August 26, 2014 11:54 pm

Thora – 3 Months

I think I blogged all the time when Wesley was an infant and the poor second baby gets a birth story and then radio silence for three months.

Thora has already crawled off our bed (because we are sinful, SINFUL people and *whispers* she sleeps on her tummy most of the time). She was terrified but perfectly fine and landed on her back on a stack of diapers. She did it at a day shy of three months old. Overachiever!

Baby rolls.

She slept through the night for the first time right at two months old, and BELIEVE YOU ME, I was as shocked as you could possibly imagine.

Wesley nursed every two hours around the clock for FOREVER (though I guess he often slept from 7pm-midnight at 3mos) but Thora really does not want us to interfere with her sleep. She doesn’t nurse to sleep. She indicates that she’s sleepy by going all red around the eyes and being fussy, so I lay her down in bed, awake, and then she goes to sleep and I don’t hear from her for hours.

She doesn’t require the backbreaking joggling with white noise that Wesley required, nor the Indiana Jones-style precious-cargo-transfer into the crib. I can plonk her down in the most awkward of ways and she’ll shift her body a bit and go right back to sleep. It’s a beautiful thing.

I describe her as being much fussier than Wesley was but a much better sleeper, so I am not going to complain. She goes to sleep at roughly 8pm and I don’t hear from her again until about 4am. Last night she started making a peep around 3 so I gave her a binky and she happily slept until 6am.

8pm to 6am. WHO IS THIS BABY?!

I don’t want any new parents or soon-to-be parents reading this and thinking this is normal and that their baby is messed up because it wants to be fed every hour and a half or two hours around the clock. I HAD ONE OF THOSE BABIES. Trust me. I think that sort of baby is more within the realm of normal than the sort I have now.

It also makes me laugh at the people with one baby who are like, “Yeah, it’s all in the nighttime routine. Lay them in bed – AWAKE – and they learn to fall asleep by themselves.” HA! AHAHAHA! No. It is the baby’s personality and general temperament that determines how they prefer to be put to sleep. As a baby, Wesley required so much effort on our part to fall asleep. When Thora was littler, I tried all the baby whisperer tricks I knew from having Wesley and she would. not. have. it. In fact, she just got madder and madder the more I tried to “put her to sleep.” As soon as I left her the hell alone, she was fine. Different babies require different approaches.

Anyway, she is a delight.

Fun with accessories on this thunderstormy day.

She’s very drooly and still a “happy spitter” who spits up all the time but gains weight just fine so who cares. (Me. Sort of. I do a lot of laundry.)

We still co-sleep/bedshare, but ever since she crawled off the bed I’ve been putting her down in our co-sleeper crib and then she comes to bed with me once she wakes up to nurse. She nurses just fine – no nipple shield! – and I can’t describe how freeing that is. I have not once felt like I needed to use a cover and I no longer live in fear of being caught somewhere without a shield, unable to nurse.

Jeggings McBaby, reporting for duty.

She’s rolled over a few times already – front to back – and it’s never been when I am actually watching her. I’ll set her down and turn around only to hear her squawking because she rolled onto her back and didn’t want to be there.

She laughed for the first time today. Grammie was playing with her and she thought it was the best ever.

We love her to bits.

"Aww, mom!"

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August 9, 2014 2:52 pm

Struggles

Those of you who follow me on Twitter have probably noticed a theme to my updates recently, and that theme is Wesley’s behavior and my inability to understand what’s going on in his head. Just today I had to drag him, screaming, out of the coffeeshop Daniel works at, and once we were at the car he clawed Thora’s head hard enough to leave marks and then at some point in the car on the way home, he dug his fingernails into her fat little arm hard enough to make her bleed.

I tried to get him to eat his lunch – he threw his shoes on the kitchen table instead – and when he refused to eat, I carried him (kicking and screaming) to his room for naptime. Once we were in his room, he grabbed a ukulele and swung it from behind his back, over his head, to throw it across the room.

I sobbed on Wesley’s floor for a good fifteen minutes after that.

——

There are many points during any given day where I feel like I’m raising a tiny sociopath. I love him to bits, but I see now why my mother-in-law calls this age the “fucking fours.”

He loves Thora, but he always wants to be RIGHTINHERFACE and he frequently scares her by running up behind her, jumping, and landing next to her while making a loud noise. He hoots and shouts in her face. I cannot count the number of times I say “back up, please!” or “please don’t shout at her face” in a given day. Far too many. And he ignores me every single time.

I’m afraid to take him anywhere in public. Anything I say could set him off and he’ll be throwing himself on the ground, kicking, and scream-crying at the top of his lungs. It can be anything from “Please don’t poke me with that stick” to “We’ll need to leave in five minutes.” He’s completely unpredictable and I walk on eggshells around him, even in our own home. I hid in the kitchen yesterday to put away a puzzle so that he wouldn’t see me, because I was afraid he would come unhinged if he noticed me.

——

I finally broke down and bought a parenting book for the first time in yearsPeaceful Parent Happy Kids. I saw it recommended twice within three days and it seemed like it would address a lot of the issues we’ve been having.

Reading through it, it seems so obvious – the tantrum that’s happening is actually about something else: their “emotional backpack” is full to overflowing, and you need to empathize with them to help them get all their feelings out before they can start acting rational again. It’s all about empathy. This is the easiest thing to do – “Oh buddy, I’m sorry we’re not able to get kettle corn today. I see you’re very disappointed. Now you’re crying. You’re very sad we can’t get kettle corn today.” but it feels SO WRONG and SO HARD and SO STUPID when you’re in the moment. SO UNBELIEVABLY SCHMOOPY AND STUPID. It’s very simple and yet so hard to actually put into practice because FFS, you just threw your shoe at me, I AM NOT GIVING YOU KETTLE CORN.

When trying out the techniques in the book, I find that they sometimes work short-term, but the jury is still out on whether they work long-term. Like, it seems to help him stop crying or throwing a fit in the moment – certainly much better than other methods – but it totally has not reduced the frequency of the tantrums. Yet, I guess – I will persist.

——

Clearly, Wesley is hurting. A lot. And I feel terrible about that. My plan of action right now is as follows:

1. Keep up the empathizing as outlined in the book.
This does seem to help.

2. Give in to his “regressive” requests more often.
Lately, he’s been wanting me to put his shirt on for him or scoop his breakfast yogurt or be his “bathroom buddy” – all things he’s been doing by himself for YEARS at this point. I give in sometimes, but sometimes I really need him to just put the damn shirt on already. I will try to make a point of giving in more often to show that it’s still okay to ask Mommy for help even if you don’t truly need it.

3. Get some one-on-one time with him.
This will be hard for me. He doesn’t listen to anything I say and routinely hurts me (kicking, pinching, etc.) and as a result, I’m finding myself not really wanting to hang out with him. Plus it’s hard to do with a baby sister who needs her mama every two hours to eat. But! I will do my best. This is also a technique in the book.

4. Continue praising good behavior.
I’ve always made a point to “catch” him being good and praise him for it. “You were using a very gentle voice with Thora! Thanks!” or “Thanks for using your manners so well at the store. You stayed right by me and were walking instead of running, and you asked before putting things in the cart.” I will definitely continue this, as I think it helps reinforce – for BOTH of us – that yes, he is a good kid at heart.

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May 20, 2014 4:59 pm

Birth Story Extras

There were a few things that happened during and right after Thora was born that didn’t seem like they fit into the birth story, so here’s the down low on those things:

Double Placenta

At my 20 week ultrasound, the tech thought I had an accessory lobe on my placenta. Usually, accessory lobes are like an extra little “bloop” of placenta connected to the main one. After Thora was born and they took the placenta out, we discovered that the accessory lobe was essentially a whole placenta of its own, nearly as large as the main one! This is really unusual. Daniel had the presence of mind to take a photo for me and it’s disgusting and wonderful. I’d post the photo here, but it’s kind of gory? I mean it’s an internal organ in a plastic tub with some blood, basically. I texted it to a couple friends so we could marvel over the weirdness though!

During surgery, I overheard one of the doctors say something about “sending it to the lab” and “seeing what Pathology had to say about it” and at that point, I could probably have declined the testing, but I was also curious as to why I might have a double placenta. Like maybe I was supposed to have twins but one of them didn’t work out? I don’t know.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the pathology report was disappointingly normal. They essentially said it was a variation of normal and still classified it as an accessory lobe.

I had somebody lined up to encapsulate my placenta, so I was disappointed that I didn’t get to do that this time around, especially since the pathology report didn’t reveal any juicy information like an absorbed twin or anything. On the bright side, I’ve been doing really well emotionally and I didn’t lose very much blood during surgery, so I don’t feel like I desperately needed the placenta pills.

HELLP Syndrome

Upon my admission to the hospital, they took some blood for lab work. Oddly, despite having none of the obvious signs of preeclampsia like severe swelling, proteinuria, high blood pressure, headaches or visual disturbances, my liver function and kidney function tests came back with HORRIBLE numbers. My liver function test should have been somewhere in the 30s and it was 250+. Kidney function was also terrible, but I don’t know the exact numbers.

Because I had none of the other symptoms, they tentatively classified it as “Atypical HELLP Syndrome” and the OB on call, Dr. S, opted not to give me magnesium sulfate because my follow-up bloodwork showed my numbers were improving steadily. I am ENDLESSLY thankful to her for making that call. It was kind of a controversial one, given that the risk for skipping the mag was me having seizures – the OB I saw the next day said that had she been there and seen that first lab result, she would have put me on the mag straight away, no questions asked, even if the follow-up tests showed I was improving.

I really credit the lack of mag sulfate for my dramatically different recovery. I was able to get on and off my hospital bed earlier than I did after Wesley, with a minimum of pain and suffering, and I felt like my body was my own. With Wesley’s birth, I basically felt like I was wearing a fat suit and it was so hard to move.

The fact that I ended up with the “worse” version of preeclampsia is kind of scary to me. I assumed since I didn’t have any symptoms that I managed to make it through this pregnancy without any pre-e complications, but then I ended up with this weirdo version of HELLP.

Remember when my feet got really, really itchy a while back? We chalked it up to an estrogen spike, but knowing that my liver was basically toast at the end of my pregnancy makes me think that my liver was the cause of the itchy feet like the internet said it was.

It probably sounds really irresponsible, but I’m kind of thankful we didn’t investigate it further. Like, had I really pushed things, Denise could have done bloodwork and it probably would have showed poor liver function and then we would have had to make a decision about early induction, and I likely would have ended up with an emergency c-section and wouldn’t have gotten to labor at home at all. So! I’m kind of glad I didn’t follow up on that hunch.

I actually just got a call today saying my repeat bloodwork from my 2-week incision check was good – my numbers weren’t back to normal yet but they’re definitely trending that direction.

Surgery Differences

I touched on this in the actual birth story, but my two surgery experiences were so vastly different that I wanted to expand on this a bit more. With Wesley’s birth, I really felt it was something done to me instead of with me, and I was treated like a weird baby-carrying vessel that was entirely ignored during the procedure.

With Thora’s birth, the hospital staff definitely made both Daniel and I feel like we were part of the process. It’s actually hard for me to articulate how nice it felt to have somebody acknowledging me during the surgery and checking in to make sure I was comfortable. Even something as simple as where the anesthesiologist stood during the surgery! It’s such a small thing, but it made such a huge difference in my experience. JJ was right next to me where I could see him instead of standing behind my head, out of my view.

The atmosphere in the OR was also sort of jovial and friendly. It was probably technically an “emergency” c-section because it was unplanned, but it didn’t feel crazy or rushed like Wesley’s did. My mom works at the hospital, so I think a lot of people involved in the surgery knew I was her daughter. It didn’t get me VIP treatment or anything, but it did make the surgery less scary knowing that those people knew me (and I knew some of them). I could hear the doctors talking and everybody seemed cheerful, which helped it feel like a happy occasion versus the kind of dour atmosphere everybody had during Wesley’s birth.

I did know several of the OB nurses I had over the next few days, which was kind of fun. My mom was actually my night nurse the second evening we were there!

Birth Partner

This birth story wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention how amazing Daniel was throughout my labor and the subsequent hospital transfer and delivery. With Wesley’s birth, neither one of us had any idea what we were doing and we both felt panicky and unsure of ourselves. With Thora’s birth, we took Bradley birth classes that made us both way more confident in the labor process and what to expect.

Daniel spent basically eleven or twelve hours squeezing my hips with his hands to help me through contractions. It took a lot of effort and I am so appreciative – he didn’t complain about it at all. I’m not the sort of person that needs a lot of verbal cheerleading – it usually feels really artificial and silly to me. Daniel did a great job of recognizing when I needed supportive things said to me, and for the most part simply provided a comforting presence and the ever-important hip squeezes.

I obviously have no idea what it’s like watching your partner experience something as crazy as labor, but when we’re talking with people about the labor process, he’s quick to jump in and say how awesome I did. I haven’t really talked with him much about his experience specifically, but I get the impression that he is proud of the effort I put in and he obviously knows how important trying for a VBAC was to me so I know he’s glad I got to experience labor and pushing even if it didn’t end how we expected it to.

ALSO: I have to mention his expert hospital bag packing – we were seriously out of the house in about five minutes after we made the decision to transfer, and he managed to grab me a totally acceptable going-home outfit of yoga pants and two shirt options. Really the only things we missed were our phone chargers and a going-home outfit for the baby, which wasn’t even a big deal given that we live about a minute and a half from the hospital anyway so he could just go home to get stuff we forgot.

Long story short, he was the exact kind of labor support I needed and I love him to pieces.

Mastitis

On Monday, I got off the couch to use the bathroom and as soon as I made it in there I got full-body chills. My boobs were huge and hot, which is normal after your milk comes in and you get engorged, but I knew that the fever chills were a sign of mastitis, so I took my temperature: 99.5. I drank some water and took a nap, but when I woke up an hour later and took my temperature, it was 101.6, and I was already on ibuprofen and oxycodone + acetaminophen which should have done something about the fever.

Mastitis is a breast infection and the symptoms make you feel like you have the flu. I felt awful.

I got a doctor’s appointment for the next day. I did feel better that morning and my temperature was 98.2, but when I went in for the appointment the doctor was like, yep, I can see exactly where the infection is! She prescribed me some antibiotics to take for a week. I was nervous about getting thrush, but we seem to have avoided that for now (knock on wood).

Mastitis is absolutely no fun. Now I just have to hope I’m not one of the unlucky people that gets recurring mastitis! Gah.

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