All the things!!!

I have started this entry about a million times… and I’ve decided that the only way to actually get anything written right now is to either do it piecemeal and take several days to write it, or to let Adam know what I’m up to and ask him to watch the kiddo while I post.

Rae and Henry

It’s lunchtime for everyone!

It’s hard to believe it, but in 4 days, Henry will be 1 month old, and on Monday of next week Adam will be back at work and my parents will be back in PA.  I will miss them badly.

For the first 2 weeks of Henry’s life, every day felt long. For the last week and a half, the days have zipped by, leaving me with a sort of temporal whiplash that has me asking, “Where the hell did the time go?”

Clearly, the time has gone to breastfeeding, pumping (so much pumping), doctor’s appointments, and Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime/Project Free TV.  It sure as shit hasn’t gone to sleep.

Over the last week or so, I’ve had a bunch of time-travel seizures.  It makes sense – huge hormone changes and sleep deprivation cause seizures.  Adam has been doing his best to wake up around the time he usually wakes up for work (around 5 or 6 a.m.) and to let me sleep for at least 3 hours uninterrupted in the morning. It’s been very helpful for the last couple of days.  I actually had a seizure-free day yesterday!

Adventures in Breastfeeding

Before I gave birth, I had this starry-eyed vision of exclusively breastfeeding my son. I had read all the articles and drank the “Breast is BEST!” Kool-Aid.  But, like most things involving my body, breastfeeding turned out to be more complicated than I expected. Not only did I have no idea how to actually do it, when they thrust a squirmy little dude at me, but I also ended up having very low milk production, which is surprisingly common for women who endure a c-section.

At his 1-week checkup, Henry was jaundiced and had lost an unacceptable amount of weight. We absolutely had to start supplementing his diet with formula.  I was crushed. Somehow, irrationally, I reasoned that the need to supplement was an indictment against my sufficiency as a woman, rather than simply a food need for my child.  If I wasn’t able to supply it from my body, I was a failure as a mother. There was a lot of crying. A lot. And it was totally pointless.

We took Henry to get lab work done at least 3 times over the next 2 weeks and started feeding him both from my breasts and from the bottle… and he started getting healthier and gaining weight.

Does a bad mother do whatever’s necessary to give her child good health? Nope. A bad mother puts her ego first. Point #1 in the “Rae’s a good mommy” column. (Having ammo like this is super necessary for fighting the irrational thoughts that cause PPD.)

Over the next few weeks, I read a lot of information on breastfeeding online and saw an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who weighed Henry before and after breastfeeding and determined that he was getting a little more than half an ounce when he fed from both breasts. (That’s not nearly enough.)  Unfortunately, her only suggestions to me were to pump more often (which has been helpful) and to take a disgusting supplement which I ended up being allergic to.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing that is actually helpful when trying to increase your supply of breast milk is to pump or have your kid nursing damn near all day long, every day. If you go more than 2 hours without pumping or nursing, you’re not going to increase your output.  I haven’t seen any real value in supplements yet, though I know some women have a lot of luck with them.

But over the last few weeks, there have been things that have been helpful. Here are the things that have been helping to make life tolerable – or, dare I say it, even good.

Things Adam and I (As New Parents) Love

For a momma who has had a c-section, it really is the best.

For a momma who has had a c-section, it really is the best.

1.) My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow

I had no idea when I registered for this pillow just how often I would be using it, or how grateful I would be to have gone for this pillow and not for the Boppy.  The pillow actually works like a belt around you, so you can move around with it on, and pick up and put down your little one.  Also, it helps you to lean back when feeding and not put a ton of pressure on your lower belly, which is going to be suuuper sore if you’re going through c-section recovery, like I have been.

I still haven’t used the pocket to hold a drink, but to be fair, I’m still working hard on positioning the kid correctly during breastfeeding.  I received it as a gift from a long-time friend (Liz), and I think of her multiple times a day because of it.  If you’re thinking of getting someone a baby shower gift that is incredibly useful, this is a great one.

2.) Baby Daybook

This free Android app is awesome. The pediatrician is gonna ask you all kindsa questions. Using this tracker will give you the info you need to answer accurately.

It lets you track breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, diaper changes, sleep time, and so much more.  It tells you how long it’s been since the last time you did any of these activities, so you can anticipate your kid’s next diaper change or hunger pang. It shows you, in no uncertain terms, how long it’s been since the last time you nursed or pumped and how much milk you produced. It counts the number of wet diapers versus poopy diapers. And you can sync it to multiple phones through Dropbox.

pnp3.) Graco Pack N Play Playard w/ Reversible Napper and Changer

A gift given to us by my brother Daniel, we use this playard almost all day, every day. When he was tiny (around 5-6 pounds), Henry slept most of the day away in the napper. Now that he’s starting to grow out of newborn clothes (Already! After only 3 weeks!) the bassinet feature is doing double duty – both a good, portable crib and an easy spot to use as a changing table (obviously with a changing pad liner under him).

I will be honest, though – we never used the convertible napper/changer as a changing table. It was just too difficult to get the thing to spin in the first place, and it was small to boot.  If you’re thinking of getting one of these without a napper/changer and save $15, you’re probably going to be just as happy with it.

Every morning, Adam wheels the Pack N Play into the living room, next to the couch, and Henry chills out there when he’s not being fed or held or played with.  Every night, Adam wheels it back into the bedroom, and the little guy sleeps in it, at the foot of our bed. We’re never more than a few steps away. It’s awesomely convenient, and I couldn’t imagine trying to care for this kid with only a crib in the nursery.

And so much more…

Terry cloth footie pajamas are awesome!

Terry cloth footie pajamas are awesome!

Honestly, there are other things we’re in love with right now too – spill-proof cups for adults (Thanks, Kerry!), the Boba wrap (which could only be more perfect if it didn’t make me so damn hot after a while), the little yellow-turns-blue wetness indicator lines on today’s disposable diapers (which I will miss when Henry’s big enough to use the stash of cloth diapers I’ve put together),, parents and friends who understand when we need help and when we need space, cell phone alarms that help me remember to take pills at the right time (which is so necessary! My life is a complicated game of pills.), pacifiers that come with their own sterilizer boxes (Thanks, Aunt Debbi!), and one-piece footie pajamas (because socks never stay on) with zippers (not snaps that are mini-IQ tests!).

…and with that, it’s time for me to pump again. I can’t believe Adam just let me blog for 3 hours.  My husband is the best.

Happy Mother’s Day!

It’s my first mother’s day!

On 4/29/15, Adam and I had a beautiful boy.

Hi, cutiepie!

Hi, cutiepie!

Henry Rhys Majka was born at 5:25 p.m., weighing 6 lbs. 12.1 oz, measuring 20″ in length.

He was delivered by c-section because, despite all of my best efforts, the kiddo had gotten awful comfortable in breech position and wasn’t gonna turn.  He was sitting inside of me like he was meditating — legs crossed, butt down, hands up by his face.  Since I also have hypertension, MS, and seizures, my OB decided that delivering by c-section at week 39 was the safest thing to do for everyone involved.

We got to the hospital just before 9 a.m. and checked in at labor and delivery. I was scheduled for surgery at 11:00 a.m., but because there were so many emergencies at the hospital that day, the surgery was delayed by 6 hours.  By the time that I was taken in to be prepped and given anesthesia, I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink for 20 hours.  They had me take an antacid that had the most foul aftertaste imaginable, but I was so grateful to have any liquid in my mouth and throat that I was actually cheerful about taking it.

The thing that boggled my mind is that during the scariest and most painful parts of the surgery (during the time they put in the spinal anesthesia and epidural), Adam was not allowed in the room. Fortunately, he was there for the important parts.  He brought in my cell phone, so I could listen to music, and that helped me an awful lot with nerves.  To say that being mostly numb from the tits down is unnerving is an understatement.

Anyway, I had made a playlist for the surgery, but Adam had pushed “shuffle play” on it, so it wasn’t in the order I was expecting… and yet, it was perfect.  No joke, I think God was picking the song order.  Right before Henry was born, the song “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood was playing. It made me smile and joke that if he was born to that song, I’d forever associate Zoolander with his birth.  Instead, he was born to “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley… the song that says, “Don’t worry about a thing — because every little thing is gonna be alright.”  It was playing when he was taken out of me, brought to me in all of his goopy, mostly-blue glory, and then taken to be weighed, measured, and cleaned.  “Don’t worry about a thing — because every little thing is gonna be alright,” was the exact message I needed to hear at the time… and one that I’ve needed to hear many times since.

I couldn't love this kid more if I tried.

I couldn’t love this kid more if I tried.

One of the things that no one tells you about, while they’re opining over the miracle of birth is the misery, difficulty, and fear that accompanies that miracle in the form of learning to breastfeed. The pervasive myth is that it’s the most natural thing in all the world, and that if you put your baby on his tummy, against your chest, he’ll find your breast, start to suckle, and be sufficiently fed. I’m sure, for some women, this myth is an accurate representation of their experience — and good for them. But it wasn’t for me. I had no idea what I was doing, and everyone at the hospital acted like I should already know how to make the magic happen.

Unfortunately, when you give birth by c-section, your body doesn’t really have the opportunity to catch up with the rest of you and start producing milk. Sure, you already have your colostrum, but it takes a while for milk to come in afterward. It takes a while to learn how to get a good latch. (Thank goodness for Deb, the lactation consultant that taught us the teacup hold – because my breasts are too big for most regular holds.) It takes even longer to realize that there are confounding factors inhibiting your child’s proper nutrition – things like tongue ties and insufficient milk supply.

I wasn’t bothered by having a c-section. I know there are mothers out there who make a big deal about natural childbirth or vaginal delivery, but I’ve never been one of them. I’d be lying, however, if I didn’t admit to having a hard time accepting that I wouldn’t be able to exclusively breastfeed. At first, the irrational voices in my brain were telling me that it was happening because I am insufficient as a mother… but that’s a load of bullcrap. I’d been through major surgery and my body was struggling to catch up to Henry’s needs. And Henry’s needs come first. Now that we’ve started to supplement with formula, his health is much improved. His jaundice is almost gone, and it’s been incredibly helpful for Adam to be able to feed him — especially in the kinds of moments that no one ever talks about (like when you’ve been breastfeeding for over a half hour and suddenly, you really have to use the bathroom… or when your nipples are cracked and they start to hurt so badly that it makes you cry, not from hormones or emotions, but from genuine pain)

Truth be told, I didn’t immediately love my son. I was too busy thinking, “This is what birth is? Is this even real?” and “Holy shit, it hurts to move.”  But within a couple of days, I definitely did.  How could you not love this face?

So handsome.

So handsome.

I’d write more, but the kiddo needs my chest… and he comes first. ❤