Monday, July 7, 2014

Oscar- 6 Months Old!


Oscar turned 6 months old on the 22nd (Yes I'm over 2 weeks late on this post, such is life). The last 6 months have gone by in a blur of kids and work. I thought time moved fast with one kid but with two we're rocketing through life at the speed of light. It's a little ridiculous.

So at his checkup he was:
  • 26" tall- 21st percentile
  • 16 lbs 8oz- 30th percentile
  • 44.5 cm head circumference- 82nd percentile
Yep another smaller than average boy with a giant brain. I'm good with that. I have no weird sports dreams or goals for my kids, only hope is they stay healthy. Although Oscar's physical development is right on track. When Sebastian was this age he started to slow down on physical milestones. He still reached them all, just took a long time. We're assuming now that was probably from his NF1, but who knows. If it was, I'm hoping this means Oscar doesn't have it but it's too soon to tell without the blood test, which we're not going to do unless he gets all the symptoms Sebastian has. (More on Sebastian's NF1 next post.)

So back to Oscar. He can:
  • Sit up unassisted, and get from sitting to belly
  • Rollover
  • Scoot
  • Jump as high as his jumper seat will allow
  • Push his upper body off the floor (for yogis, I mean upward dog, not just cobra, he can get his knees off the ground too!)
  • Pull his knees under his body while belly down- he is very close to crawling
Now I'm sure all of this is perfectly normal for a 6 month old, but for us it seems a bit fast. Sebastian was only rolling at this age. I'm afraid Oscar will be a much more physical kid than Sebastian. Like one of those kids that scares the shit out of me because they're running and jumping before they're a year old. Brian's excited about this, but as a mother, I'm scared. Sebastian's slower development made many things a lot easier. I mean he just started climbing over the baby gate at the top of the stairs! It's a lot less scary when they're 4 (and a half!) than when they're 2 or whenever most kids do it. After all, a cautious kid is one without broken bones or blood gushing out of them. But I am of course very happy and thankful that Oscar is happy and healthy. I just hope we can keep him in one piece!

video


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What Makes Your Baby Sleep?

 
Sleep. The one thing all parents of newborns want more than anything. For some lucky parents, the sleepless phase will only last a few short months. For others, it can last years. I've heard and read many different ideas parents try to get their kids to sleep. It seems that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I'm starting to think it mostly depends on the individual child's needs and personality.

We have now had both experiences. Sebastian slept through the night occasionally during his first two years of life. We did some sleep training but he got sick a lot when we tried daycare so it was difficult to be consistent. After we stopped daycare it got better, but even now at 4 (and a half! as he would remind me) he still wakes up occasionally with either leg cramps (just growing pains I'm hoping?), bad dreams, or just to drink water (at least he can do this last one on his own). But I can't get him to wake up and go potty in the middle of the night. Sigh....

Oscar started sleeping through the night (my definition of this is at least 8 hours straight) at about 7 weeks old. He wakes up maybe a couple of times a month, but mostly he's sleeping between 8 and 11 hours straight, knock on wood (where the hell did that phrase come from anyway? What does wood have to do with being lucky? I don't get it.) He is a horrible napper, so that's the trade-off, but I'll take my nighttime sleep! We did several things different with Oscar that we think helped:
  • Started a bedtime routine in the first 6 weeks- bath or sponge bath, change into sleeper, nurse for 20-40 minutes in his room, put down in his crib
  • Moved him from bassinet to crib at about 7 weeks- he started sleeping through the night right after we did this
  • Allow him to grunt and fuss a little if he wakes up or is still asleep when we lay him down- we don't go to him unless he's really crying
  • We never used a pacifier- thanks to Brian, I would've never made it through the fussy newborn stage without one if it wasn't for his patience. Sebastian had a pacifier off and on until he was 2. He went through phases where he'd wake up and cry every time he spit out his pacifier. We didn't want that experience again. Yes this means Oscar sucks his thumb. No I'm not worried about it. Odds are both kids will need braces anyway since both Brian and I had them. And you can't put a price on sleep.

Now I want to hear your thoughts. What makes your baby sleep through the night? Did you have different experiences with different kids? Did what you do or don't do seem to make a difference? Or are some kids just naturally good sleepers and others aren't?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Asthma is Sexy

http://www.tshirthell.com/funny-shirts/asthma-is-sexy/
Well I don't know about that, but that shirt always makes me laugh.
If you could hear the nasty cough I had last month,
you would know why I'm doubting asthma's sexiness. 
Well let me tell you just how not sexy my asthmatic journey has been. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 7 years old. As a young child it was mostly illness induced. I didn't have any serious attacks until track in 8th grade. Running was my biggest challenge all through high school. Instead of avoiding that which aggravated me most (running fast and/or long distances outside in the sagebrush), I, like any good, rebellious teenager, made it my new favorite thing.

Many, many asthma attacks later, I finally came to the place where I realized how incredibly unhealthy it was to push myself to the point of passing out. I had to admit I had limits that should be respected. By this time I was in college so I backed off of running, but did not find relief from my asthma. One particularly nasty illness caused lots of problems. It escalated to what I thought was a bad enough attack I had Brian take me to the ER. When I got there they tested my oxygen saturation and said I was fine and just needed to calm down. I became angry with the doctor for not listening to me and left the hospital against medical advice. As I was leaving I realized that my breathing had gotten better on its own. This was when I started to realize my asthma attacks might be partially anxiety.

I was embarrassed at the idea that many of my attacks might have just been anxiety.  I wasn't faking it after all, I was really having a hard time breathing. The problem is that once you've had a bad asthma attack, you know exactly how scary the feeling is of not being able to breathe. So once anything triggers your asthma, the natural reaction is to immediately panic, causing an anxiety attack that feels a hell of a lot like an asthma attack. Once I was able to understand and admit this, I was able to learn how to control it.

For me, controlling it required the following:
  1. Learn how to breathe properly- this meant yoga with lots of practice on breathing techniques.
  2. Learn anxiety control- again more yoga and also meditation and relaxation.
  3. Healthy diet- low on mucous producing foods like dairy, sugar, and alcohol.
  4. Regular exercise- lots of cardio keeps the mucous and swelling in the bronchial tubes to a minimum.
Once I did these things consistently, my asthma improved drastically and I was able to stay off of all medications. I even learned how to handle playa dust at Burning Man, which our first year there scared me away after a few short days. I became confident enough that I didn't even carry my inhaler or consider myself an asthmatic.

But asthma is a sneaky punk and I have recently been reminded that it still lingers in my body if I don't take care of myself. So far this year, I have been sick more days than I've been well. Last month my cough got so bad I started having asthma symptoms for the first time in about 5 years. I not only had to get an inhaler and use it a few times, the doctor even gave me a breathing treatment when I was in the office. I'd almost forgotten how much I absolutely HATE asthma medicine. Side effects from hell and such temporary relief it's just not worth it. I tried going to an allergy and asthma specialist to see if it was maybe seasonal allergy related. My breathing tests showed my asthma was sucking it up as expected but the allergy test came back negative. The doctor wanted to put me on a steroid inhaler. He was hesitant to fully recommend it since I'm still breastfeeding. He admitted studies done on children taking asthma medicine showed it stunts their growth (wonder if this is why I'm short? Awesome.). Also there are very little studies done on the effects of steroids in breast milk. I decided against taking the steroids. Not just because I'm breastfeeding though, I wouldn't take them anyway unless I was unable to breathe at all and had no other choice. I spent many years in my teens and early twenties on steroid inhalers, nasal sprays, and allergy meds and my asthma never improved. It wasn't until I followed the above steps and quit the medications that it improved. The doctor did not believe this, which I think is sad. Why are doctors so reluctant to believe in natural remedies? How many other asthmatics could be helped by lifestyle changes I wonder? How many people are taking unnecessary medications? I hope other asthmatics read my post and give other options a try. I am not telling anyone to quit their meds, just encouraging a healthy lifestyle to see if your symptoms improve. I am clearly not a doctor. Just a healthy living advocate!

So my plan is to get back in shape as quickly as I can manage. A challenge these days as a second kid is obviously quite time consuming. I can do a lot by being stricter on my diet, which I have done the past month and already seen an improvement. It will probably take awhile to get back where I was, but it will be so worth it to be healthy and asthma free again. And to of course be able to put the sexiness back in asthma.

After my 10k race 3/3/2013
Maybe not sexy, but damn cute

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Postpartum Truths

I wrote a post about how rough my postpartum recovery has been and couldn't bring myself to post it because it was just a bunch of whining. And while venting is very helpful, I know it can be quite irritating to listen to and read. Especially when we're talking about baby related things, because after all, it was my choice to have another baby! Instead I've put together a list about the process that may be helpful for those just embarking on a baby journey, or familiar for those who already have. At least they were/are true for me.


  • All wives tales are wrong.
  • Pregnancy will make you gain weight, but you can control how much if you can manage to say no to sweets. Most of them anyway. Or just walk them off.
  • You will probably get at least one stretch mark. No amount of lotion, cream, vitamins, or massage will prevent it. But they will fade.
  • Childbirth is by far the most intense experience of your life.
  • It feels miraculous to NOT be pregnant anymore.
  • You will lose the baby weight if you eat right. No you will not lose it all in 6 weeks nor should you be expected to. Set realistic goals, or better yet, don't worry about it, just focus on taking good care of yourself and don't get on a scale for, mmmm, about a year.
  • Breastfeeding will not make the weight "fall right off". It will make you burn a lot of calories, which means you will be just as hungry as you were when you were pregnant.
  • Your boobs will be huge while you breastfeed, and a sad sight once baby has weaned. There is no natural cure for this, so you will just have to get over it.
  • You will cry. A lot. For no reason. It will be insanely bad the first 2 months postpartum. It will get better.
  • It will probably take longer than 6 weeks to heal. Where did they pull that number out of anyway, their ass?
  • It will take 1-2 years to feel "normal" again. Actually you will never feel normal, your definition of normal will change.
  • You will have moments where you wonder why you thought you could handle a baby (or 2).
  • You will learn your body is capable of something truly amazing.
  • Everything about yourself will change and it will never be the same again. But you will (eventually) realize this is a good thing.
Are these true for anyone else or is it just me? ;)



Monday, March 31, 2014

Boob Juice

Moooooo!
Since my life revolves around my boobs these days, and the only time I have to write is while I'm pumping (yep that means I'm writing this on my phone, so please forgive any typos), I thought I'd write a post about it.

Breastfeeding has become quite the hot topic. Besides the usual points to debate, we now have celebrities posting pictures of nursing their babies and people flipping out over it. Of course like any issue, you'll find extremists on both ends. But I'd guess that a majority of moms at least give breastfeeding a shot these days. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you don't. A lot of moms feel guilty if they're not successful. And if you are successful, you'll get guilt from the not successful moms. Either way, mom guilt all-around. Seriously ladies this mom guilt/judgement shit just needs to stop!

It's a real bummer because a lot of times success depends on things out of your control. There are many physical and emotional reasons that baby or mom are unable to breastfeed. But society pushes it as the easiest, most natural way to feed your baby. While that can be true from one perspective, "easy" and "natural" definitions are up for debate. If by easy you mean you don't have to make a bottle then sure. But if by easy you mean there's no stress or challenges then you would be incorrect. And if by natural you mean your milk is natural then sure. But if by natural you mean it will come naturally to you then no, that is not the case for many moms. And let me tell you, there is nothing natural about a breast pump! It can be a real challenge to pull off easy and natural.

I feel lucky that I was/am able to breastfeed. For any of you out there debating nursing your second one, I'll tell you that for me, it was a lot easier the second time around since I knew what to do and expect. Aside from a few cases of mastitis (which is totally miserable), I haven't had many issues. But that doesn't mean it's easy. As I write this I'm hooked up to my pump like some sort of cow. Seriously it sucks (pun totally intended). I feel bad for cows and see a dairy-free life in my near future (if cheese wasn't so damn tasty I'd already be there). I spend all my breaks at work with this pump. Some days I hate it, but others I remember why I do it. Not only because it's what's good for Oscar and me right now. But for all the moms out there that were unable to. I can't help but feel the mom guilt over that. Since it's relatively easy for me, and the only complaint I have is I don't enjoy pumping, I feel obligated to trudge on for all the women that tried so hard and couldn't.

And in the end, no matter what anyone tells you, it does not matter how you feed that baby, just that you feed them. The main goal with children is keeping them alive, so whatever option keeps you and baby happy, healthy, and sane is the right one! Don't allow anyone to make you feel bad for whatever that may be! So do what works for you and enjoy that baby while you do it.

Wishing you a wonderful day from a happy cow. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Labor of Love

Disclaimer: This post is long and detailed so I will not hold it against you if you stop reading right now. The short version is the baby came out healthy without surgery or any permanent emotional damage to me! :-)

I slept little the night before the induction. Not only was I sick with a bad cold, but I was filled with anticipation, nerves, excitement, and of course a little bit of fear. How painful would it be? Would I be able to handle it without pain killers? Would I be able to not feel like a failure if I couldn't? Would I be able to not feel like a failure if it ended in another c-section? I kept concentrating on surrendering and that feeling of calm that came with it, in hopes that it would give me strength.

The induction started at 8:30 am on December 22nd. As the contractions intensified, my strength and calm wavered. After several hours the midwife checked me and I had made absolutely no progress. My hopes that all that pain had gotten me somewhere were shattered. I tried taking a shower hoping that standing and rocking on the exercise ball would help move things along and the water would calm me. What I got was a flood of emotions I couldn't hold back. I broke down in Brian's arms telling him I couldn't do this. I knew if this was only the beginning then I wasn't strong enough. He gently reminded me that I was doing it and that my tears probably meant something was happening. Not long after I got back in bed my water broke. And the mystery of my enormous belly was solved, I had so much fluid! It was incredible.

It was also incredibly painful. What I had thought to be bad contractions before were now a happy memory. Now each contraction brought a new wave of the worst pain of my life. I couldn't make myself relax. No matter how I breathed or what I concentrated on. It was so frustrating. I quickly lost all my calm and confidence that I could survive another contraction, let alone childbirth. It wasn't long before I was crying and begging for relief.

I asked for an epidural and my request for relief was granted in record time. After they got me all settled I was left alone to rest. Brian needed food and I wanted a nap. But of course no sleep would come. Instead I cried. I cried because I did feel like a failure. It was as I'd feared, I was weak. I was not that woman I'd wanted to be that could bear a child without the assistance of modern medicine. All the things I'd read and tough women I'd spoken with were beyond me. Better than me. Separate from me. But wait. Wasn't I having these horrible contractions because of modern medicine's idea that a woman in my state (VBAC at 41 weeks with an estimated over 9 pound baby) must be induced or have a c-section? Would the contractions be this painful and intense if I'd been allowed to go into labor naturally? These are things I'll never know the answer to but they helped remind me that every woman, labor, and situation is so different that making comparisons is a waste of time.

I wasn't alone long. I became incredibly dizzy and was just wondering if I should be concerned when one of the many machines I was hooked to started beeping. In rushed my nurse and midwife. The epidural had made my blood pressure plummet. They had to give me a shot of epinephrine to bring it back up. I was now shaky and nauseous but stable. The next several hours were a game of trying to keep both halves of my body equally numb. This was a challenge since the baby's heart rate kept dropping a tiny bit if I laid on my left side, so I was stuck on my right meaning only that side of my body was numb. I dealt until it was time to push and then they had to give me an extra shot in my epidural. Now there were too many drugs in my system for my liking.

The epidural was worth it though since I was able to relax enough to be fully dilated in a few hours. At around 6pm it was time to push. It was really strange to be having a normal conversation in between contractions and pushes and basically be in no pain. There was no crying or screaming or anything you'd expect from this stage of labor. It felt like I was cheating nature for sure, but I enjoyed the experience anyways.

At 6:59pm, Oscar joined the world. The moment he came out and she handed him to me will forever be the greatest of my life. The feeling of relief when he came out, to get to hold my baby right away, see his face and hear him cry, made it all worth it. Brian and I were both filled with wonder at this experience.

Oscar was a big baby at 8 lbs 12 oz, so he tore me up inside and out. It could've been worse, but they still gave me more drugs so she could repair the damage. Too many drugs completely removes my filter so some vagina jokes slurred out of my drug haze while she was doing this. At least we were all laughing.

The next best thing was the excited look on Sebastian's face when he arrived at the hospital not long after to meet his brother. He rushed into the room with a "Where's Oscar? I want to see my brother!" (who we had not officially named yet but decided we must stick with Sebastian's choice).

It was definitely a better experience then last time. I am very grateful for my midwife without which I may not have been able to avoid another c-section. But most of all, I'm proud of myself. I stopped making comparisons, feeling guilty, and feeling failure. Instead I feel success that baby and I are happy and healthy. It was truly an experience of surrender.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Surrender

Pretty much everything about having a child requires surrender. It starts with the decision. You decide you want a child and you have to surrender to the fact that you have no control over basically anything after that. You can't control if you'll even conceive. If you do conceive, you can't control how well or horrible your pregnancy will go. And then finally there's the birth.

During my first pregnancy, I anticipated the birth like any first-time mother does I imagine. I figured it would be painful but I'd get through. A c-section never really crossed my mind, especially not while under full anesthesia. But my body had other intentions when I came down with appendicitis at 37 weeks. My experience was less than enjoyable we'll say, and I've honestly had a hard time letting go of that experience. So much so I think it is hindering my ability to go into labor this time. I've been having contractions for a week and a half now, but every time they start to get regular they mysteriously just stop. I have tried all the natural induction methods I've deemed safe, and since nothing has worked, I've come to the realization that maybe it's not a physical problem.

Throughout this pregnancy I've mostly been in denial that I still had not fully recovered emotionally from my last experience. I read lots of articles and books about natural childbirth and there were always sections about letting go of bad experiences so you can enjoy this one. I spent some time working through it but every time I'd have a good cry I'd just assume I was through it and try not to think about it for awhile. But as the due date approached it began to invade my thoughts again. 

So here I sit, at almost 41 weeks pregnant, and all I can think about is waking up after surgery over 4 years ago. When you go to sleep pregnant, and wake up not pregnant, your first thought is "where's my baby?" When the baby is not within sight or hearing distance, panic immediately sets in. I also awoke to experience contractions for the first time, so my panic was increased with the pain and their only response was to dose me up with so much pain killer I was unable to move for the next several hours.

As traumatic as the experience was for me, I honestly thought I was over this years ago. But when they decided to schedule my induction for Sunday, I realized I was not. Having to start off the labor with an intervention makes me feel as if I've already lost the battle to have a natural childbirth, which only adds to my fear of another traumatic birth experience. I realize that no matter what happens this time it won't be as bad as the last. But it still disappointed me.

So now I'm back at that word, surrender. As I learned last time, you cannot plan your birth. I do not have control over everything. I can do my best with the few things I can control, and after that I have no choice but to surrender to the situation. And one of the things I can control is letting go of the past. There's no reason to hold onto it. Yes it happened, but obsessing over it will not change it. Letting go of it is the only way to heal and to help me right now.

During my acupuncture session today, I concentrated on total relaxation. It was in the midst of this meditative state that I realized it was my mind hindering me, not my body. I felt the tension of my past trauma and concentrated on letting it melt away. A strange sense of calm overtook me and has thankfully stayed with me ever since. It is the feeling of surrender. No matter what happens, the only thing on my birth plan this time is to have this baby. That's it. No details about how that's going to happen. No expectations about how I should accomplish that. There's no right or wrong here. Just the simple and absolute truth that this baby will be born. How the birth goes will not change my love for the child. I will love it unconditionally, just like I do Sebastian. I surrender to whatever experience life decides to bring me.