Monday, 30 June 2014

1 month

*From now on I am going to refer to V as Paloma here. I figure my husband and I have nicknames on my blog so our daughter should too! It means dove in Spanish and it was actually on my list of baby names but Andino nixed it. I call her my little Palomita because my favourite song is this one by Caetano Veloso and I sing it to her everyday:


I've been a Mama for a little over a month and what a whirlwind of a month it's been! The first two weeks I think we were in a bit of a dream world. Andino was off work and it was so great to have him home with us during that time. It was just the 3 of us and it was as perfect as I imagined it would be. We were finally parents! It was amazing but I totally felt like the saying fake it until you make it was true for us in the beginning. No matter how prepared you feel before you have your baby, I think in the end it's all trial and error. Every baby is different and you have to figure out what works for your baby. The second two weeks was a bit harder because us girls were on our own, figuring each other out. I can't tell you how many times I called my Mom for advice. I feel so lucky to have my Mom around, maybe not geographically but I know she's always a phone call away. I know not everyone is so lucky. There were a few days when V cried a lot because of so much gas. It was to the point I started to wonder if she was colicky. It's heartbreaking when your baby cries and you can't help her. It may have taken us a month, but thankfully I think we've figured out breastfeeding. I've been nursing her from only one side per feeding for about a week and she isn't choking anymore, so my plan must have worked to even out my supply. She isn't gassy anymore because she is able to nurse without gulping to keep up with the flow. I am happier because she's not crying and of course she's happier because she's not uncomfortable.

On the weekend we took our first family road trip to watch Andino's band play at a festival a few hours away. It was a stressful drive because we discovered our basement was leaking again literally half an hour before we hit the road. We were late because we had to make a pit stop to buy a nose sucker because Paloma's nose was so stuffed up she was breathing loudly and snorting! We made it to the festival just in time for Andino to take the stage and it was so fun! It's not easy to get out of the house and on the road with a newborn, but we make it happen because we want to create these memories.

So this post is a few days late because I wanted to include a 1 month photo, but my camera was at my house... and we are not.




At 1 month old, Paloma

Likes:
Going for walks outside with Mama in a carrier
Sleeping on Papi's chest
Listening to music

Dislikes:
Cold water
Getting her nose cleaned
Her carseat

First:
Smiles
Hotel stay
Music festival
Birthday party
Time at a restaurant


We tried to go swimming at the hotel but the water was much too cold for my girl!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Oversupply

Since I am stuck in a hotel room and there is no laundry to do, dishes to be done, dogs to walk, food to cook etc. I have time to blog. I'm not totally alone here though. Yesterday my friend came to visit for a few hours and today another friend came to visit us. She was here for a few hours and we went for a walk for about an hour. V loves to go for walks. No matter how fussy she is, a walk never fails to make her happy. 

The main reason I am so stressed right now (aside from being cooped up in this hotel) is because V has been having a hard time breastfeeding. I have an oversupply of milk. Most noticeably in my right breast. Today was her fussiest day ever, and this morning I noticed for the first time when she pulled off my breast, I was spraying milk 6 inches like a fountain. It was a constant flow for a good 10 seconds! That happened a few times today. When poor V tries to nurse, she is literally drowning in milk. She starts gulping to try to keep up with the flow which gives her tons of gas. Then she starts crying while feeding which also gives her tons of gas. It is heartbreaking for me to see my baby in pain. The following is from La Leche League:

When a mother has more milk than her baby can handle, the following behaviors may be common:
  • Baby cries a lot, and is often very irritable and/or restless
  • Baby may sometimes gulp, choke, sputter, or cough during feedings at breast
  • Baby may seem to bite or clamp down on the nipple while feeding
  • Milk sprays when baby comes off, especially at the beginning of a feeding
  • Mother may have sore nipples
  • Baby may arch and hold himself very stiffly, sometimes screaming
  • Feedings often seem like battles, with baby nursing fitfully on and off
  • Feedings may be short, lasting only 5 or 10 minutes total
  • Baby may seem to have a "love-hate" relationship with the breast
  • Baby may burp or pass gas frequently between feedings, tending to spit up a lot
  • Baby may have green, watery or foamy, explosive stools
  • Mother's breasts feel very full most of the time
  • Mother may have frequent plugged ducts, which can sometimes lead to mastitis (breast infection)

We have almost all of these symptoms, except I don't have plugged ducts (that I know of) and she doesn't have green or foamy stools. It's been hard here at the hotel when she cries/screams in pain from all the gas. I fed her from the breast that is the worst for 3 feedings in a row this morning because I was trying to empty the breast and I was also trying to make sure she got the rich, fatty hindmilk because I know it's not good to fill babies up on the high lactose foremilk. I think I made her even more miserable by continuing to offer her the breast that has the most forceful letdown. She was already gassy from her 8:00 am feeding and I kept giving her that breast (and she kept gulping air) until 12:00. It felt like she cried all day today. I wasn't able to eat breakfast or make tea because I was consoling her or trying to feed her or burp her all morning. I asked Andino to come home on his lunchbreak so he could give me a hand and order me some food/get me tea. When I finally gave her the left breast, she was fine so I think the problem is only in my right breast. I was sad because I was so anxious from her crying that I didn't talk to her or sing to her much at all today. I just kept saying "I know, I'm so sorry!" 

I've had this problem with oversupply since my milk came in, but there were some days where it didn't seem so bad and others where it really made her miserable. Last week I started to feed her from only one breast per session because that is what La Leche recommends to decrease your supply.That seemed to be starting to work, but then she was getting hungry so quickly after I fed her I started to worry she wasn't getting enough from just one breast and recently started to feed her from both again. Obviously feeding from both breasts made my oversupply problem worse and she was probably only hungry so often because she was having a growth spurt. This is why it's hard to be a new Mom. Because you are constantly second guessing if you are doing the right thing. "Should I feed her from only one breast to help with the choking and gulping from my over supply?""Is she getting enough from just one breast?" "What if I decrease my supply too much by doing this?" "Maybe she will grow out of this when she gets a bit bigger" I told my Mom today that I hate to admit we are having this problem because I don't want people to think V is a fussy baby. I really believe that all babies cry and that she is not inherently a fussy baby, but is only reacting to the gas. And even if she was a fussy baby, that would be okay too. All babies are different and have their own personalities, so why am I so worried about admitting that we are having a bit of a fussy period right now? 

I feel guilty when I see my baby so upset and I know that I caused it by breastfeeding her. I never consider giving up breastfeeding though because I really feel like it is the best thing for both of us. I just need to figure out how to manage my supply. According to La Leche, it will take 4-7 days of feeding from just one side per session to fix the problem, so I will try it for 6 more days and hopefully it improves. In the meantime I am prepared to have a really gassy/fussy baby on my hands. The problem is definitely worse in the mornings because she only wakes up once or twice overnight to nurse and when she nurses in the middle of the night, she doesn't eat much before going back to sleep, so my breasts are very full in the morning which contributes to the forceful letdown. It's just that she takes in so much air during those morning feedings that it takes hours to get rid of it all. Luckily she's mostly a happy baby at night. 

I keep telling myself that many women have challenges when breastfeeding and if I stick to it, things will work out. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Flood

What a weekend! I'm writing this from a hotel room... Our basement flooded which obviously really sucks. We started the week by meeting with our Real Estate agent because we were considering selling our house very soon and by the end of the week we were talking about gutting our basement and totally redoing it. When we saw the flooding we thought we'd be able to dry it ourselves quickly, but it proved to be a bigger job than we first expected. Now it's been wet for so long that it really stinks! We called the insurance company and they came to inspect the damage this afternoon. We moved to a hotel today for 3 nights and I guess we will make further plans from there. Paloma and I are here alone while Andino drives to his parent's place to drop the dogs off to be baby-sat. I'm sad because I love having them with me during the day. I feel overwhelmed with our current situation. I stress whenever she cries that she's disturbing other guests and its lonely in the hotel room. We were just starting to get into the swing of things at home and moving to the hotel stresses me out big time. Andino will be at work during the days and working at our house at night, so we will mostly be alone here at the hotel.

In addition to fixing the basement, Andino and his brother will be renvoating our living room in preparation to sell. All the other rooms have been renovated and the living room was the last on the list. As it is now, you can really notice that the living room needs to be updated so it has to be done in order to maximize our profit when our house sells. Of course Paloma and I can't be around during all these renovations, so we are considering flying home for a few weeks. That way I'd have my family around to help me out and I would be staying somewhere I feel comfortable. Andino is sad to be away from Paloma but we don't see any other option. It's still not ideal but the idea of staying with anyone else feels even more stressful.

In some ways the flood was a blessing in disguise. Now everything in the basement will be new and working properly when we sell. As much as our current situation is an inconvenience to say the least, I'm excited to buy a new home. It's not like we are dying to move though, we love our little house. It has tons of natural light and Andino has landscaped our front and back yards beautifully; but we have 2 dogs, a baby and we are planning to try for another baby once I go back to work in a year. We know we'll need more room eventually. Plus, Andino's band jams in our basement and right now they are so crammed in that it's actually unbelievable they don't mind practising that way. Andino dreams of having a big basement with a bar for his band and I dream of having a house with a big beautiful kitchen and bathroom. We have a cute little house now, but there is no room for anything more than the necessities - we don't even have room for a coffee table in our living room!

Everything is still up in the air. Hopefully we figure things out soon...

Thursday, 19 June 2014

A Good Baby

"Is she a good baby?"  That's what someone asked me last week. Obviously I answered yes, because who would say no? What kind of question is that? V is a good baby despite the fact that it is now 5:15 pm and she is only now taking her first good nap of the day. She's been fussing since 7:00 this morning. She hasn't been all out screaming, but she's been whimpering, crying & grunting mixed in with a few screams. I've been able to calm her down by putting her in my carrier and/or rocking her but she has been unsettled all day. The only time she seemed calm (until the nap she's taking right now) was when I went for a half an hour walk outside with my friend and her baby. She's been frustrated and sucking on her soother all day long. Until today, I haven't liked giving her the soother and she hasn't seemed to like it either. But today? I am willing to do anything to make her happy (and make her nap!) so I offered her the soother and she took it. I think she's having a growth spurt and that's the reason for the fusiness. I started googling growth spurts when she finally went down for her nap and I found this article. It made me feel better because we are experiencing exactly what the article describes, but then I felt bad because I'd been giving her a soother all day long when what she probably really wanted was to eat! My friend said she felt like there were days when her baby was feeding constantly and today V probably wanted to do the same! Is it a coincidence that today was the only day I've given her a soother for any length of time and it was also her fussiest day yet? Who knows... it's all trial and error over here!

I wrote last time about how I couldn't use a nursing cover. A lot of people asked why and I probably should have better explained it in my last post, but with a newborn I just write and publish - there's no time for proof reading! Anyway, the reason I don't like the cover is because my milk comes out so fast that she chokes, gulps & comes off and I have to relatch her frequently. I found the fabric of the cover frustrating when I had to constantly move it out of the way so I could sit her upright while she was choking, and to relatch her afterward. I've spoken to a lot of women who had the same experience as me in the first few weeks of breastfeeding and they've all told me that as the baby gets a bit bigger she'll be able to handle the fast flow a lot easier and she won't be choking and coming off the breast so much. I've noticed an improvement over the past few days and in fact her last feeding before her nap went perfectly well. Maybe once we master breastfeeding I'll try the cover again.

I tried to lay down for a nap myself this afternoon (for the first time since having her) but as soon as I drifted off, my dogs started barking bloody murder and someone who dared walk their dog past our fence. I decided to get up and do some laundry and blogging because I'm really not a napper anyway. I've been having pretty decent sleeps so I can survive one day extra tired.

V has already grown out of her newborn size clothing and is wearing 0-3 months. It makes me sad how fast babies grow! She's a good little eater, that's for sure.She's got chubby little cheeks and a double chin!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Getting Out & Photos

The first two weeks after V was born, we spent 24 hours a day bonding. We had lots and lots of time to cuddle and get to know each other. It was perfect. We only left the house a few times to go for walks. Andino took care of all the cooking, cleaning and running errands.


Our first walk together

Snuggling with her Mama and brother

Snuggling with her Papi and sister
Then Andino went back to work when she was 13 days old. I missed his company and I missed his help even more! I was feeling a bit cooped up, but I was nervous to leave the house. The thing I worried about most was feeding her in public. Our first social event as a family was the first birthday party of our good friend's daughter. I knew I'd be able to feed her in private there and I knew that all the people at the party would be really understanding of the stress of being a new Mom. The reason I was so nervous about feeding V outside of our home is because I can't use a nursing cover, so I worry about the looks I'll get when feeding her in public. I am still mastering the art of breastfeeding and I know if someone shot me a dirty look (or even worse a negative comment) my confidence would be shot. V did amazing at the party. She didn't fuss once and we had one of our best nursing sessions yet! (I wonder if she is going to be a social butterfly like her Dad...) At the party, I chatted with a friend about my worries around nursing V in public. This friend also couldn't use a nursing cover and said she never once received a negative comment in her 2 years of nursing in public. She said "If you've made the decision to nurse your baby, then you feed your baby wherever she's hungry. If that happens to be in a public place then you'll be as discreet as possible, but in the end it's about feeding your child and nothing else. Own your decision to nurse her and be confident about it!" It really did give me more confidence!

Today, the day before V turns 3 weeks old, we ran a few errands just the two of us. I had to drop off some documents I translated at my work. I introduced her to a few of my colleagues - it's such a nice feeling to show her off. I was there for about an hour and a half and I nursed her in my friend's office. Then we headed to the grocery store to pick up a few things and then home. V had a quick feeding, then back to pick up Andino from work.  She was a bit more fussy today than she was at the party, but we are definitely getting the hang of leaving the house together. I haven't used my stroller yet, I just pop her in one of my carriers. I find having her close to me not only helps my anxiety, but also keeps her calm and sleepy longer. 

Tomorrow, my goal is to make it to the Mom's group at the YMCA. I think the more we get out and socialize the better. The summer is so short here to spend it cooped up inside. Plus, the fresh air and scenery is good for my health!

I don't like to share photos on Facebook so I'd like to share some here. I never got around to posting photos of her nursery, so here it is. We didn't really have a theme, but I still love how it turned out. 



And a photo comparison of me at 39 weeks pregnant and 2 weeks post partum. What a change the body goes through!! 

The last photo taken of me pregnant
2 weeks post-partum. 




Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Breastfeeding - The First 2 weeks

Breastfeeding has been going well overall. I researched it a lot during the last month of pregnancy because I knew it wouldn't be easy at first. I nursed her twice immediately after she was born because I read it's best to put baby to breast while they are still very alert after delivery. I had the instinct to nurse her immediately, but I felt shy about it because I'd never done it before. I asked my midwife "should I feed her?" and she said "yes, definitely!" and showed me how to get her latched on properly. When we were transferred to the Mother & Baby Unit the nurse we had overnight was very helpful in showing me how to feed her which was great. I still had a few bad latches while I was learning though and it was enough to make my nipples crack and bleed. They are almost completely healed now, but it was VERY painful for the first 10 seconds after she latched on while they were healing. It felt like she was feeding non-stop until her jaundice cleared, so I'm sure that didn't help the healing process. I just clenched my teeth until it stopped hurting and told myself that many women go through the same thing while learning to breastfeed. I pumped a few times in the first week to relieve the engorgement in my breasts when my milk came in, but I hate pumping and haven't done it since. 

During the nights, when she wakes up a bit in her sleep, we rock her and try to encourage her to fall back asleep so we can get some longer stretches of sleep. During the day, I feed her on demand. She seems to cluster feed and then sleep for a few hours. When she wakes up though? She is starving. She cries as if it's been forever since her last feed, when it's probably only been 2 1/2 hours. She goes from a sleeping angel to a red-faced, frustrated girl in 10 seconds flat. She arches her back and stiffens her neck while she's crying so I can't move her head towards my boob. It's as if she's saying "Feed me noooowwww!" and I'm saying "Here! Here it is! Take it!" while spraying milk all over her face. Even though it only takes a few seconds until she finds the boob, we're both wet and sticky when she starts to eat. And then? She sucks with such force she chokes herself, pulls off and starts crying again. Then of course I have to burp her while she's crying because I know she's just swallowed a ton of air (fortunately, those burps are very quick to come out.) This whole process repeats 3 or 4 times before she is finally calm enough to peacefully nurse for 20 minutes or so. I'm pretty sure (because I am the research queen, so obviously I googled it) that I have a "forceful letdown" or an overabundant milk supply. Until now, I've only fed her at home so this hasn't been a big deal, but I don't know how I'll be able to feed her in public under a nursing cover with these kind of antics. I have tried the nursing cover once or twice, but I definitely prefer to nurse her without it. Unfortunately, breastfeeding in public makes people uncomfortable so I'll have to get used to the cover. 

At our checkup on Tuesday, V weighed 7.5 pounds. Up from 6 pounds 10 ounces at birth. She's certainly a hungry girl! 

Monday, 9 June 2014

The First Two Weeks

Baby V will be two weeks tomorrow. Today is the first day Andino went back to work, so us girls are on our own today. I've got her in my ring sling right now - hopefully she sleeps long enough to write a quick update.

I feel great. Obviously I also feel tired, but I am so, so happy to be a Mama. I read somewhere that during the sleep deprived weeks/months you can be tired & cranky or just tired. I've been trying my hardest to be just tired. I know that sleepless nights are just a phase that all parents go through and I know that when she's bigger and sleeping longer I will miss her tiny newborn stage. Our strategy for the night time is for Andino to take the first night shift so I can sleep 3 hours. (Last night I slept 3 1/2!) Then I take over and catch a few more cumulative hours before it's time to get up. When she wakes up during the night, I change her diaper, feed her for 30-40 minutes, burp her and hold her until she falls asleep and then I swaddle her. I can't put her down while she's awake because she would just cry. The whole routine takes about an hour and a half. She will sleep for an hour and a half before she starts to fuss. Before, I was picking her up and nursing her as soon as she started fussing, but now I will put my hand on her belly and try to encourage her to fall back to sleep, which she usually does for another hour.

The first week was stressful but I was really appreciative that my midwife came to visit us 3 times. V was jaundice so we had to feed her every 2 hours timed from the start of her last feed. She was often so sleepy it was very hard to wake her. Even washing her face with a cold wash cloth didn't work a lot of the time! It often took me half an hour just to wake her up and get her nursing and then she would fall asleep on the breast 10 minutes into the feed. The midwife said that the jaundice makes them tired but once it started to go away, she would be much more alert. She also said that nursing is hard work for newborns and can tire them out. I think the jaundice was mostly gone by Day 10 and I definitely noticed she was much more alert! She was really fussy on Day 10 (which was Saturday) and it felt like she was feeding non stop!

Now that the jaundice is gone and I don't have to feed her on a schedule anymore, I feed her on demand. I know I fed her a few times when she wasn't hungry but was crying/fussing because she was sleepy and needed to be rocked back to sleep. Now I am getting better at reading her cues, if she yawns I know she could probably sleep more and if she grunts and straightens her legs out I know she is trying to poop or fart. Now I try to do other things to calm her down instead of going straight to the boob and it seems to be working. With each passing day I am becoming more confident and learning more.

During the day, she wants to be held constantly so I put her in the sling so I can get things done. I worry that I am holding her too much but my Mom says that's impossible at this age. I want to hold her and she wants to be held so that's what we do. I worry that she won't be able to sleep in her basket at night because she is used to being held all day, but so far we are making it. The only other thing that is hard is being cooped up inside the house. I'm thinking of joining the Mom's group at the YMCA because I think it would be good for both me and V as well. I might even go this week!

And for old time's sake from when I took photos in the bathroom mirror to show off my bump, here is the final bathroom shot - me with V in her Sakura Bloom ring sling.


Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Birth

Even though the title of my last post was titled Overdue, I wasn't actually overdue yet because it was the day before my due date. I was just assuming I would be overdue since I had no signs baby girl was coming. I was waiting for her to "drop" but she never did. I published that post around supper time and spent the evening watching Sopranos with Andino. (I never saw the series when it originally aired.) While we were watching the show, baby girl started moving like CRAZY! I kept calling Andino over to look at my belly - it looked so misshapen and angular as she moved around, sticking out her knees and elbows like never before. Andino thought it was a sign she was coming, but I was concerned it was a sign she was in distress. I started googling "increased fetal movement at 40 weeks" on my phone but I didn't read anything about it being a sign of impending labour so I was not expecting to start having contractions 2 hours later.

I woke up at 1:30 am with mild contractions. They were 5-6 minutes apart, but were mild enough to make me wonder if it was false labour (I never had any braxton hicks so I thought maybe that's what these contractions were.) I woke Andino up and told him "I think I am having labour pains but I'm not sure so I'm going to take a bath" In our prenatal class, the instructor told us to take a bath when we think we are going into labour. If the contractions stop, it's not the real thing and obviously if they keep going and intensifying then you know to pack your bags. I was only in the bath for 10-15 minutes when I knew this was the real thing, so I got back into bed with Andino and had him start timing the contractions. They were lasting about 45 seconds and were 4-5 minutes apart so we decided to call the midwife. It was 3:30 am when Andino called her and she arrived at 4:30 am. She asked to speak to me when Andino called and she told me later that she didn't rush over because I was laughing on the phone so she thought I was still in early labour. By the time she arrived the contractions had intensified to the point that I was moaning throughout the pains quite loudly. She checked me and I was 6 cm so we decided to head to the hospital.

This was the hardest part of my labour. All I wanted to do was to stay exactly where I was, in exactly the same position (laying on my side) and wait for the baby to come. To say I was happy we live a five minute drive from the hospital would be an understatement. Having to get dressed and get in the car and check in at the hospital and be wheeled down the hall... all while being hit with contraction after contraction was not fun.

We got to the room and I was thinking I wanted the epidural. I kept thinking "I can do this, but why should I when there are pain relief options?" but more than anything I thought "if the contractions hurt this much, how painful will it be to push her out?!" So I told my midwife maybe I wanted the epidural afterall. She checked me again and said I was already 8 cm. She knew I really wanted to have an unmedicated birth and we had discussed during my prenatal visits that if she thought I could do it when the time came, she would encourage me to go without the epidural. So that's exactly what she did, saying "you've come this far, I really think you can do this" (and maybe by that point I had no choice as I'd already gone too far.)

So I laboured for another few hours. Baby was not dropping and my midwife wanted me to go sit on the toilet so the upright position would encourage her to come down, which I did. My waters had still not broken but my midwife couldn't feel them when she checked me, so it was unclear whether they'd broken so slowly I didn't realize it was happening or whether they were still intact. I started getting the urge to push and she kept telling me not to because I still had a lip of cervix and the baby was still high and she didn't want me to get exhausted. Soon, my waters broke on the table and I was allowed to start pushing. The baby was crowning for maybe 5 contractions and then her head came out and with the next contraction her body. She weighed exactly 3 kgs (6 lbs 10 ounces).

I feel happy with the way my labour and delivery happened. It was all pretty steady progression from the first contraction until I had her in my arms 8 hours later. And for anyone on the fence about whether or not to get the epidural, I can tell you (for me at least) that the contractions were way more painful than pushing her out, and once you reach 8 cm, the pain doesn't get any worse. 

Baby Girl turned 1 week old yesterday. She has jaundice (although it is clearing up now) so I have been feeding her like crazy to try to clear it. I hope to find the time to write about our first week as a family, but as you all know, free time is bascially non-existent when you have a newborn! 

Introducing our miracle: 






 
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