Initial Thoughts on Attachment

When I was pregnant, I read a good deal of books on both pregnancy and babies. Some of what I read related to attachment parenting, and although I liked the idea, I was not sure to what extent it would work for us. Now that I actually have my baby and have been with her for a few months, I can comment on how it has been working so far. I am no Mayim Bialik, but I am definitely doing many things AP-style.

Co-sleeping

Before she was born, we got an Arm’s Reach co-sleeper crib. When we were in the hospital after Audrey’s birth, she slept with me in my hospital bed because I was in pretty bad shape so I wasn’t going to be up and down getting her out of the bassinet whenever she needed to nurse. Once we got home, it was pretty much the same situation – it was at least a week until I could move around semi-comfortably. It was just easier to have her in bed with me. After that, we just couldn’t get her out of the habit… she would sleep in the bassinet or in a crib for naps, but at night she just sleeps much better, deeper, and longer in the bed with us. And when she sleeps better, I sleep better. Her co-sleeper is now used as an expensive shelf holding baby wipes, washcloth for night feeding messes, her toilet, and some other random baby items.

Elimination Communication

We started EC a few weeks after Audrey was born, once I felt physically well enough to work on it with her. Audrey caught on right away and would pee the minute I set her on her little Baby Bjorn potty, and it got to the point that I was catching all of her poo’s! Once we started getting out more and then starting work and day care, it got harder. Audrey started going poo more in her diaper, and now I am trying to get back in the habit of pottying her at predictable times. I think the most important thing with our new schedule is to make sure I potty her before we leave and whenever we get home, and whenever she wakes up in the morning or after naps. I am hoping that if I am consistent, then part-time EC will be successful and I can have her potty-trained very early!

Baby-wearing

I thought that I would do this a lot, but now in practice I really don’t wear Audrey too often! She does not want to be worn all the time, and when I try to wear her while doing household activities, she kicks around and whines until I take her out. She does, however, like being worn in the Moby Wrap sometimes while I am grocery shopping or the like. She is far too strong and active to deal with it for long though, so I can only really wear her as long as she will nap! And now her naps are 45 minutes max…

Breastfeeding

…Check! 3.5 months and counting. Audrey refuses pacifiers and bottles, so I think it’s safe to say there is no nipple confusion. In fact, I think I may actually shun the wisdom next time around that says you should hold off giving your baby any nipple substitutes, because if I am going to work, it will be much better if my baby will actually drink out of a bottle! Luke actually just discovered that he can get her to drink from a cup… If he pours the milk in her mouth she’ll drink it down. She just doesn’t want to suck on silicone! I don’t know how this one is going to end up- I don’t have a plan for weaning. I am probably just going to let Audrey nurse as long as she wants it, and wean at her own pace. I intend to breastfeed exclusively as recommended for at least six months, and start feeding her solids sometime between 6-8 months when she seems interested. I know Luke is pretty eager to start giving her food, but it’s important to be patient, wait long enough before we start, put some thought into the foods we start her off with, and take our time with weaning!

There are a lot of things I do that are not really attachment parenting… I watch TV, and Audrey will to. I know it’s good to limit or even ban screen time for babies and toddlers, but I figure if she is playing and interacting all day then a little screen time won’t hurt. I just know that in the future, we are definitely going to have to set limits on TV and computer time so it doesn’t get out of control!

Daycare

Also, I am a working mom. I did not give up my career for a variety of reasons, so Audrey is spending a few days a week at a great little day care near home and work, she’s hanging out with Luke on Wednesdays, and I am working from home on Fridays. Before I went back to work I took her everywhere with me- shopping, social events, etc. so she became comfortable with a lot of situations and people early. She is getting used to going to day care now, and what I have realized is that despite our lack of a strict parenting style, Audrey is a perfectly attached baby. She knows who we are and loves us, and she knows we’ll be there for her so she does not freak out when we part. She is comfortable with the ladies at day care and only whines if she is hungry or tired, and when I get there she seems content and is happy to see me. Since she is starting at such a young age, I foresee no reason why she would ever get separation anxiety going to day care or school.

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Adjusting to a New Routine

If last week I was sticking my toes in the water of going back to work, this week I am doing a cannonball.

On Sunday Audrey got a runny nose, and was coughing a little bit because of the post-nasal drip. Being a light sleeper is a blessing and a curse… I had to keep her at a little bit of an angle while she slept, and her sniffles and my own awkward positioning basically meant I got no sleep. On Monday I felt so exhausted I wanted to cry! No more sleeping in until all hours snuggling with my little girl!

Then on Monday I was working on a project that HAD TO BE DONE BY 3PM TODAY, while simultaneously running around shooting photos of an event taking place at our office all morning. I, of course, dipped out for an hour to feed Audrey, and then she has to be picked up before 6pm. When I got there to pick her up, her caretaker told me that she had refused to eat all afternoon, and she was really hungry. I fed her before packing her up and bringing her with me to the office to get a little more of the videos done so I could feel confident in hitting my deadline (Yes, I made it!).

I fed her as much as she wanted all evening, and we were both pretty exhausted. Unfortunately when we tried to get to bed around 9:30, Audrey got herself in a bad mood. Since her first couple weeks, she hasn’t normally been a big crier and she is perfectly happy in the evenings until she conks out. Last night was different though. I am thinking it was the stress of going to day care again and not eating much (I think she was a little dehydrated, her pee was a lot darker than usual) and just being really tired, but she just screamed. The only thing able to calm her down was Luke’s big arms, but as soon as he tried to lay down she would start crying again!

After quite a bit of frustration (which we didn’t want Audrey to see, lest she get even more upset) we finally got her to sleep at about 11:30, and this morning it all started again (the routine, not the screaming, thank God!). I am feeding her as much as she will eat when I drop Audrey off at day care in the morning, and again at lunch… hopefully she’ll start accepting the bottle one of these days!

I know it’s only her third day at day care today, and her caretakers said it usually takes babies a couple weeks to get fully acclimated. When it comes to eating and sleeping, she is just a very attached baby! She likes to eat from the boob and sleep in someone’s arms. At the same time, she is very social, loves being around lots of people, and has a smile ready for everyone!

Finally an update!

I realize that I have been slacking here, but what can I say? I have a baby who likes to be held constantly, and I have no patience to type with one hand! 😉 For once I have an evening where she is asleep right now with Luke, and I am not quite ready to go to bed, so I can give an update! I want to go over a bunch of things quickly, and hopefully later I can do some more in-depth posts.

MY RECOVERY

This has actually been a long process for me. I know I didn’t get a c-section or anything, but I feel like I might as well have! Because of the physical trauma from the difficult birth, I had trouble walking at all for at least a week and couldn’t sit normally for a couple weeks. There was all the initial bleeding and healing that I was expecting, but there was also throbbing and itching that has gone on and on!! I finally felt good enough to go on a walk for the first time a few days ago and have been trying to do some physical activity every day. I think the exercise is helping, my only problem now is some itching. I don’t know the reason for that, but I have an appointment with Judy this week and with the OB-GYN who attended the birth in a few weeks so hopefully I will be 100% and maybe have answers on these residual symptoms soon!

BABY’S GROWTH

I can’t believe how much Audrey has grown… she will be 6 weeks old on Wednesday and she is now topping 10 pounds. She is getting too long for her newborn clothes, but I figure it’s a good workout for her legs when she pushes against the fabric, right? I am packing away the newborn clothes slowly and have two 0-3 month outfits (what’s the difference?) someone gave us from Gymboree that fit her perfectly, and soon enough she’ll be in her 3-month clothes! At her one-month check-up she was 21.5 inches (75th percentile) and up to the 50th percentile for weight. All that breast milk is doing her good!

BREASTFEEDING

Speaking of breast milk, breastfeeding has been amazing. I was fully prepared for it to take some learning and be tough at first… I read lots of articles about the benefits and challenges so I would be fully prepared. I didn’t realize how natural and simple it could actually be. She was very alert when she was born, and after a short recovery period, my midwife Judy helped her latch on (I was still flat on my back getting stitched up). From then on, it was pretty non-stop!

Audrey was very clear about when she was hungry, and I just had to place her on my breast and she would start suckling. At first she would nurse on the colostrum for about a half hour at a time every couple hours. My milk came in after 2 days- right about the time we came home from the hospital. She started nursing for much shorter periods – five to ten minutes at a time – but much more regularly. She would go on eating binges when she was awake, nursing for five minutes at a time every 15 minutes to a half hour. I am thinking this was due to the size of her belly, that she just couldn’t hold that much!Now I think she has gotten quite efficient with her nursing. She will eat for 5-10 minutes and it will last her a lot longer. She nurses more often when she is awake, every hour or so (she is awake for longer periods now) and sleeps for 2-3 hours at a time.

The thing that surprised me the most was the hormone rush that came with breastfeeding. When she latches on, I actually feel the oxytocin pulsing through my veins. I feel so happy and like I want to cry all at the same time… so full of love and joy. I know that some women can’t breastfeed and some women just don’t want to, but the thought has crossed my mind that I actually feel bad for these women that they never get to feel the emotions and bonding that come with it.

Later I intend to post about it all in a little more detail- about nursing in public, dealing with the initial pain, etc.

MY BODY

I was really surprised at my body… I’ve learned that it’s true- the days after birth, a woman’s body changes the fastest that it ever will. With birth you immediately shed a bunch of pounds from the front in the form of an infant and a whole bunch of fluids. My belly was palpated several times to feel that my uterus was firming up and retreating to its original size and shape. I had a lot of fluids coming out of me for a few days, and I had to keep pads in for a few weeks to deal with the residual bleeding. I thought it was interesting that my belly went back to flat. I barely gained any fat in my abdomen, so it actually looked pretty good, but the funny thing was that my abs were (are) completely destroyed. I always had a small layer of fat on my belly, but it was super firm underneath. Now I attempt to flex and it’s all just mush! One day I’ll be firm again, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be starting from scratch creating these muscles again.

BABY POTTY TRAINING

I had originally intended to begin EC (Elimination Communication, or infant potty training) much sooner, but it took me much longer to sit on my butt, straddle the toilet seat, or really just move than I had anticipated. We started a couple weeks ago when she was a month old, switching from disposable diapers to cloth and a BabyBjorn potty! It is actually going shockingly well. Audrey hates going potty in her pants, and will hold her poo until she feels the cold seat of the toilet against her behind! She hasn’t gained bladder control yet, but she goes pee in the potty regularly as well. I’ll definitely do more in-depth posts on this!

Well, Audrey woke up and I am back to one-handed typing so it’s time to call it a night!

Welcome Audrey Cecilia!

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After almost a month of prodromal labor, I am thrilled to announce that the real thing has finally happened and we now have a little tiny baby girl!!!

On Tuesday my usual contractions (type #3) were a little stronger than usual starting around 4, and by late evening they were hard to ignore. We went to bed around 10:30 and I figured they would go away as usual, but they woke me up just before 2am. I timed them for a bit and my tossing and turning woke Luke up. The contractions weren’t consistent in time between or time per contraction, but they seemed to be getting stronger and closer together. I filled the bathtub while Luke called our doula Teresa and our midwife Judy. Luke had Teresa come and while she was on her way, he ran around packing and I labored in the tub. When she arrived we headed to the hospital for a labor check (so they could confirm I was actually in labor).

When we got there the resident checked me and I was 9cm dilated! Thank goodness, because the contractions were actually painful at that point. Teresa called Judy right away and started filling the birthing tub in our delivery room. I had to wear a fetal monitor and toco for 20 minutes and I was so uncomfortable that all I wanted to do was get in the tub… it was so hard to keep still to give them the readings they needed to make sure I could have a water birth!

Soon enough I was in the tub, Judy was there, lots of nurses (who all happened to be clients of Luke) were in and out, and everything became a blur. Because I was in the hospital the birth was overseen by my midwife’s back-up doctor. I labored in the tub for a while and I was still 9cm, so they had me get up and move around, then get on the bed where they decided (and I allowed them) to pop my water bag. I got back in the tub and it was time to start pushing. I tried a bunch of positions and pushed for about an hour and a half, but just was not making enough progress so Judy had me move to the bed.

I never thought I’d be flat on my back with my feet in stirrups, but it ended up being the only way to get the baby out with how she was positioned in the birth canal! I ended up pushing for a couple more hours on the bed, popping capillaries all over my face (I looked like I had horrible razor burn for days!) and blood vessels in both of my eyeballs (still red, but I think they are just starting to heal). Luke was by my side and Teresa was keeping cold cloths coming for my forehead. There were nurses around me counting as I pushed- we were trying to get three good pushes per contraction at ten seconds each push. When the nurse was counting, I was thinking about Crossfit… those AMRAP workouts where you do as much work as possible in a set amount of time and then relax completely in between rounds. Knowing when my work was done for the time being gave me a goal and focus.

The pushing had been going on so long that they were getting worried I would get worn out before she was born. It was suggested that I hold back and not push for a couple contractions, but I felt strong and simply couldn’t not push. I couldn’t see what was going on of course, but eventually the baby’s head started peeking out. Judy and Doc could see from the way I was stretching that I was sure to be ripped to shreds as she crowned, so they encouraged me to allow an episiotomy. I consented so in between contractions Doc injected a local anesthetic and made a snip- on a scale from 1-4, it was a 2. After that it seemed to happen really fast- I think she crowned during the next contraction (Luke got to touch the head!), and soon after the head started coming all the way out.

I heard, “You’re going to want to see this!” I felt the head come out and although I had already pushed my three times for the contraction, everyone was excited around me so I kept my eyes open as I pushed one more time and felt the whole slippery body slide right out! “It’s a girl!” Audrey Cecilia came out sunny-side-up, facing the world. That was the reason for the start and stop labor over the past month, and for the exceptionally difficult delivery.

She started crying right away, and they placed our little baby girl covered in blood and goo right on my chest. She immediately pooped out meconium all over me! She was cleaned up on top of me while I delivered the placenta and afterbirth. Luke cut the cord which stopped pulsing almost right away, and Doc worked on stitching me up (2 stitches for the episiotomy and one stitch for a tear on the right side). There was also some tearing inside my vagina- it ended up being a very good thing I was in the hospital for the birth. Audrey was so awake and aware, and was able to latch on to my breast almost right away!

I didn’t know this at the time, of course, but Judy filled me in on a few more things when we met on Saturday. She and Doc have an understanding where no interventions will be made unless they are both in agreement that it is necessary. They both agreed I needed to get out of the tub and later that I needed to be snipped- Judy said she almost never performs episiotomies, but in my case even if I had a home birth, she would have given me one. There was something they did not agree on though… I had been pushing at the upside-down baby for hours and Doc just didn’t think there was room for her to fit. He and Judy discussed the C-section, but she didn’t agree that it had to be done. I didn’t know why at the time, but she spent some time checking me out- feeling the passageway and the baby’s head, and she thought the baby could fit. She believed in my body’s ability to birth my baby, when if the birth had been managed only medically, they would have given me a Caesarean much sooner citing that the baby was posterior and would never have fit.

I am so thankful for my staff who believed in me enough to allow me to have a natural, drug-free birth of my baby girl. Labor lasted almost a month, active labor (that I was awake for, anyway!) lasted about 7.5 hours, and I pushed for about 4.5 hours. Judy said that on a scale of 1-10 for level of difficulty, this birth was an 8 or 9. No wonder I felt like I got run over by a truck, and looked like I had taken a beating! Judy told me not to look in the mirror for three days… of course I did, and all I can say is thank goodness I’m not too vain!

Audrey Cecilia made her entrance on Wednesday, January 9 at 9:18am. She weighed 7lbs 3oz and was 20 inches long with a major cone head (the bruise is finally almost gone now!) Luke and I are thrilled and just fall more in love with this eating, sleeping, pooping bundle of joy every day!

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Right Occiput Transverse

Those three words may be the reason I’ve had this start-and-stop labor.

Today I am 38 weeks, 5 days and we had an appointment with our midwife Judy. She assured me that I am not, in fact, crazy, and I’ve definitely had some real, effective labor (like I said, I feel like I’ve been in early labor for two weeks!) The problem is the labor always stops a few hours after it starts, and she thinks it is because of a slight mal-positioning of the baby.

Ideally when you go into labor your baby will be head down and back out- either straight out towards your belly button or back towards the left side of your uterus. My baby is head down, but its back is on the right side, called Right Occiput Transverse. The problem with this positioning is that during labor, “ROT” babies tend to turn to complete posterior making labor and delivery much more difficult and often requiring a C-section if the baby gets wedged in the birth canal during descent.

Now that I know this, it’s time to take action! I am trying to move up my appointment with my chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy and fetal positioning to tomorrow, and can also make additional appointments if need be. I will also be continuing the exercises recommended by my doula in our childbirth classes, and starting Spinning Babies techniques to rotate the little one! I will probably try a lot of the techniques, but will definitely do inversions and pelvic floor releases.

Once the baby is in proper position, labor should be quick- I might already be 5 centimeters dilated (no reason to check, though, if the baby isn’t ready to come out yet!) and Judy guessed the baby weighs about 7.5lbs now, so I may be having an 8-pounder! All of that is guesswork of course, so along with the sex, we’ll just have to wait and see!

Wish me luck flipping this little one, and hopefully labor will be soon and quick and smooth!

Link Love

“A mother does not become pregnant in order to provide employment to medical people. Giving birth is an ecstatic jubilant adventure not available to males. It is a woman’s crowning creative experience of a lifetime.”
― John Stevenson

30 Weeks and Disaster

Today I hit 30 weeks of pregnancy, and shit is starting to get real! For my whole life it has been, Yeah, one day I’ll probably have kids. Since Luke and I chose each other, so-to-say, it has been We’ll definitely have kids eventually. The last 7 months it has been, Okay, we’re doing this for real… make a baby, grow a baby…

Now, this baby that I am growing is constantly moving around to remind me that there is actually a tiny person in there- one that I am fully responsible for. As involved as a man can be, in the end it is the pleasure and the burden of the woman to carry and nurture the child during this critical time. In less than three months I will actually be holding this infant in my arms.

It’s actually pretty nerve wracking… life is about to change completely. My life will (and already does in many ways) revolve around a tiny little person. The funny thing is I am not nervous at all for birthing and actually look forward to the experience, but I am a bit terrified to take on the responsibility of being a mother.

I know that I have a stable job, a husband, home, lots of pets and responsibilities, but I still feel like a child. I never felt really ready to take this step, and I am coming to realize that I still don’t. Intellectually I am ready- I have read up and continue to read about and discuss babies and motherhood with others. On paper, I have a pretty good idea of what we are going to do. On the other hand, I don’t know that there’s a way to make myself emotionally prepared for all the changes ahead.

It’s hard for me to sort out and articulate my feelings on this. I am definitely excited about and feel a connection with this baby, but I’m not sure that I feel emotionally ready to meet him or her. Does that make sense?

This might all be churned up because of a stressful week though. A week ago today made 29 weeks, and we hosted a Halloween shindig at our place. It was a fun time, and the baby bump was even out to play!

It was exhausting though, and I somehow managed to stay up until about 3am. The next day, we cleaned up the mess from the party and started preparations for Sandy. A big hurricane was predicted to hit New Jersey, and since we always lose power because we have all kinds of huge trees in our neighborhood, we just expected to lose it again. I got all the laundry done, ran the dishwasher, and cooked up some easy-to-reheat food while Luke wired up the generator and cleaned up the outside stuff so it wouldn’t fly around.

My work got cancelled and the wind picked up throughout the day on Monday. The worst part was supposed to be Monday evening, and nasty it was. We lost power at about 7:30pm, and watched out the window as a huge tree fell down in our yard, taking out the fence. During the course of the storm, two other trees came down in our yard (one taking out some power lines) and the hot tub cover flew across the deck. Our neighborhood suffered from so many trees coming down… they were on top of power lines on every block. A huge tree fell by our neighbor’s house and totaled their car.

By Wednesday I was back to work, but we were without internet- pretty tough to do my job! I ended up being able to create a hotspot with my phone to go the online things I needed to do, but the whole office was pretty empty and there was a lot of work to be done.

On top of all that, there seems to be a bit of a gas crisis in New Jersey. Tons of gas stations are without power, so their pumps are useless. The ones that do have power have cars lined up for miles to fill up their cars and gas tanks, and a lot of these stations have run out of gas because they haven’t been able to get a shipment. Between driving to work and powering generators, a lot of gas is needed and there is just not enough supply to fill the demand. Luckily I filled my car before the storm and don’t drive too much, so my car is okay for now. We are limiting the time that we run the generator to save fuel, and just trying to get more when possible.

It’s just been a stressful week and we don’t expect to get our power back for a while yet, but it could be much worse. This baby is going to come out a trooper, for sure!