f

Wednesday, August 26

Life Lately: This Too Shall Pass


It's said that a Persian sultan asked his wise men to create something that would make him happy when he was sad. After deliberation, his sages presented him with a simple ring. The ring was inscribed with the phrase: "This too shall pass." It worked, but not in quite the way the sultan expected. Yes, it made him happy when he was sad, because he had just to look at his ring and remember that it would pass. But also, when he was happy and looked at his ring, he realized that his happy moments were just as fleeting. 

If I had a dollar for every time a well-meaning person has told me, "He'll grow out of it," "It will get better!" in the last five weeks, I'd be as rich as that sultan. I'm sure that advice is generally true, but lets look at how it's turned out so far: 



Week two:
  • When Edison wasn't eating, he was screaming. As we discovered, babies go through a growth spurt at two weeks. But in Edison's case, he would nurse for an hour, sleep for 50 minutes, and then eat for another hour.
  • After the growth spurt was over, he still spent an hour nursing, and it was hard getting him to go to sleep. 
  • Ever since we brought him home, he'd spit up a lot, and have lots of gas. One night after a day of particularly forceful spit ups, he spit up blood from tearing a small blood vessel at the bottom of his esophagus. We inclined his crib, got special bottles for slow feeding, stopped to burp him between every ounce, and kept him upright for 20 minutes after eating. 
  • One evening, I felt a sudden stabbing pain in my abdomen that was so intense, I couldn't breathe. Brian took me urgent care, and they said to go to the ER and get an ultrasound. The pain subsided by the time we left, so we just went home instead. But it reoccurred the next day, and the day after that. I finally called my OB, and they determined based on where the pain was located, that I was constipated. Whew! That was relief - but still very painful. 
  • I had resigned myself to always being in pain while nursing, but after reading several articles that all said it shouldn't be - I called a lactation consultant. She was very helpful: in addition to showing me some new positions, she surmised that the root issue is that Edison is tongue-tied, thus he isn't latching well and giving me blisters, cracks, and vasospasms. And because he's tongue-tied and can't get a good latch, he tires out while nursing, and he's not able to get enough milk to keep him satisfied, even after an hour. 

Week three:
  • Sunday morning at 2 am, I woke up with a raging fever and horrible chills. Even after I took a hefty dose of ibuprofen, my temp was still over 101, and I was so sore all over, felt like I'd just run a marathon. So, we went to Urgent Care for the second time in two weeks. They confirmed that I had mastitis. I could barely get out of bed for a few days.
  • I felt unspeakably discouraged - the combination of being in lots of pain, not getting much sleep, and feeling like I can't feed Edison properly has been really hard emotionally.
  • We took Edison to a consultation for his tongue-tie, and discovered that he did indeed have a posterior tongue-tie, and an upper lip-tie. The procedure was scheduled for the 20th, which felt like an eternity away.
  • My sister-in-law came to stay with us, and she happens to be a pediatric dietitian. She brought a special bottle to help Edison eat even more slowly, and hopefully spit up less.

Week four: 
  • By this point, I was barely breastfeeding, due to the pain and cracks that wouldn't heal. I pumped, and then we fed Edison by bottle.
  • At last, the day arrived for Edison's frenotomy. It was really quick, and the dr. said he did great, but being given my baby back screaming with his mouth all numb, looking confused and scared, broke my heart. I'm glad he won't remember it when he's older. 
  • Feeding got worse. We expected the tongue-tie procedure to help him swallow less air, and thus not spit up as much, but instead he started spitting up more. And he seemed in more pain when gassy than before. 
  • We took Edison to his one month appointment, and I left feeling very frustrated. Just like with every other visit, the doctor only noticed that he was gaining weight well, and thus assumed everything was fine. She wasn't our regular pediatrician, but the other one in the same office, and I had a hard time getting a word in edgewise. I tried to talk about reflux, but she assured me that it was normal and he'd grow out of it, and told me to try all the things we'd been doing since week one. And recommended I avoid dairy (I'm lactose intolerant, so I already do) and get yet another special bottle. 


Week five: 
  • Sunday, Sirius burned his paws running around on the hot pool deck. So badly, that layers of his paw pads were peeling off. We bandaged them as best we could, and had to put him in the cone of shame.
  • Monday, after a long night, Brian finally agreed with me that Edison probably had reflux. At this point, he was screaming his little head off every time he burped, and not only was eating less, but spitting most of it up. 
  • I took Sirius to the animal hospital. I've never seen him so freaked out - his pupils were dilated so that only a tiny sliver of brown could be seen, he shook uncontrollably, snarled, and then tried to bite the vet. I started crying - blame it on a combination of hormones and not getting any sleep the night before - so they took him in the back to fix him up. He was fine in a few minutes, although not liking the bandages and cone of shame at all. 
  • Tuesday, I called the nurse line at the pediatrician's office about Edison. They were able to get us in to see our doctor that day. After hearing all we'd been through, he prescribed some reflux medication. If the medicine didn't help in the next day or so, he'd need an ultrasound to look for pyloric stenosis - a stomach problem requiring surgery.
Today is Wednesday, and the verdict is still out. 

Yes, I know it's supposed to get better eventually... but as you can see, each week it actually gets a little worse. 

For once, I'd really like Murphy's Law to just STOP IT. Just cut it out, Murphy. I've had enough.

But, as the saying goes, this too shall pass. Maybe what comes next will be worse. Maybe it will actually get better. Maybe we'll be able to get Edison to a place where he's not in pain while eating, and then we can start working on breastfeeding again. 

Maybe one of these days I'll see him smile at me.

But there's been so many moments of holding Edison while he sleeps, listening to his little coos, watching him dream, or those times when he's awake but not hungry or upset. And then realizing that he's grown out of one of his special onesies he wore for his newborn photos. 

He's already over a month old, growing up so fast. I won't always be able to hold him in my arms. Just like the sultan realized, these sweet moments are passing too. 


These hard times will become memories, and so will all the beautiful moments.

I can't let the pain and exhaustion and frustration of our circumstances rob me of the joy to be found in every day. 


Because this too, shall pass.

Sunday, August 16

Create: Embroidered Up-Cycled Onesies


Remember in grade school when that particular clothing item was absolutely the coolest thing ever, and everyone who was anyone HAD to have one? I remember the butterfly hair clip phase - those clips with glittery butterfly wings attached on springs, so they looked like they were fluttering. Everyone was wearing them. I had a light pink pair, and they were perfection. 

FYI, the must-have item for your little one today is an embroidered onesie. All the cool kids are wearing them. 

And the best part - you can DIY one, using all those onesies in excellent condition that you picked up at Goodwill, or were hand-me downs from your friend's kids. You know, the ones that are perfectly fine on their own, but with a little stitching, go from "meh" to the envy of all the other infants in their puppy and dinosaur onesies at the mall - or pediatrician's office. 


Ok, so maybe I made that up about embroidery being a big trend, although I have seen it around, but it should be, because it's easy, and really does look awesome. And there's so many cute and funny onesies I've seen around that I want to buy, but they cost around $25 each. This way, I can up-cycle what I have and add the extra cute factor.

You'll need: 
  • Ordinary onesies
  • Embroidery floss
  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Something to draw your design with. I use a washable fabric marker or even a pencil, since it washes out and even erases from the fabric sometimes.
  • Endless ideas for cute designs
I started with a hipster anchor and compass design. While I liked the color combo, it didn't pop enough, so in the final version of this one, I added some red floss too. 



Most of my designs used a simple back-stitch. The most challenging one was the baseball onesie. This one used a modified blanket stitch. If you'd like to replicate it, here's how: 


Go up through your fabric, leaving space for the "Y" shape of the stitch. 


Then poke down at an angle, trapping the thread underneath the needle, like the photo above shows. Then pull it through, like the photo below: 


Then stitch down to make the stem of the "Y" shape. This will join the "Y's" together. 



 If it's confusing from the pictures, try watching youtube videos of the blanket stitch. You're just modifying the shape so that instead of going at a right angle, you're creating the "Y" shape.



For this one, I sketched the design using the fabric maker. I wasn't concerned about making the letters perfect; I like the hand-written look.


I was sorely tempted to do something Harry Potter themed for this lightening bolt one, but I was afraid the blue would pre-condition him to favor Ravenclaw. So instead, I went with "So Rad" in bubble letters for a little hipster throwback to the 80's. 



Edison approves. And he's definitely cool. 




Sunday, August 2

Life Lately: Introducing Edison Paul Conley


This post was saved as a draft with a very different title: Life Lately, On Reaching My Due Date. I was going to show photos of the baby shoes and pants that I'd finally found (if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I was losing some sleep over the lack of shoes and pants)...


Then I was going to post this photo I took Monday, July 20th, after swimming on my lunch break as I worked from home. 


And then I was going to post my 39 weeks bumpie, that Brian was going to take for me on Tuesday, and of course, add my 40 weeks bumpie the week after. I'd talked to my sister and mom that weekend, and everyone in our family, and Brian's family, delivered late - a week to two weeks late. I relaxed, fully resigned to reach my due date patiently, and even be induced in early August. We'd be able to attend our Newborn Care class at the hospital Wednesday, and my mom would arrive the following Wednesday, and then he'd be born that weekend or maybe even the next. 

Then that Monday night, July 20th, I had just dozed off right around midnight, when I was jolted awake by the first contraction. 

I'm going to write down every detail I can remember, so if this isn't your thing, just scroll down to the baby pictures at the bottom. 

Feeling a lot of pressure in my pelvis, I got up to use the bathroom. That's when I realized I couldn't stop peeing. And it was pinkish, and didn't have any scent. No, this couldn't possibly be happening. 

In complete denial, I decided to grab some books from my nightstand and go read on the couch where I wouldn't bother Brian until these Braxton Hicks contractions stopped and I could fall back asleep. No sooner had I sat down on the couch when there was another gush of fluid. 

The reality began to slowly dawn on me. I waddled down the hallway to the bathroom, where I alternated between sitting on the toilet, pacing to the bedroom door, sometimes even opening the door and looking at Brian stretched out, sleeping on the bed, then convincing myself I was crazy, waddling back to the bathroom. Then I'd have a contraction, start believing that this was really happening, and waddle back to the bedroom door. 

At 12:35 am, I opened the bedroom door, and Brian started sitting up. I couldn't quite say what was really happening. Instead I said, "Could you bring me some dry pants?" 

"Did your water break?" Brian asked. 

"Yes ... maybe ... I don't know..." And I burst into tears. As I sobbed out what was happening, Brian grabbed our partially packed bags and began checking items off our hospital packing checklist.

"Your water broke, babe." He kept telling me. 

"No, it's not time yet," I sobbed. "What if it hasn't, and they send us home?"

"Babe, your water broke. They're not going to send us home." Brian repeatedly reassured me. 

Brian calmly continued gathering our things, and then poured himself a giant bowl of cereal and yogurt. I started crying, just looking at the size of that bowl. It's going to take forever to eat that! 

Brian suggested I eat something too, since once we checked in, they wouldn't let me eat anything. I had a chocolate granola bar, and finally, around at 1:15 am, we left for the hospital. 

Of course, it felt like we hit every red light. I was sure that with the pain of these contractions, I must be dilated to a four or five by the time we arrived. Although the drive felt like forever, it was really only 15 minutes. 

They put us in the triage room, and I put on the hospital gown. I had yet another small gush of fluid, and started stressing out about a small puddle on the floor. 

Ironic, because then as we waited for what seemed like ages for the nurse to come back in and examine me, "I feel like I might throw up," I told Brian, and immediately, I did. Everywhere. That one granola bar, and all the water I'd been drinking to prepare for the IV I knew was coming, made more of a mess than I would have imagined. Brian ran to the door and asked for help, and a couple nurses came in and helped clean me and the room up.

Finally, they examined me. I dilated to a three. A three! I couldn't believe it. How could it hurt so much, and now it must almost be three o'clock, and I'm only dilated to a three?!

But, up until this point, I had refused to allow Brian to tell anyone we were at the hospital. I wanted to be sure they were going to keep us first. When the nurse examined me, she also confirmed that my water had indeed broken, and they'd be moving me to a labor and delivery room shortly. Brian called our parents, my older sister, and his sister, and she planned to get a few more hours of sleep before driving the six hours to our house. 

We moved to the labor and delivery room, and then the IV debacle began. I told them, as I always do, that everyone has a hard time getting an IV in me, and I have a hard time with not fainting, so they should use the smallest needles and have me lying down. They called in a different nurse to do the IV, one they said is their go-to for hard IVs. She said she'd never seen such wiggly veins. And the poking began. She finally was able to insert it, and draw enough blood for the public cord blood donation. Then after she left, I commented to the nurse that the IV was really hurting, and sure enough, the vein had blown, and they'd have to try again. 

All told, both arms, six stabs, two nurses and another blown veins later, they finally put an IV in my hand. It was excruciating, and I couldn't bend my wrist. Of course, I'd been having contractions this whole time, while laying on my back in the bed. 

After that, my whole birth plan of waiting until I was six or seven centimeters dilated to even begin thinking about an epidural went out the window. It was maybe 4 or 5 am, and I was done. I took the analgesic through the IV in hopes that it would make the process of getting an epidural bearable, since they told me it could take 15 minutes just to get it in. 15 minutes of contractions feels like a very, very long time. 

Amazingly, getting an epidural was much less painful and faster than an IV! Maybe the analgesic helped, at least it relaxed me, and while I felt the shot of local anesthetic and could feel the epidural going in, I squeezed Brian's hands as hard as I could, and before I knew it, it was over. 

It was weird not being able to feel most of my legs, but I was able to doze off and get some rest. 


Then I wrote in the baby book - I filled out as much as I could up to the pages for his birth.


Brian kept our family up to date on my progress. The doctor and nurses estimated we'd have our baby by noon.


Once I was fully dilated, they turned down my epidural to restore some feeling, and had me do some practice pushes. It was so confusing, trying to use muscles that were numb. 

The nurses kept saying, "He's right there ... the doctor is on his way, we don't want an unassisted birth ..." He's almost here. I started feeling a little anxious. It was almost time to push, and while I wanted it to be over, I was afraid of what would come next - actually having a little person to take care of. 

The doctor drove across town as quickly as he could, but of course, it felt like ages. Especially when the nurse kept commenting that "We don't want an unassisted birth..." 

But then he was there, and it was time to start. 

It was the hardest work I'd ever done in my life. Brian estimates that I pushed for about an hour. I'd do three pushes each contraction, and the first push would help me find the right muscles, the second push would be really good and I'd feel like he was almost out, and on the third push I'd tire out, and then it felt like I'd have to start over again. I could hear in Brian's voice as he counted when he could see Edison's head and I'd know I was getting close, but every time, that third push would get me. Even though I still had the epidural, I could definitely feel the stretching, and it was painful! 

But oh, the relief when I finally pushed him out! The doctor had Brian catch him and put him on my chest. He was coated in a lot more vernix than I expected and was so blue, but he was flailing and crying, and I was crying, and Brian was crying, and Edison was finally here!

Brian cut the cord, and Edison lay on my chest for an entire hour. I guess I had a lot of tearing, it took the doctor quite awhile to get me stitched up, and he mentioned that Edison had scraped my urethra on the way out too. 

We stayed in the labor and delivery room for several hours, the lactation consultant came by and tried to help me breastfeed, but I was so tired I was floating in and out of consciousness and could barely keep my eyelids open. I might have slept a bit, and then ordered some food, and had the epidural removed. 

Edison got cleaned up and held by daddy.

 

 After the courier came to pick up the cord blood donation, it was time to move to the couplet care room, where we'd stay for the rest of our time in the hospital. 


Not too long after we arrived and settled in, my sister in law came to visit us, and we finally took our first family picture! 


Brian changed his first diaper ... ever!


And had some good cuddle time.


Edison slept in the bassinet, and boy, was it ever hard to sleep that night. He made lots of noises in his sleep, and I had to keep checking to make sure he was breathing. I didn't get much sleep. That came back to bite me later.


The next day, I was still struggling with breastfeeding. It seemed like I had to have a nurse help me every time. And Edison never wanted to wake up to eat. I couldn't take a nap, because when I tried, someone would come in for some reason every few minutes - social security paperwork, vitals, newborn screenings, the newborn photographer ... hence the reason the newborn photos that have me in them didn't turn out so well. 

But look at these! 


That night, I couldn't get Edison to breastfeed. It also hurt to pump, although I'd been able to pump a little earlier that day. I was afraid to feed him that, because I thought it might ruin him forever from breastfeeding. And then Edison was screaming, and Brian kept asking me why it was so important to breastfeed anyway. After not having much sleep the night before and none that day, and only that one nap after getting the epidural during the 12 hours of labor - I melted down into hysterical crying. Brian called the nurse, and she took the baby and what I'd pumped earlier to the nursery for as long as we needed to get some rest.

That was the first of many times I'd cry, sometimes hysterically, over breastfeeding. It's been almost two weeks, and honestly, it's not getting any better. We still have problems latching, the left side cracked and bled, and you name it, we've tried it all, to no avail.


But back to our stay in the hospital. We stayed until Thursday, mostly to get as much help as possible with breastfeeding. The hospital took such great care of us. The food was great, Brian was pretty comfortable sleeping on the sleeper couch, and they brought me fresh ice packs whenever I needed. It was kind of scary leaving. But at the same time, we were excited to go home, and start real life.


Sirius loves his baby.


On Tuesday, it will be two weeks. Those two weeks have contained many sleepless nights, several calls to nurse lines and lactation offices, two visits to the pediatrician, one to the hospital for a jaundice test (which came back low, and has cleared up now), a trip to urgent care for me (overdoing it combined with constipation = really painful), a late night scare when Edison was spitting up blood (so much gas from eating too fast and too much that he spit up violently and tore a small blood vessel in his esophagus) his left eye swelled shut (blocked tear duct), a cracked and bleeding nipple that won't heal, and as I mentioned, continued issues breastfeeding (no, he's not tongue-tied, yes, we've tried using a nipple shield). 

In short, it's been far, far harder than I could have imagined. 


 But there are those peaceful moments when he's just looking into my eyes, or slumbering in my arms. The sweetness of it and the fleetingness of this season with him overwhelms me.


And all is well.