Things I Said I’d Never Do

When becoming a parent certain scenarios play out in your head and you imagine how to handle them.  For instance, say the baby is hysterical in the middle of the night.  You think I’ll never just let my baby “cry it out”.  I’m going to comfort him until he feels better.  Well, things change.  Opinions change and our minds change.  Below is a list of things I’ve learned to come around on.  All things I scoffed at, and said I’d never do.  Guess what?  I’ve done them all.

Have a C-Section

While it certainly wasn’t my first choice in the way I gave birth, it was the right choice and the safest for my baby.  When I was pregnant I thought I would never, ever have a c-section so why would I do any reading about the procedure, and the side effects of it?  No one imagines their birth going the complete opposite of what they thought it would be. We discussed it a bit in our class.  The effects of not being able to have those first moments with baby, longer recovery time, and breast feeding issues that could arise, which I did sort of experience.  My milk didn’t come in for a week and I do believe that was due to the surgery.  I never knew that my abdomen would be numb for some time (it’s still numb and I don’t know when I’ll be able to feel it again).  I didn’t know how out of my mind loopy I’d be from all the drugs I was given, or that I would have such a hard time bonding with my baby.  There’s a lot more to this one, but for now this is it.  I never thought this would happen and it did.

Have postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety

Ok, this one was kind of out of my control like the c-section.  I thought that since I had such a stellar pregnancy and was so insanely happy that I wouldn’t suffer with these.  Exactly a week after I had Max it all hit.  My hormones were going crazy wreaking havoc on my mental state.  I was terrified of my baby, scared to be alone with him, crying all the time, wondering why this was happening to me and mourning my dream birth.  It.  Was.  Miserable.  I knew exactly what was happening and I took action.  I called and made appointments with my therapist, my midwife and my acupuncturist.  I was so upset that I was feeling this way.  I was supposed to be enjoying my baby, not sitting there sobbing feeling like death.  Soooo not how I thought I’d be spending those first few weeks.  At about the 6 week mark I was finally feeling like myself again.  I’m still pretty sad that those first weeks were so awful.  I feel like mine and Max’s bonding was put on hold.  He’ll never be that small again (well, he never was too small to begin with I guess),

Use a pacifier

Now this one is a stretch.  I was concerned about using pacifiers and nipple confusion.  When exclusively breast feeding, it is encouraged to not use pacifiers and bottles because the baby can take well to a bottle but not to the breast.  We had pacifiers on hand in case we wanted to use them.  He took it in the hospital, but we never really pushed it at home.  Now, nearly four months in I would pay someone to get this kid to take a pacifier.  You see, he took to sucking on our fingers and now my right index and middle fingers are dry and cracked and peeling because they are his pacifier.  And he won’t take a bottle for that matter either.

Take my baby to a chiropractor

In our birthing class we had couples come in and talk about their birth experiences.  One couple mentioned that they were taking their baby to the chiropractor for general adjustments, the result of a traumatic birth.  My firs thought was seriously?

During labor when I was pushing and Max’s head was presenting itself but not moving it started to swell.  This is one of the reasons he was born via c-section.  That part of his head that was presenting itself was a pocket of fluid for weeks, then it calcified and formed into a large bump on the back of his head on the left.  It became a speed bump that he couldn’t get over.  Meaning whenever he would be laying down, or in his car seat he wouldn’t be able to turn his head to the left.  He was favoring his right side.  Well, we took him to a chiropractor, but not just any chiropractor.  A chiropractor that also practices craniosacral work.  Literally the day after our first appointment Max was turning his head to the left and laying it flat.  Something he had never done before.  The day after our second appointment he rolled over for the first time.  To the left.

I now think all babies should have this work done after birth.  All births are traumatic for the baby.  Think about it.  A tiny human being is being squeezed through this incredibly small space for a (usually) long amount of time.  The body is going to experience some amount of trauma.

Let my baby “Cry It Out”

This was an extremely hard decision to make.  I never realized what an issue sleep could be with babies.

From the beginning we’ve pretty much been the attachment parent type.  Answering to his every beck and call, nursing on demand and nursing him to sleep, holding him rather than placing him in a chair or swing.  When it comes to sleep we’ve hit a road block.  We swaddled the guy well into his third month of life.  At which point he wasn’t sleeping well because he was being swaddled and was breaking out of it multiple times a night.  He now sleeps un-swaddled, yay!  We’ve rocked or bounced him, or let him suck on our finger until he’s asleep since birth.  Well, this has all come back to bite us in the ass.  He can’t put himself to sleep.

The last month or so has been especially hard.  Since Rob works nights, it’s up to me to put the kid to bed and take care of middle of the night feedings and putting him back down.  He hasn’t been napping, which in turn makes putting him to bed for the night so much harder.  It is nothing short of a struggle and I am more exhausted now than when he was first born.

Last night I was at my wits end.  He wouldn’t go to sleep.  He wouldn’t be rocked or bounced.  He wouldn’t take my finger.  There was nothing I could do and all he would do is scream, but as soon as I picked him up he was fine.  It was obvious he just wanted me.  He wasn’t in pain.  He just wanted his mom to hold him.  I argued with Rob about letting him cry it out.  To me it was nearly inhumane and a horrible thing to put a child through.  I called my mom in tears.  After talking with her I had decided to give it a try.

I nursed him, told him I loved him and I laid him down and walked away.  He started crying immediately and it didn’t take long for him to start screaming.  I sat at the top of the stairs crying myself.  I felt awful.  All he wanted was for me to hold him and comfort him and I made a decision to not do that.  I stayed in the room because I didn’t want him to be alone.  I know he doesn’t know I was there, and I know he won’t ever remember screaming his adorable little head off, but I needed to be there for me.   It took exactly 30 minutes for him to go to sleep.  I felt much better as soon as he was asleep.  Today he wasn’t fussy like he has been for the last few weeks and he was much more attentive.

Tonight it took only 13 minutes.

I feel guilty every time I let him sit their and cry like that.  But when I see the well rested baby smile and be happy all day I know I made the right decision.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since becoming a parent is to not be too quick to judge.  I’m notorious for that.  This parenting thing is hard and the last thing a parent needs is someone judging their every move.  I’m going to make an honest effort to be more open minded and accepting of the way other’s do things.

I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be one of those parents that constantly posts photos of their baby online.  Well guess what?  I am most certainly that parent.  I love taking photos of him.  We had a little photo shoot today.  Here are some of my favorite shots:

He’s just so damn cute I can’t help but rub in your face.

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Weekend Fun

It’s July, which means it’s finally summer time here in Oregon.

This last Saturday we packed up the kid and headed to the coast.  We met Rob’s parents their friend Ellen and Rob’s Aunt Christi and her husband Greg in Seaside for lunch.  After lunch we checked out an antique store and book store before heading to Del Ray Beach.  I had never been to this beach before and I’m not sure I’d go there again.  As we approached the beach Greg, who we were following, drove past the parking lot, right onto the beach.  There were tons of cars parked on the beach.  Something about that seemed so wrong.  Once we got there, I wanted to get Max out of the car and dip his tiny feet in the ocean.

He had napped a little bit in the car, so he was already a little pissy.  This just threw him over the edge.

I don’t blame him for being upset.  The water was pretty damn cold, and if someone had made me put my feet in it against my will, I’d be pissed off too.  But it was all worth it for the photos.

Aren’t we just the cutest?

Christi and Greg

After our 10 minutes spent on the beach we hopped back in the cars and made our way to Astoria where Christi and Greg live on their super cool houseboat.  We spent the afternoon lounging on the deck basking in the sun.  It was perfect.  Max and Grandpa Joe

We drove home that evening with an extremely fussy baby.  We took highway 30, a way we hadn’t taken before and it was gorgeous.  If I wasn’t the one driving I would’ve been snapping photos from the passenger seat.

Sunday we spent the day cleaning our backyard with a little help (ok a lot of help) from my good friend, Joy.  She went to town weeding our incredibly neglected garden.  (Thanks Joy!)  We also picked a  bunch of strawberries that had ripened.  We planted them last year and they’ve taken over the garden this year.

I used those strawberries to make a strawberry cake for our 4th of July barbeque (It was pretty damn good.  Katrina you missed out!).  Last year we hosted a barbeque and did so again this year.  Our friend Tony smoked some ribs and they were deeee-licious.  We had a ton of food including multiple homemade pies, Rob’s deviled eggs, my strawberry cake and baked mac n cheese.  And of course we had the great company of our friends.

Finally found a carrier Max can handle being in.

Our old buddy/roommate, Milo and his lady Amy were in town and spent the evening with us.

We had such a good time.  Once everyone left and the neighbors started up with their fireworks Rob and I were so afraid of Max getting woken up.  Luckily he didn’t.  But with worrying about that, I realized just how different my life is now.  I was showered and in my pajamas by 10:00, while the young couple across the street were hosting a party complete with fireworks.  I felt old, but not in a sad feel sorry for me way.  Just in a, I’m not a kid anymore way.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

I’ve come to the realization that things are going to change.  Yes, I’ve known this for 9+ months but it’s hitting me like a ton of bricks.  Monday night it dawned on me that the days are numbered for Rob and I being alone.  I’m so excited for what’s to come, but I’m going to miss it just being us.  I know our relationship will change and become something more fantastic than we could imagine, but it’s a little bittersweet.

Vintage Rob and Erin, summer 2006.

Rob spent the evening with me last night watching the Blazer game and went into work late because I had a bit of a pregnant lady emotional breakdown.  There are so many mixed emotions I’m feeling right now, and when it all comes up at once it’s pretty ugly.  I have fears of not having the same friendships after the baby comes, and losing touch with people and myself for that matter.  Rob and I talk at great length about how we need to make sure we have time alone-together, and with our friends.  I’ve watched myself slowly drop off the social radar, due to being uncomfortably pregnant, and I don’t want to become a complete shut in.  I know there’s a learning curve to all of this, and we’ll figure it out at some point.

While I have fears, more than anything I’m excited.  The anticipation of going into labor and giving birth and meeting our baby is sucking the life out of me.  I’ve cleaned the house thoroughly, and I don’t know how to distract myself anymore.  I’m actually excited to go into labor and give birth.  But I’m more excited to meet this little creature that’s been squirming around in my belly for the last 39 weeks.  I can’t wait to hold him and see what he looks like, and who he looks like.  I am so excited to see Rob with him.  He is going to be such an amazing dad.

I am so lucky to have Rob.  Even in the midst of my nonsense crying fits he keeps his cool and always makes my feelings justified.  He has been nothing short of amazing throughout this pregnancy.  He does everything from getting me milkshakes at any time I want, making sure I’m comfortable wherever I am, carrying my purse (he insists on doing this), keeping me fed, to driving me to his parent’s house at 11:00 at night to use their deep claw foot tub for a soak while they’re on vacation (only to find out that they’ve had the water shut off for the duration of their trip).  He’s come to every single prenatal appointment with me and held my hand through the uncomfortable things.  He took the Bradley Method classes with me, voluntarily read baby books, and refinished the furniture for the baby’s room.  He’s the most selfless, caring, genuine man I’ve ever known and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world for having married him.

Look at this guy.  How awesome of a dad is he going to be?  GAH!  I can’t wait!

This rush of hormonal craziness was brought about after we got back from seeing the midwife for the 39 week appointment.  Everything is looking fine, no real progress as far dilation.  Baby is settled nicely into my pelvis, which I can definitely feel.  Since Sunday I’ve felt like I’m getting my period.  Really cramp-y, and having somewhat regular contractions.  His heart rate was good, and we even got to see him on ultrasound again.  He’s flipped sides since last appointment.  Usually his back is along my right side, now it’s on the left.  I was worried about getting a cervical check this time around because I didn’t want to be discouraged about how little progress I’ve made.  And I wasn’t upset.  I felt pretty good leaving the appointment, it wasn’t until I got home did I find myself sinking into a downward spiral of boredom and gloominess.

I don’t know how to entertain myself while waiting anymore.  I wish I had a timeline for his arrival.  I mean, something more than knowing he’ll be here within two weeks.  I want him to come on his own time, but it’s really hard to be patient.  Especially when everyone around me is constantly asking “When’s the baby coming?”, “Are you going to have a baby today?”, or telling me when I should be having the baby.  I know you all mean well and want this to happen, but believe me when I say I want this to happen more than you do:)  We’re on his time, and I can only hope that he’ll be here within the next week.

I can’t help but play this song over and over in my head.  David Bowie always makes me feel better.

Things that happened

Well, this last week has been full of happening things.

First off, we had our last Bradley Birth Class on Sunday.  I certainly feel confident in my decision to go natural/med free.  I think Rob and I both learned a lot from this class.  Rob even told me how proud he was of me for choosing to go natural/med free.  That made me feel pretty damn good.

Tuesday was Mardi Gras.  Even though I don’t live in New Orleans anymore I still like to celebrate Mardi Gras and share what it’s about with my friends.  I made a King Cake this year instead of having one shipped here (I can’t justify spending $50 on having a cake shipped here).  It didn’t come out great.  It was dry and a lot more dense than what kind of King Cake I’m used to.  The frosting came out pretty good though.  I even made a cream cheese filling, that also came out well.  I’d like to master a King Cake recipe one of these days, so I guess I’ll just keep on practicing.

For Mardi Gras dinner Rob, myself, Mike and Devo went to EaT: An Oyster Bar.  It was packed!  We got a a table right in front of the live musician, Curtis Salgado.  Aside from not being able to speak to each other over dinner, it was great.  I had Shrimp Étouffée, Rob had the jambalaya, Mike had the debris po boy, Gator bites & pickle chips, and Devo had the fried oyster po boy.  I also got my fix of sweet tea.  Although, if I weren’t pregnant I would’ve indulged in a hurricane and/or an Abita Turbo Dog, a Louisiana micro brew.  There was a lady there dressed to the nines in Mardi Gras gear.  It really made me miss going to parades and seeing everyone dressed up and dancing in the streets and yelling “Hey mister, throw me somthin’!”  at the floats passing by.

If you look over Rob’s left shoulder you can see the Mardi Gras lady.  She looks eerily like a statue.

I told Rob I can’t wait to bring the kid to Mardi Gras and let him experience the awesome fun I had as a kid.

Last week marked 37 weeks of having a growing fetus inside me.

And this last Wednesday marked 38 weeks:

All I’ll say about pregnancy this post is that we’re ready and waiting.  Please come soon, baby.  I’m getting impatient.

Thursday was an interesting day.  I picked up Katrina from the airport, who came in town just in time to see my brother in the hospital after having his appendix removed!  My mom called me Thursday morning and said she took him into the E.R. the night before with severe abdominal pain and vomiting.  After some tests and a Cat Scan, they determined he had to have his appendix removed.  Luckily they caught it early and it hadn’t ruptured.

Poor kid.  I felt so bad for him, being in all that pain.  When they got him settled into his room after surgery, he looked pretty comfortable.  Probably the dilaudid he was hopped up on.  He was talking about taking me to the Waffle Window this weekend.  Yeah, that’s happening.  He’s at home now, doing well thankfully.  We talked about how after I give birth, we can compare pain stories.

Hang in there little bro!

Also, today is Katrina’s birthday.  Happy birthday to my favorite Dairy Queen buddy, fellow bitchy bitch and all around crazy girl.

Until next time children…

February Wrap Up

For Valentine’s Day Rob and I decided that we had a $5 budget on any sort of gifting we wanted to do, aside from our traditional dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant La Buca and dessert at Stoccato Gelato.  I decided to make a nice breakfast for us.  I found this recipe for red velvet pancakes.  Red velvet cake is my favorite, and Rob likes most things food related so I thought I couldn’t go wrong.  Since he worked the night before at the bar I had all morning to prepare our feast.  I had to go to the grocery to get buttermilk, the only ingredient I didn’t have on hand, so I stayed within our $5 budget.  I made the batter and got the pan ready, and plopped the first to be pancake on it.  Problem: The batter is incredibly thick.  The first few were inedible.  Eventually I got it down to a science and made some decent pancakes.

A little powdered sugar and a heart shaped cookie cutter made them more valentines-y.

Rob’s gift broke the rules.  After dinner we went to see comedienne Tig Notaro at Helium.  It was a great surprise and a great show.  Another little surprise were the awesome contractions I was having.  All.  Night.  Long.  When we were walking from the car to wherever we were going I had grab on to Rob for support because they were taking my breath away.  Despite that, we had a lovely evening and I couldn’t help but keep thinking about how this was probably going to be one of our last date nights before becoming parents.

This last weekend Rob and Cinema Queso completed their movie for the 48 Hour Go Green contest.  While we were watching birthing videos in our class Sunday night, Rob is anxiously waiting to hear from his teammates to see if their film got turned in on time.  Watching women birth babies and seeing what kind of life changing things he’ll be going through soon really put him on edge.  Rob’s usually a pretty laid back guy, but when he’s anxious you can feel it emanating from his body.  It  was turned in on time, and we went to the screening on Thursday where they won nothing-which was expected.  They made a silly movie that was competing against a lot of dramatic and more serious films.  This is where I would include a link to their movie, but they haven’t put it online yet.  Slackers.  Check YouTube and Vimeo in a few days and search for Cinema Queso’s “Treason”.

What else is happening?  If you’re not in Portland then you may not be aware of our brush with death and the adventures in PDX BLIZZARD 2011.  Anytime the meteorologists mention snow the entire city ends up in a tizzy.  Ever since Snomageddon ’08 I have sworn off snow.  Didn’t know you could do that, huh?  Well I did.  It was fun for a day, then it was just a problem.  Back to present day: They had been talking snow all week and I chose to ignore it, because nothing usually comes of it.  Well, Thursday morning I got up at 8 and looked outside and low and behold it was snowing.  The neighbor kids were out playing already, because of course school had been canceled.  It didn’t last long though.  It had stopped snowing and was completely melted away by noon.  Rob and I were able to run errands and take care of some things.  By 3:00 it had started snowing again, and dumped a full inch.  While it was pretty, and I really had no real reason to hate it, I still did.  I did make myself go out and take pictures, and while doing so I took a snowball to the face from one of the neighbor girls.  Now normally I would’ve flown off the handle and would’ve wanted to throttle her neck, but I reacted quite the opposite.  You know why?  Because pregnancy has made me a nicer person.  One of the older kids scolded her and said “Don’t throw snowballs at the neighbor!  She’s pregnant and it’s not very nice!”.  I don’t know where he learned those manners, certainly not from his parents, but I appreciated his efforts.  I went on about my business of photographing the crocus’s in my front yard.  And that was my snow day.  It had, again, melted away pretty quickly.  So much for our end of days snow storm.

Yesterday, Friday, I had my 36 week check up with the midwife.  We finally got to see our favorite midwife again.  She seemed pretty excited to see us too.  Of course I had a few things to discuss with her off the bat.  We talked about all the lovely Braxton Hicks contractions I’ve been having, including the painful ones I experienced on Tuesday evening.  I ended up calling Labor & Delivery at the hospital.  I knew it wasn’t it. I was having regular contractions ranging from 2 to 4 minutes apart, not painful at first but eventually came back pain and a little cramping.  I called in just to make sure I shouldn’t go in.  The nurse advised me to take a bath, which totally helped.  They were back to a few an hour like normal, with no pain.  All of that lasted about 7 hours.  And in that 7 hours I did all the relaxation exercises we’ve learned in class.  It was good practice for when it is the real thing.

If you don’t care to know about the inner workings of my pregnant bod, then leave now.  There’s your TMI warning.

Ok, back to the midwife.  At this appointment I had to be tested for Group B Strep, which can be pretty dangerous to the baby if I did have it and he picked it up on the way out.  I haven’t gotten the results back yet, hopefully it’s negative, cause if it’s positive I’ll have to have an i.v. during labor with antibiotics which I don’t want (the i.v., not the antibiotics).  The test is done by swabbing a q tip in the vagina and anus.  It sounds a lot worse than it is.  I didn’t even notice she had done it.  I did inform her that I thought I had a hemorrhoid, which I’ve never had before so I wasn’t exactly sure.  She said she couldn’t see anything, but that they can go in and out with bowel movements.  Lovely!  Update from today: I’m pretty sure it’s a hemorrhoid.  I also had her do a cervical check.  I was curious to see if there was any progress at all, especially after all these contractions.  This was the most uncomfortable part.  She said I was not dilated, but my cervix is 30-40% effaced and it’s soft and short and she could feel the baby’s head.  She also said he’s not engaged, which means she could push his head away.  That explains all the insane movement I’m feeling.  I did pretty good through the cervical check.  She even commented on how well I did!  After that we got to see the bebe on ultrasound.  We saw his little mouth sucking on nothing, and we even got a little wave out of him.  I think he’s going to have Rob’s lips.  It was pretty nice to see him one last time on the inside.  Next time we see him, he’ll be an outside baby.  We wrapped up our visit with the midwife, and she said that I need to make sure to have him on a Wednesday so she can be the one to deliver him.  I hope she is.

After our appointment we went to the Nurse Treatment Center and got flu shots.  Rob and I both were feeling pretty crummy by the end of the night, but unfortunately Rob had to work.  My whole body ached, my nose was stuffy (after having a crazy bloody nose), and my injection arm was so sore.  I woke up with a sore throat and I’m still feeling kind of groggy.  Booooo.  But it’s all for the baby, so it’s OK.

At this point we’ve got 25 days left until the due date.  I’m still feeling like he’ll be early, even by a day.  We’re both pretty ready.  Now it’s just what feels like a very long waiting game.