Thursday, March 28, 2013

1 Month Update

How quickly this first month has flown by! You are quite an amazing baby and we're already seeing that you will give us a run for our money. From the minute you were born, you've been incredibly strong. Within the first week you were already making attempts to lift your head up and by one month you already hold your head when we pick you up! You knew how to nurse from the moment you arrived and have been eating around the clock ever since. Curiously enough you prefer to empty your bowels "en aire libre", and for that matter your bladder as well. It has made diaper changes quite the unexpected adventure. 



The animal comparisons of a newborn baby hold very true in your case as well. The little sounds you make sound very much like a little birdy, and you most definitely have the monkey instincts, grabbing our shirts to hold on, lest you fall! Speaking of a little birdy, you follow your toy with your eyes all around; indeed it is the magical toy it was with your brother as well. We are so excited to see this development and the many to come. We are already getting a preview of your smile and can't wait for it to emerge. We love you very much and already can't imagine our life without you!


Monday, March 25, 2013

State of the Family: 2 Under 2- The First Month

When I was pregnant I kept looking for information on what it was actually like transitioning to a family of four, particularly with two little ones close in age. Somehow I only found blog posts from later on, nobody it seems had time? energy? desire to remember? the newborn stage. So here goes, one month in:

For the first two weeks as a family of four we had lots of help. The grandmothers took turns getting up with our toddler and keeping him occupied most of the day. M had some slack in his schedule and so even without a housekeeper we were keeping things together. I, of course, was mostly on baby duty nursing around the clock and keeping other tasks to a minimum (getting together meals for Little Boy, doing some laundry). But once we were officially without any help it became clear that we were not in a great place. 

first time in the double stroller

At 2.5 weeks and 20.5 months: Baby Brother was nursing often, making us worried by holding his bowel movements until he was diaper free, and having some tummy issues as he was obviously uncomfortable but we weren't sure why. Little Boy meanwhile, was acting defiant and destructive, taking advantage of less supervision to act out. He regressed on potty training, and being out of his usual routine was taking a toll on him. To top it off he was fighting off a virus.

Behind the scenes, M and I were tired, running on little and very broken up sleep. The house was falling into disarray as we were without any help and there just weren't enough hours in the day for cleaning anything more than the minimal dishes. I felt like I was running a laundromat and seriously getting annoyed with trying to train a new incompetent housekeeper while taking care of the boys, and M was getting behind in his work. The house was driving us nuts and Little Boy's antics needed taking care of ASAP. We formulated a plan to stop interviewing housekeepers and focus as much as possible on Little Boy. 

By the following week, three of us were doing significantly better. Little Boy was mostly back to his cheery self. The mommy-time complete with routine and discipline was obviously doing him good. We were still struggling with some throwing and hitting, usually while I was busy nursing, but there was already significant improvement. We would still need to get back on the potty train, but for now we weren't pushing the issue. Baby Brother's tummy was improving too. We were thinking that it is probably a dairy and chocolate intolerance. He was slightly congested and sneezing but we felt he was most likely fighting off that same virus. I had one day of complete zombie-ness but other than that was doing much better on the broken sleep. My main challenge was figuring out how to occupy Little Boy N while nursing and I was getting the idea that I really needed to vary my distractions*. By Friday I managed a walk to the park with both boys on my own. It was encouraging. Only poor M was still not getting much done!



Just before the one month mark we made one more big change to help re-organize: we pushed back Little Boy's schedule (9 to 9 instead of 8 to 8) to make it easier on me in the morning (take care of Baby Brother then get Little Boy) and consequently giving M a longer stretch to be away from the house before the afternoon/evening meltdowns begin. So far that has been working well, and while not perfect, all of us seem to be functioning just a little bit better. 

So the first month was not a walk in the park, but really it hasn't been bad. I know that one day I will forget about Little Boy's "no, no, no" days and remember the sweet way he kisses his baby brother, the perfectly calm sleeping baby in my arms and the dance parties in our living room. It is wonderful being a family of four and we're ready for whatever big adventure tomorrow holds. 


*Sometimes I set him up with an activity beforehand, i.e. play dough start playing together and then mommy "takes a break" for a bit, if it's close to a meal time I might serve him food and then sit beside him while he eats, or I just pull out some books and get him to come sit next to me. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

20 months!

As expected, the arrival of Baby Brother has meant it is much tougher to keep up with blogging. I'll keep aiming for once or twice a week, but two under two is no joke and in the hierarchy of things to do with my free time eating and sleeping are winning! 

Little Boy at 20 months

This month was quite wonderful in that we kept to our usual schedule, one that you know and love. You still love a lot of the same activities as in previous months: playing soccer, cooking (tasting) with Mommy, playing in the car "driving", playing with water, reading lots of books, and just generally being a character. Your newest obsession has been with buckling buckles any place you can and you've gotten pretty good at it. You are also turning into a little monkey, climbing everywhere, and inevitably falling some of the time. You are a pro at your gymnastics class and playgrounds in particular are more exciting now, but any piece of furniture will do!


We also had some big big accomplishments and changes this month. We transferred you to a big boy bed- a twin mattress on the floor, and apart from a few falling off incidents, it went really well! The other huge accomplishment is that we can pretty much say you are potty trained for poop! You tell us when you have to go, we run to the bathroom, read books, and you go. It has us very encouraged for the next phase. And we're hearing some new and useful words: na (Mama, which you now use to call me pre-bedtime), baba (Papa), ra-dio, backpack, buba (bubbles), nene (Bebe) and you managed to sneak in a name for your new baby brother- Bo! What a ride; we are so excited to see what's in our future. Love you!



Saturday, March 16, 2013

Night and Day

I cannot begin to describe just how different the first week post partum has been compared to the last time around. Partly it has to do with being a second time mom, partly with recovering from a natural birth, and partly with this kiddo who is bigger and stronger and feeding well. 

This time we had a game plan for visitors: baby, mommy and big brother come first, and everyone else can accommodate to us. This has meant that if I want to nurse on the couch in the living room without flailing for a cover I do, and I decide when to let others hold the baby (not that often), and if you're in the my kitchen things need to go back to where they were. I also much more easily brush off unsolicited advice since I did just do the newborn thing less than two years ago.

The experience also means that I've been a lot calmer about everything from fussiness to sleepiness. Speaking of sleep: it hasn't been too bad and I get one stretch of 3-4 hours which definitely helps the meltdowns. Actually, other than a few snappy comments on my part, there haven't really been any issues. I credit a huge part of it to a baby that has been feeding well. It is such a blessing and I couldn't be happier about it.

Physically recovery has been so much easier. Of course I was sore from stitches and otherwise, but by the third day I could sit relatively comfortably, and with the help of every laxative food around even going to the bathroom wasn't too too bad. By the one week mark I was off the painkillers and feeling significantly better. The best part though, is that from the moment I came home I was able to pick up my toddler, go up and down stairs without a second thought and generally I just felt like back to myself!

homecoming

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

On Instinct

I was debating one more post in my preparing for birth series. It looks like I was meant to write it after the fact. In the two weeks before the birth, I had sudden doubts about my new plan. This was mostly prompted by a couple people telling me birth horror stories that involved my doctor. They, of course, were looking out for my well-being and wanted me to be informed. The bottom line was that it played right into my original fears that perhaps New Doctor was too anti intervention. And the moral was to speak up if I felt like anything was going wrong, and make sure M was firm about any procedures we desired.

Nevertheless I was trying to rationalize my decision to switch doctors: it was for the pediatric care ( not being separated from baby, delayed cord clamping, no glucose water, encouraging breast feeding); it was for knowing that I wouldn't be subjected to IVs, episiotomies, forceps, and the like; it was for giving myself the best chance at a natural birth. I had nightmares about complications, about somehow ending up with a uterine rupture, a hysterectomy, and other unmentionables. Maybe I was making the wrong decision? Maybe I should stay with Old Doctor, the surgeon?

At the end of the day my instinct said I needed to give myself the best possible shot for a successful VBAC for both the short term ramifications (being able to take care of a toddler) and the long term ones ( if we decide to keep expanding our family). And that meant going with New Doctor.

So M advised Old Doctor that I was going with a different doctor for the birth, and then left a message with his office when the baby had been born. Wouldn't you know it, a few days after the birth I get a call from Old Doctor. He called to congratulate me AND we found out he had been out of town all week at a conference! If I hadn't changed, the annoying on-call doctor would have delivered my baby and who knows how that would have gone down. Trust your instincts.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Dream Birth

Looking back, a week after things went down, when I'm a little less sore, a little more relaxed, and starting to love this mom-of-2 role I have to say I really had the dream birth experience. It wasn't super easy or super short, but it did fulfill everything I had secretly hoped for, everything that I had not let myself dream about because I was frightened of complications and more-so of disappointment. Here goes: *Warning: it's graphic*

12:30 a.m. I get woken up by back pain. I pop into the bathroom, thinking nothing of it, and get back into bed. Then again the back pain hits and I start to wonder if this is it. Just in case, I download a contraction timing app on my phone. After an hour of running to the bathroom, trying to work the app on one hour of sleep, and realizing this wasn't going away, I wake up M. Contractions were 30 seconds, 3 minutes apart.

1:30 a.m. I groggily tell M to email my mom, book a flight for his mom, get some things in the bag I had taken out to pack for the hospital but hadn't really put anything in yet, and make a warm rice bag. Ahh the back pain- I search back labor on my phone and then I try out different positions- sitting on the birth ball, leaning on it, getting on all fours on the floor, on the bed. The only thing helping right now was putting lots of counter pressure on my back. I needed to get into a groove, focus on breathing and relaxing and forgetting everything else. 

We turn on Bahai music, I rock back and forth on the floor, I tap my feet, press the rice bag to my back and shake my head to release my jaw through the contractions. I realize that when I'm totally focused and in the zone, the contractions space farther apart and hurt a lot less. 

At this point M really stepped up: he lit candles, tried to massage my feet, made sure my music stayed on repeat, and pressed on my back. He set up the reclined position for me, with lots of pillows behind my back and under my arms, first on the floor but eventually on the bed. We both tried to rest as much as possible. The only thing that threw me for a loop was when the music ended (we tried some other forms but the songs ending weren't working so we went back to the Bahai music) or when M would start to snore, otherwise I was managing pretty well.

5:00 a.m. The contractions lengthen to 45 seconds and the reclined position just isn't working, no matter how hard I press the warm rice bag to my back. At every contraction I lean forward so that M can press  hard. 

7:00 a.m. Contractions are now one minute long and I am feeling nauseous and experiencing hot flashes. Since it's morning, M calls our doula who listens to me on the phone and instructs us to head over to the hospital. M also calls a friend of mine to see if she can watch Little Boy. She's going to meet us as the hospital as well. At this point the commotion and logistics are totally messing with my head and I am slowly losing control. M gets Little Boy out of bed and into the car and I somehow manage to get in the car as well. I have a tingling sensation in my legs and face (because I was basically hyperventilating and not breathing well). 

8:00 a.m. We make it to the hospital. M rolls into the emergency room valet; I get wheeled off to a delivery room, while M stays with Little Boy to check me in. Upon entering the hospital I am bombarded with questions: the on-call doctor wants to know all kinds of information, the nurses are checking my blood pressure and making me change out of my clothes even though I have no desire to but also no strength to argue; I can barely eek out my name. I'm connected to a fetal monitor, my blood pressure taken and hooked up to oxygen because I am barely breathing. This was the only point I felt bewildered and alone and I couldn't wait to see a familiar face. 

Shortly thereafter my doula arrives. She has them unhook me from everything, stand up and lean into her. I am already recovering feeling in my extremities. She then asks about my pain, and since I have had back labor this whole time, thinks the baby might be posterior and has me move into a hands and knees, head down position for a few contractions. These are incredibly uncomfortable and eventually I have to get up. 

The doctor then arrives and checks the position of the baby. He is slightly to the left side but not posterior. He checks out baby with a regular doppler and everything is good, so I can keep moving around. By this time M arrives and the doula suggests we try out the shower. I was sitting on the bed, and when I get up we can tell that I finally lost my mucus plug. The doctor can apparently tell by my back that it is getting close to time to push and offers us to get in the tub, but I'm afraid of going in too early, so we head to the shower where M laps my back with the hot water. After about 45 minutes I'm feeling the urge to push and they convince me to get in the tub. 

The water most definitely helps to alleviate some of the pressure, but I needed them to keep lapping water onto my back. M and the doula take turns as it's tiring work but the only thing that is actively helping. I lean forward into the sides of the pool and grip the handles with all my might. I am having trouble getting into a good position, gripping the bottom of the pool, and this is probably the first time where I really feel like I have no idea what I'm doing and I'm vocalizing a lot which is probably not helping. M is trying to make suggestions (that the doctor is giving him), and the doula is keeping the water clean with a little sieve. I try to lean back but just can't stay that way. At some point my water breaks and after an hour or so in the tub without much progress, the team suggests I get out and try a new position. 

M sits on a chair and I sit facing him on his lap. A few pushes later and the head is finally out; I was worried he would fall and tell them to catch the baby! One more push and the body slides out. It is 11:20 a.m. They place our precious bundle on our shoulders in between M and I. 


After several minutes I get off and move onto the bed and Baby is on my chest, with the cord still connected. Meanwhile M is getting changed into scrubs, since I managed to ruin his pants. The doctor is checking things out, clamps the cord and M comes to cut it. One more easy push later and my awesome placenta comes out. It is big and looks great but I decide to forego its consumption and leave it behind. The doctor gives my stomach a little push and the last squirt of liquid comes out and then he gets set up with a local anesthetic to give me a few stitches. The tear was superficial, but at this point I am so exhausted that just holding my legs up is taking everything out of me and the stitches hurt a lot. Meanwhile, M is with the pediatrician that is checking out the baby. Everything looks great and he is a perfect 7 lbs 6 oz and 19" long. Before we know it, we roll into my room and Baby boy latches on for his very first feed!