3/3/14

Reflections on the last 4.5 months

Life has changed so much for us and I feel that I've changed a lot as well. 4.5 months have flown by and in two weeks I will begin work.

The first 2 months were really challenging for me, and I took motherhood a lot harder than I expected. There were days when I longed to work so that I could have some excuse to be untethered from baby and have some freedom. I felt tired and alone - alone mainly because we are the first in our group of friends locally to have a baby - I was undergoing so much change and even a mere two weeks after baby arrived I felt like a completely different person. How was I to explain that?

My mother in law was here for 3 weeks, then my mom came for 4 weeks, then W had 2 weeks off. So I had 9 weeks of support, which I feel grateful for. After family left I became pretty homesick, especially because that time coincided with the holidays. This is the first time since we left LA five years ago that I really missed LA. Having family nearby is huge when you have a kid.

Breastfeeding was one of the hardest parts of motherhood. It got better after 6 weeks, even better after 2 months, and somewhere between 3 and 4 months it finally became natural. In the beginning, he would feed for an average of an hour each feed. It was brutal and there were so many times when I wanted to give up. Now I get bummed when he feeds for short periods and I want him to eat for longer! Ha.

I also experienced a lot of anxiety in the first 3 months. I've never been a worrier but I seriously worried about everything related to C. Whether I was producing enough milk, whether he was eating enough, whether I was creating bad sleep habits for him, and the list goes on. It was exhausting. I still have bouts of anxiety but it's decreased significantly.

I feel a huge need to connect with other new moms. My sister in law had a baby a month after me and it's been great - we facetime with each other every day and talk about mundane stuff like how they're eating, how they're sleeping and every little new development they have. But in terms of connecting locally, it's a Catch 22 because I really want to connect with new moms but I also value protecting his naps. Since he doesn't sleep well in the car seat anymore, that means I'm kind of stuck at home.

I make my life as a mom sound so tough but in reality C has been an "easy" baby. By 2 months he started waking 2 times a night for feeds. At around 2.5 months he got on a pretty regular schedule and has been since. At 3 months he started sleeping in his crib. He's a good napper - on average naps for 4-5 hours each day. A week ago he started sleeping through the night from 8pm-7am.

There are so many emotions around going to work. First, I feel immensely grateful for my new job. I couldn't have asked for a better one - I got my #1 choice hospital, the start date gave me 5 months at home, my commute is 10 minutes and I will have lots of support because in the first year I'll be in a program for new grads.

We also have a great setup for childcare. A good friend will be his nanny. And since I'll be working three 12 hr shifts, we won't need care 5 days a week. W will watch him on the weekends I work.

BUT, it feels so difficult! We had a practice day with his nanny last week and it went really well but after she left I cried my eyes out. It just felt so wrong to leave him when he is still so young. A baby really needs his mom. I wish I could stay home for a year, but I know even 5 months is such a luxury. I've never left him for more than 2 hours in between feeds, so this is going to be a major transition for me. Working moms tell me it gets better and that it will be worth it. Also, pumping is no fun!

Okay, this post has gotten way too long and I need to go to sleep. Major props to all moms out there!


2/17/14

My favorite items for baby

I can't believe our little one is almost 4 months! I wanted to quickly document my favorite items for baby up until this point. Here they are, in no particular order:

Bouncer: It doesn't really matter what brand. We have the Fisher Price Snugabunny and we used it a lot for him to chill in and sleep in for about 3 months. It's nice to have something upright to put them in after feeds too.

Tiny Love Mobile: We were gifted this mobile and I didn't set it up until he was about 6 weeks because I didn't like it at first. But it's a lifesaver. After I nurse him, I put him in his crib and turn this on while I pump. He'll be entertained by it for 15-20 minutes.

Fisher Price Piano Gym: I think any type of play gym works. I like this one because he can kick the keyboard with his feet and later sit and play the keys with his hands. At first he would just lie under there but over time he swatted at the hanging animals and now he grabs them and plays with them.

Fisher Price Jumperoo: He loves this thing. It's hideous, but he can exercise his legs on it and play with the various toys around it. I put him in here while I'm cooking and eating downstairs.

My Brest Friend: I have the boppy but I ended up just sitting on it to relieve pressure during my post partum recovery because it didn't work for me with nursing. My neighbor gave me her brest friend nursing pillow and I love it. Super comfy and I have an extra one in the car in case I need to feed him while out.

Miracle blanket: We just stopped swaddling him, but I loved the miracle blanket. It makes swaddling easy and I found that I didn't have to make it as tight but it still kept him from breaking free.

JJ Cole BundleMe: We just got this but I wish we had gotten it earlier. It's great for cold climates. We used to put a blanket on top of him in the car seat but this is snug and keeps him warm.

Mother's Milk Tea: I drink a few cups of this tea every day and I think it helps with my supply.

That's about it! Let me know if there are other items you found useful during the first few months of your little one's life.

11/1/13

My birth story

Thoughts on Labor & Delivery

Before getting pregnant, I knew that I wanted as natural a birth as possible. In my ideal world, I wanted a home birth or at least one at a birth center. However, W was not down with that. So we compromised and I went to a midwife practice where I would deliver at a hospital. During the pregnancy, I relaxed a bit in my thinking and decided that I didn't want an epidural, but would not be opposed to one if I got desperate.

My midwife knew my birth plan, and highly recommended that I take a laboring class if I didn't want an epidural. She said I needed to learn how to manage the pain with breathing and other useful techniques. Unfortunately, I kept getting waitlisted to the classes at the hospital and I didn't want to pay for a more expensive class. So I didn't end up going to one. As my due date approached, I began to become increasingly anxious about the laboring and birthing process. So I watched some YouTube videos of techniques, talked to a friend who delivered without an epidural, and watched a documentary about Ina May's midwife practice called The Birth Story. Also, friends told me that I would only not get an epidural if I set my mind to it in advance - that if it was an option I would use it. Great, I thought.

The Day Before

On Friday, October 18 I had an uncharacteristically socially busy day. An appraiser came to the house in the morning, then I had lunch with my mom's friend. In the afternoon I went to a get together with my nursing school classmates. W and I had dinner with friends, and then we went to an event at our church that night. So I pretty much saw almost everyone I know in Denver that day. 

Also, I woke up that day and noticed blood in the toilet. I had some bloody discharge throughout the day and some mild pain with contractions. I had a feeling labor was coming!

Laboring at Home

We got home from the church event at 11pm and at 11:30pm I knew I was in labor. I told W to get some sleep and I went downstairs. I was up all night, using an exercise ball, leaning on the counter and trying to sleep between contractions. Also, pretty early on in the night I decided I was going to get an epidural. Ha. It's the first thing I told W when he came down in the morning.

At 7am I called the midwife to check in. She told me that based on how my voice sounded I probably wasn't in active labor and that if I went into the hospital they would check me and send me home. She said I sounded tired and suggested I get some sleep between contractions. I continued laboring and called again at 11am when I felt I couldn't bear it any longer. She said I still sounded normal and to wait. But then I began to have increased fresh blood and felt that my body was starting to push during contractions. We called our friend Elaine who happens to be an OBGYN at the hospital where I was delivering and told her the status. She said to come in and get checked.

At the Hospital

We got to the hospital and I was so scared I would be 2 or 3 cm dilated. I really thought I would be because the midwife said I sounded normal. But I got checked and I was 7-8 cm dilated and my cervix was 90% effaced! I was ecstatic. They sent me up to a room. I went into the hot tub for about 20 minutes. During this time Elaine, my OB friend came and asked if she could come in. I'm normally a super modest person, but that all went out the window and somehow I let her come in to see me in all my glory sitting in the hot tub. The midwife asked if I wanted an epidural and I said yes, but when we told her my original plan of not getting one, she said let's wait and see, that I was really close already. It never came up again and I didn't end up getting one.

I got out of the hot tub and they checked me. I was 9 cm and pretty much 100% effaced. I did some pushing on my knees leaning against the back of the bed. That did it, and I started the real pushing. I pushed in 2 positions, mainly in the traditional position on my back, and some in a squatting position. I pushed for THREE hours. Elaine and Will took turns holding one leg up and the midwife and nurse the other leg. And the baby finally came.

After Thoughts

I'm so grateful for my birthing experience. I couldn't have asked for a better one. I got my wish - I didn't get an epidural, I labored at home as long as possible. I had the best experience with my midwife and nurse - they were excellent coaches and I knew exactly how I needed to push, when and for how long. They helped me with breathing as well. And they were super encouraging. Lastly, my friend Elaine was there. Elaine and her husband have been casually marriage mentoring me and W over the last few months. They have 2 adopted daughters. I had thought about asking a friend to be there during labor to help me, but never ended up asking anyone. So it turned out perfectly that she was there. She was really encouraging and there is a new bond between us as she was there during a really vulnerable and important event in our lives. She also ended up helping suture my two tears. Ha. I thought she was just visiting me but she was having a slow night and stayed with me through the whole delivery, even brought us Thai food after.

Also, I feel blessed that I saw everyone the day before. And I got some awesome prayer and words over me for me and for baby that night at the church event.



Next I will post thoughts on post-partum...when I find the time. ;)

10/9/13

Almost ready

I have lots of updates! I finished nursing school in August, and passed my boards 2 weeks ago. Since then, I've been finalizing preparations for baby boy. I'm due in 2 weeks! One surprising thing I discovered about myself is that I'm not a huge nester - I think it's the part of me that is not detail oriented. Or maybe I was busy with school during the nesting instinct period. At any rate, I'm glad I've been able to muster up the willpower to get things ready. Here are some shots of the baby room:


crib: IKEA
mattress: Naturepedic Organic Cotton (brand new from Craigslist)
dresser: local antique store
kilim rug: gifted by my friend Allison, from Turkey
humidifier: crane drop humidifier
blue blanket: knit by cousin
rocking chair: local yard sale
sheepskin: IKEA
fleece blanket: made by friend

I also just ordered everything I need for cloth diapering. Big thanks to Charissa for sending me the diaper covers! That gave me a head start. Here's what I ordered to complete the cloth diapering system:

1 dozen prefolds - size 1
1 dozen prefolds - size 2
4 dozen wipes
2 pail liners
1 wet bag
1 pack snappis - size 1
1 wipes solution
2 spray bottles

W and I went to a class on cloth diapering on Sunday and were pretty overwhelmed, but I finally bit the bullet and got everything. For those with experience, let me know if I'm missing anything. We'll see how this goes!

As for prepping for baby, here are the books/resources we used:

The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems
Brain Rules for Baby
Bringing Up Bebe
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
Birthing from Within
The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD

Again, I thought I'd be a big reader/researcher, but it turns out I wasn't. Most of the above books are anecdotal/stories as opposed to how-to's.

I'm due in 2 weeks! It's weird not knowing when I'll go into labor and thinking that all of a sudden we will be parents. I guess you can never be fully prepared for this kind of change.

9/20/13

End of summer

Summer has come to an end here in Denver and the weather is cooling down. This summer I very much enjoyed cold drinks of all varieties. I'm normally a hot drink person, even in the summer, but the pregnancy tipped my preferences towards cold drinks. I wanted to share a quick recipe for iced coffee that I found and loved this summer. I've never been an iced coffee person (more of a hot black coffee with nothing added type), but this one hit the spot for me.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup fresh ground coffee
2 cups cold water

How to:
Put the coffee grounds and water into a french press. Do not push down on the press. Put the french press into the refrigerator and let sit for 12 hours (I let it sit overnight), then press down. When you are ready to drink, mix one part coffee concentrate with one part milk (I use soymilk). Add ice, and enjoy!

I found that doing it this way takes longer than using hot water and adding ice, but prevents the acidity, giving way to a smooth taste.

6/25/13

Gardening

We've expanded our gardening slightly as we have a small side yard, front yard and sidewalk lawn at our new home. It's been a learning curve - this spring we learned how to de-winterize the sprinklers (thanks to W's coworker), set them on a timer and fertilize the lawn. W also learned how to prune rose bushes by watching videos online. Big steps for us! We also didn't want to get a lawn mower just to mow our little patch of grass, so we cut a deal with our neighbors where they will mow in the summer and we will shovel in the winter.

We don't have a lot of maintenance to do because the spaces are smaller, and I think it's been just enough for us to manage. The previous owners did a great job with the landscaping so it's been nice for us to step into something set up so well.

Here are some of the roses in the front. We had fun watching and waiting to see what color roses the various bushes produced:

These are my favorite
These blossomed first


I cut some roses over the weekend from the different bushes...


We also discovered lilac bushes and lavender in the front. I didn't get any photos of the lilac (they bloom in the spring), but was very happy to find that those bushes belong to us.

Next time I will post some photos of the side yard. We have a little veggie garden growing there.

6/24/13

Preparing for the baby

I've slowly started to get ready for the baby. I bought a few things on Craigslist and my goal is to keep things to a minimum. My cousin in LA has been giving me some tips, and I'm pretty impressed with how simple they have kept things. He lives in a small 2 bedroom in downtown LA and so space is limited.

In terms of diapering, ideally I'd like to do a combo of going diaper free and cloth diapers. But I feel pretty overwhelmed about it. I read Diaper Free Baby last year and it changed my paradigm about diapers. I really like the idea of it, but it seems like a lot of work. Does anyone have experience with this?

Another book I read last year that shaped my view of parenting is Bringing Up Bebe. It's an American journalist's thoughts about parenting in America as compared to France. It's very interesting and paradigm-shifting. I've been thinking a lot about how parenting has developed in the U.S., especially in our generation, compared with prior generations and other countries as I think about how I want to parent.

In terms of the birth plan...I'm going to a midwife practice at a hospital. I'd like to go natural, but I'm not opposed to getting an epidural if I can't bear the pain. But since that's the plan we'll need to take a class and also think about getting a doula to help me manage the pain.

I've been getting lots of questions about whether I will work. As a new grad, it will be nearly impossible for me to find a part-time job, so I will have to work full time. Also, nursing is such a hands-on profession and it takes about a year of full-time work to become proficient at your job. The nice thing is that it will be shift work so I'll work 3x/week. I may work nights and weekends too, so that helps as well. The job market for nurses is pretty tight in Denver, but I feel less stressed about it now that the baby is coming. If it takes me longer to find a job, that will give me more time at home with the baby.

I'm doing my senior practicum rotations at Childrens Hospital in the emergency department, so I think I'll get lots of preparation for the baby there. 7 weeks of school left. I'm ecstatic.