Saturday, May 30, 2009

He's here!

Our son arrived very late on Wed night (May 27th). He's a healthy 7 lbs 4 oz with a full head of reddish blond hair. We have lots of recovering to do around here, so details and pictures may be slow to appear, but know we are all doing well. His name (both on the blog and in real life) will be forthcoming on day 8.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Readiness Update

We're long overdue for an update, but you won't get anything profound. It's all bullets around here.
  • First, Gail is having super pumping success. She is a total milk machine. She cleared 5 ounces pumping yesterday and gets a few mL more every day. See the graph above of her output since day 2 of pumping. It may not be the exponential growth in supply she was hoping for, but that would have been a bit much. We're perfectly happy with some nice solid linear growth. We already have a freezer stash and we don't even have an infant yet. Those straight moms are going to hate me...
  • We had a goal of getting a (much reduced) "No really, this has to be done before the baby" list done by Friday, and we succeeded. We actually set up the crib and changing table, washed clothes and diapers, and decided that we didn't actually need to have that garage sale.
  • The hospital bag is actually finally packed, despite many false starts and a giant meltdown on both of our parts once it was actually ready to go. Something about packing the bag meant this was really happening, both in terms of birthing at a hospital, and in terms of the "wait-a-second-we-really-are-having-a-baby-%^&(*&^" realization.
  • Constant monitoring of this kiddo continues to show that he is A-OK in there. A fancy ultrasound last week and the (perhaps more accurate) estimate of our midwife have put my worries that the baby might be too small to rest.
  • Our midwife, and the doula we had lined up for home (who know each other and have worked together before) are totally up for a trip to the hospital, so we'll still have much of the birth support we hoped for. I'm trying not to worry about what the nurses will think when we show up with extra people (though at least we won't have extra family around cluttering up the room and misbehaving).
  • We're hopeful that the extra support helps Gail do what she needs to take care of herself during the birth (like, say, eating and maybe even sleeping). We've been warned by our vast array of care-providers to be prepared for a long haul, and during Leigh's birth (itself a very long haul) I did not do a good job of taking care of myself, partially because we should have lined up more support. Gail's job has gotten harder now that we've moved locations.
  • Grandma is on deck for Leigh duty while we're busy birthing. She's been hosting Leigh overnight one night a week for the last month or so (and has done a couple 48 hour stretches in the past) so they should be good to go. (Yes, we do know how lucky we are).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's a good thing we have two (moms, that is)

Pregnancy has not done much for my toddler parenting skills. Way back when, believe it or not, between the two of us, I was "the patient one."

With so many of my mental and physical resources going towards the end of this pregnancy, I have a much shorter fuse than I'd like with Leigh. It doesn't help that any attempt at hugging or snuggling with her inevitably involves intense negotiations about where, exactly, she can sit or lay so as not to be kneeing or pushing uncomfortably on my belly. Nor does it help that my head is in another space. I often forget to listen at all when she's speaking directly to me, which forces her ramp up demands to an extremely aggravating level, further wearing on my patience and leading to more and more negative interactions. She's a smart cookie. She knows things are changing around here, and it's not easy for her.

Yesterday morning, she was particularly testy with me. She didn't want me to get her up, or eat by her, or get her any breakfast, and was more or less being a total snot. Nothing would make her happy if I did it. Maybe a third of the things Gail did were satisfactory. She even pulled out a nice new trick, saying something along the lines of "If you get me yogurt, I be angry and cry." I was chalking this up to the regular state of affairs right now; she's been testing lots of things with both of us. By the end of the morning, she and I talked about both of us trying to be nicer to each other, and she decided that it would be nice if she and I took a shower (our usual bathing method for her, usually my job, and one of our more pleasant interactions since she loves playing in the water, and I'd be happy in a shower 24/7 if you let me stay there). So we did make up a bit and at least have a bit of a pleasant interaction.

But later, as she and Gail were out for a walk and chatting, she said out of the blue "Ima, my feelings are disappointed right now."

Gail responded "Oh. Why are your feelings disappointed?"

After a bit of a pause, Leigh said "Mama yelled at me."

We're pretty sure she was talking about an incident two days ago, when she was helping me make breakfast, but wasn't really keeping it together to listen or cooperate with proceedings, and ended up getting all riled up and spilling egg all over the kitchen floor (and yes, my current lack of toddler parenting skills contributed substantially to the incident). While I did not yell at her directly, I did holler in surprise as the bowl of egg soared through the air, and told her very sternly that she was no longer going to help with breakfast. In retrospect, she was more upset than I realized, because she was completely silent for about 5 minutes. The kid almost never shuts up, so that should have given me a clue. Based on what she told Gail, it would seem that she was still "disappointed" about that, a full 24 hours later, and it was strongly coloring our interactions.

As they continued their walk, Gail asked Leigh if she thought there was anything she could do to feel less disappointed. Leigh said that if she ate lunch she might feel better, and that maybe she and Mama could have another shower (She's onto something. Showers are the time she and I are least likely to squabble right now). Gail suggested she maybe talk to me about it, but she wasn't too keen on talking to me directly. Even so, we were able to have a much more pleasant afternoon. Gail filled me in on some more of the conversation details while leigh was "napping," and we thought together about some strategies to work on getting Leigh and me have more pleasant than unpleasant interactions during the next few months, because really, this problem won't end with the pregnancy.

So, on this mothers' day, I'm particularly grateful to be parenting with Gail, who did a beautiful job helping both Leigh and me through this little tussle. She relayed their conversation to me in a way that contained absolutely no judgment of my parenting. She was respectful of Leigh's feelings, and found ways to help the two of us reconnect. I am indeed grateful to be mothering along side such a great mom.

Friday, May 8, 2009

What not to say to a pregnant lady...

No one should ever ever say anything to a pregnant lady about how big or little she is. Really. Just don't say anything at all. All you should say about appearance, if anything, is "You look great!" or "What a cute shirt."

I'm not someone who's very sensitive about my body. Even for a few years in my 20s, when I gained a substantial amount of weight, and really wasn't healthy, I was pretty sure I looked just fine. I probably should have been a bit more concerned than I actually was.

I thought maybe that would give me a by on the whole pregnancy body image crisis thing, and largely it has (ask me again postpartum, though). But what I hadn't expected was people talking incessantly about how little I am (or rather, how little my belly is). I've been tolerating comments like "is there really a baby in there?" since the very beginning, and now, "You can't seriously be about to have that baby, you barely look 5 months pregnant." These comments are coming mostly from women who have themselves been pregnant, and thus should know better. I am already pretty darn worried about this kiddo, especially since he (it feels so strange to use pronouns) is coming a bit sooner than we thought. I really would rather not be worrying that he might not be big enough in there. (Never mind that my million and two care providers keep assuring me he's growing right on schedule. Between the incessant comments and that story in the "Business of Being Born" where the mom is measuring on target but still has a growth-restricted baby, I can't seem to shake this particular worry).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"A good day in liver land"

Two good things happened yesterday:

1) As Gail said, I got some labs back yesterday that indicate my liver could be a lot worse. We are nowhere near a level that would mean "get-the-baby-out-now," though things can change quickly. That result was for blood drawn when my symptoms were much worse than they are currently (the meds have helped), so I'm optimistic that the next round of labs will be even better. This is good, because the worse this particular lab is, the more risk the baby is in. Thus we can wait a bit longer to induce, until closer to 38 weeks, which feels like a bit of a reprieve.

2) Last night, we went to a meet and greet with the doctors in my OB's group, followed by the hospital tour we never thought we'd take. Last week, when we were first wrapping our heads around things like, say, Gail should meet my OB, I suggested to Gail that we could go to this meet and greet as a way to get more comfortable at the hospital. Her response was so heartbreaking. She was silent for a few beats, then her eyes welled up and she said very softly "but I don't want to meet any doctors..." (Yes, it was a bit overdramatic, but be gentle, we'd only just found out and were deep throws of navigating a major change in plans, all while worrying the baby was about to die).

But by the time we got to last night, we were able to go in with a positive attitude. The doctors were pleasant, and seemed like folks we'd feel OK with at the birth if we manage to get me going before the induction date (now more of a possibility with the date pushed back). The hospital is as hippie-ish as you can get in the area, and they gave answers we were either expecting or comfortable with to questions regarding hospital procedures. The doctors didn't even trip over their inclusive language, which was a nice touch. The discussion was followed by a tour of labor and delivery, and we were both really trying to picture being there, and it being OK. The rooms looked like hotel rooms, and as Gail said, "Hotels are pretty nice."

As we left, we agreed that we're feeling OK with the new situation, especially since it's the one that protects the baby. We're going to make it work, and it might not even be too much of a stretch to do so. Between our warm-hearted feelings towards the hospital, and the encouraging labs, Gail was inspired to say, "It's a good day in liver land," and that's the first time we've been able to say that since last Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I am grateful for the chance to be an NGP

In part because of Lyn's recent complications, I've been spending a lot of my time taking care of her. Some of that care is physical: massages are particularly soothing for her right now. Some of the care is emotional. Much of the care consists of doing the lion's share work needed to take care of Leigh and our increasingly filthy house. Lately I'm tired a lot and emotionally drained from all of the worrying. But I'm also grateful.

I've realized over the last few days what a gift it is to be the supportive partner to a woman who is giving birth. I get to be protective and nurturing in way that Lyn does not because she has to be focused on herself and getting her body through to the finish line. I remember from my own labor how completely self-absorbing the experience of labor is. I didn't think about the imminent arrival of Leigh during labor. Mostly I thought about getting myself through the next hurdle. I wasn't being selfish, it's just that labor is a pretty all-encompassing experience; there simply isn't room for anything or anyone else.

This time around I actually get to focus on my love for the people involved. I get to take good care of my wife and do everything in my power to help her have a positive and healthy experience. I get to take care of my baby-to-be, sending him positive energy he goes through the most difficult experience of his life so far. This is an experience unique to the non-gestational parent. You get to pull yourself out of your own head and really be there for two people you love. I didn't realize until there was great need how satisfying I would find that experience.

As for the update, things are looking pretty good. Lyn got back good labs today that leaves us feeling hopeful. Our induction date is somewhat later than we had thought it would be -- not until early in the last week of May. It still may get moved up, but the later date will allow us time to work on less invasive induction/preparation methods like acupuncture.

The milk project continues to go well. On Sunday I pumped 9mL, on Monday 15mL, and on Tuesday 30mL. We'll see what I get today. These amounts might seem tiny, but the pattern looks vaguely exponential to me (with an equation looking something like 5e^0.6). If this trend continues, then in a week I'll be pumping about 68 ounces a day and my breasts will explode.

Oh, and eagle eyed readers will note the use of the pronoun "he." Yes, dear readers and friends, we are having a boy. So there's another new experience we'll get to write about!

Friday, May 1, 2009

The first drops of milk and a brief update

In anticipation of our earlier-than-expected arrival, I decided to accelerate my schedule for inducing lactation. Tuesday night I took my last birth control pill and last night, for the first time in almost two years, I used my old friend the breast pump.

After pumping for 5-10 minutes I was able to produce a couple of drops of milk out of each breast. That might not seem like much, but Lyn and I were both thrilled! This thing may actually work. This morning when I woke up my breasts were noticeably heavier. I let Leigh "help" me pump which meant holding onto one of the shields while I turned on the machine and later pressing the "let down" button. While she watched me, she said, "Ima, your belly button is going up and down!" I corrected her confused anatomy and told her about how I was trying to make milk for the baby. She wants to do it now too.

In other news, I've gone this week from being worried sick to feeling like we have things under control to feeling intense sadness at losing our second chance at a homebirth to feeling ready to take on the problem and back around to feeling worried sick. I'm a bit unstable.

Yesterday, Leigh and I took the bus to the hospital where we peeked in at the maternity ward and ate in the cafeteria. Leigh enjoyed herself (I let her have two cartons of chocolate milk, teddy grahams, and some potato chips in order to encourage maximum enjoyment). However she is complaining about not being invited to the birth itself ("But I want to watch Mama squeeze the baby out"). It was nice to have something fun to do with her and to start feeling more comfortable around the hospital myself.