Breastfeeding (and what I wish I’d known)

I went in to breastfeeding knowing that it’s usually pretty difficult. I had watched my sister and her baby struggle with latching and biting and knew a lot of women had trouble with supply. So I had the mindset that I would give it a try, but that if it was stressing me out a ton I wasn’t going to push it. I would rather enjoy bonding with my baby than wrestling with breastfeeding.

When we were in the hospital we had the usual newborn struggles of keeping her awake long enough to eat, and positioning being awkward at first. However, she had a decent latch and my milk came in just fine, after a few days.

The third week, cluster feeding hit. I had never heard of this, and I was completely unprepared.

For those of you who don’t know what cluster feeding is, it is when a baby is going through a growth spurt and wants to nurse pretty much constantly. The constant nursing signals the mother’s body to make more milk. It’s the way the body knows that baby is growing and will start to need more milk. Cluster feeding is completely normal and helps regulate milk production. However, if you don’t know about it, most mothers think their baby is not getting enough milk and they have low production and so will stop breastfeeding because they think they are starving their baby.

When I say constantly, I mean that she would nurse for 45 minutes. I would hand her off to her dad to try to get some sleep (thinking I should have 2 hours until she needs to eat again), and 20 minutes late she would be crying in hunger and rooting. I found out about cluster feeding by literally googling “why does my baby act like she’s starving?”

So, to anyone who has never breastfed before and is looking to try to, this is my advice: learn about cluster feeding! It is normal. Trust your body and keep going. The rule of thumb to make sure your baby is getting enough milk is to go by the amount of wet diapers they are having. If they are having enough wet diapers, gaining weight, and seem satisfied after nursing, you’re doing great!

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Postpartum Hospital Problems (Cordelia’s Birth Story Part 3)

After our traumatic birth, we just kept having issues. Cordelia had some low blood sugars and needed to have her blood sugar check regularly. We were trying to breastfeed but had to supplement with formula, due to the low sugars.

So they wanted us to stay the full 48hours after birth to observe her, even after her sugar readings were fine. We wanted to go home, but were okay with staying to make sure she was healthy.

We got all packed up, and got ready to leave. We had texted our families to let them know we were going home. We had gotten our discharge summaries. We decided to breastfeed one last time before heading home. While we were doing this, the nurse came in and said they just wanted to take one more blood pressure reading one me.

This is where things get ugly. Again.

My blood pressure was very high. They waited until I was done nursing and took it again. It was higher. They kept retaking it and it just got higher and higher. So they tried giving me a higher dose of the oral medication they had me on and had us stay for observation. Well it wasn’t working. So we couldn’t go home. They reinserted my IV and started trying IV medications. Still nothing was working.

At this point I’m panicking because I know that with blood pressure this high, I’m at risk for a stroke or seizure. Meanwhile, my husband, who has no medical knowledge, doesn’t understand why it is such a big deal and is steaming mad that they won’t let us go home. So I’m panicking and him being mad is just upsetting me more. Not helping my blood pressure.

Finally they decide that they are going to put me on a magnesium drip. This means that I have to be on completely bedrest for 24 hours. Meaning, not even getting up to go to the bathroom. So they have to put a catheter back in. The nurse is telling me about home I won’t be able to even breastfeed my baby, because I’ll be so loopy and it’s going to give me terrible hot flashes, and all around just scaring the crap out of me. So now I’m freaking out even more.

My loving husband finally realizes the gravity of the situation and calls my mom and sister to come up and help me calm down. Probably the best thing he could have done. They got me laughing, they helped take care of the baby, letting my husband get some space and fresh air so that he could calm down as well.

The mag drip worked and was not nearly as bad as the nurse made it sound, although it was definitely not fun. They came in to do a head-to-toe assessment every hour on the hour, as well as with shift changes. So no sleep for me.

We finally got discharged and went home after spending a full week in the hospital. The ride home was completely surreal. The first time seeing the outside world in a week. When you’re pregnant you think you’re going to go in for 2, maybe 3 days and leave with a baby and everything is great. Don’t get me wrong, I knew there were lots of things that could go wrong, but it was still very disheartening, especially with the postpartum hormones running rampant. But we finally made it home with everyone healthy!

Cordelia’s Birth Story Part 2

So, of course, the doctor wanted to induce me. I was only dilated 1cm, so I knew it was not going to be fast or easy going. They started me on Cytotec and we got settled for the long haul.

It took about 2.5 days of Cytotec and Pitocin to get me in to active labor.

After that, fortunately it went pretty quick. They broke my water and I got an epidural and took a good nap! When I woke up I had progressed much more. My parents came up to the hospital and we all pretty much just hung out and waited for my cervix to finish dilating. We watched ghost stories on the Discovery channel and Sweeny Todd.

Finally, I was dilated all the way to 10cm and baby’s head was engaged. So my dad went out to the waiting room and my mom and husband stayed for support. I have no idea how long I pushed for (I don’t know how people always seem to know these things). The doctor told told me the baby’s head was right there, but that she was showing some decelerations in heart rate. She gave me one more round of pushing to try to get her out on my own. When that didn’t work, she did an episiotomy and used the vacuum to help get her out. That’s when we found out why she was being held back. The cord was wrapped around her neck. The doctor cut the cord from around her neck and they put her on my belly and tried to stimulate her to breath, when she didn’t start breathing right away they took her to the other side of the room, called a code over the P.A. system and started CPR. Meanwhile, my doctor is delivering the placenta, stitching up my incision and telling me about aftercare. All the while, I am sobbing and asking if my baby is okay. The only person who can see what is going on with our baby is my husband. He comes back crying and telling me how beautiful she is and I don’t even know if she’s alive! I remember hearing a weak cry at one point. Finally, they told me she was okay and they were going to get her cleaned up.

It seemed like forever before I finally got to hold my baby. My poor dad was out in the hallway crying. He had heard them call the code with our room number but had no idea what was happening. He stood outside our room and no one would tell him anything due to HIPPA laws. My husband went out and told him what happened and that everyone was fine now. I still feel horrible that he was out there alone. I remember holding her and wanting to soak it all in, but being so exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open. My parents didn’t stay very long. They got to see her, but wanted to let me hold her and knew I was exhausted, so they went home now that they knew everyone was okay.

I was admitted to L&D on Wednesday, October 17th and miss Cordelia was born Friday, October 19th at 7:04pm.

Cordelia’s Birth Story Part 1

Wow! It has been a long time since I have posted! Life has been crazy and whole lot has happened. My last post, I was still in my second trimester of pregnancy, now my little girl is about to turn 8 months old. Time sure does fly!

Well, I ended up with gestational diabetes. I had it well controlled by adjusting my diet, but was still required to do the weekly NSTs (nonstress tests), and occassional growth ultrasounds. Everything was looking good, baby was far from huge (GD baby’s are normally bigger and that’s what they are looking for with the growth scans), and she was moving more than enough. I was super uncomfortable and still nauseous, but that sums up my whole pregnancy. However, when I went in to my 38 week NST she wasn’t moving quite as much as usual and we weren’t sent to the hospital to have a repeat NST and ultrasound.

By sheer luck, my husband was able to come to my appointment that day. So we stopped at home to get our hospital bags, just in case, and called our work places to let them know we wouldn’t be coming in today after our appointment like we had planned. We were completely unsure what to expect. We could be sent home, we could be induced, anything could happen, really.

When we got to Labor and Delivery the NST turned out fine, she was awake now and moving like normal. They sent us down for the ultrasound anyway, which was also fine. However, my blood pressure was high. At first, it was attributed to the stress of not knowing if something was wrong with baby and having to go to the hospital in the first place. But as time went on, and we knew everything was fine with our girl, it continued to not only not go down, but keep going up! I had also had some swelling in recent weeks, though I hadn’t thought much of it as I was late in pregnancy and it had been a very hot October so far (lucky me). So they ran blood work that came back showing me to be borderline preeclamptic.

DUN DUN DUN! The dreaded preeclampsia. No pregnant woman wants to hear that.

So they started me on medication for my high blood pressure (which had been perfectly fine until I got to the hospital, by the way), and called my doctor for instructions. At this point I was pretty sure they were going to induce me, but my husband was holding out hope we would be sent home. He did not understand the seriousness of preeclampsia, and was feeling unprepared for having a baby. Not that he had to do much…

Second trimester

Well, I finally made it to the second trimester! 14 weeks, 4 days today. I did get some energy back. Most days I don’t get sick (I’m on the maximum dose of Diclegis to prevent it). And my belly feels/looks huge for 14 weeks! To be fair, my belly was already big before I got pregnant.

After making it a couple weeks morning sickness- free, yesterday was a horrible day for me. I spent all day at work feeling miserable. I managed to eat lunch and make it through the work day, but the second I got home I had to run to the bathroom and throw up! I took a nap and woke up feeling as bad, if not worse! I didn’t feel as bad this morning, so I went to work. At this point I can’t decide if the morning sickness came back with a vengeance or if I picked up a stomach bug. Either way, not a good time. On a good day I can’t seem to eat meat past lunch time. This kid is probably going to turn out to be a vegetarian.

We had our final appointment with the fertility clinic at 12 weeks. We switch back to my normal Ob/gyn for the rest of the pregnancy. My first appointment there isn’t until 16 weeks. I used to think the women that bought the at home heart rate monitors were silly and paranoid. Now that we have to wait to see or hear our baby, I understand completely! Once the sickness goes away, and it’s still too early to feel baby kick, there’s really no way to make sure baby is still doing okay in there and growing. My husband asked me the other day how the baby was and I replied with, “I don’t know, I have to just assume it’s still in there.” It’s crazy!

At our 16 week appointment we will hear the heart beat but still won’t see baby again until 20 weeks for the anatomy scan.

On a side note, I need to come up with a new name for this blog…

Pregnancy after infertility; An Identity Crisis

So, some of you may have noticed that I have been silent for a while… After one round of Letrozole and finally ovulating for the first time ever…

I’m PREGNANT!

It may sound silly but this has been way more confusing than just the joy and excitement I expected. There’s a bit of a weird identity crisis that came along with it. Again, it seems weird, but to go from being the couple with infertility to the pregnant couple is a bit of a culture shock, for lack of a better term.

Even knowing that for the first time ever, we actually had a chance of getting pregnant, it still came as a major shock. After so many disappointments I just wasn’t expecting it to work on the first round and I feel like I was in shock for a few weeks!

Then there was the fear. The fear that this is too good to be true and won’t last. I spent quite a few weeks where every time I went to the bathroom, I expected to see blood when I wiped. When every bump I hit while driving caused me to worry. Knowing that PCOS gives a higher chance of miscarriage makes it very hard to relax and be excited.

Then came the guilt. Multiple kinds of guilt. Guilt that I feel like I’m not as excited as I should be. Guilt that we got pregnant and there are still so many other couple out there on the journey of infertility. Guilt that makes me feel like, after wanting a baby for long and being so emotional about it, now that I’m finally pregnant why am I not more excited? Why don’t I feel more attached, more maternal? WTF?

On top of all those confusing emotions, I was constantly so tired I felt like a zombie. All I did was sleep and go to work. I got horrible morning sickness and felt utterly miserable. Talk about hard to get excited. There was one point where I was kneeling on the bathroom floor, in front of the toilet thinking, “if I have a miscarriage, I will be so mad that I went through all this for nothing!” REALLY?! That’s what I would be worried about if I had a miscarriage?? Hormones are a crazy, crazy thing my friends!

I joined some facebook groups of mommas-to-be that are due around the same time as me, and found that I am not the only one. Thank God! Apparently hormones cause many women to have trouble feeling excited about their pregnancy in the first trimester. I can’t lie the first trimester was way harder than I ever could have imagined, and I know there are women who are even worse off than I am! Counting down the days until the second trimester….

Letrozole; Round #1: part 2

SyringeSo I went back for another ultrasound this morning to see if the follicle grew any. I was so worried that it would be just like my last round of Clomid when it just stalled out. I was so nervous about it that before the Dr even went to do the US, I asked her “so if this doesn’t work, what’s the next step?” She calmed my fears and told me that if this round doesn’t work, we can increase the Letrozole dosage to 10mg.

Then she did the ultrasound.

And, behold! A big, juicy follicle!!!!

Or, as my doctor called it, a “crispy egg!” Suddenly, for the first time since we started trying over one and half years ago, we have a chance of getting pregnant! It’s only a 15%-20% chance, but it’s a helluva lot better than the 0% we had before! So I finally got to use the trigger shot of HCG that’s been sitting on top of my microwave of in my purse for months. The HCG can cause a false positive on a home pregnancy test, so I have been instructed not to test any sooner than two weeks and two days. She did tell me that, even though we got me to ovulate, if I don’t get pregnant this cycle, we would still up the dosage of the Letrozole next round to get a second follicle, to up our chances. Fingers crossed!