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?


  1. Oh my goodness!! First, Congratulations!! It is so good to hear from you!! I am so sorry that you ended up with an emergency C-section. My first 2 were like that, and making up the sleep deficit is SO hard! And I am sorry Jellybean was so colicky and the first weeks were so difficult. But I am so glad he is now doing so much better with the meds.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. To answer how I cured the lazy nurser...well, my boys problem was that he would be so sleepy or fall asleep after 2 sucks. So I would (and still occasionally do) strip him down to a diaper so he is cold (well not cold cold but you know what I mean) and nice and awake to feed him. I wouldn't let him sleep through feeds in the beginning. In the hospital and the first days home I made it my mission to nurse him every 2 hours around the clock. Even when he didn't really want to latch I would keep working with him until he did.

    Breastfeeding is hard. With my first kid I sucked at it. I had no idea what I was doing and would be pumping then giving her formula which made no sense but I didn't know that then. Don't be hard on yourself. All you can do is keep trying and maybe he will eventually get it. I have heard breast shields work well for latch issues. Hang in there, you are doing just fine Mama!

    1. Just wrote a post about this -

      I've tried all of those things that you suggested and then some. Nothing has worked. It's so heartbreaking. I just can't get him to latch. And now I think my lactation consultant dumped me and didn't even have the decency to tell me. :(

  2. Oh I'm so glad you posted! I was worried!

    My first baby was like that. Refluxy/colicy from about 1-7 months. Glad you got meds, that's what helped us. You can read my old blog posts about it :)


    1. Will do! It's amazing how many colic stories you hear once your kid has it. Another secret club that I never wanted to belong to.

  3. I am sooo glad you are back!!! I can stop staying up late trying to internet stalk you (yeah, I did that...I totally freaked out and thought about all the worst case stuff and yeah, I am not proud...). I am sorry to hear about the rough start but soo soo happy things are getting better and more "normal". From one sleep deprived mama to another congrats! You are doing wonderfully and hang in there because it only gets better (sometimes with a step back but always two forward!). xx

    1. Oh my gosh, I am SO sorry! I had a really rough time for a while. Just posted about my dismal attempts at breastfeeding - that's been a big part of it. And the colic, of course. I think I've cried more the past eight weeks than I have the previous eight years combined. Yeah, it's been THAT rough.

    2. I am sorry to hear it (but still so happy to hear you and jellybean made it!). Yeah, I am a bit of a spaz sometimes, and yeah, not proud of it. No need to apologize, I didn't mean to make you feel bad. I was just SO happy to see you post!!

      What gets me through the rough times is reminding myself that it is just a phase, and it won't last forever. We haven't had any colic or anything like that, but I do have a bubby that hates sleep with a passion. I keep telling myself that one day I will get to sleep for more than a few hours at a time! Your jellybean will pass through this phase too. xx

  4. I'm so sorry about your first weeks as a momma being so hard on you - fingers crossed it gets easier from here! I had a really similar experience with breastfeeding and the first few weeks with my little guy (reflux, but no colic) and I did everything possible to try to get him latched and eating, then pumping and feeding, then desperately pumping for hours to get a few ml of breastmilk in an effort to save my supply when it started to disappear. My words of advice are these: don't take it personally, don't continue doing things that make you unhappy, uncomfortable, or that take time away from your precious boy, and don't beat yourself up over things beyond your control or care when it comes to breastfeeding. #fedisbest Do what you need to do for you and for him, and don't sweat the rest. I pumped for 6 weeks, tried latching and different positions for hours every day...often ending up in sweaty tears and covered in breastmilk, while he screamed from hunger but refused the breast. Once I accepted that my version of being the best mom wasn't the sweaty emotional mess I'd become in my quest to breastfeed, I was finally able to just enjoy him and stop beating myself up. Find what works for you and embrace it...and him. Congratulations!