Monday, March 28, 2011

Breathe

That's the lesson I've learned so far as a mom, breathe. The kid is screaming, you're wearing spit up on your shoulder, you haven't eaten or taken a nap all day and you're joining in on the tears. You just breathe.

Last week I hit a breaking point - Dayne must have been going through his three week growth spurt because he refused naps and became extra cranky. Thursday was a non nap day, Thursday night was an hour here or there between feedings and screaming fits. Friday he was again fighting his naps. I was crying right along with him as I held him in my arms and rocked, sang, danced - anything to calm him down.

I watched the clock, counting the hours until Jason got home so I could get some help. I realized I was crashing and soon so I picked up the phone and called my mother in law. I was going to calmly ask her to come over to help me out but the second she answered and asked how I was I started bawling. She told me she'd be over in a few minutes and hung up.

With my parents in Florida it has been a blessing to have such fantastic in laws right around the corner to help out at the very hint of trouble. She arrived with food and then ushered me to bed, telling me to get a nap in and she'd take care of Dayne.

I woke up an hour later feeling refreshed and hungry! Not only had she gotten me down for a nap, Dayne was still resting peacefully as well! That caused me tears again, how could she do it and not me? Was it proof I wasn't a good enough mother? She told me sometimes we just need a break from each other and Dayne and I were feeding off each others stress.

This weekend Jason spent a lot of time with Dayne and I, bemoaning the fact that he only gets a few hours at night with us due to his job. He picked up a lot of feedings and diaper changes. He would shoo me away when I went to pick Dayne up and tell me to either let him cry for a bit or he would deal with it. The weekend was peaceful and towards lunch time on Saturday I felt my stress drop. As a team, we were pretty awesome.

I have learned that I am a working mom, as much as it kills me to say it, because I do feel guilty in the fact that I will be away from him much of his day during the week. But work keeps me sane and I know that for the first few weeks I'm at work, my in laws will have Dayne and that makes me feel fantastic. We've even agreed to have them watch him part time during the week and then day care part time.

I'm slowly adjusting to the role of mom, I'm ready to take on the challenges and learn how to overcome obstucles we may face. It really helps that I have such an amazing support group as well - my parents, my in laws, my fantastic husband and my amazing friends. Without them, I think I'd still be rocking in a corner, crying.

Motherhood - it's a crazy ride but one that I look forward to now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Things They Don't Tell You

Let me start off by saying Dayne is a blessing and a wonder - I love him with all my heart and would never trade what I have in him.

That being said - no one can ever prepare you for what motherhood is - I can't even prepare you for it after being a mom for a mere two weeks. I came home from the hospital and cried & cried. I cried over everything, I still have moments where I cry, I'm crying now. It has gotten much easier each day though, but those hormones dropping after pregnancy really sent me for a loop!

I didn't want to eat, I was full of nerves and anxiety. I'm still full of nerves and anxiety but each day I get a little closer to being more comfortable being responsible for this child's life, well being and every need. It's SO overwhelming, at least it was for me. I knew I was suffering from the baby blues and it was so nice to have Jason home with me to help out. But he only had one week off and when he went back to work on that Monday I was terrified of being alone.

I cried, sobbed, often during the day. When I heard his car pull up I rushed out just to get a hug and be reassured it was OK. I was living my life in two hour increments, Dayne wanted to eat, Dayne needed his diaper changed, Dayne didn't want to nap, Dayne wanted to be held. I went from doing what I wanted, when I wanted to being dictated by a 9 pound wonder.

I wanted to throw up the morning I had to take him to his first well baby visit - going out of the house with him? In the car? It was enough to send me into sobs again and I shook when I was signing him into the doctor and sweated while I waited. I felt like everyone was looking at me and realizing I was a total fraud, that I wasn't cut out to be a mom!

The guilt nags at me daily too, I feel guilty for not paying enough attention to him. Should I be putting him in his swing when all I want to do is escape to the computer or TV for a little bit? I should be playing with him, interacting with him. Am I doing enough for him? Should I be doing more? How do you interact much with a two week old?

I switched from breast feeding to formula - I feel guilt in that. Breast milk is best and formula is second (but a close second). Still the books and magazines stress how breast milk is better but not to feel bad about formula. How can I not?! It makes me feel like I'm robbing him of the very best but I just cannot do it this time around. My supply was really low and the constant attachment to him to nurse was sending me in tail spins of crying jags. Jason & I both agreed to switch to formula.

I feel guilt because I've already given him a pacifier because he's just a sucker - he cannot keep his fingers in his mouth and cries with frustration after a while. So I introduced the pacifier and he seems happy with it sometimes, other times he spits it right back out.

I feel guilty because I want to go back to work to regain a sense of "me" and a schedule that I set but then I feel my heart drop that someone else will be watching him. I have to go back to work - there isn't a choice in that and most days I look forward to walking back into my office. But every once in a while I want to cry because someone other then me will be taking care of him for the majority of the day. The books tell you that's OK and it's good for everyone but tell that to my guilt!

I feel like because I gave up BF'ing and want to go back to work that I let my husband down even though he tells me I'm crazy for thinking that. I wonder if he expected a "better mom" for his child than I currently am. One that treasured staying at home and relished in breast feeding. I know in my heart that's not true, I know he just wants me to be happy but still the guilt creeps up.

Part of me cannot wait until Dayne starts smiling and cooing and being more interactive so I stop being so "bored" and then I think "What kind of mom am I that I'm BORED with my child?" I watch him from the time Jason leaves in the morning to the time he comes home - that's 11 hours a day! Then I'm on night shift because Jason has to get up so early - another 9 hours or so. I get about a five hour break when Jason is home. That's if he spends all that time with Dayne, last night he wanted to work on the letters for his name in the nursery so I was upstairs with Dayne once again.

Jason tells me to let Dayne cry for a little bit and don't worry so much about attending his every need the very second he demands it. But it's hard to put him down and listen to him cry, knowing he's crying for a reason, not because he just wants to cry. Dayne likes to sleep on me, something I both welcome at times and other times curse myself for. He'll have one moment in the middle of the night where he won't go back to sleep and I'm up with him for at least two hours trying everything to get him to calm down and go back to sleep.

I feel like a slug because my stomach pooch, while much smaller, is still there. The stretch marks around my belly button raditing out like the rays of a sun, the jiggle I get every time I walk and the fact that my belly button looks like it may never return to normal. I know it takes time to go back but I want it back, I don't want to look pregnant while toting a baby around.

I WANTED this, I still want this, I treasure Dayne and I look forward to the days ahead with our family. Jason is a fantastic dad and an amazing husband and I am growing to be a great mom. I remind myself of this every day because it's true. I wouldn't trade what I have now for my "past life" - I know it'll get easier and I know that I'll have this all figured out sooner or later - or at least close to figured out. I know my belly will bounce back one day and my stretch marks will fade. I know Dayne will thrive on formula and won't hate me for using his swing as a crutch when I need a little me time.

I just didn't know that I went into motherhood so blind, all of my friends made it look so easy and I found myself floundering and doubting myself and if I was cut out to be a mom. I just need to find that balance between being myself and being a mom to Dayne and being a wife to Jason. There is no book, magazine, blog or mom who can prepare you for becoming a mom for the first time because until you go through it, you truly have no idea.

I keep clinging to the moms who tell me it's the most challenging yet rewarding job of my life. They made it through the first few months and they are the ones who assure me it gets easier, things get better and I'm not alone in my feelings. I just thought I'd share my first two weeks as mom - and maybe if you find yourself feeling the same way you'll know you're not alone and take comfort in the fact that it's normal. And it does get better.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Birth Story

Dayne Spencer is here! He was born on 3/8 his due date was 3/3 but at my last doctors appointment no progress had been shown from the last week. They scheduled me for an induction on Monday, 3/7 but we all had the high hopes I'd go into labor on my own before the induction was needed. I spent the weekend walking, bouncing on the birthing ball, eating spicy foods, climbing stairs, eating pineapples, driving over bumpy roads...anything to kick-start labor.

I was told my induction was moved to a stand-by which sent me into a crying frenzy - my doctor was really getting in the hospital's face about making sure I was brought in as originally planned and finally after updates all weekend with the same "You're still a stand-by but I'm working on it", Sunday night at 9 PM the hospital called and told me to show up at 6 AM. I went to bed thinking I wouldn't be able to sleep with all the excitement but drifted off into my last deep sleep for a very long time. The alarm went off Monday morning and Jason & I were up and getting ready. Before we knew it, it was 5 AM and we were scrambling for the door by 5:30 to make it there in time.

It was a surreal experience walking through the hospital doors, taking the elevator up to Labor & Delivery and checking in with the nurse on duty. I filled out a few pieces of paper and signed for a "minor" for the first time in my life. I was brought back to my labor, delivery & recovery room, put into a hospital gown and waited for Dr. Helmick to arrive to check me out. She did another internal check and I had made no progress at all since Wednesday. They hooked me up to an IV with saline solution and broke my water at 7:00 on the nose. About an hour later they brought in pitocin and added it to my IV to help start the contractions. I had two external monitors on my belly, one to track Dayne's heartbeat and one to track my contractions. It was interesting to watch the waves on the monitor.

My mom and Jason's parents hung out in the room while the "easy" part of labor was going on, they kept the mood light and Jason spent a lot of time bringing me clear fluids and raspberry sorbet. No solids until after the baby was born...I was starving! I finally asked for my epidural when I was around 5 cm dilated, the pain was really starting to take over. I sobbed during this part, I was tired, sore, in pain and the idea of that huge needle in my back really freaked me out. Jason was awesome, crouched by my feet and making sure I kept my eyes on him. He was beyond amazing through everything. After the general pain med went in I didn't really feel the epidural and within about 10 minutes the pain was gone and I was able to rest.

After that I was "grounded" to my hospital bed, they removed the external monitors and I had two internal monitors put in to track things. The doctors and nurses were taking the induction slowly, allowing my body to get use to each increased contraction and not forcing things to go too quickly. They even turned the pitocin down after the epidural because my contractions were getting too close together. So as 11 PM came and went we knew our baby wasn't going to be born that night but we hoped early the next morning. Around 1 AM I woke up in serious back pain, I was in tears and the alarms were going off on my monitors, causing the nurse and resident doctor to sweep into our room to check things out. The epidural wasn't working on my back, Dayne was facing the wrong way so I was having major back labor and feeling every bit of it. My temperature was up and Dayne's heartbeats were hanging out at the 200 level. All of these things made the staff uneasy, Dr Helmick came in and said they were putting me on antibiotics to bring my temperature down and hopefully bring Dayne's heartbeat down as well. If they didn't, they wanted to do an emergency c-section. They also came back in to adjust my epidural amount in hopes that my back would be numb soon as well. Each of my legs felt like they weighed 500 pounds and it was very difficult to doing any of the moving they needed, between the nurses and Jason they were able to shift me around as needed.

They had me on all fours leaning on a bean bag in hopes to help Dayne turn the correct way, I fell asleep for about an hour that way. Jason said he stood by my bedside for a while to make sure I didn't fall over in my sleep. I woke up and my back was still killing me so they upped the epidural again, letting me fall back asleep and get the rest I needed. At 4:30 I woke up in a sweat and was sure the nurse was going to come in and tell me my temperature was still up and they were going to prep me for a c-section. But I was feeling the urge to push like the doctor said I would once the contractions were where they needed to be. The nurse did come in, checked my temp and told me not only was it down but so was Dayne's heartbeat!

The resident doctor came in soon after that to check things out, I was 100% effaced, 10 cm dilated and Dayne was at a +2! I had slept through the rest of my hard labor. My doctor was delivering another baby in the next room over and told the nurses to let me continue to labor until she was ready. Around 6:50 AM she walked through my door, checked me out and congratulated me on getting to where I was - it was time to do a few practice pushes. I had my nurse on my leg, Jason on the other and the doctor coaching me through. It was just the four of us in there and I wouldn't have it any other way. After two pushes she seemed happy with how things were progressing so she said to do another one. At this point Jason looked at her and said "We're pushing until there's a baby?" She smiled and said yes!

The pushing wasn't painful at all with the epidural, the worst was I gave myself a headache from holding my breath and pushing. It wasn't until Dayne crowned and the doctor told me to let him sit there for a bit to prevent tearing that really hurt. I whimpered through the longest minute of my life, pushed a few more times and felt the most unreal feel when his head was out. Dr. Helmick told me to reach down and finish delivering him. With my hands under his armpits I pulled him up onto my chest and felt the biggest relief in my stomach where he had once been curled up.

Jason looked at me in tears and said "This is our son" - he had known since week 20 we were having a boy and had kept it quiet the entire time. I let him have the honor of telling me the gender in the delivery room. They cleaned him off me on my stomach and then Jason was able to cut the cord. Dayne was hustled over to the baby warmer and Jason followed close behind after I told him to go check him out. I had "superficial" tearing and they stitched me up while I tried to check out my son between the bodies huddled around him. I was in shock it was a boy because I was 110% positive it was a girl. When they put him on the scale all I heard was Jason say "That can't be right!" Dayne weighed in at 8 lbs 15.5 oz and was 21 1/4" long. What a BIG boy! No wonder I had such a big stomach.

Dayne had a slight breathing problem, he still had some of the fluid and gunk from in utero in his system and made a very harsh breathing sound, they attempted to latch him on to me to start breastfeeding but his breathing worried the lactation consultant. They brought in the doctor from the NICU to check him out and she was able to feed him .5 ML from a bottle so we knew his sucking reflex and his nose breathing were fine and would go away soon enough. They had us and the nurses administer saline drops in his nose every 4-6 hours to help clear things up.

I was finally able to hold him about a half hour later and check him out, Jason & I had two names picked out for a boy - he was leaning towards the opposite one I wanted, I said I really loved the name Dayne and he said "Then Dayne it is!" Jason's mom & dad and my mom came in soon after that for about five minutes before we kicked them back out. We really wanted that two-hour time frame to bond as a family and just relax. The first order of business, after checking out Dayne, was to order breakfast. They couldn't get it to the room fast enough and I inhaled every bite. After an hour they let me get out of bed and take a shower, the shakiest shower I've ever had and was very thankful for the support bars and bench seat!

We were moved to our "Mommy & Baby" room soon after that and got settled in for our 48 hour stay since my water had been broken for more than 24 hours, they wanted to keep an eye on both Dayne & myself to make sure there were no infections. That first night I spent most of the evening watching Dayne's chest move up and down, terrified he would stop breathing because of his nose issues. At one point I did hear him start to gag a bit and rushed over to his bassist. He was struggling to get air in so I started thumping his back to get whatever it was, out. Jason woke up at that point and checked him out too, I said "I think he's turning blue!" He rushed out to the hall, grabbed the night nurse who promptly thumped him three times on the back and induced the most beautiful wail I've ever heard.

Dayne was still trying to get all the fluid out of his system and I kept a much closer eye on him after that. His nose breathing cleared up the day we left the hospital and we had not had another gagging scare since then either. He's a fantastic sleeper, he loves his schedule so far and I'm adjusting the best I can. I had planned to breastfeed but my supply was very limited, so we've been supplementing with formula and I pump as often as I can to get things moving. I will probably pump most often and breastfeed when we can - but I'd love to have him on 100% breast milk before I go back to work next month. I am accepting the fact that Dayne may very well get a mixture of breast and formula but that's OK, he's being fed, he's healthy and I'm getting through the day (and night).

Jason has been nothing short of fantastic and has been there for me every step of the way. I started experiencing baby blues the day we came home from the hospital and without a word Jason stepped up double time to make sure Dayne and myself were OK. I am so beyond blessed and lucky to have such a healthy baby boy and a husband who I cannot imagine living without. My family & friends have been amazing as well, checking in on us and making sure everything is OK.

We're still getting the hang of things but I know we'll get there!