I’ve been meaning to update for a few weeks now, but with all the family visiting and just trying to keep myself and Mila alive, I haven’t had time, or energy really. Or I only remember all of my thoughts as I’m drifting off to sleep, as if this is on my to do list and must be accomplished before I fall asleep! AHH! OCD at it’s finest.
We’ve been home now for 6 wks and I wanted to update on how this transition has been with our special circumstances, and just plain – getting used to being a parent stuff. There are so many things to say, funny, serious and sad…so here goes and hopefully I can do the last 7 wks justice.
As you know, I had a C-Section to safely deliver Mila into the world. This was not part of my plan, but it was for both of our safety. I had a very hard time accepting this when she was first born and still have trouble wrapping my head around how everything happened and still get a little sad and emotional when I think about it. But it’s getting better. I never had a true birth plan – but having our lives at risk, certainly wasn’t something I was planning for or thinking about. Of course we are both perfectly fine now, but the one thing I am left with that Mila doesn’t have, thank god, is the memories, and they still keep me up at night. But then Mila squeaks in her sleep and I have to smile because, that’s our life now and how blessed are we to even be in each other’s lives?
So what have we been up to?! ADJUSTING, and when I think I get the hang of things, I have to adjust again! WHEW….being a parent is hard. Being a parent of a preemie definitely has it’s unique challenges.
First – Feedings: When we left the hospital, we had just graduated from syringe feedings to bottles. There were two reasons for this. First, she was sucking so hard that she was emptying the syringe on her own, without us putting pressure on it. And I was producing way more than could fill up a couple syringes. So they had me pumping into bottles for her. (There went all of my worries of nipple confusion out the window!) I didn’t want to introduce bottles until 4 wks, as I had read, was the right time to do it so that nursing wouldn’t be a problem. Well my books didn’t explain to me that a preemie might not have the ability to latch properly. So instead of giving up, I started quite the relationship with my pump and sadly gave my baby a bottle when she was hungry. This sounds pretty dramatic. But I had it all planned out. We would nurse perfectly, then introduce the bottle before daycare, and we would live happily ever after. Well shit…since I don’t want my baby to starve and I was engorged every hour, what else could I do. I was told I was very lucky to have so much milk- I am now grateful for it, but at the time it was a huge pain – literally…so painful I never knew. Besides walking around like I had just gotten HARD implants two sizes too big, the pump hurt. My nipples hurt. Everything always hurts. After a while, and not that long, the pain from the pump went away and I was pretty used to it. However, we were still practicing nursing at almost every feeding. So anytime I felt semi-normal, little Mila decided to do as much damage to my nipples as possible. She couldn’t open her mouth big enough, and the preemie instinct is to put your tongue in front of anything trying to go in your mouth, so it was just very painful for me, and very frustrating to her. Our practices got shorter and shorter as my pain went up. My lowest point was when I literally had to toss her to my husband who was sitting next to me while I sobbed because I was in so much pain, I felt like I should be gushing blood, and was such a failure. The Lactation Consultant confirmed I was doing everything right. It was Mila who was wrong and she would learn and grow and be able to nurse like a champ…soon. Well soon wasn’t soon enough. I kept going back to the LC – and each time I would tell them what she would do when I would try to nurse and then she would latch perfectly, in front of them, to make me out to be a big fat liar- THANKS! So at least we had proof that she COULD latch, she just lacked consistency. More practice. FINALLY, around the 5 and a half wk mark (newborn if you think adjusted) – she figured it out. It didn’t feel good, since I am constantly sore from switching from her to my pump. But emotionally I could have done cartwheels, she got it, and she seemed to like it and just KNEW what she was doing. Whereas before, you could tell she was looking for the bottle. So I felt pretty damn good. Now, just shy of 8 wks, we are doing great and I haven’t seen my pump in a few days. We are working on my supply, meeting her demands and I am only in pain when she is playing instead of eating. So I think it’s pretty normal and I’m so happy. At least we have finally overcome this ginormous hurtle. Next up – daycare and the bottles return ::sadface::
Next- my body: Well, I left the hospital the same size as when I went in, but instead of my belly being hard, it was quite smooshy. Which I had expected, but still, it was super weird. When I would be laying in bed and put my phone on my belly, it would fall, because the shelf that I had come accustomed to was no longer stable. I lost a big chunk of the belly in about 3 wks. But not enough that I could fit into anything other than yoga pants and maternity pants were too big – not that I dared try those back on. Plus, anything around my scar made me want to cry. So I’ve been living in yoga pants for almost 8 wks now. I would say in the last week, I have noticed a little difference, that my belly has gone down a little more – the extra skin is going away. I’m not toned in any way, but I can now FORCE myself into some select pairs of pants again, but it’s not comfortable. I’ve been drinking my Shakeology and bought PiYo. I haven’t started PiYo yet, but will this week, I hope – now that the house is empty again…we will see. Other pain issues have come up this last week that I will get to later. Anyways, so the body is ever adjusting. I am pretty patient, until I think about going back to work, and although we are fairly casual – yoga pants aren’t allowed, so there is some pressure to get it together and not have to buy a new wardrobe.
Still on the topic of body – let’s talk scars and stretch marks. I didn’t have stretch marks throughout my pregnancy, very lucky I know. Although I didn’t go full term, so who knows what could have happened. I was diligent in applying cocoa butter to my tummy, hips, thighs, and boobs throughout the pregnancy – for what that’s worth. Then Mila came and things changed. Well I had a huge scar now. Although it was a controlled C-Section, and not emergency (although I would consider it emergency since it was life or death – but anyways they did the horizontal incision, not vertical) The horizontal incision basically proves that they had enough time to cut and get the baby out safely, whereas the vertical, means they had no time and they had to do whatever necessary to get baby out asap. The horizontal cut also means that I could potentially be a candidate for a VBAC in the future (vaginal birth after cesarean). So it’s very important, but not relevant TODAY. Anyways, so this scar was pretty big, but over the weeks, it has shrunk considerably. I would guestimate it’s maybe 4 inches long now, below my bikini line. Some parts of it look like nothing, and others are still purple/pink looking. One thing I did not at all expect, but probably should have, is the numbness. I have no feeling whatsoever in the area. They call it dead man’s skin. So if I run my hand along my scar or just above or below it, I can’t feel it. It’s effing weird. There is a chance I won’t ever get the feeling back, but I should get most of it before a year has passed. But the incision line itself will most likely always be numb. Although the skin is numb, my incisions below it are not. The next incision was the muscle – that goes hip to hip. At first I could feel the stitches – it was a very defined line below my skin that hurt like hell. At this point, 8 wks out, I still can feel a line but not as defined as the stitches have dissolved and now there is just scar tissue. Below/behind that incision is my uterus. At first this was more relevant, but within a few days, my uterus shrunk back to normal size, so I have no idea what that is feeling like as far as scar tissue is concerned. I am told, by my doc, that everything is back to it’s normal shape/size and all is well. Weird how the body can just put itself back together. Stretch marks – well with all the ups and downs the girls have gotten, I have gotten stretch marks there. I’m thinking these will fade if not disappear completely when I am done nursing, but still a shock to see. I thought if I had made it to the birth without any, I was in the clear. But no, your boobs do all kinds of growing and shrinking and your skin has to react somehow…
I have had a lot of doctors appointments and still have one left to go. First I had my 2 wk post-op appointment. They checked my incision and belly. The skin was glued shut, at this point they said I could peel the glue away and it would look a lot better. Which it did, because there was dried blood in the glue and just made my scar look horrific when really it was just a line along my belly. Then they touched around my belly, and of course it was tender, but all was well. They wanted me back in 4 wks for my typical 6 wk check up. But in the meantime they told me to start considering my options for birth control that are breast feeding friendly – the pill, IUD, or shot every 3 months. Wait – sex?! WHAT?! Who are they kidding, PSH! Sex got me into this situation, why would I ever want to do that again?? Supposedly I will want to have sex again in my future and we should be prepared for it. You are very fertile right after child birth so, you need to be careful to not make another baby right away unless you are into that kind of thing, and I’m certainly not ready. So I was responsible, came home and told Jose the options. I said no to the pill, my memory is non-existent these days and that needs to be taken at the same time each day. IUD – my uterus has been through enough trauma, why would I want to stick something up there and keep it there? So the shot is was I voted for! Besides the extra doctor’s appointments, seemed easy enough. Jose voted for the IUD – seemed more effective to him. But he knew I was not on board. So that was settled. Then I went to my 6 wk apt and told my doc my issues and decision, only for him to tell me no – I wasn’t thinking clearly at all. He is very supportive but also knew I had no details on any of the methods. He supported the no pill decision. But he didn’t like the idea of the shot – he said usually that is for teenagers who need it, not adults. I was being irrational about the IUD – my uterus was fine and could handle it. It’s also something that can go in and leave it for 5 yrs or when we decide to have another kid -whichever comes first. He gave me some research on the Mirena and I went home to decide while he called the ins company to verify it was covered and we would go from there. Well of course it was covered…so now what. It seemed ok enough – the doc explained how it would be implanted, I’d feel some cramps, have some bleeding, and be done with it. OK, so I decided to do it. So I went in…well shit – the doc completely down played the whole “crampy” feeling. Let me just walk you through this awesome procedure. Which is semi-dramatic, but still. It starts out like you are going to have a pap done. Everything is really tight down there since, you know, haven’t had sex in like a really really long time, and I didn’t have a vaginal birth. So I’m uncomfortable but still ok. Then the doctor says “you have the smallest cervix in the world…” THIS. HE SAYS THIS. SECONDS BEFORE HE IS TO SHOVE THE MIRENA THROUGH SAID CERVIX!” Before I had a chance to jump off the table he continues – warns me that I will feel some cramping, which I did. It didn’t feel good, that’s for sure, but I wasn’t crying either. But I was very tense. He took his time adjusting some things before he removed himself. At this point the pain was getting a little stronger. He sat me up and told me to play on my phone for a little bit, let the blood return to my head before I stood up. And asked if I was ok. I’m assuming my face was white and I had the look of terror on my face. But I still thought I was ok. But as soon as he left the room I got it – the cramping went down my legs (most likely because I was so tense during the procedure). And the cramps, I wanted to curl up in a little ball and cry. I mean its been like a year since I’ve had cramps, and I certainly don’t remember them feeling like that. But all the pain lasted only about a day and then back to normal. STILL – why be so traumatic to my lady parts, what have they done to deserve all this?!?! Best of luck to the hubby in the future…I have some serious vaginal PTSD for sure…
Emotions – well that’s a roller coaster. I don’t think I’m weepy or cry at commercials. I didn’t while I was pregnant either. Once I got over (if you can call it that) the c section, and the nursing tribulations, I think I am pretty even-keeled. Except when I think about returning to work and I’m in a blind rage. I’ve never been so resentful in my life. And it’s not directed at any person or anything. Just the fact that I have to go to work and give my baby to a daycare. I’ve never wanted to quit a job so badly. Who are they to say I have to work to earn my paycheck so I can pay my bills… ::sigh::
Baby Updates: Besides the feeding issues, which were major, not too much else has been unusual. Along with the feeding, at first, we did have to wake her up to eat. She really didn’t know that she had been born and could barely stay awake to finish a couple ounces of milk. That was kind of sad and pathetic to see, but she has grown out of that. She now wakes us up, whenever she feels like it. We went from every 4 hrs to every hr and every combo of time in between. She really isn’t one for consistency or patterns. We also had to monitor her body temperature at first. This was a concern as we left the hospital because even though she was bundled up, we couldn’t raise her temperature enough and keep it there for a day or so. So we acted like it was the middle of winter for a few weeks with her being dressed and swaddled, always a cap and socks on. Poor baby. It was really important that her calories not be wasted on trying to manage her temperature or feeding (they didn’t want her to cry for too long to get fed, because she would be too exhausted to eat at that point). After a couple weeks of vigilance, she started to fatten up, so I was less worried about temperature and just focused on her eating from then on.
Mila has had two well-visits with her ped so far. The last one I was given a list of milestones she was behind on. But not behind if you consider her adjusted age. But by our next apt she is supposed to have “found her hands” – which eating them nonstop doesn’t count apparently. Smile at us – as a reaction, not just the drunk smile I get when she is done eating. And she needs to start coo-ing. Saying her vowels as he put it. She kind of does this…not regularly, it’s def by accident if she makes one of those noises, but it’s the closest we’ve gotten so far. Other moms tell me to ignore all of that, and she will do what she does in her own time. Which I know is true, but still tough to go to the doctor and hear him say that your kid isn’t up to par…
Clothing – it took her almost 4 wks to finally fit into newborn sized clothes. The clothes that everyone tells you not to buy because they grow out of them too quickly…cool. Luckily we had a few outfits and some friends that let us have some newborn sized clothes. So she is well dressed. And now, at about 8 wks she is starting to fill them out to the point of being tight. Time to move on to 0-3mth size clothes…SAD! I’d prefer her to stay in newborn size forever, it’s so nice. Her diapers are still newborn at least. I’m going to hold out as long as possible.
Other than that thinks are going well. We have had family visiting almost constantly, which is good and bad. Out of my 10 wks of maternity leave, only one week was spent alone with Mila. Which makes me really upset. That’s just not right. This is my time to bond with my baby. But it’s family and we needed help just like they needed to meet Mila. We are grateful for all the help we have received, don’t get me wrong! Next up is daycare where I will only have her 24/7 on the weekends. It’s tough, because we definitely needed the help but I also wanted to just barricade myself in my room and hold Mila hostage so everyone just leaves us alone. I still don’t feel like she knows I’m her mom, and shes always asleep on someone else. So we have a couple issues – she won’t sleep on her back, flat – which is what she needs to do at daycare. Currently she is still in the bassinet which is slightly curved, or she needs to be held. That won’t fly at daycare. If we have another baby, I think I will have to limit visits to one short visit for each family – and only after 4 wks. Although that seems logical, at that point we would have a toddler that needs to be entertained while I am with the baby, so that won’t really work either. How do people balance it all?!?! I am already anxious about a second baby, besides the trauma I’m not over yet, but how can I give the new baby the same love and attention when there is a toddler who needs me too? Instead of getting my time shortened because family is with the baby, it will be because Mila will need to be cared for – so there’s really no winning. But, nothing I should even be thinking of now…but still in the back of my mind!
We have 2 more weeks at home. Who knows what will happen/change in this time!