Monday, January 11, 2016

''s what your tits are for.'

When people would ask me if I planned to nurse, I'd say, "I'd like to," because even though I really wanted to, I knew that it might not happen. Most of the women I knew struggled with breastfeeding. Milk didn't come in. Nipples inverted. Oversupply caused near-constant mastitis. Babies couldn't latch. My own mother abandoned the practice a month in because, she said, I hurt her.

I wanted to breastfeed the Jellybean for a variety of reasons. There was the bond, of course. And I know that when it comes to nutrition, "breast is best." But also: it's free, where as formula is expensive.

So a couple of months before the Jellybean was due, Mr. Hope and I took a breastfeeding class at our local birth center. The teacher - who is literally known in these parts as "The Boob Whisperer" - started off the session by showing this video:

Really makes you want to "whip 'em out," doesn't it?

I'd met the Boob Whisperer prior to the class. At the suggestion of my therapist, Quirky, I had set up a prenatal counseling session with her - just one of the many steps I took to prepare myself for a successful breastfeeding experience. We talked about the size of my boobs and level of nipple sensitivity (high, for the record) and a bunch of other things that presented potential challenges. I left feeling empowered, energized, and ready to rock this breastfeeding thing.

I was so fucking naive.

I was able to put my baby to the breast about two hours after he was born. He latched immediately. It didn't hurt, as I'd feared. I felt a gentle tugging and my heart nearly exploded with love.

After that initial success, things started to go down south almost right away. The Jellybean started to fall asleep at the breast. He was a lazy sucker. I worked with three different lactation consultants in the hospital, and on Day 3 called to make an appointment with the Boob Whisperer once we were discharged.

He lost weight. A lot of weight. The pediatrician told us we couldn't wait until our originally scheduled appointment with the Boob Whisperer. We needed one immediately. When that didn't work out, I found a different lactation consultant, one who would come to your house and work with you there. We met with her the very next day, and I've had two follow-ups since.

None of it has helped.

I have spent hundred of dollars and countless hours trying to get my boy back on the boob. He just won't latch. Most of the time he'll take a couple of licks or even a suck or two and then start bawling. Sometimes he screams. Sometimes he will push my breast away. He's got no problem drinking what I pump, as long as it's out of the bottle. But offer him mommy's mammaries? No thank you.

You'd think I would've given up by now, or at the very least, accepted that if I wanted the Jellybean to drink my milk, it was going to be 100% by bottle. But no. I keep trying. I spend hours combing the Googles for something that will help. Something I haven't already done or purchased. Some magic key.

In that video, the women essentially say, "Yeah, it's hard. But if you keep at it, you and your baby will have this magical, rewarding experience." On message boards, the lactivists say, "Don't give up. Keep working at it and you'll get there."

But guess what? It's been 7 weeks and I'm no better off from where I started. Don't try to tell me I haven't given it my all, because I've given it that and then some.

I still have hope. It may be foolish hope, but so what? I have five more weeks before I go back to work. Five more weeks to get this boy back on the boob. If it doesn't happen by then, it probably isn't going to happen. And I'll just have to make my peace with that.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

light at the end of the tunnel.

So, um, eight weeks ago today I delivered a beautiful baby boy. And then promptly fell off the face of the earth until about five minutes ago.

The Jellybean's birth story is kind of epic, and I'll write about it in a separate post. But the elevator version is this: I had him via an "emergency" c-section (after laboring for more than 24 hours). Nothing went according to plan, and in fact, the whole thing was sort of terrifying. But none of it was quite as terrifying as coming home with this tiny little life for which I was responsible.

And I mean that literally, by the way - I started to have a panic attack when we put him in the car seat to go home, because hi, car seats are freaking scary. You have to make sure they're tight enough to secure the child properly, but not so tight your kid can't breathe. And when you're first using one, the difference between the right tight and too tight feels about as wide as a piece of dental floss. (To this day, I still like to load him into the car seat a few minutes before we leave, so I can make sure he's breathing before snapping him into the back seat.)


I wasn't prepared for how hard new parenthood would be. I mean, you kind of know going into it that you can never really be prepared, but Mr. Hope and I were woefully under-prepared. The first night after the Jellybean was born he didn't stay with us, because I was relegated to a high-risk recovery room. They brought him to me for feedings and then, afterward, they took him back to something referred to as "bridge care." The second night, after I'd been moved to the maternity ward and given my child for keepsies, the kid didn't sleep...which meant we didn't sleep either. He scream-cried for most of the night, pausing only when one of us would hold him. I got exactly one hour of shut-eye. This was after getting maybe two or three hours of sleep between my induction and when they surgically removed the kid from my womb.

That scream-crying was a preview of things to come. More on that in a bit.

During our hospital stay, the Jellybean started to lose weight. Like, a lot. More than the acceptable margin. Breastfeeding wasn't going so well, even though that first night he nursed like a champ. The longer we were there, the worse he got. I had to start expressing and pumping and feeding him with droppers and tiny tubes. The first night home, I wasn't producing enough and had to break down and supplement with formula.

If I thought I felt terrible then, it got worse the next day, when we had our first appointment with the pediatrician. The Jellybean had lost nearly 20% of his birth weight. Discovering this pretty much made me lose my shit. There was a hysterical phone call to my therapist outside a lab while Mr. Hope took the baby in for an emergency blood draw. An urgent appointment with a lactation consultant who came to my home and got us off the transitional feeder and onto bottles. We had to start waking the kid up every two hours for feedings, just to get some weight back on him. Plus, I was pumping around the clock, trying to increase my supply.

Sure enough, within the next five days, the Jellybean was almost back to his birth weight. Everyone was pleased and relieved. We were told to move to on-demand feedings, especially at night. Yay, us.

And then the colic set in. Big time.

The same week he turned one month old, the Jellybean had a night where he scream-cried from 6 p.m. until well after midnight. The next night, he started at 7 p.m. and went until nearly 3:30 a.m. The day after that I called the pediatrician for an emergency appointment. We couldn't get in with our doc on such short notice, but met with another one in the practice. We asked her if maybe it was reflux. Sure, the Jellybean wasn't spitting up a ton, but other symptoms fit. She told us it couldn't be that because he was gaining weight. Then she told me to stop eating chocolate and a bunch of other things they tell mothers of colicky babies to stop eating, like tomatoes and beans.

A few days later, we had another bad night. Five hours of scream-crying and a stomach that was distended, but only on one side. We called the pediatrician's emergency line at 10:30 p.m. and by 11:30 were told to take him to the children's hospital for an evaluation. There, two experienced nurses took one look at our kid and said, "Oh, that's reflux. That's exactly what that is."

At 3:30 a.m., an attending physician confirmed the diagnosis and gave us a prescription for baby Zantac. Later that morning, around 8 a.m., I filled it. Within days, we were dealing with a completely different child.

And now, two and half weeks later, the Zantac has reached full efficacy, and the Jellybean is finally starting to fall into an eat-wake-sleep pattern that's a little more predictable. He still won't latch onto my boob, and he still has some periods of fussiness, but they are so minor, comparatively speaking. It feels like we're finally moving out of survival mode and into...I don't know. Normal parenthood?

So, yeah. This is why I've been MIA.

Despite everything - the abject failure that is breastfeeding, the early weeks of relentless colic, the c-section incision that took nearly six weeks to fully heal - I feel like an incredibly lucky woman. Eight weeks ago Mr. Hope and I welcomed this perfect, bright-eyed little bugger into our family, and he is everything that is good and right with the world.

What more can you ask for?

Friday, November 13, 2015


It's showtime! Induction happening today vs. Sunday. At MFM this morning, they couldn't get a good measurement of the Jellybean's head and his femur hadn't grown much in the past two weeks. It's a better-safe-than-sorry thing. Fortunately, Dr. Direct is covering the hospital tomorrow so I'll still have her delivering this little miracle.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Baby's size: Swiss chard

Next appointment: Biophysical profile 11/6; OB 11/10

Total weight gain: 59.8 lbs. Up a little but down almost 4 lbs. just from yesterday, due to several monster poops. (Sorry, TMI!)

Sleep: Averaging between 5 and 6, which is about 1-2 less than I'd like. Staying asleep is harder these days, and not just because of the constant peeing.

Food cravings: This past weekend, I really wanted these dolmas I'd had recently and made Mr. Hope get three orders of them (one for me, two for everyone else to split). And last night I wanted a provolone sandwich from Wawa. Just provolone on bread with extra mayo. Weird shit like that.

Symptoms: HEARTBURN. And the constipation is back. Also hair-trigger moodiness. Lots of crying for no reason, or even with reason but striking out of nowhere. My boobs are burning, which according to the Googles means my milk ducts are getting ready. Oh, and I'm in full-on waddle. Seriously, I'm like Jabba the Hut these days.

What I'm loving: I'm finishing up my labor mixes. I did one for relaxation and one for when I need to be energized. For the latter, I included the Beastie Boys' Eggman, which totally makes me laugh. Yeah, I'm that much of a dork.

What I'm not loving: Gaining weight again. For a while I thought I'd hold steady at 55 lbs. Really hoping I lose a lot with birth (or within a couple weeks of birth). Maybe I'll be one of those lucky fuckers for whom breastfeeding is the best diet ever.

What I'm looking forward to: Meeting our little guy. Twelve days and counting!

Best moment this week: Getting the call with my official induction date. Knowing when the Jellybean is going to be born allows the planner in me to get all my ducks in a row. It was seriously such a relief.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

coming into the home stretch.

The longer this pregnancy progresses, the worse I am about writing updates. I suck. I super suck. There's so much I want to say - need to say - and to be honest, I can't even claim carpal tunnel pain anymore because the cortisone injections that the nice orthopedic doctor gave me a few weeks back have made a world of difference.


Here's the quick and dirty update:

I'm officially being induced on Sunday, 11/15, at 9 p.m. We'll start with a Foley catheter that night; they said it should fall out by morning, when they'll start pushing pitocin. (Guess who's got two thumbs and is definitely getting an epidural?)

We're inducing because of the myriad of medical issues I've battled this pregnancy. That, and because apparently the Jellybean has a pretty big head. This, coupled with my somewhat narrow pelvis (who knew?), means that I might not be able to squeeze the kid out my vag. Dr. Direct has been really clear that if the baby's head doesn't descend, I'll be converted to a c-section. I'm maintaining the position I've had all along: I don't care how he's born, as long as he comes out healthy.

As for me:

I'm good. Mostly good. I still have some numbness and stiffness in my hands, and sleep has been harder to come by. I tend to wake up in the middle of the night and then stay awake for an hour or two before crashing again - my body getting ready for the baby? But overall, the third trimester has been a cake walk compared to the hell I went through in the second.

People keep asking me if I'm ready. I am and I'm not. We were so convinced that baby boy was coming early that I got a ton of stuff squared away weeks ago - made a month's worth of freezer meals, got the car seat base installed at the DMV, ordered my breast pump, created my maternity leave plan for work, etc. I haven't packed my labor bag yet but everything's in a box waiting to be Tetris'd into my duffle.

But that's just stuff. Stuff is easy, relatively speaking. Emotionally, I think I'm ready, but there are times when I realize that in less than two weeks there's going to be a tiny human living in my house. A tiny human that I am responsible for. I AM HAVING A BABY. Holy fuck balls.

So, that's where I am. Holding steady. Looking forward to meeting our little dude and simultaneously fearing that I will somehow break him in the first 48 hours of his life. That's normal, right?

Friday, October 9, 2015


[Fun fact: According to the OB's office, I was actually 33w0d yesterday. But I'm pretty sure this is based on the due date of 11/25, which was given to me by the same site that told me what week/day I was based on my transfer date. So, I suppose I *could* be 33w1d today, but whatevs.]

Baby's size: Pineapple

Next appointment: 10/9

Total weight gain: 54.2. Down 2 lbs. from last week. All this week, I've been losing up to half a pound a day. Wondering if this is something I need to be concerned about, or if it's just the edema continuing to abate.

Sleep: Still averaging 6 to 7 hours. My AHI has been fairly low, which could be the result of less swelling or even the minor weight loss. Or, you know, it could be totally rando.

Food cravings: Still craving bread-y, squishy carbs.

Symptoms: The bad heartburn continues! Also, I'm running hotter and hotter - the other day I broke into a sweat when the house was 68 degrees.

What I'm loving: We're finished with our prenatal classes! The breastfeeding class we took on Tuesday was our favorite. I'm pumped! (No pun intended.)

What I'm not loving: That getting dress is so laborious it feels like I should get an Olympic medal every time I do it.

What I'm looking forward to: This will sound dorky, but we're getting the car seat bases inspected Tuesday. This is one of the last major things we need to do to get ready for the Jellybean, so I'm excited to check it off the list!

Best moment this week: When I saw the OB Tuesday, she told me that my anxiety level was appropriate for where I am in the pregnancy. It doesn't sound like much, but in the beginning, I was such a nut job about everything. It feels good to be considered "normal" for a change.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Yesterday was the date I was given for my baby shower. I was told by the BFF that they weren't going to tell me any details but that it wouldn't be a surprise because Gumbo was worried about trying to surprise me. It's not easy to do, for one thing. For another, she was worried I'd show up under-dressed and crabby. Gumbo would know; she was part of my surprise proposal that I almost ruined by - you guessed it! - being super crabby.

But of course, my baby shower wasn't yesterday. It was a couple of weeks ago, And I was about 95% surprised.

Here's how they did it:

The BFF asked me to do a presentation for the Girl Scout service unit. It was for girls entering middle school. She created a flier for it and everything. I made a PowerPoint. She suggested I invite Mini-Hope, who was the same age as the girls attending the event. She roped my coworker into doing the presentation with me.

There was absolutely zero reason for me to question any of this. And I didn't...until we were in the car, on the way to the event itself. Basically, I got a call from my former Girl Scout co-leader asking me to bring a fan because the church was hot. I told her we'd just left the house. She said to go back and get it anyway - that the BFF would rather I be late and have the fan than on-time and miserable.

And like a flash I thought, "Are they stalling me?" I turned to Mr. Hope and said, "There's really a Girl Scout event, right? This isn't, like, a surprise shower?"

"Not that I know of," he replied. "Why would you think that?"

I told him I thought the fan thing felt like a diversionary tactic. Even so, when we pulled into the parking lot, I still wasn't sure what I was walking into.

The event itself was lovely but went so so so fast. The BFF and Gumbo planned brisk activities, per my request, so that people didn't have to sit and watch me open presents for two hours. We had food, we had games, and yes, we had present-opening. But it was on such a tight agenda that I didn't even get to see everything before it was over and we were breaking down the room.

And honestly? It was really overwhelming. To be in a room full of women who loved and supported me, who were there to celebrate this baby that I spent so many years wishing for... It was a lot to take in. And of course, I missed my mom. I cried a couple of times. Pretty much what I'd expected.

Looking back at all of the little details, I'm beyond impressed by what my friends pulled off. But during the shower itself it was almost like an out of body experience. I was there but not entirely there. I was watching myself open gifts instead of being fully present.

I'd put a good number of coworkers on my shower list, so I wasn't really expecting a work shower. But on Thursday - the day of the actual Girl Scout event that was used to lure me to my shower - I was surprised a second time.

Here's how they pulled it off:

I got invited to a meeting with my boss and Glam Coworker. It was an odd meeting request, supposedly to talk about aligning objectives across departments. I messaged Glam the minute I got the invite was was all, "Do you know what this is about?" I bristled, wondering what it was that I wasn't aligning properly. The day of, I asked her if she thought our boss would mind if I ate my lunch, since the meeting was called for 12-1. "Who schedules a meeting for lunch like that?" I asked her.

And then, of course, it wasn't a meeting. It was the work shower. And that time, I was 100% surprised.

But I was also overwhelmed (again). I'm not comfortable being in the center of things. I'm always flabbergasted when people do nice stuff for me. Yes, I'm kind of a weirdo like that.

In the wake of the first shower, I was stressing about thank you notes. My mom raised me to send hand-written ones, but my carpal tunnel has been so bad I knew I wouldn't be able to do it. My options were to send emailed thank yous or wait until after the baby came and I got my hands back. The BFF presented a third option: I would type the thank yous to her and she would hand write them for me.

The BFF is a saint, if you couldn't tell.

So, my thank yous are coming. She's just finished transcribing them all - I just need to get them from her to stamp and send. P.S. I bought her an hour-long massage as a thank you. I figured she needed it!