Thursday, March 31, 2011

Solved - the case of the missing cord stump

Hannah lost her cord stump in the NICU. And by lost, I mean that we opened up her swaddle one day and it was gone. We searched the blanket and the crib all over but it was just gone. Steve was disappointed but I was partially relieved because I thought it was kind of gross and I wasn't sure I wanted to keep it.

Fast forward about 4 weeks to yesterday. I'm getting in the car to go to the chiropractor (my hip is killing me) and what do I see on the passenger seat? Yup, the cord stump. How or got there I have no idea. Presumably it hitched a ride on our clothes or my purse. Steve is now determined to keep it, and I can't really argue. It seemed motivated to come home with us.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hannah is one month!

And she is still pretty sleepy!

She is eating well and seems to be getting a little bigger.  The newborn clothes are not quite as enormous on her!  I spoke to the nurse at the infant apnea clinic today and it looks like we have three more weeks on the monitor.  It's a pain but also reassuring.  Since she is not supposed to be out and about yet I am trying to focus on just being with her every day and soaking it in.  I know that this time will be over soon and I won't have it back.  It's not how I planned to spend my maternity leave but I'm trying to make the most of it.

One thing I would like to have is a solid chunk of sleep.  Hannah eats around midnight, 3 AM, 6 AM, and 9 AM.  We are not on a formal schedule but she seems to wake up around those times, give or take 20 minutes.  Sometimes it takes her 45 minutes to eat.  Even though I go to bed at 9 or 10 and don't up until her 9 AM feeding I'm pretty tired in the morning.  So on Saturday I'm going to pump and Steve is going to handle the midnight feeding (he is usually up anyway) while I try to sleep for 5-6 hours in a row.  I am really looking forward to it!  I am finally feeling OK with the occasional bottle since nursing is going so well.

I think that is all the Hannah news for now!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Maternitique review

Just a few short weeks ago, I was complaining about my feet.  The kind folks at Maternitique saw my desperation and offered to send me some products to review.  Of course, I accepted.  The products arrived quickly and a few days later, Hannah did too.  I forgot all about Maternitique, but my feet stayed swollen and itchy for a week or so.  We got home, and I saw those lovely foot products and knew there was still time to give them a try!

Maternitique's mission is Maternity Evolved, Naturally™.  They "choose products designed for modern women that combine the best of science and traditional wellness" and avoid toxins like phthalates.  I think this is great because I have a secret penchant for high-end beauty products, and during pregnancy and now breastfeeding I am trying extra hard to keep toxins out of my body.  Not only does Maternitique use eco-friendly packaging and office supplies, their office is wind-powered!  The other thing I love about Maternitique is that they are charitably inclined and support the midwifery model of care, a matter close to my own heart.

I was sent the Belli Foot Relief Cream and The Spoiled Mama Soothing Aloe Leg Gel.  Both would make a great treat for yourself or any pregnant woman you know. 

The Belli Foot Relief Cream has three ingredients I already know and love: peppermint to cool and refresh,  tea tree oil to prevent fungal infections and shea butter, which is probably the best moisturizer in the world.
The cream is rich and silky, and absorbs well.  It left my feet feeling nice and fresh and very moisturized, but not greasy. This would be a great cream to use for a foot massage!  The tube is a generous 6.7 oz and is going to last a long time.

The Soothing Aloe Leg Gel smells fantastic immediately on opening the bottle - it has peppermint oil and spearmint leaf.  Maternitique recommends chilling in for use in the summer, which sounds heavenly.  It goes on really light, not sticky at all.  And the smell wakes you up a bit, too!  I will use this in the summer, pregnant or not - it would be great for bringing along to the beach.  I was sent the 4 oz bottle, it is also available in an 8 oz size.

So far I really like what I have seen from Maternitique - great products to pamper yourself with, and you can feel good about shopping there, too!

Disclaimer: I was sent the products mentioned free of charge.  I was not paid to write this review and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Brief Hannah update

I haven't been blogging because there isn't too much to say, for which I am grateful!  Hannah is getting into a little routine and I am starting to identify her trends.  This week is my first home alone with her and it's going well.  We usually have little bit of a rough night followed by a slow start in the morning.  She eats at noon and two and then sleeps until six.  Not a bad schedule!

We went to the pediatrician today and she weighs 5 lbs 14 oz.  That is up 6 oz from a week ago and 3 oz from her birth weight.  The pediatrician was very pleased and doesn't need to see her again for a month!  I am proud of myself for taking her all by myself, monitor and all.  (Although when I was leaving there was a triplet mom in the waiting room, she was pushing a double stroller plus a single and I have no idea how she was doing it!)  She handled it well except for a screaming fit on the way home.  I have one pack of preemie diapers left and then she should be big enough for the newborn size.  The next milestone is 8 lbs at which point she will be able to fit into her cloth diapers, finally.

Hannah is very popular and is getting presents almost daily.  She has received everything from dresses and books to a diaper cake and handmade sweaters.  I am busy keeping up with the thank-you notes.  People have been so generous.  We have also been well-fed the last couple of weeks - friends, family, and neighbors have been bringing us all kinds of goodies.

This picture is already outdated but I really like it:

On my to-do list: taking some pictures suitable for a formal birth announcement and doing some infant massage per my midwife's recommendation.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Baby Hannah's birth story!

Our little lady decided to join us on the early side! Here is what happened (gory details and all!)

On Thursday, 2/24/11 I was 34 weeks and 3 days pregnant.  I had to get up early for a work meeting, we also had a visitor from Sweden who was going to take the train into the city with me. Around 6:20 I had showered and was sitting on the toilet in my robe, putting lotion on my leg, when I felt a warm gush of fluid. It was clear and definitely not pee! Steve had been sleeping downstairs due to my horrible snoring, so I went to wake him up and tell him I thought my water had broken. His first words were "Did you call Jessica?" - our midwife. I agreed that was probably a good idea and called. She agreed that it did sound like my water, but it wasn't necessarily so. She recommended that I go in to see her backup OB. I called and left a message and planned to call back at 8. I e-mailed work and told them to reschedule or cover my meetings for the day. I contemplated a NICU stay and cried just a little.

Per Jessica's instruction I laid down for a few minutes to see if the leaking would continue when I got up while Steve took our guest to the train station. The leaking did continue so I thought I better get ready to go and possibly not come back. I shaved my legs for the benefit of the medical staff, got dressed and put on one of the jumbo pads I had bought for post-partum. I bought a phone card online for calling my parents overseas and Jessica called to check on me a little after 7. By then I had soaked 3 pads and she decided to call the emergency number of the OB. She called me back pretty soon to say they would see me at 8:30. I packed the smallest hospital bag ever - nursing bra and nursing gown, toiletries and hairbrush, a pair of cozy socks, slippers, camera and charger, cell phone charger, and a little baby snow suit I hadn't been sure we would get any use out of in April.

Steve got home and I told him the plan - he had enough time to shower and dress, and we both ate breakfast. I knew that it could be a long day. My back started hurting during breakfast and I didn't feel much like eating, but I knew I had to. I also started feeling like going to the bathroom a lot. Steve found the time to unload the dishwasher and feed the cats. Right before we left we tossed a box of granola bars in the bag and Steve grabbed the car seat from the attic. Luckily we had left the base installed since my nephew Noah's visit a few weeks ago.

I remember on the way to the doctor's office feeling really irritated at the traffic and generally uncomfortable. I wanted my birthing tub!  I remember telling Steve that if they put me on pitocin it was game over for a natural birth. We got there around 8:40 and I shuffled into the office. They were expecting us and while we didn't have to wait long they did ask us to have a seat. I couldn't do it so I stood over a chair, leaning. The receptionist said that it looked like labor to her!

We went into the office and Tina, the midwife, put me on a contraction monitor and the baby on a heart monitor. The heartrate was steady in the low 140s and I could see some blips on the contraction monitor but nothing big. I felt uncomfortable on the table but it was nothing I couldn't deal with. After maybe 10 minutes Tina said that she had seen what she needed to and took me off the monitors. She wanted to do a pelvic exam as well so I got undressed and put on a sheet. She put a speculum in and took a look - declaring "I'd say you are about 5 cm. I can see the baby's head. Happy birthday!" I was in complete disbelief but Steve said he saw the head too, with dark hair on it. Tina told me to get dressed and get ready to head across the street to have a baby. Steve teared up a little. I was still in shock. Tina called Jessica who said she would try to get there soon. Jessica also said that I was a pro and that it was going to be an easy delivery - I thought she was just trying to make me feel better!

We got in the car and literally drove across the street. There was some traffic and it felt like forever trying to cross. Tina had told us where to go and we pulled into a 15-minute parking spot. We walked in, slowly, and then Steve went to move the car. I gave my name and they were expecting me. I was pacing and there was a guy on his cell phone driving me crazy with his talking.  I just left our stuff in the reception area and went into the nearby room they showed me. My nurse introduced herself as Carolyn and I think I asked her to repeat it twice. I changed into a gown in the bathroom but left my socks on. I was hooked up to the monitors for 20 min mandatory monitoring and given an IV of fluids and penicillin since I had not had my Group B Strep test yet. Luckily I could be on my side rather than my back but it was pretty uncomfortable. When Steve got back I had him get a pillow for between my knees and then he started filling out the admission paperwork and calling our families, who were all in shock.  A couple of people called back and I found the ringing phone annoying.

The nurse was pretty good about getting me off the monitors and on to the wireless system. She also disconnected me from the IV and just left the hep lock in. I immediately started pacing the room.  Carolyn asked if I wanted some clear fluids and I requested apple juice.  I think Steve went to get it.  I knew I wanted to keep my energy up.  I tried the birthing ball but it kept rolling into a cabinet and it was annoying me.  I had to sign a bunch of forms and didn't even read them.  I was getting nauseous with the contractions and kept going into the bathroom.  At 11:15 I threw up the apple juice and Steve declared I was in transition.  I told him to shut up as I thought I still had a long way to go.  I kept pacing and sitting on the toilet and Dahlyt, our midwife's assistant, showed up while I was leaning in the bathroom doorway.  She put some very firm pressure on my lower back and it felt great.  I kept wandering into the bathroom because I felt like I had to either puke or go to the bathroom - kind of a flu-like feeling.  People kept asking me what I wanted and I kept saying I didn't know.  Eventually I asked Steve to get me a pillow for my back because I was pretty settled in on the toilet.  Dahlyt would put cold compresses on my face and neck during the contractions which felt really good.  She asked if I wanted to get in the shower but I didn't really want to move.  In between contractions I tried to close my eyes and really relax.  I was definitely dreading the next one!

At 11:30 our midwife, Jessica arrived.  She came into the bathroom, too.  It was quite a party in there!  The nurse would pop her head in when a monitor came off but otherwise left us alone.  At 11:45 Steve tells me I cried out in pain for the first time.  I can't say I recall.  Right before noon I started grunting and bearing down with some of the contractions.  Jessica asked if they felt like baby pushes, and I said I didn't know, and that possibly my bowels were just turning inside out...  She said she wanted to check me and when she did the baby's head was right there.  She said she wanted me off the toilet and we decided I could kneel by the bed.  Jessica asked Steve if he was ready to help catch the baby.  She put down a pillow with a Chux pad on top and I was ready to go.  At that point the doctor came in, took one look, and said "I don't like this whole...floor thing."  (We laugh about this now, but seriously, I would have loved to push in that position!)  I had to get on the bed but he said I could push on all fours if I wanted.  Once I was on the bed I felt fine on my back and didn't want to move.  I think I looked at Jessica at one point and said, "I need you to help me."

Some time around that point...

I started pushing with the contractions but was kind of holding back, and screaming out loud.  Dahlyt said that I could scream as much as I wanted but it might be helpful to direct that energy downward.  It was a good reminder.  The doctor said something about not wanting me to push too long because of the prematurity issue, which made me anxious.  I had planned to be a slow pusher and I really didn't want forceps or a vacuum used.  The nurse brought in a large mirror so we could see what was going on.  Steve and Jessica switched places so that he was holding my hand and she was holding my leg.  The doctor started stretching me out which burned like crazy, and telling me to push his fingers out.  I started pushing harder and Steve said afterwards he could see the head a couple of times.  I had my eyes squeezed closed and I screamed, "It hurts!" a couple of times.  I started to hold back and Dahlyt encouraged me to push through the pain.  I did because I wanted her out!  Steve said he could see the head and I was so close and I gave one last really long hard push and she was out, at 12:23 PM.  They placed her on my chest and the doctor said, "Mommy was right - it's a girl!"

She was warm and wet and looked so small and sweet.  She started making a little cry which was a relief.  She had a very pointy head!  They let the cord pulse for about a minute (I had wanted to let it pulse until it stopped) and then Steve cut it.  A team of doctors - I had not even noticed them coming in the room - took her behind a curtain to evaluate her.  Steve stayed right there with her.  The OB asked if we had a name picked out and I said we had been thinking about Hannah.  Steve said she was definitely Hannah.  It was settled!  They announced her weight, 5 lbs 11 oz, and that was also a relief.  They put her on my belly again, all wrapped up, before they took her upstairs.  Steve went with her.

Fresh out of the oven
First family photo

I would have been sad that she left had I not been high on adrenaline.  I felt great and was chatting with everyone still in the room.  The OB gave the cord a tug but the placenta wasn't coming out.  Jessica wasn't worried but the OB wanted it out within 30 minutes.  They gave me another IV, with pitocin, to help it along and Jessica gave me some Angelica drops.  The OB was concerned because he felt the cord detaching when he pulled on it - I almost told him not to pull on it then!  The minutes ticked by and the OB explained that if the placenta didn't come out, we had two options - he could reach in and get it, which would be painful but fast, or get me into the OR, put me under, and then remove it.  I said that after giving birth without drugs, there was no way I was being put under.  With just a few minutes to spare, the nurse massaged my belly hard while the doctor reached in for the placenta.  It came out exactly 30 minutes after the birth. The doctor gave me a local anesthetic and I had two stitches for a small tear.

After he was done, I started shaking and the nurse put some warm blankets on me.  Jessica said it was just the hormones leaving my body.  The nurse got me into some mesh panties and into a wheelchair.  I was wheeled down the hall, IV coming along for the ride.  Jessica and Dahlyt brought our things.  I was shown into a private room, which was nice.  I settled into the bed while the IV finished and I was disconnected once again.   My nurse came by and introduced herself and showed me my "supplies" for post-partum.  All of a sudden I was very anxious to get upstairs.  I asked what had to happen before I could go, and the nurse suggested I eat and pee - sometimes swelling can cause issues in that department.  A tray was ordered and delivered within the hour.  I scarfed my food and finally felt ready to use the bathroom.  It wasn't as bad as I feared.  I put on some socks and got into the wheelchair.  Jessica wheeled me upstairs and Dahlyt came along too.  When we got up to the NICU Steve was changing Hannah's diaper and I started to cry when I saw her.  I felt good knowing he had been holding her for the whole time.  As soon as she was changed I got to hold her, finally.

Our ride was just beginning, but that is how it all started!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Did I mention we are home?

No?  Sorry, I was too busy snuggling with my little nugget.  She has an apnea monitor in case she stops breathing (a common thing with preemies, they usually start breathing again on their own) and we made it through the first night without incident.  This evening I am proud to announce that she took her entire feeding by breast for the first time!  We are not allowed to wear her out too much yet but I am very pleased.

Outfits are limited because of the monitor cords - we need to get to her chest quickly to fix a lead if it comes off, and the cords need somewhere to stick out.  Pants are out.  Gowns are too restrictive in the chest unless they have snaps.  We are pretty much limited to snapping footed sleepers and we only have a few items in newborn, which are too big but not ridiculously so.

We sit and snuggle a lot to make up for lost time in the NICU and to try to recreate the third trimester that she is missing out on.  I look forward to every day with her!

Breaking jail!

Home as a family!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A day in the life of the NICU

I really hope this is our last full day here. This is what the schedule is like:

6:00 AM - get up, pump and wash parts, shower, eat breakfast and pack up what we need for the day.
7:20 AM - leave the house
7:45 AM - arrive NICU, put milk in fridge and settle in. Chat with nurse about how the night was.
8:00 AM - scheduled care session - take temp and change diaper, nurse 15 min and let her eat what she wants from the bottle.
8:45 AM - snuggle and wait for rounds. Chat with doctor.
9:30 AM - sleeping soundly and back in crib. Pump and wash parts, label and store milk.
9:45 AM - check e-mail and send a report to my family, have a snack and some water, use the bathroom.
10:30 AM - pump and wash parts.
11:00 AM - scheduled care session - temp, diaper, nurse, bottle, snuggle.
12:00 PM - lunch in hospital cafeteria, make any necessary calls from lobby.
1:30 PM - return to NICU to pump and wash parts.
2:00 PM - scheduled care session.
3:00 PM - nap in recliner in the room if possible, check e-mail, read up on breastfeeding.
4:30 PM - pump and wash parts.
5:00 PM - scheduled care session.
6:00 PM - dinner in hospital cafeteria.
7:30 PM - pump and wash parts.
8:00 PM - scheduled care session.
9:00 PM - reluctantly go home. Possibly cry a little.
9:30 PM - home - try to get a few things done to finish the nursery, clean up the general accumulated mess.
10:30 PM - bed.
12:00 AM - pump and wash parts, drink water, snack if hungry. Up for 20-30 minutes depending on how slowly I move.
3:00 AM - pump and wash parts.

That's our life for the last few days - it's not fun, it's not easy, but it's what we need to do. Can't wait to get home and settle into our own routine!