Showing posts with label mama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mama. Show all posts

Friday, January 22, 2021

C-section and VBAC Birth Stories

Giving birth is a miracle--it doesn't matter how much of a role modern medicine plays. 

Doing all of the right things during a pregnancy doesn't seem to have that much of an impact on actual birth itself. At a certain point, it is about genetics and your odds. Without modern medicine, my first baby and I would have died or become seriously injured. 

And I'm not talking about modern medicine like give birth at home in a pool--no I'm talking about the operating room being available right there to save my life and ensure my baby is as healthy as he can be.

And I did all the right things like dieting, prenatal visits, prenatal vitamins, and prenatal exercise. I researched how different vitamins and nutrients absorb into my body. And for vanity, I researched the best lotions and butters to put on my belly to ease the growing pains and permanent marks. 

 

C-section Birth Story

Disclaimer: there is a lot of medical advice out there from local and global health resources, this is not one of those posts. 

None of this helped when I woke up early in the morning with cramps that just did not go away. I am not 100% even during my normal wake up time, so it was no surprise that it didn't register as birth right away. I followed the medical directions and timed my contractions for an hour to reach that 5, 1, 1, rhythm--just like I learned in the birthing class. I took a non-medicated birth class too. 

After the longest car ride, and the longest paperwork sessions of my life, I was in a bed, in absolute pain. 

I took the epidural shot thinking that absolutely anything including death is better than this. The shot worked, the IV worked, and my husband who was there with me by my side the entire time felt that he could move the car. One nurse mentioned that I could sleep until the baby is ready to come. With that assurance, I relaxed, and my husband left the hospital building to move the car. 

The doctor came in , completed a check. The doctor said that the baby was stressed and in a position impossible to deliver safely and that a c-section was the best outcome. I don't exactly remember the words, but there was expediency and I was given lots of paperwork to sign. 

I am sure these procedures are derived from research, data, and training; however, at the time, it did not seem like a choice. What was I going to do? Let my baby die or become injured inside me? I scribbled on all of those signature lines and initial spots as fast as I could. I was moved into the operating room. 

My husband was surprised when he was given a set of scrubs to put on immediately when he came back. I did not notice him changing, but I assume it was fast. 

I was given additional anesthesia, but could not go under due to the epidural. The anesthesiologist checked to make sure that I could not feel a wet wipe on the surface of my belly. 

The amount of anesthesia made my head spin and I managed to throw up every where. It was embarrassing, no one was happy, and to make matters worse, it was red because I had eaten frozen cherries the night before as a healthy treat in place of something with more sugar.  

But I never felt the cuts, I barely felt a change in pressure. All I heard was a crying baby. I could not see him. My husband, who didn't even deliver his baby, saw him and took pictures of him. 

They sewed me up, while cleaning up my baby and giving him his newborn exams.

We were moved into a smaller room and my baby was snuggled up like a borrito in a hospital swaddle blanket. My husband helped with taking care of the baby and changing the diapers. I was still feeling signs of my anesthesia. 


C-section Birth Recovery 

C-section recovery was worse than birth itself. I had no core muscle strength since my muscles were stretched and also cut up from the c-section operation. It is a major abdominal surgery. It was awful. I did not have the strength and comfort level to sleep in my own bed. I just slept on the couch. I was not getting the same quality of sleep, and I was not recovering as fast as others who had c-sections. 

I had developed an infection at the incision site despite cleaning the area and taking the prescribed antibiotics. The infection slowed down the healing process and only after a 3 or 4-hour trip to urgent care did I have the antibiotics dosage right to fight the infection.

I recovered slowly, I could eventually use my core muscles, cough, sneeze, and laugh at jokes without being in pain. 

It took me about 6 weeks to be able to do what I would have been able to do immediately following a vaginal birth. 

 

VBAC Story

A vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is not the default. There is effort from practitioners to make these more common, but not everyone gets one. This Web MD resource is a good primer. Your body is rated for how likely you are to be successful at this endeavor. Arguably, none of the criteria are something you can easily control in a healthy way. Yes, BMI is on there as well, and I do not believe that drastically changing a BMI in a short span of time, and especially while pregnant, is possible in a healthy way. 

So, I really wanted one. I did everything I did with my first baby, albeit less personal time since now I had a child. 

This baby did everything right during birth, and I had a long labor without losing patience. I had my wonderful epidural, I had my husband, I had my nurses, and it was a lot of pressure. I could feel a lot of pressure--not sure if it was pain exactly, but it was not the comfort other mothers have described like "having the biggest poop of your life."

Not for me anyway, my experience was long, and the baby's head took a while to go through the birth canal, and my body took a while. It just all took a while. My doctor said the right things to push me and she also knew that I was afraid of large tears seeing as I had a very bad experience with my c-section recovery. 

But the baby was happy the entire time while being born. It was the craziest thing going from a birth where I just heard my baby, to seeing the baby come out and go right to me. I had the baby on my chest crying like his brother did. It was a giant baby and the long labor made more sense after the fact. 

Unlike his brother, my younger baby had the classically reformed head from the birth canal journey. And like, his brother, he was almost the same weight. The doctor called my 9lb 7oz baby a whopper. 

I had a second degree tear that my doctor fixed with absorbable sutures. 

VBAC Recovery

The recovery was just like the Frida commercial that caused controversy. That was a good and honest commercial. But it was shorter. Much shorter, and I was able to walk longer distances sooner, as well as complete my chores. 

I had used up so many products from the hospital and from Amazon in order to make the recovery bearable.

While neither recovery from birth was glamorous, the recovery from the VBAC was much easier. I would recommend a VBAC to anyone who is able to get one. 

 

How the Births were the Same

1. Both were hard. 

2. Lack of sleep was consistent

3. My exercise routine was changed to being very gentle on myself after recovery.

4. Pain and discomfort were present during recovery

 

How the Births were Different

1. I could not drive after my c-section birth due to the pain relief medication, while I was able to drive almost right away after my VBAC.

2. I was unable to get up from the couch easily using my core muscles after a c-section, while I had trouble sitting from bruising my tailbone during birth after my VBAC. 

3. I was able to mitigate pain and recovery with my VBAC. The pain was in places that I could get to and I could identify what parts were in pain. I think I will write my experience bruising my tailbone in the future because it was profoundly painful weeks after birth and I don't think this injury is talked about enough.

4. I could laugh with a VBAC, meaning that I could relax with a VBAC.

5. While I am reminded everyday that I had a c-section when I get dressed, I cannot detect my second degree tear. Second degree tears are most common (link). 

6. Bathroom trips following a c-section were easier.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Gingerbread Man Christmas Tree Ornaments with Customized Tags


 

 One tradition that we started in our home was making Christmas tree ornament gifts "from our children." Our firs baby's first Christmas ornament "gifts" were handprints and footprints in red and green. This was nearly a hassle free project and I was hooked. The next project was a bit more elaborate, and nearly from scratch. 

These were a lot of effort to make, but were worth the result. I had completed the gingerbread man outline and I had let my toddler decide on the decorations that I had glued on using hot glue. 

Below are the instructions used to create these ornaments.

 

 I also wanted to make sure that the tags were customized. A tag die and a small tag hole punch were used to create the shape out of heavy scrap-booking paper. I then used small Recollections stamps to write the giver and recipients. 

 
 Finally, I added some fun to the tags by using my child's favorite stamp. 
 
 
 



Tuesday, August 18, 2020

About Your Corona Parent Friend

I had a child during the early stages of COVID-19 and am slowly adjusting to life with a bigger family. I quickly found that many of my go to activities and what I envisioned my Spring and Summer to be had evaporated. As I write this blog, cooler temperatures after some much needed rain are reminding me that Summer is just about finished.

Other parents and families may have adjusted to the same demands and new demands seamlessly, but my home life and my Mama life have shifted towards something different. I made the list below to be honest about my experience and also give those that have asked a brief window into a slightly different walk of life.

1. Things take turns being okay. 

Rooms take turns being clean and organized. Chores take turns being finished. Email chains take turns about being read through. If there are siblings or pets in the home, attention is divided and family members take turns getting attention.

 The living room might be immaculate, but the kitchen has dishes piling up, a trash can that is fun to the brim, and recycling is overflowing because we are still trying to save the planet with our small choices. Parenting in my home means that the planet will have to wait its turn to be saved. 

This might also mean that my home is ready for the very few visitors we are recommended to have, but my bedroom has piles of clean clothing that has not been folded and put "where it lives."

Taking turns also means that sometimes I am two weeks early to contribute to a Corona birthday present, but I can also be months behind another emotional labor endeavor. It happens. It is the wheel, or more accurately the expanding spiral of the mama or parent career.

2. Kid milestones happened and no one was here.

Speaking of the expanding spiral of the mom career, my small child came into this world quite alarmed and now adjusted so much that he is now trying to stand, walk, eat solids, sing, talk, and play--just like a big baby. His needs and interests have expanded to never ever again be that sleeping baby burrito. 

And almost no one was here. There were very few visitors that got to interact with my baby burrito. And while I know the interaction only gets better and better with age, I feel bad that those around me that have wished for a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby did not get to enjoy this version of my baby. Learning to cry, learning to sleep, first funny faces, first intense eye contact, first smile, first giggle, first surprise, first raspberries, first baby crunch, first standing attempt, and first interaction with siblings were only witnessed by my immediate household.  

This all means that I, like your Corona parent friend, had to work extra hard to document the milestones that are otherwise shared with family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers.

I strongly believe that even adults and teenagers have microseasons of their lives where they might try a new hobby, routine, or lifestyle. Learning new lifelong skills is an especially ongoing process with younger kids and all it takes is a few blinks and a stage is gone.

3. Your Corona parent friend wants to know how you're doing

Your Corona parent friend is rooting for you from afar. Are you learning bread baking from scratch? Did you buy a ball gown to wear inside your home? Did you get a new beard oil you're in love with? Was that COVID-19 social distancing date full of amazing chemistry? We want to hear about it. 

Also, we would love to have a zoom call with you where WE. DO. NOT. TALK. ABOUT. KIDS. AT. ALL. After 20 diaper changes or trips to the potty-- I want to clock out from wearing my mom hat (joking--like that happens) and would prefer ANY OTHER TOPIC! Are you passionate about the history of dental floss? Did you try something new in a videogame? Please share!

Most parents know that relationships are harder to keep up when you have kids. COVID-19 added an extra layer of complexity. It's another layer of exhaustion and unmet needs. I cannot have several skype or zoom calls in a row. Or it might be that I am super tired and cannot be there 100% if I am tired, but was otherwise available from a logistical point of view. 

It is this exhaustion that fuels a feeling of mild social isolation.

4. Your Corona parent friend has less references to pull from.

There are many resources online and offline, but the majority of resources circulating-- and these circulate for good reason, they're awesome-- were developed without a  pandemic in mind. Many solid articles include interacting with others without social distancing and visiting heavy traffic areas.

 As a result, parents are adjusting most answers they find to their current comfort level regarding venturing out into the world and requirements issued by public and private places. 

5. Children are missing social experiences.

Having loved playgrounds when I was a preschooler, I couldn't wait to take my toddler to a playground. He was super young and could not climb the steps very well, but he loved the slides. He then grew to enjoy other playground activities with newfound physical agility. His interest then expanded into parallel, followed by mild interactive play. 

I took all of this for granted, and now we don't go anywhere. Although we are starting to form social distancing pods, this is a new development due to medical reasons. My eldest child who loves to use his imagination and play with others is missing weekends full of interactive play and games that teach cooperation, taking turns, and eventually sharing.

We have not had a playdate in 6 months, and while we may be an extreme case, I do not believe that we are unique. 

I am not sure if I have the stamina for the rigorous social calendar that my toddler used to have before this Spring. I am out of practice and now have to adjust to new social distancing and different policies about shares spaces like playgrounds. Venturing out to fun places is less fun for parents.

Likewise, your Corona parent friend may be in a similar boat and is adjusting to the COVID-19 world after trying to wait it out completely. It is stressful to leave the house, but waiting years for a reliable vaccine seems inconceivable.   

6. Standards have gone down.

Everyone's world is different, but as a general trend, the quality of life for your Corona parent friend has gone down. It might be because of a lack of babysitters, or remote learning for a school age child, or it might be just the toll on mental health. In any case, standards have slipped. And while that is sad, chances are that your friend couldn't care less. 

Right in line with the first point of things taking turns being okay, things are also taking turns being less okay. 

It might seem that I and others around me have changed our personalities based on how we act or live our lives. So, I wanted to remind everyone that responding to stress is not a personality.

I am now less detail oriented. I am now less inclined to start conversations because I'm saving my strength for middle of the night wake ups, night terrors, and nightmares. I am now less likely to try new or challenging things. I do not have room for my full personality right now. 

7. We see you trying to connect with us and live your best life with us in it.

 Your Corona parent friend had plans for the future that are now on a definite hold. Whether big like a vacation overseas or small like organizing a low key birthday party, all plans are on hold. And it is often friends with more bandwidth and creativity who offer a silver lining in the shape of alternatives.

We see you gauging interest and availability. We see you planning. We see you organizing virtual events. We see you producing videos or podcasts. We see you hosting drive by events, social distanced events, separate, but together events. 

We see you and we are trying our hardest at setting aside time and being more present and less tired.


 


Friday, July 31, 2020

What No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

I had read countless blogs and forums on breastfeeding. And when it was time for my milk to come in and start this beautiful journey, I had many appointments with lactation consultants. On top of that, I had family and friends who had walked me through cluster feeding and my milk finally coming in.

And after the ups and downs of breastfeeding my first child, I thought I was an old soul when it came time to breastfeed my second child. After all, I was a veteran breastfeeding Mama who spent countless hours in bathrooms, nursing rooms, doctors offices, and my home either breastfeeding or pumping breastmilk for my baby.

And just like that, my milk actively came in much faster with my second baby. I don't think I used any formula to supplement this time. I felt at ease. 

The oxytocin produced during the feedings was needed amidst the chaos of becoming a family of four in forced isolation due to COVID-19 (thanks 2020). I can still remember that feeling as I navigated the postpartum discomforts and new life adjustments.

And here we are with still so many surprises. I wanted to make a short list of surprises I learned while breastfeeding.



 

No One Told Me Children Can be Ready to Move on Without You

My second child is a baby led weaning kid. Here I had this tiny human envying our every single meal. And after he grew his first tooth, he would get actively upset about being excluded from meals. We made it ritual to introduce new foods to him even if only in taste.

He adapted to cow's milk without a blink. And he adapted to water and the sippy cup without many issues. 

Most importantly, he hasn't met a food he didn't like. 

Which brings me to now. No one told me that my child would be the one shrinking my breastmilk supply and not the other way around to "wean" the baby off breastmilk. 

No One Told Me About the Absolute Discomfort Before My Milk Fully Came In

I’ve seen terms like “pain” and ”engorgement” floating around forums, but I had never thought in a million years that it was going to hurt to feed my baby. Or to out on clothes, move around, or just take a shower. 

I remember struggling to feed my baby. I remember my child being hungry and having to supplement with formula. Lots of sleepless nights full of feedings and washing bottles were a new kind of routine. But what I also remember was the absolute discomfort as my milk first came in. 

I think every body is different and no one wants to talk about the discomforts of breastfeeding in order to it scare anyone away, but it’s there at first for some.

Thankfully, this was not the experience with my second child. 

No One Told Me That Babies Can Have Favorite Bottles

It's the grip. Dare I say more? 

The bottle that is the easiest to grasp and hold wins. 

And this requires me to update my original Baby Bottles article with an update. Maybe I should just write a new one, "Bottles Preferred by Babies." The small glass bottles are too heavy. The soft bottles in the shape of an oval don't have the grip. And, insert sarcastic "who knew" that the Kiinde bottle system, the one I used almost exclusively for breastmilk was the favorite and easiest to grasp. Perhaps it became my child's favorite because it was a "sure thing" without a bad surprise of formula once my breastmilk supply dropped from hormonal changes and stress. 

No One Told Me Busy Babies Don't Follow the Same Schedule 

This was a blessing, let me explain. I like to go out into parks and nature that still has enough of an audience and enough of natural dangers that I don't feel comfortable juggling a breastfeeding baby and an active toddler. Sure I could pack a bottle, but then I would have to either train my child to drink cold milk or carry an additional thermos with hot water. 

I was very lucky and blessed that as long as my child was not bored, e.g. we were exploring a lake and there were geese and people fishing and hiking, I was fine. He didn't care for food. And then he adjusted to being hungry when we got home without a change in attitude. And I know why this is happening, we have night feedings and he never goes without although I know that his body can be trained in time. 

No One Told Me Feedings Laying Down Are Easier

It happened by accident with my first. He was laying beside me and just found his way. And that was how I realized that I got a break by feeding while laying down!

Not all babies might like it, I think it depends on the situation. But if it's possible, I will make it happen. 

Using a floor bed was a great way to have this feeding method in our lives because I would just lay next to the floor bed on a cushy fleece blanket and feed my child. 

I am in no way saying it is okay to fall asleep like this, in fact, I think that would be super dangerous if you are on one same uneven surface. There is however, nothing stopping you from relaxing while you are laying down. There are no pillows to arrange, or a comfortable chair to find. There are no muscle aches involved from supporting your child's body in a position conducive to breastfeeding. 

No One Told Me I Would Be Dreading Stopping Breastfeeding

I remember the first few months after I stopped breastfeeding my first child. Everything became better and easier. It was easier preparing for daycare. Then, my day was easier at work because I did not have to break to pump nor judge my food intake. It was easier going places with a bottle or a sippy cup without worrying about finding a quiet corner or a private room. 

I was thinking the second time around would be similar. And again, I was surprised I did not want to move on. I did not want to have easier mornings, better days at work, or easier planning. 

I know that the time is going to come soon enough, but this year has taken my sense of chronological order away from COVID-19 and personal chaos of adjusting to being a family of four. Stopping breastfeeding at the one year mark would force me to admit that my baby is no longer a baby but a toddler. Toddling onward to his next chapter towards independence.

No One Told Me Pumps Would Just Break

A pump is a working breastfeeding Mama's best friend. And I thought that it was a technology mainly free of hiccups. 

Well, I am four pumps in. 

I used the first two while breastfeeding my first baby and now I went through two more with my new one. And it is not the pump's fault by any means. They had just worked really hard. 


 

Not All Pumping At Work is the Same

While I think it would be nice is every working and nursing parent received a safe and relaxing space to pump at work, this simply is not the case across many states. Some parents have even stopped breastfeeding their children because the logistics of pumping at work just didn't work out. 

I have pumped in bathrooms, in restaurants, in designated nursing rooms, in my office, in conference rooms, in my car, and in storage closets.

It is rough out there and you have to adjust. It might mean you have to carry spare batteries because there being no plug, or it might mean just manually expressing milk if a pump is not an option at all. 

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