4. The white noise machine by her head.
5. Making her stay awake as much as possible during the day. This seems to be the biggest help. This isn’t always easy though, because I have to work some during the day.
Two nights ago the colic only lasted from 9pm to 12am. When she went to sleep at midnight though, insomnia kicked in and I couldn’t sleep despite being exhausted. It was insane. Fortunately I still have some insomnia medicine from my pregnancy. I took one of those and managed a couple of hours of sleep.
Last night was our first successful night of getting her to go back to sleep all night. Yes, she was still up every two – three hours, but we both got in between sleep and a nap this morning. And today I finally feel like I’m getting a grasp on my sanity again.
It has been a really tough ride at night, and I am so looking forward to this kid sleeping through the night. But, in the mean time, let’s just hope we can manage five hours or so of sleep a night. We need it.
I have never been mistaken for being thin, and most of my life I’ve fought long, hard, guilty battles about my weight and body image – a battle I still continue to face today. The difference is, at one point I finally realized that I am who I am and I have to love the person I am now as much as the person I want to be.
Pregnancy plays into all those insecurities about weight gain. I think almost all pregnant women are insecure about gaining weight, but being overweight to begin with makes it doubly hard. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had visions of my belly transforming into a perfectly round little bump that shouted, “I’m going to have a baby!” Instead, it got kind of big, oblong and never round. It screamed, “I’ve had too many donuts!” It wasn’t until I was about eight months pregnant that I looked pregnant and not just overindulgent.
To that end, when Kelly offered to do maternity photos as a gift to me when I was pregnant with Sarah, I turned her down. I hated how I looked and felt like I wasn’t the beautiful, glowing pregnant woman I had imagined myself to be. My boobs were huge, my belly was huge and misshapen and I just felt like I looked gross.
Plus, when you’re pregnant, people love to comment on your size and touch your stomach. For someone who has always tried to hide both my size and my stomach, I did not take well to those things the first time around.
After I gave birth to Sarah, I immediately tried to start dieting hard core. No one told me that doing this would mean my milk supply would virtually dry up to nothing. A couple of days of decreased milk supply and Google research later, I learned that I had to embrace eating to create plenty of milk and provide for the health of my own baby. And while all I wanted to do was “get the weight off right now” at the time, I continued to eat until I was full and tried to mostly stay away from bad foods (though, oh man, ice cream!)
With time and patience and a year’s worth of breastfeeding, the weight came off on its own accord and I ended up weighing five pounds less than my starting pregnancy weight.
When I found out I was pregnant the second time, I was determined to keep my established exercise routine up and not gain as much weight as I did during my first pregnancy. This hope was quickly dashed when I started having heart skips. That meant any exercising outside of walking was off the table. Still though, I persisted in walking for a while. Then my ligaments and my nerves started causing severe pain and it hurt to be on my feet for more than 5 – 10 minutes. I wasn’t put on bed rest, but there was no more walking around the neighborhood either. At first I let it get me down, but then, just as before, I realized I had to embrace the gain for the health of my baby. I chugged along and didn’t let it bother me (except for that one time at the OB’s office).
In the end, I ended up gaining about three more pounds than I did the first time around. But it’s ok, because I know, just like last time, that I can and will get it off again.
I regretted not having any maternity pictures with Sarah, even with my low self image at the time. So this time, I asked Kelly if she would snap a few of me with Sarah. These were taken SIX DAYS before I gave birth to Norah bean. Yes, I’m huge like the sun, but I love that I have these moments captured with Sarah who loved to kiss sister in my belly. I bravely posed for these photos and wanted to show Sarah that it’s great to be happy no matter your size and shape (especially when there is a little sister as the outcome). And Sarah responded in kind with love and hugs for mommy and Sister. Having photos to remember those moments by are way more important than trying to pretend like I wasn’t nine months pregnant and hiding from the camera.
Here I sit now 12 days post partum. I finally got the courage to step on the scale. (Note to new moms: Do NOT step on the scale the same day you give birth, you will be horrified to see that your body does not immediately drop a ton of weight, or even the full weight of the baby. It’s depressing. Don’t do it. Trust me on this one.)
At any rate, I stepped on the scale. I am officially down 18 pounds. And while that is a huge relief to see, that means the easy part is over. It’s those remaining 20 pounds that love to cling to my hips, my boobs and my belly. But this time, I’m not scared. I’m going to breastfeed, and as soon as I’m released to resume “normal activity” again post c-section, I’m going to put that stroller to the test and work up to getting back on the spin bike at the gym.
To show you how brave I’m feeling right now, here is a photo of me tonight, 12 days post partum. Yes, there is a lot of toning that needs to happen. But most women don’t snap back like rubber bands after having a baby. I’m here to tell you that’s ok. It takes time. And, after all, look at that sweet little baby I have as my reward.
Norah’s birth story actually began almost a week ago. Last Tuesday evening I was feeling bad and achy all over. There was pain and pressure in my lower abdomen, and I wasn’t sure if it was being caused by baby, or by contractions. My memory of contractions, after all, are of ones induced by Pitocin – aka contractions on steroids. These were uncomfortable, but not unbearable. I started texting and then talking on the phone to my friendly baby birthing expert Cassie. Together we decided that yes, these were indeed contractions. I waited and timed them over the course of about three hours before deciding to go to the hospital and get checked out. As these things often go, shortly after I got to the hospital, the contractions slowly tapered out until they came to a grinding halt. My cervix wasn’t progressing and it ended up being a late night for everyone involved with no baby to show for it.
My body stayed pretty calm on Wednesday and most of Thursday. Then Thursday evening things started feeling weird again. My extremely happy mood that had lasted all day and into a cleaning spree that evening, suddenly tanked. It felt like baby had balled herself up into the bottom of my pelvis and was trying to roll herself out. A storm was rolling in that night and the moon was full. Sarah was restless too. Normally a great night sleeper, she came into our room three times that night and, for the first time ever, ended up sleeping in the bed with us cuddled up next to me.
Friday morning, I had my regularly scheduled OB appointment. I went in and told my OB of all that had gone on that week. I told her I was “cramping” a lot. She asked me if I was sure I wasn’t having contractions. I wasn’t. She wanted to get me hooked up to a monitor and see what was going on. Before she did that though, she checked my cervix. Afterwards she looked at me and said, “We are going to have a baby today.” Sure enough, I was dilating and contracting and baby was on her way.
Because I had to have a c-section, I left her office and went straight down to labor and delivery to get prepped while Mark went home and packed a few bags. They started the IV and did all they needed to to prep me for surgery. I waited about another hour, enough time for family to show up, then was wheeled back to the OR.
It’s weird. I had been fretting and nervous about this c-section for 9 months, but when it came time to do it all my nerves and fear were gone. Even moving myself onto the OR table, I was ok. I attribute my unexplained calm to getting my nerves out during my test run on Tuesday night, the anointing I had at church prior to the surgery, the awesome people working at the hospital and a lot of prayer.
To have a c-section you have to have something called a spinal block – they essentially insert a needle into your back and block off all feeling from the boobs on down. Apparently since I’m tall, I had to have a big dose. It is such a strange feeling. First my legs got super warm, then tingly and then they were nothing but dead weight. They lowered me down, raised the sheet, and then I started feeling like I couldn’t breathe and was going to puke. I let the anesthesiologist know, and then I suddenly had oxygen, anti-nausea meds in my IV and a fan on my face. Just like that I was back up and going again.
It was a surreal experience being in the OR awake. All the doctors were talking about music and their kids. Mark walked in all suited up and ready to go and they told him that they had already started – which was news to me! I had no idea! The only thing I could feel at all was the occasional tugging up near my ribs. No pain or pressure at all.
Turns out we were so unprepared to have this baby that both the cameras we brought had dead batteries and both our phones had been left back in the room. Our anesthesiologist, who was amazing, was razzing us about being a computer guy and a photographer and not having a functioning camera for the delivery of our own child. And then she obligingly took some photos for us with her phone.
Norah came roaring into the world at 12:38 p.m., and I do mean roaring. That girl has got a set of pipes on her that had everyone in the room laughing. She was all wrapped up in the umbilical cord – from her neck on down to her waist. She also had a firm grip on the cord and refused to let go, much to the humor of the OB’s working on me. Her screams immediately sent me into a wave of tears and continued unbounded as they brought my girl around the curtain to meet me. She was big and healthy and beautiful.
She weighed in at a robust 7lbs, 13 oz and was 19 inches long – nice and big for a baby born nine days before her due date!
The doctors stitched me up and took me back to the recovery room where they finished cleaning up baby and brought her to me. One of the first things I noticed was how different she seems to look from her sister. They have common features, like their lips, but overall they look so different. The general consensus is that she looks like me, but babies change quickly and often in their first couple of months.
We stayed in the hospital two nights, and it proved to be a much better experience overall than my first stay when I delivered Sarah. The nurses were great, the hospital wasn’t overcrowded and it was a weekend – which meant our family members could come visit without the stress of work. Sarah got sick over the weekend, so she didn’t get to meet Sister up close until we brought her home – but that’s another story for another day. For now I’m enjoying my super laid back baby girl, Baby Norah.
Welcome to the world my girl, we love you.
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