Monday, February 29, 2016

Coffee Date

I love when my blogger friends post Coffee Date posts. You know, the ones where they write what we would talk about if we could go out for coffee together, so that is what you get from me today. :)

If we were having coffee today ... I would probably tell you that I have been drinking an insane amount of coffee since having Elise. Well, I guess calling it an insane amount is a bit dramatic, but my coffee consumption has definitely increased, which makes sense, since my sleep pattern is sleep 2-3 hours, wake up for 30 minutes to an hour and repeat. Coffee is needed.  I have also began a very bad habit of grabbing a "fancy" coffee while out and about with Elise, which I am sure will disappear once I go back to work. I firmly believe spending money on coffee at a coffee shop is a splurge and not an everyday necessity.

If we were having coffee today ... I would probably mention that a week from today I will be back at work and my maternity leave will be over. I pray that we all have a smooth transition. We are very lucky and Elise will be able to stay at home and family will be watching her until I am home for the summer, but it is still hard. The only silver lining to going back to work, is that means we are that much closer to summer. When I get out for summer break she will be just a few days shy of 5 months old, and I know she will be at a very fun stage!

If we were having coffee today ... We would probably talk about how the Oscars. Did you watch? I watched while grading papers and playing monopoly with my husband (he kicked my butt). Oh, and yeah, I'm working on keeping up with grading while I'm out. Sad, right? Sad, but in the long run, it will pay off later. Anyway, the Oscars. I'm so glad that Leo won! His speech was spot on. Loved it.

If we were having coffee today ... While on the subject of tv, I would probably mention a few shows I'm obsessed with. While on leave, I have been binge watching Scandal and am on the current season. I've been binging so much, that I will probably be caught up to the most current episode this week! Do you watch? We also started watching Fuller House - with the rest of the US, I'm sure! It felt like everyone was binge watching Fuller House on Friday night!

If we were having coffee today ... We might talk about working out. Last week I had my 6 week post partum follow-up appointment and was cleared for exercise. That means I have to get back out there. I would love to start going to Zumba again on the week nights, but it just doesn't work well with my schedule. I will probably start running again and then maybe go to Zumba Saturday mornings. I've got to do something though, because the number on the scale is not a friendly number.

If we were having coffee, what would you chat about? What's going on in your life?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thank you! [a followup from yesterday's breastfeeding post]

Yesterday's post about my breastfeeding journey was a pretty personal post and I got so many messages from people who still read my blog either as a comment, email or Instagram post. Thank you very much for your encouragement and support!

This post has been floating around mommy groups (yes, I succumbed to them... they are sometimes a trainwreck) and it is exactly why I want to continue nursing. Basically, the photo shows two bags of pumped milk. One bag is "normal" everyday white-colored breastmilk. The other bag is a darker yellowish-colored breastmilk that more resembles nutrient-packed colostrum, which is what a mother's body will do when a baby's body has somehow signaled (some say through saliva) that they need antibodies to fight something off.

A tall glass of a nutrient-packed drink that is unique to YOU? Yes, please. Everyday, please. How amazing are our bodies? It just leaves me shaking my head and amazed at how phenomenal that is. It leaves me with a sick feeling in my gut thinking about not being able to provide this to Elise. So, this is why we are going to keep going. Even if she's only getting an ounce of breastmilk from me, it's an ounce of what she needs.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Our breastfeeding journey

I knew breastfeeding was not easy, but what I didn't know was just how difficult it would be. Something so natural should be easy, right? Wrong. Luckily, I have never felt alone and I know that I am not the only one struggling. Many women in my circle of friends, old and young, have struggled like I have.

Elise and I had many obstacles in our way and if or when we decide to have another little one, I will be doing things much differently. I have discovered that breastfeeding is sensitive, or really, our bodies are just smart. A woman's body produces what baby needs and if you're supplementing with formula, well... that's going to hinder your supply. Let me back up and explain first.

Breastfeeding was something I really really wanted to do. We are still breastfeeding, but I am on the verge of giving it up, which is where this post is coming from.

Elise was born at 5lb 4oz and she quickly lost weight, as most babies do. The weight lost is water weight and it is normal for an infant to lose up to 10% of his or her body weight after birth. Thankfully, Elise never lost that much and when she left the hospital she was 4 lb 10.5oz. We struggled to breastfeed from the get go. Not due to Elise though. She latched like a champ and tried hard. I just wasn't producing enough right away. After our nursing sessions, I would pump and I would only get 1-2 ml of colostrum. I was feeling defeated before I even left the hospital and considering she was eating (or trying to eat) every two hours, I was feeling defeated a lot.

At one middle of the night feeding, the nurse suggested supplementing with formula. Looking back, suggesting that in the middle of the night was a little low considering I was not thinking too clearly. However, I know the nurse was just doing her job and we needed Elise to gain weight. Supplementing came with a lot of tears and worry. I did not want Elise to have formula at all. We wanted to be an exclusively breast fed family. Elise has been on high calorie formula for premature babies ever since.

Five weeks and four days later, Elise is still drinking formula after every nursing session. We have tried weaning off the formula, but I know I do not produce enough breastmilk for even one feeding. When you have an infant that needs to gain weight, weaning off formula is a little scary. After all, fed is best. I want my daughter to get all the nutrients she needs and if she is getting some breastmilk and mostly formula, that is okay.

It has taken me a long time to be okay with that though. We have seen lactation consultants, done weighted feedings and, of course, tried weaning. I have taken fenugreek and blessed thistle supplements, eaten my weight in oatmeal, drank what seemed like gallons of water, ate lactation cookies ... if there was a trick to producing more milk, I tried it. Nothing seemed to work.

So, what was the problem? After all, "only a small percentage of women have trouble with supply." I call bullshit on that supposed statistic (that came from the La Leche League, by the way) because I have several friends that have also struggled with supply issues. I do have a few suspicions about why I struggled though. First off, I did not get to hold Elise for at least an hour after her birth. When we came home, I did not relax. I felt surprisingly okay, and I did not let myself just sit around and relax with my newborn. I let myself stress a lot about breastfeeding. And, lastly, we had to supplement with formula. All of those factors mixed together, made it very hard for us to exclusively breastfeed, let alone, get a little bit of breastmilk.

I am still producing a little bit though and we are still nursing. I always said I would do this throughout my maternity leave because right now I have the time to devote to it. Elise eats every two hours and when we nurse, her feeding sessions are anywhere from 15 minutes (rare) to an hour (more common) so this leaves me with an hour in between each session to get anything done. She is beginning to go three hours in between feeding sessions during the day, so that makes it nice to be able to go out and grocery shop or make a Target run.

What I am struggling with most right now is the end of my leave, which might mean the end of our breastfeeding relationship. Do I take time out of my work day to pump when I am only pumping an ounce of milk? It's a lot of work for a little payoff. Do I just try and nurse when I'm home until my supply dries up? This would mean that I am going to go at least nine hours without pumping or nursing.

I have two and a half weeks to figure it out and make a decision.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Elise's Birth Story Part 1

First comes love.

Then comes marriage.

Then comes .... BABY, in a baby carriage!

Yep, it's been awhile, blog. However, the people reading this blog pretty much know me IRL now and those that do not "know" me "IRL" probably sort of feel like they do because of Facebook and Instagram. Social media is so fun, no!?

"Blogging Elise's birth story" has been on my "Maternity To-Do List" since we got home and since today is her one month birthday (omg. How?) I thought it was a perfect day to sit down and pound it out. Speaking of which, I really miss blogging. Or, more specifically, I miss writing in the form of a pseudo journal that documents my life. Now that I am in charge of another life I feel an even stronger pull towards this space. I do not want to forget anything, so maybe you will be seeing more of me us here.

Ok. Birth story time. Settle in. Because, I did. At the hospital. For 6 days.

It was week 36 of my pregnancy and I was officially visiting the doctor's office once a week. Usually my appointments were at 4:15pm but this week I couldn't get an afternoon appointment so I was in there at 7:30am on Tuesday morning. I was stressing because I had an 8:15am meeting at work and I was refusing to miss it (ugh, perspective. Now I see it). 

At this appointment my ankles were HUGE and UNRECOGNIZABLE and it was the first time the nurse/doctor stressed over a high blood pressure reading. The doctor said the past few weeks it had been creeping up. I figured I would be told to drink more water, sit down more to rest (haha, I'm a teacher) and watch my BP.

I was wrong.

The doctor came back in and said she wanted to see me again on Thursday and if my BP was still high we would be delivering this week. I'm pretty sure I just stared at her in complete shock. I was convinced that I would go way past 40 weeks. It was January 5th and I did not think Baby would make her debut until February. So, I made my appointment for later that week (which I was stressing about because ... work! How? My schedule was impossible) and I texted my husband. His response was unlike his usually cool, calm, Mr.-I-Never-Freak-Out demeanor. He texted back "for real??" and that's when I began to cry. He calmed me down though and I quickly switched gears into work mode.

I made it into work and through that meeting without tearing up, until our instructional coach (who is close to my age and has two children) noticed something was up with me because I was on the verge of tears. Which did come. Two minutes before kids started walking into my room. Fun times!

Moving on.

The next day (Wednesday, for those of you keeping up) I made it through the day, but the swelling was out of control. The school nurse (who is a former NICU nurse and is ahhhhmazing) checked my blood pressure and promptly sent me to the hospital because it was high. I want to say it was 170 something over 100 something. High. Not good. We went into the hospital and sat in triage for awhile with me on my left side. My BP went down to normal levels, baby was doing fine, and we were sent home.

I went to work the next day (Thursday) a little unsure if I should be there and with a feeling of doom. The best possible doom though? It was a feeling that I might not be back the next day and I need to get everything finalized for my sub(s). Turns out, I was right. I wasn't coming back for awhile!

We ended up checking into the hospital that evening. We were having a baby! I had had since Tuesday to mentally prepare for delivering early and I felt ready! Sort of. Thursday the doctor checked my BP and basically said to go home, pack your bags and head into the hospital.

Ok, then! We went home, I showered, double checked my bags, ate some lunch and we went into the hospital a family of two.

I was honestly so prepared to go over 40 weeks, I did not considering being induced at all. Therefore I did not do much research on it and now that it's all said and done, I wish I had. More on that later. Probably for another post.

Thursday evening when I finally got into a room (the maternity floor was paaaaacked and we were in triage for almost 6 hours) they decided to give me Cervadil to get things going. The Cervadil did its job overnight, but I did not start dilating or having strong enough contractions for me to feel them. I will not go into detail about the Cervadil, but I hated it.

Now it is Friday and I am supposedly in labor. Sort of. I wasn't feeling a darn thing! The contractions were too small and I was not dilated at all. Late Friday evening they decided to give me something else that would basically do the same thing as Cervadil. I can't remember what it was called, Cytotec maybe? Well, it worked. At 5:15am on Saturday, my water broke. I had called the nurse begging to get out of bed to go to the bathroom because the urge to pee hurt so bad. When I stood up I "peed my pants" and when I called the nurse back to tell her I "peed my pants" she laughed and said no, that my water probably broke. She was right. Weirdest feeling ever!

From that point is when I felt officially "in labor" and my contractions began to get stronger and much more painful. I had sent Bill home to get some sleep at home so he wasn't there when things started to get worse, but I felt like I could handle it. I was sure that I was dilated pretty high and I was dying to know, but I hated it when they checked. When they did finally check I was in shock when she said I was dilated to 2cm.

TWO? What? No. Check again. Wait, don't check. It's super uncomfortable.

When I was dilated to a little over 3cm I asked for the epidural, I think this was about 10am. I'm not completely sure though. I wanted to wait it out a little longer, but I just couldn't. My contractions were about every 5 minutes and were 30 seconds long. My coping mechanism was to count, which is interesting because I do the same thing when running and I always compared pregnancy and labor to long-distance running. Makes sense that I would cope the same way! I would tell myself during contractions (and running) that anyone can do anything for 30 seconds (when running it's one minute, 30 seconds, whatever I'm doing whether it be sprints, pacing, etc.).

The anesthesiologist got there a lot faster than I expected (that or I have lost track of time, which is very likely!) and this is the first moment I felt really, really scared. I was so worried I would accidentally see the needle so I basically did not take my eyes off of Bill. Him and the nurses were so wonderful. I feel so lucky to have had such a wonderful support team! They ended up having to administer the epidural twice because the first time I didn't feel any different. It wasn't in right. Luckily, the pain of the contractions was so much worse than administering the epidural, I didn't care. I just wanted it in right. The hardest part about the epidural was staying still. Once it was in and in the right way, I felt amazing. I couldn't feel a thing. Being checked for how far along I was and anything else they had to do was a breeze from this point on.

Around this time the contractions got stronger and I could feel them still, but they weren't near as painful. This was great, but what wasn't so great was Baby's heart rate. Every time I contracted her heart rate would go really low and stay low for awhile. A few times her heart rate would go down into the 50s and everyone worried. Several times our room would fill with nurses and at one time they put me on my stomach (rear in the air, now thaaat was uncomfortable) and hooked up to oxygen. Nothing really helped. Her heart rate would still drop when I contracted. They took me off the Pitocin to give baby a break and my labor stalled. Her heart rate got better, but I wasn't contracting or progressing in labor now.

This point was a roller coaster. They had mentioned the possibility of a c-section, but we hadn't discussed it since Friday, which felt like ages ago even though it was only the day before. My head was mentally prepared for pushing, I was not mentally prepared for surgery.

They decided to put me back on the Pitocin and I went right back into contractions. Baby went right back to struggling through the contractions. We talked to her, read to her, rubbed my belly where I knew she was and all of these things seemed to help, but she was still struggling.

At 3pm, the doctor finally said she didn't like the dips in her heart rate and how the rate would stay low. They were worried she couldn't handle my pushing. This scared me. If she couldn't handle contractions how was she going to handle the trauma of being pushed out of the birth canal?! At this point, I would do whatever was best for her.

The doctor said a c-section was probably the best option. Bill and I just looked at each other and immediately agreed. Fine. A c-section it is. I remember looking at the clock at this time and thinking, "I'm going to have a baby by 4pm."

A baby by 4pm, we did! Elise Frances Kuehler was born at 3:31 via a c-section. The surgery went well and by 4pm we were actually back in our room ... with a baby. How crazy is that?!


In part 2 I will recap my thoughts on the c-section and let you know how we have been doing the first 4 weeks at home!