Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Coming Up For Air

After what seems like an eternity of one day melting into the other with diaper changes, nursing, spitting up, cleaning up, burping, and playing with the baby, I've come up for a deep breath of air. Jellybean is 8 weeks old now and, either he's becoming more predictable and following somewhat of a routine, or I'm adapting to him. Probably a little of both. His initial disposition does not seem to be changing much. He's a very easy baby, except at dinner time. At least when he does fuss, he is calmed by us holding him under the bright kitchen lights (he loves to tilt his head back and look up at them) and running a slow stream of water in the kitchen sink. During the day, he has been listening to the music his Auntie Alice bought for him. His favorite is "Free to Be You and Me". While I play him the music, I hook my hands underneath his armpits so he can practice standing, which he loves to do. He has recently started to say things like "gahhh" and "aaahhh". If I talk to him in a funny voice and kiss his cheek near his ear, I am usually rewarded with a big toothless grin. The other day, I was lamenting the fact that Jellybean had simultaneously spit up AND filled his diaper, and his response was a small laugh. I think this is a sign of things to come.

This is my third week after returning back to work for the school district. I'm working one day per week until February, at which point I'll increase to two days. It's nice to have the flexibility to work part-time. I don't want to be away from Jellybean for more than that. It's hard enough to have him start daycare in March even two days per week. Luckily, I have family support until then. I thought it would be harder to return to work, but I'm finding myself looking forward to one day a week when I'm not just a pair of breasts. Also, the teachers are so excited to have me back, and the kids I work with have asked how Alex is doing and have a renewed energy for speech therapy sessions. On the private business front, I've gotten some calls, but nothing that's panned out for certain yet. One man wanted us to prescribe drugs for his ADD. Another woman wants speech therapy for her son, but doesn't want to pay for it. Two other women are checking around first before starting therapy for their children. At least the advertising is working - I'm glad that's not been a waste of money. What I'm hoping is that by summer time, the school job will be winding down, and by that time I should have more clients through my private practice. If not, I can always go back to contracting with the birth-3 population.

As I'm sitting here, I'm amazed at being able to even write a blog entry. Jellybean is sleeping quietly in his bassinet, and I've managed to eat breakfast, have some decaf coffee, get myself showered, and start a load of laundry. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

One-Month-Old Jellybean

Likes to sleep, take baths, wave his hands wildly, and receive calf massages. Has skills in grunting, pooping, and farting. Also can track objects of interest with his eyes, when placed on stomach, can lift his head and turn it from one side to the other, and can grasp a finger that's within his reach. Special project - creating the next Wonder of the World, "The Fountain of Pee". Dislikes cold air and diaper changes. Can assess surroundings with one eye open, and then decide if his attention is required before falling back to sleep. Loves to cuddle on mommy's chest and loves to "do the bicycle" with daddy.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Birth Story

It feels like forever since I've given birth to Jellybean, so it's hard for me to know where to begin. I just know I have to write it out so that I won't forget.

December 4th: Had my last prenatal checkup, at which point my blood pressure was the highest it's ever been (I've never had blood pressure issues and didn't until the last month of my pregnancy). My OB was concerned, so he had the nurse check the status of Labor and Delivery to get me in that day. I freaked out and insisted I could not have Jellybean that day - we didn't have the right car, my bag was at home, my mom was flying in the next day, H's sister was driving up from LA to be there. After manually dislodging my mucus plug, he sent me home and agreed to induce labor the next day. Upon coming home, several calls were made, mom got on a flight that evening, and H's sister was able to drive up. I had mild, but frequent contractions that day and into the next, but never went into labor naturally. I spent my time relaxing, making sure my bag had all the necessities, and then mentally reviewing all the things that I meant to do that I didn't get done with the realization they may never get done at this point. I had a hard time sleeping, but managed to get some rest.

December 5th: Arrived at the hospital at 1:30 p.m., as instructed. I had completed pre-registration at Kaiser, but the admittance process was still long and involved. When I finally got set up in a room, I was told the nurse would be with me shortly. I guess at Kaiser, "shortly" means an hour or so. It appeared to be training week at the hospital, as every nurse had a student nurse with her. They took my history, which involved some routine questions about allergies, weight gain, etc., but also had some rather odd questions. "Do you know why you're here?", the nurse asked me. I looked at her with a frown and looked at my belly and said something like, "I guess I'm here to have a baby". They also gave explicit instructions on who was able to have access to our baby, and for us to only let staff with a green background on their badge take our baby for certain procedures. As a precaution, the baby would also be fitted with a sort of alarm that would sound if the baby was taken out of the appropriate area. I was also informed about how they would induce labor - that I was to be given Pitocin through IV. I was a bit nervous about this and would have preferred to start with the suppository (which is all that was required to induce labor for my firstborn). The student nurse started the IV process on me and was successful the first time, which is usually a painful process. Apparently, my veins are deep and difficult to access, and it usually takes at least 3 or 4 tries to get a good IV set up, at which point I'm cranky.

Somewhere between 3 and 4 p.m., they start me on Pitocin in a small amount, which doesn't produce much results. They have levels of this drug, which I never knew, that range from 1-20. My final Pitocin level that actually had me in active labor was 10. After I started having regular contractions, my recall of the events and happenings was a bit hazy, and I've relied on my mother, H, and H's sister for specific details. Because of my blood pressure, I had to give urine samples, which tested positive for protein (a bad thing). Consequently, I was given magnesium sulfate intravenously. I've never had anything so nasty - I thought my arm would burn right off from my elbow to my fingertips, and my whole body felt feverish. My blood pressure did stabilize for a while. Somewhere in that time frame, my Pitocin level was gradually increased, which produced stronger contractions. The nurse was watching my face and offered me pain medication (I can't remember what it's called) through my IV, which really doesn't take away the pain, but makes a person not care as much about the pain. She instructed me that, if I wanted an epidural, the correct time to ask for one is about an hour before you think you really need one. I was thinking that I could go a while on this nice IV cocktail, but only lasted about 30 minutes before I was thinking an epidural might be nice. By that time, I was already in heavy labor, and H told me that if I'd asked for it even a few minutes later, they would not have been able to give me one. Once I got the epidural, it only took effect on my right side, so I had to get the line repositioned and also lay on my left side to see if it would travel over.

At that point, I was in pain and H said my body was shaking pretty much uncontrollably. My blood pressure was yo-yo-ing, as was the baby's heart rate. Apparently, Jellybean's heart rate would jump between 60 and 120 beats per minute (120 is normal). H told me that nurses kept running in and out of the room. I kept asking for "the lady", who, in my altered state, meant the anesthesiologist. Just about the time I was told it was time to push was when my left side finally got some of the effects of the epidural. I pushed three times, and then Jellybean was born. When his body was coming out, the nurse told me to look down, which I had been afraid to do. Oddly enough, I can handle some pretty gross things, but the idea of watching a person come out of me freaked me out. She asked me if I wanted to hold my little guy, and I was able to while they cleaned him up a little and completed his Apgar scale, which was 9. I had some minor tearing, which they repaired with stitches. Jellybean appeared to know what he was doing and found my breast rather quickly. I was nervous that it might not come that easily for him, but my fears were quickly put to rest.

All in all, if you use the nurse's definition of labor, which is when contractions produce effacement and dilation, I was in labor for around 6 hours. About two hours after labor, we were both cleaned up and sent to a recovery room. I had to stay in the hospital an extra day because of my blood pressure, so I was anxious to finally be sent home. My experience was pretty good and Jellybean and I received good care from the nurses and doctors. My only frustration was that I was having difficulty nursing the little guy and had to ask 5 times to see the lactation specialist, at which point I was almost in tears from frustration and pain. Each nurse seemed to have different advice about how to get Jellybean to latch properly, and one even told me that it was okay that it hurt me (which is a lie). After I finally got a visit from the specialist, I felt better about feeding, and I thought I could actually make a go of it.

Unlike when I had K, there has been plenty of follow-up support through the Newborn Club at Kaiser. We go in there at least once or twice a week, Jellybean is weighed, the nurse watches me feed him, and gives me instructions based on what is happening at the time. If I'd had not had this kind of support available, I think I would have thrown in the towel and ended up bottle-feeding Jellybean. As it is, I'm now in my fifth week and feeling more and more confident about nursing him. My goal is to make it a year, and then wean him, especially since I have to return to work and he needs my immunities.

All in all, things are going well at this point. Jellybean has gained two pounds since birth and has grown over an inch in length. He is almost too tall for his newborn outfits, and he's getting a bit of a double chin. He's still very mellow, for the most part. H went back to work, and I was afraid to be alone with Jellybean during the day, but it's gone very well so far. I'm starting to see more of his personality, which is nice. His temperament is a lot like K's, which is good and bad. It makes Jellybean easy to take care of now, but I wonder if I'll need to light a fire under him when he's a teenager. Only time will tell. Bottom line: I'll never regret having Jellybean and am looking forward to watching him learn and grow.