Life As We Know It

wpid-20130730_114730.jpgLife as we know it has changed dramatically in the last 5.5 weeks. The focus of our lives and attention has shifted from self, to this little helpless human. It’s been tough at times (lots of times), but there are such sweet moments, too. Like when she smiles at me. Or when I hear her sweet sleep noises. Or when Andrew reads to us at night and she falls asleep breastfeeding.

We still don’t have too much of a routine, at least not one I’d like to keep. She typically wakes up at 6:30, and then I may or may not take a shower while Andrew plays with her in bed, depending on how tired I am. Then she wants to nurse and falls asleep around 8:30 or 9. Andrew will usually get my breakfast for me at this point since I am confined to the couch. After she falls asleep, I have about an hour to try to get housework or chores done. This morning we went grocery shopping (yay!). Then she wakes up, nurses, and goes back down for another hour. When she wakes up from that nap, all bets are off. Lately she’s been nursing and catnapping until bedtime. It’s exhausting for both of us and I’m praying it’s just a phase. I think it’s part of a growth spurt which I wish would hurry up and be done.

At 7:30 we start our bedtime routine: change into pajamas, turn on Scripture lullabies, nurse, and listen to Andrew read from The Chronicles of Narnia. She usually nods off by 9, which is when I put her in the bassinet. She’ll typically wake up to eat in two hours, and every two hours until 4 or 5, when she’s up every hour.

We’ve started co-sleeping out of necessity; something I never thought that I would do and it still makes me a little nervous. But it’s the only way I’ve been able to get more than 4 hours of sleep a night. Once she starts sleeping in longer stretches, I’m hoping to move her back to the bassinet. I don’t know when I’ll be ready for her to be in her own room; I read somewhere that the AAP recommends sharing a room until 6 months (though it’s not like I really follow any of their guidelines). We’ll just have to wait and see.

And that is pretty much life as we now know it!

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Jane is One Month Old!

Time is just whizzing right by!  I cannot believe that my beautiful little baby is already one month old!  This month has truly been the craziest, worst, best, most exhausting, most rewarding month of my life.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything (but I don’t particularly want to relive it either!).

We had some more pictures taken over the weekend that turned out just beautifully, and the session went a lot more smoothly than her newborn pictures.  Andrew and I will take some credit for actually having figured a few things about Jane out, like that we can’t put her down until she’s in a really deep sleep.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from the shoot.

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Jane’s at-home weigh-in showed that my “little” peanut is a whopping 10 pounds 6 ounces (between the 75th & 90th %-ile), and she’s still 21 inches long.  Holy moly!  That is proof that breastmilk is good nutrition!  She has such adorable little rolls on her arms, legs, and neck, though they make bathtime a little difficult.

We are starting to develop a little bit of a routine, though nighttime sleep still leaves much to be desired. She hates her baths, but usually wakes up pretty smiley in the morning.  We’ve been to church twice now, and both times she’s slept right through.  Andrew says the pastor puts her to sleep ;).

One month old!!

One month old!!

Happy one month, sweet Jane.  You are more precious than I ever could have imagined.  And though these early sleepless days can be very tough, I love you more than I ever thought possible.

A Better Week

The last week has been so much better for me emotionally; no, I haven’t really gotten more sleep, but knowing that I’m not the only mom who felt the way I did made everything so much better.

And it’s a good thing that I’m doing better. If you follow me on Twitter you know that our air conditioning has been broken for several days, and that plus sleep deprivation would be enough to send almost anyone over the edge. Thankfully my parents opened up their nice air conditioned home to us, so we’ve stayed with them the last two nights while we’re waiting for the system to be replaced today.

Sweet Jane doesn’t care where we are, just as long as milk is close by.

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Thank You

Thank you for your texts, e-mails, and comments in response to my last post.  I cried as I read every one of them as I was reassured that I am not alone, and that Jane and I will get through this initial newborn period.  I am so thankful for the support that I have received since Jane’s birth from family and friends; I would not have made it even this far without them.  I can’t even begin to imagine how single moms or moms with minimal support manage.

irvin-newborn (45)Your kind and reassuring words blessed me greatly.  And it’s not all awfulness right now.  Jane has started to give the occasional smile when she is awake and content, and I know that she knows that I am her mommy.  I’m trying to enjoy the quiet moments for they are fleeting, and she will not always want to fall asleep in my arms, and I will not always be her whole world.  She will only be this small one time, and although I cannot enjoy every moment, I can savor the sweet ones.

 

Honestly

Honestly, I had no clue how difficult this would be. Why didn’t anyone tell me? Although even if they had, I probably would have been arrogant enough not to believe them.

Honestly, most days I feel like a failure.

Honestly, having the job that I do doesn’t make this any easier; it makes this harder because I wonder why I can’t figure out my own baby.

Honestly, I feel like I will never sleep again.

Honestly, I now hate driving because I can’t do anything for her when she cries.

Honestly, I frequently wish that someone else could breastfeed for me.

Honestly, I miss dairy products so much.

Honestly, I am terrified of screwing up.

Honestly, I have never been so tired or emotional. I feel like I could come unglued.

Honestly, I wonder what’s wrong with me or if there’s something wrong with her when she won’t nap.

Honestly, I don’t know if I can do this.

Honestly, I think people should talk about how difficult the newborn period is so that new moms know that they’re not alone. Or crazy.

Baby Jane

Our sweet Jane is here at last.  I can scarcely believe that just two weeks ago, I was very pregnant and did not yet know this person who is now my daughter.  She has already changed our world and transformed us into new people: parents.  And this is how she entered our world.

On the morning of June 21, I awoke at 6 AM to use the restroom, and when I looked in the toilet I saw my mucous plug.  I was totally unprepared to see it!  I thought that I had previously lost my plug, but it was really only small fragments.  What I saw in the toilet bowl that morning was huge!!  So, I got excited but headed back to bed, because I didn’t know if it would be hours or days before labor started.  It took 23 minutes.  My water broke at 6:23 while I was lying in bed, and that was another sensation for which I was unprepared.  For a split second, I thought that I’d had an accident, but then I realized what was really going on.  The fluid felt thicker than I imagined, which is kind of funny since I see water breaking all of the time at work and have even been splashed by it.  After I cleaned myself up, I told Andrew what happened and then there was no more sleeping for either of us.

40 & 2.  Jane is coming to meet us today!!!

40 & 2. Jane is coming to meet us today!!!

We got up, got dressed, and texted Jennie, my midwife, who told me to take it easy and eat high protein foods.  And in true Erin fashion, I only halfway took it easy.  I wasn’t really contracting very much, so after breakfast Andrew and I took a short walk to try to get things moving.  We then came home and cleaned, played board and card games, and just enjoyed each other’s company.  We also took a picture of my ginormous belly for posterity.

After playing a few rounds of Spit and starting Monopoly while I was bouncing on the ball, my contractions were about 4 minutes apart and lasted 30-45 seconds and that’s where they stayed for several hours.  So after a while, I started to get tired and decided to lay down on the couch.  At that point my contractions really started to intensify.  Almost immediately after lying down, they were less than 5 minutes apart and 1 minute in length.  Jennie called me around 3 to check on me and when I told her I was confused as to why my contractions would intensify while lying down, she just suggested that I stay down and “try” to rest.  She reminded me that I needed to come to the birth center around 6:30 pm to get antibiotics, since my water would have been broken for 12 hours at that point, and I told her we would text her when we were on the way.

Almost as soon as I hung up the phone, I told Andrew that we needed to start getting ready to leave.  I don’t know what the change was inside of me, but I suddenly felt an urgency to get the birth center.  So Andrew starting packing up food, and I packed a last minute bag (in addition to the 2 that were already in the car) and puttered around until we left.  We called Andrew’s sister to let her know that we were leaving and to give her instructions on Harrison, and then we were off!

The car ride was heinous.  As we drove, it felt like we were only hitting pot holes and bumps during contractions and it was absolute torture.  But we arrived at the birthing center around 6 and when I told Jennie how awful the car ride was, she was pleased and said that’s exactly what she wanted to hear… that means progress is being made!  So then she checked me and asked me to guess how dilated I was.  I was thinking that 7 cm would be great, but told her I had no idea.  And do you know what she said… “You’re 7 cm!”  Yay!  We were getting really excited now!  In addition, she said that I had a bulging bag, and it must have been the hind water that broke, so I didn’t need antibiotics since I hadn’t had any exams until that point and my risk of infection was really low.  More exciting news!

Once Jennie checked me, I asked about getting in the tub, so Zul (birth assistant) and Jennie started to fill it.  When I got into the water, my contractions were still very manageable and I was chatting in between and really in a good mood, but it still felt sooooo good!  My friend Brianna had arrived by this point; she was my designated NICU nurse (because even though I was very comfortable with our decision to deliver at the birth center, I still wanted a co-worker there, just in case) and ended up taking pictures for us, too.

I stayed in the pool for a while, letting my contractions intensify, and even started pushing in the water.  Jennie checked me as I started to push, though, and found that I had a cervical lip, and in order to try to move it out of the way I had to get out of the water; I think this was around 10:00.  That, unfortunately, stunk.  Because as soon as I got out of the water and in the bed a contraction hit that just shocked my system.  I started crying because the pain was just unbearable.  From this point on, the pain was beyond words and I pushed in just about every position imaginable.  When she could see Jane’s head, Jennie exclaimed that Jane had a lot of hair and asked if I wanted the mirror.  At that point I said no, but I was so shocked that she had a head full of hair!  Eventually they grabbed the mirror for me anyway, because my energy was fading (by the time I was done, I had pushed for 4 hours) and I was having trouble focusing.  Jennie kept saying that Jane was almost here and I just needed a few more good pushes, but I felt as though she had been saying that for ages and I was having a hard time believing that this baby was ever coming out.

During the last few minutes of pushing, they checked Jane’s heart rate by Doppler in between every contraction.  Her heart rate was slower than it had been, which really freaked me out.  I kept asking if she was okay, and Jennie reassured me that she was, but that just like me, Jane was tired and needed to come, so give just a few more really good pushes.  I tried with everything that I had, but I ended up needing a double episiotomy, which I felt (ouch!!!!!!!).  Soon after the incision, I felt that “ring of fire” (how aptly named) and all of a sudden at 11:34 pm, there was a splash as the rest of my water broke and Jane entered the world.  Andrew was baptized into fatherhood by some lovely amniotic fluid and some meconium (she stooled as she was being born).

After some quick suction with the bulb syringe, they laid her on my chest.

My whole world changed.

Our sweet girl

Our sweet girl

Although I started crying, I didn’t get the immediate rush of motherly feelings that I thought I would.  Instead, I was in shock.  Could this really be my child?  She didn’t look anything like me!  But she was so beautiful and so alert.  Although she was grunting, she immediately started pushing off of my chest and rooting, trying to breastfeed.

I looked through the photos of the birth yesterday for the first time and just tried to process through and remember everything that happened.  The further I get out from the birth, the more amazed I am at what I did; I pushed out an 8.5 pound baby without any medication.  By God’s grace and with the help of my wonderful husband, fantastic midwife and labor team, I became a mom.

After being sewn up and about two hours of breastfeeding and resting, I decided that I was tired of being covered in all kinds of bodily fluids and needed a shower, so Andrew held Jane for the first time while I got cleaned up.  Soon after, we received our discharge instructions and headed home to our own bed.  We arrived home at 5 AM, 23 hours after labor began the previous day.