29 November 2015

The First Week Adjustments

Eleanor is napping in her crib in her room, Theodore is napping in the pack n' play in the living room, and Abigail is bossing around a set of stackable cups. ("Wait, Blue, it's Yellow turn. Green, you're next!") Life in the one week since Theodore was born has been remarkably smooth. Not easy, but easier than I thought it would be.

Our attempt at our first family selfie.

I did get all emotional and weepy on Day #4, and when all three kids are crying at once, it takes a lot to hold myself together, but for the most part, three has been a smooth transition. As my sister-in-law put it, "three is not your critical number."

I think it's a combination of a laid back baby and the antidepressants. Briefly, I had a year of postpartum depression after Abigail, four months after our miscarriage, five months after Eleanor, and with Theodore, I actually started getting prepartum depression. I started on antidepressants when I was about 20 weeks along after I realized that the depression was interrupting my ability to be a contributing member of society. This first week of Newborn World has been the best I've ever experienced. I'm clear headed, my temper is easier to control, I don't feel overwhelmed and hopeless. I usually describe the first week as hellish, but this first week has been very cozy. I'm at peace, I'm happy, and I feel like a normal person.

Physically I'm also doing pretty well. People are always shocked at how active I am, so I get the impression that I'm healing faster that most women. I don't know, I guess I have worse-than-average pregnancies, but better-than-average deliveries and recoveries.

I had a consultation with a lactation consultant before I left the hospital to discuss my tendency toward plugged ducts and mastitis (three times in nine months with Eleanor!) and she gave me some great tips. One week in and breastfeeding is easy, pain free, and I haven't come close to any problems. Like I said, life right now is going really well.

Theodore is doing pretty fabulous. Nighttime goes something like this: 10pm: change his diaper, swaddle him, nurse him down, lay him in the rock n' sleeper. Repeat at 2:30am and 7:00am. Seriously, he's amazing! He does some napping in my and Matt's arms, some in the ring sling, and some in the pack n' play. He's more of a snacker than a marathon nurser (*cough* Eleanor *cough*). His first nickname is Super Foxy Man. Foxy Man because of how adorable he looks in this fox hat, and Super because of his nighttime sleeping abilities. We also call him Romeo because he is a boy in a sea of girls. People ask me quite often if we will call him "Teddy." We have Jacqueline, not Jackie, Abigail, not Abby, and Eleanor, not Ellie, but people still ask me if we'll go with "Teddy."

He loves to be swaddled, his cord stump already fell off, he slept through his circumcision, we bought him his first boy outfit (it included the foxy hat), and I've already started crocheting his first blankie. That, I suppose, is Theodore's first week in a nutshell.

I explained to Matt that I wanted to go through each member of the family and talk about how they were adjusting to the new baby. I asked him how he was doing and he responded that he feels complete as a person and fulfilled now that he finally has a boy. He feels that he can move forward in the buying of a house and really begin his life.

He had this whole week off and will work part-time from home next week, lending us a nice two-week paternity leave.

Eleanor, who is teething and getting over a cold at the same time, took the departure of her parents for a few days very hard. I think she is now finally starting to get back to normal. At first she thought Theodore was an interesting curiosity, but really could take him or leave him. But as the days go by, she's showing more interest. She always checks on him, brings him his foxy hat, and copies what I do with her baby dolls: bath time, diaper changes, rocking in the swing. I have been making a valiant effort to give her special one-on-one mommy time (even if it's just for 5-10 minutes a few times a day) to make sure she still feels a sense of security. I suspect that once Abigail goes back to school on Monday and we start to cement a real routine again, she'll blossom as a big sister.

Abigail, as everyone saw coming, is a doting mother hen who insists on helping put Theodore in and take him out of the car seat, change his diaper, and put his pacifier in his mouth. Every time he does anything, like be carried into the apartment, she applauds him with a "Good job, Baby. Good job." He instantly joined the family line up - Abigail likes to recite the names of everyone in the family when she's happy - and we were "Daddy, Mommy, Abigail, Eggcorn, Baby!" as we pulled out of the hospital's parking garage. I don't think she's as attentive as she was with Eleanor though, simply because now she's distracted by Eleanor playing and whatnot to spend every moment doting on Theodore.

The cat has apparently finally become used to this whole "my humans like to bring home babies" thing because she, for once, doesn't seem to care. She is, however, desperate for attention and is currently laying on top of my forearms and purring as I type this. She likes Eleanor better, as Eleanor has always had more respect for her space and she is gentler with her overall. Abigail has always been rougher and has recently discovered that she can pick up and carry Belle from room to room. One day (hopefully soon!) we'll have a house and she'll have more space to roam and hide.

25 November 2015

Theodore's Birth Story

The contractions started entering my dreams around 2:45am on Sunday morning. Of course we’d just had a record-breaking snowstorm the preceding night and day. Of course the streets were not yet salted, some not yet plowed. I was 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant, but had been measuring 41 weeks for three weeks straight.

By 3:00am, I couldn’t sleep through the pains, which were short and came very quickly. I walked around the apartment a bit, drank a few glasses of water, and made some (Pillsbury) cinnamon rolls. I wrapped a cozy blanket around my shoulders and over my big belly and settled into the rocking chair, enjoying, as odd as it sounds, the pains that were bringing me my new baby.

My activity was like a reorganization flare for my contractions. They grew longer, more painful, and were more spaced out. Regularly spaced out. As in, exactly five minutes apart spaced out. By 4:00am, I woke Matt up and told him I thought we might need to head to the hospital. I was leery of rallying the troops with false labor again, especially on such a treacherous morning, so we decided that since I could still talk through them and my water had not yet broken, we would stay put. I went back out into the kitchen to frost the cinnamon rolls and from the time I began to the time I finished, I lost the ability to speak when the pain hit. I downloaded a contraction timer app on our tablet and started tracking my progress. By now, they were coming every 3-4 minutes and lasting 30-45 seconds. Then they became too bad to sit through, and I started pacing around the apartment like a caged animal. At 4:30am, I woke Matt up and told him that we were heading to the hospital. We had planned to take the girls to my sister-in-law's house, as she lived a mere 15 minutes away, but it was so early and so cold, so I called my mom, who was on alert as our plan B. We threw a few final things in our bags, loaded up the car, and waited.

Around 4:45, my mom called to say the roads were such that she wouldn’t be able to make it in the usual 30-minute time frame. Waiting 45 or more minutes to leave for the hospital did not seem like an option, so I tried to figure out who could stay with the girls until my mom arrived so we could leave right then. Perhaps I could bang on the door of one of the neighbors? Suddenly an unusual idea popped into my head: the after hours emergency maintenance man. Matt approved of the idea, so I gave them a call. Maintenance said yes with no hesitation, arrived within minutes, cautioned us to be safe on the roads, and wished us good luck. We drove across the ice sheets slowly but carefully with much of the road to ourselves.

We arrived at the hospital, were admitted at 7cm dilated, and directed into the same large, homey corner unit in which Eleanor made her arrival. After all the proper monitors and IVs were attached and inserted, I, finally, got my epidural.

Minutes later, the doctor popped in to check my cervix and announced that I was completely dilated. Once she broke my still in-tact water, I could begin pushing. My water chose that moment to break on its own, so at 7:30am, less than five hours after labor had begun, I prepared to deliver my baby. I rolled on to my back and suddenly the world grew very fuzzy and it became hard to think, move my arms, or keep my eyes open. The nurse helped me roll on to my side where my sensibilities returned. We tried a few more times using a towel to keep me partly propped up, but every time I rolled off my side, I would nearly pass out. We decided to pause everything. The nurse gave me some medicine to up my low blood pressure and encouraged me to take a nap to give the rather strong epidural some time to wear off a bit.

About an hour later, I was feeling much better and having strong urges to push. We opted to try giving birth on my side to avoid any further issues and my nurse encouraged me to start pushing with the next contraction. My epidural was pretty perfect at that point – I could feel all the pressure but none of the pain. The baby’s head was kind of lodged in my pelvis and when he slipped free, I could feel him glide out. I could feel the pressure of his head as he made his exit, his shoulders as they wiggled out, and the release of his body as the doctor caught him. When the fluid gushed out after him, the weeks worth of pressure in my uterus dissipated in an instant. He was born at 8:59am, after approximately 4-5 contractions worth of pushes.

The doctor held the baby up for Matt to announce the gender when my nurse said something about “she” and gasped and rushed one hand up to cover her mouth. A girl? It was a girl? I was right? I looked up and framed right there between my legs were his tiny little boy parts. “It’s a boy!” I said as Matt signed Daddy in an attempt to signal his male gender. They placed him on my chest where he sat rather quietly while his father announced his name to the room: "Theodore Matthew." He made a few squawky moans of protest when the nurse started wiping him down, apologizing and baffled by her “she” slip.

Every one marveled over the hugeness of our new baby and I snuggled Theodore into the crook of my arm. He was so quiet and so content to just be. A few moments later, I went weak again. I couldn’t keep my eyes open and my limbs went limp against my will. No one seemed to panic and the doctor stitched up the small tear while the nurse adjusted my medication. Within a few minutes, I was feeling much more like myself and everyone had cleared out except for my regular nurse. As she straightened up the room, she leaned over my bed, "The next time you have a baby, call me. I want to attend another easy birth for a good family."

That's apparently become my modus operandi: awful pregnancies followed by easy births and smooth recoveries. At least it's something.

Although at the end of the (birth) day, all the pain, frustration, miserable nights of sleep and sleepless nights of pacing, a baby is always worth it.

The joy always outweighs the pain.


22 November 2015

Boy Baby

Theodore Matthew, born at 8:59am, 9lbs 1oz. Everyone great. Another smooth vbac. Details to come.

19 November 2015

39 Weeks

I thought Tuesday was the big day. Around 3:00 or so, I had a strange feeling and then I found myself rather...wet. But there wasn't much gushing and the contractions were not very painful. Finally I called Matt home, we took the girls over to my sister-in-law's and headed to the hospital. I spent three hours in the labor and delivery triage unit before it was finally decided that I wasn't in labor and should head home. At 4cm dilated and 70% effaced.

At 4cm with Abigail, I was begging for an epidural. This time at 4cm, I headed home to chill.

I'm 39 weeks pregnant right now - the most pregnant I've ever been - and heading to the doctor for my regular appointment this afternoon. At my appointment last week, baby was measuring in at 39 weeks and my belly was measuring in at 41 weeks. A big baby would jeopardize my vbac changes and, if I remember properly from my pregnancy with Eleanor, they won't induce me with my c-section history. So the doctor thinks we should consider stripping my membranes this week. I didn't know what that meant until I Googled it, but the G-rated version goes something like this: they are going to irritate me/my waters in hopes of triggering labor in the next 24-48 hours.

In the meantime, we have been taking it very slow and easy over here. Quick trips to the craft store to get a skein of yarn and refresh my stash of colored pencils leaves me tired and sore, so most of the day is spent with my doing a calm, quiet activities in the most comfortable position I can find near the girls, who are doing quite well considering our lack of daily activity.

In other news, we did a second showing on a house last night. A modest but well-built 3/2.5 in the heart of town. We're going to put in an offer (hopefully today) on it. I asked with the agent if he'd ever signed a contract in labor and delivery and joked that he'd never forget this deal. While I'm not going to do any house-buying in between contractions, I would seriously put in or counter an offer in the mommy-baby recovery ward in the days before I'm discharged. Priority #1 giving birth. Priority #2 is buying a freaking house.

17 November 2015

Still Pregnant

I am still pregnant - 38 weeks and 5 days as of today. For the last few days, I have felt remarkably like I did in the days preceding Eleanor's birth and at least once every 5-10 minutes, I wonder if this morning will be the morning, then I wonder if this afternoon will be the afternoon, then I wonder if this evening will be the evening, then finally I wonder if tonight will be the night.

The baby is very, very low, I have been having gobs of contractions (some painful, some Braxton-Hicks), and I'm experiencing all the gut changes that happen before birth. Among other things. But, alas, I'm still pregnant. At my appointment last week, the baby was measuring exactly one week bigger. So I was 38 weeks and s/he was measuring at 39 weeks. My uterus was measuring in at 41 weeks.

I am so eager to have this baby! I am all done being hugely pregnant and beyond ready to zip baby up into all the adorable little newborn fleecey clothes. Abigail needs a baby to baby and Eleanor needs someone smaller than her to boss around. After the flurry of activity in October, sitting around waiting is rather frustrating. I made sure my schedule was completely clear these last few weeks, so each day I wake up - wondering if today will be the day - and find ways to kill the time. Today's docket includes painting my nails. I finished an afghan yesterday. I read another book. I've put all the girls' puzzles back together enough times that I think I could do with my eyes closed. I've sung "Wheels on the Bus" and "Five Little Ducks" a million and one times. I've broken up the "who gets to read the Little Golden Frozen book right this second" fight enough to last until the girls are teens.

I'm so ready!

09 November 2015

The Last Hurrah

A few months ago I got a hair cut and, for once, I scheduled my next appointment in advance. I never do that because heaven only knows what my schedule will be looking like in 4-6 months, but I really wanted a fresh trim before the baby came, since heaven only knows what my schedule will be looking like in 4-6 months. Anyway, my stylist offered to do my hair free of charge with my next hair cut. "Make it a date night," she suggested. "Mama's gonna look HOT." That free hair style appointment was for Saturday, the day we picked for our final pre-baby date night.

My face, arms, hands, legs, and feet were all swollen. I was wearing one of the few outfits that still fits, my shoes were less "sexy/hot" and more "hey, my swollen feet are still comfortable in these," and we scrapped our dinner plans when we showed up at the restaurant to discover a one hour wait for the table, but my hair - my hair looked fabulous.

We bought an expansion set for our board game because we are board game nerds, we watched the new Matt Damon movie because we are Matt Damon nerds, and my constant need to go to the bathroom meant I was always up to get plenty of free popcorn and soda refills on our $10 splurge for movie theater popcorn and soda.

We are all over our colds enough that Abigail has finally returned to school, my house is totally spotless, and everything we need for baby has been washed or purchased and is neatly tucked away awaiting its new owner. I am to the point that "walking" has been removed from the list of things I enjoy doing. I have a new book (a Khaled Hosseini - my new favorite author) and few crochet projects to do. I am just tucked away in my cozy, little apartment wondering how many days are left in the countdown.

05 November 2015

Pregnancy Pics

So...my halloween costume? Lots of people were able to guess that it was from Star Wars, but actually not one single person got who I was right. I was Padme!

For those of you who have absolutely no idea who that is - You know who Darth Vader is? The guy in all black who says, "Luke, I am your father"? Well, Luke has a mother too. That's Padme. So Matt went as Darth Vader before he was Darth Vader and I went as Luke's mom. I thought it was pretty clever and earned me some "Awesome Wife" brownie points.

I am 37 weeks pregnant today, but this week's OB/GYN appointment had me measuring at 39 weeks. 39 weeks! I've never even been 39 weeks pregnant before! I can definitely tell that this baby is bigger than the girls, but there is also a possibility that the extra dimensions are due to extra fluid. We're going to do a "growth ultrasound" next week to see. No worries, just for fun. Anyway, here is a line up of my belly starting at four months (I think if you click on it, it'll get bigger):

I love comparing my various pregnancies, so I put together this picture chart too:

With Abigail, I gained 55-60 pounds, with Eleanor, I gained 29 pounds, and with #3 so far, I've gained 30 pounds. Not stress eating definitely helps control the pregnancy weight gain.