Saturday, July 21, 2012

Induction Indication

Yesterday was the day I was to go off birth control in order to begin the next step in my lactation induction protocol.  This morning, I took the herbal supplements (blessed thistle and fenugreek seed) recommended as well as the domperidone that I've been taking for six months.  I forgot to eat oatmeal for breakfast, but I'll do better tomorrow.  Interestingly, the protocol I'm on says that oatmeal has shown to increase breast milk production and it's suggested I eat it for breakfast at least three times a week.  

This morning, I began pumping for the first time.  The tentative plan has always been to pump often and in short bursts at first, to get my nipples used to all this suctioning.  Poor nipples.  So anyway.  I pulled out our pump and had to read the instructions, haha.  Then I did about five minutes of pumping on the left breast - only to discover that after pumping, there was a little pearlescent droplet of milk hanging out.  Um, what?!  That is crazy.  I've only been off the birth control for a day, and that is supposed to suppress breast milk.  The protocol tells us that you shouldn't expect milk for up to a week (or more) after beginning to pump.  So to get a little drop on the first pumping pretty much floored me.  Way to go, Lefty!  

Then it was Righty's turn.  I did the same thing, five minutes of pumping - and found that Righty had several MORE droplets of milk and the milk had actually leaked down and wet the areola where the pump contacted it.  Whoa!  Righty, you're even more awesome.  

All in all, I'm mightily impressed with the girls this morning.  Way to be, breasties!  

I'm really starting to let myself feel optimistic about this.  I think I've been so concerned that the induction would fail and I'd let myself down that I never really allowed myself to hope that it really could and would work for us, as a family.  Even if it doesn't work as well as I want, I will try my best and we'll see where that takes us!  

(Sorry for an entry centered on my breasts, certainly that must be odd...  Oh well.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

If You Give A Pregnant Woman A Steam-Cleaner...

She's going to want her wife to steam-clean all the carpets in the house.  Hey, we should start in the living room!  But before we can steam-clean the carpet, we need to shove all our furniture into our combination kitchen/dining room.

While her wife is steaming, the pregnant woman will reconsider the arrangement of the living room furniture.

Once the carpet is dry, she'll want to try out some new furniture scenarios.  But in order to try new things out, it involves moving the television and entertainment unit to a different wall, requiring that the cable for satellite TV be run through a different exterior wall.  Which will require a masonry drill bit.  Which the steam-cleaning wife and the pregnant woman don't own.  Then the lucky father of the pregnant woman gets to come save the day by assisting the pregnant woman in running the new cable through the wall.  Then, the rotten father of the pregnant woman will suggest that in addition to vacuuming, wiping, and zip-tying all the cords at the back of the unit together, she should also cable-staple said zip-tied cord bundles to the back of the unit in accordance with the brickwork-style compartments in the Ikea unit.  Because everyone hates seeing cables behind entertainment units stuffed with electronics and children's DVDs and toys and books.

If the furniture gets rearranged, then all the previous decorations in the living room will need to be altered.  The new space on the walls will of course need new things to occupy them, including MORE photographs than already adorn our home.

And once all that is accomplished, there are of course more rooms to rearrange, redecorate, and steam-clean.

Naturally, I trust you all understand my tongue-in-cheek humor here!  Truthfully, I've found T's new nesting instincts to be rather charming and adorable - likely because I know they aren't here to stay!  I've enjoyed helping out, and I absolutely don't want her doing anything chemical-ish anyway so I'm the first one to volunteer to handle these things.

As I would hope you could tell, nesting has set in for my wonderfully pregnant wife.  Things I don't think I'd ever expect to come from her mouth have been issuing forth at a somewhat alarming pace.  To mention a few:
"I'm really tired of the hard water stains on our dishes.  I think I'll soak the dishes in vinegar and rub the stains off. "
"I feel like I NEED to clean out the junk drawer.  It's driving me crazy."
"Next time most of the silverware is out of the drawer, we should put the plastic divider into the dishwasher."  (This one I actually agree with, lol.)
"The linen closet really needs to be gone through and reorganized.  I think I'll wash everything in there after work tonight."
"Would you mind dusting and then wiping down the ceiling fan blades and housing this weekend?  I really want to balance it better so it STOPS CLICKING ALL THE TIME."
A couple weekends ago I even caught her dusting the fire extinguisher.  (She doesn't seem to appreciate the humor in this that I do.)

To her immense credit, she's been very productive.  She did clean out the junk drawer, she did clean out and reorganize (and label) the shelves of the linen closet.  She's been going through old documents that we tend to neglect by leaving in giant piles and discover again two years later.  Not to mention that she's already washed and put away the baby clothing she received at her surprise work shower in June.  And we've finally cleaned out the cabinet in the kitchen that was devoted to our foster kids - kid dishes, sippy cups, baby food, formula, bibs, meds, you name it.  Haven't even looked in that cabinet in seven months, but now it's been cleaned out and reorganized as well.

The biggest thing left on our list is to clean out the office and create a guest bedroom in its stead.  This is on my To-Do list for this weekend while T handles a huge Catholic youth convention ... I'd rather be me than her this weekend, and that is saying something because the office is a huge undertaking!  Once we can get the guest room going, we'll be able to finish up Ever's room and then we'll be much closer to ready.

Speaking of ready.  I've spent much of my time lately occupying that place of total delight in the idea of meeting my daughter while simultaneously being in denial that she's really going to be here sometime in the next three to seven weeks.  Same old story, right?

In the next couple weeks we'll be doing a casting of T's belly, too, and I'm pretty stoked about that.  Also, my lactation induction protocol is about to change majorly!  I'm stopping the birth control after tomorrow, and beginning to take breastmilk production enhancing herbs and starting to pump.  We'll see in the next couple weeks if we've got any luck!  Let's see, what else... Oh, we took some cute photos!  And T got a new lens for the camera for her birthday, and we're really excited about that.  Photos from the new lens to come soon, hopefully.  Here are the cute ones we took from last weekend to tide you over:

With our dog, Manni!

Knitting Evie's newest beautiful hat.

Caught her stretching - whoa, lookit that belly!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Stuck Between a Rock and a Pregnant Place

Overall, I feel overwhelmingly lucky at how well this pregnancy has gone.  The only major hiccup was my own clumsy fault. My body has done what it is supposed to do and the normal pregnancy aches and pains have been on the mild side.

That being said, I'm a whiny pansy. I really am. I haven't done well with the limitations my pregnant body has, especially when the end point seems so far away.  The end point, my due date.  It not all that far away any more.  47 days (45 if you go by the ultrasound).  I'm finally feeling like I can do it.  I may have to do things at a slower pace and take more breaks, but I can get through the next 7 weeks, its not that long.  I may have to ask for help more often, but I have great friends and family and they get more annoyed when I don't ask and try to do something stupid myself. I spent so much time worrying about being able to survive this summer that I just realized I made it through the hardest part, the monsoons are here and they are fantastic! I'm going to focus on enjoying these last weeks of my pregnancy, since it is likely to be my only one.

With my 3rd trimester about half way over, our to-do list seems to get bigger and bigger.  I think it just seems to get bigger since the time is smaller.  We have accomplished parts of each project, but not enough to cross anything off.  Like our bag for when I go into labor.  We have a bag picked out and a list of what goes in it, but it isn't packed, and we have to buy a lot of the things we need for it. Then there is the house,  most of the projects can't be finished completely until we can clean out the office and turn it into a guest room. Does anyone want a drafting table?

The other thing that has been on my mind is the state of motherhood.  I feel like we are at this weird place where we are first time parents and not, all at the same time.  The most obvious thing for me is sleep.  Every time A or I make a comment about sleep, it seems like everyone's reaction is "Just wait 'til that baby comes!  Enjoy the sleep you get while you can!"  Well, yeah.  Having a newborn means you don't get sleep.  Fortunately, that's what maternity leave is for.  When we had foster kids we had work the next day.  I think with A&A I took one day off, but that day was spend getting shots so they could be enrolled in day care. Taking 2 kids to the doctor and them both needing shots before you know them 24 hours was one of the most traumatic things I've ever had to do.  By the end I wanted to cry with them. My trauma was only a drop in the bucket to what they had to be going through.

There are some things that I'm really looking forward to having my own children instead of fostering.  She will be able to sleep in our room and in our bed if we want.  Our first placement would have been able to be in our room, but she was too big for the bassinet we had, so she was in the crib in the nursery. The other big thing is FORMULA!  We don't have to get up an mix a bottle every time she wakes up! I'm also hoping our little girl has a stronger immune system!  It seemed like our foster kids were ALWAYS sick, and we were, too.  Hopefully breast feeding and pushing daycare off a bit will help us not catch EVERYTHING! I also think the foster kids were especially vulnerable because of all of the stress of their situation. Poor kids. The biggest different is we won't have to deal with CPS! We don't have to arrange our week around when the kids are on visits or when we have home visits.  We won't have team meetings and court dates. We won't have to get permission to cut her hair! Maybe one day we will have to deal with CPS again and it will mean the adoption laws in AZ have changed and we can both have legal rights to our kids. Then it will be worth it!

One thing I did find comfort in with fostering that I won't have with our own is the lack of permanence.  At the most difficult times when I had given up hope, I found some comfort in the fact that the situation wasn't permanent. At some point that particular problem would be someone else's to deal with. When I couldn't comfort one of the kids when they were upset, it was easier to not feel like a failure.  I wasn't the one they wanted to be comforted by and that was okay and normal. But that won't be true anymore. Fortunately it also taught me that usually that problem would eventually be resolved anyways.  As my mother-in-law quotes, "This too shall pass".

I feel like I'm prepared for parenthood. You can't be prepared for every situation, but know our parenting style and work well as a team. I know there will be times when we feel overwhelmed, but now we will be able to take a break and have a babysitter.  They won't have to have their fingerprint card and be on file with the agency.  We can ask a favor from a friend or our family and get an evening out. 

In the mean time we are focusing on the things foster care couldn't prepare us for; pregnancy, labor, and birth, breastfeeding, vaccinations (since we didn't have a choice before), co-sleeping. Later this week we are going to a La Leche League meeting.  We were warned by our Bradley instructor that there will be a lot of women breastfeeding (scandalous!), most without using a nursing cover (even more scandalous!).  Umm, yeah, its La Leche League, that's the point!  Anyways,  I'll try to write a blog afterwards about the meeting and about their book, "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding".

Well, that was a rather long blog for me, hopefully it wasn't too disjointed!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Roller Derby Taught Me How to Give Birth

Well, it is 5:30am and I'm awake.  Exhausted, but awake.  There is no reason for it, other than my inability to fall back asleep, so I'm trying to keep my mind busy until it is ready to try again. Maybe I'll eat something, too.

After our first few birth classes I told A I when I wrote a review of the book it would be about how everything I learned about giving birth, I learned from roller derby. So here is is.

The two prevailing methods of natural childbirth that were recommended to us were the Bradley Method and Hypnobirthing (I've since learned that there is Hypnobirthing and Hypnobabies and they are more different than their names suggest). From the little research I did, I decided that Bradley seemed like it would be a better fit for me. It approaches birth as an athletic event that you need to train your body for.  It incorporates exercise, relaxation, and nutrition and advocates knowledge and decision making for the parents (rather than just doing whatever interventions the hospital says are necessary, or worse, routine).  So we dropped $275 on 12 weeks of classes.

I finished the book for our Bradley Method Class last week.  Well, most of it.  There were some chapters that got skimmed and others I'm sure I missed.  The assigned reading jumped around a lot, so there was a level of disjointedness to it all.  There were chapters that I could swear I had read before, but it turned out "Husband-Coached Childbirth" is just *that* repetitive.  It really seemed to be writing for the idiot husband of a helpless wife.  I found this really contradictory to its message of the natural power of a woman to give birth. Maybe the only way Dr. Bradley knew how to empower husbands was to make them play the hero.  

A and I met when we were 18 while playing roller derby.  We played for about 5 years.  During that time we were on different teams, the same team, local teams, traveling teams, we coached and captained, everything. A was even a referee for a while. It was our lives.

The early years!

The only thing I can come up with is that those 5 years put us more in tune with each other than your average couple taking these classes. We have already learned how to communicate subtly and know what the other person is about to do.  We have seen each other in pain and we know whether space or contact is what is needed.  We understand the difference between pain because something is wrong and pain because your body is doing work. We know never to say "just one more time"  if there is no guarantee. I know that I don't want to hear that I'm "half way there" during each contraction the same way I hated to hear when a drill was half way done (the second half always seemed so much longer!). We know when the other one needs encouragement and that it isn't by telling everyone in the room "Isn't my wife doing great!?"

Its hard to explain, but all of the activities we had to do to learn how to relax just seemed childish.  Honestly, if during labor she puts pressure on a tense muscle and actually says, "this is what a tense muscle feels like, relax this muscle on your next exhale", I'm pretty sure I would kick her out of the room. She knows this, but it doesn't matter, because she would never do it anyways.  I'm pretty sure it drove our instructor crazy that she wouldn't use the prompts we were supposed to be practicing, but we didn't need to. I knew if she was massaging a muscle that I needed to relax it and she knew that if I was having a hard time doing it I would take a deep breath and then be able to.

Maybe I would have come out of this all less cynical if we hadn't been the only couple in the class.  If there had been other people to answer questions and direct the flow of conversation.  If I could see that people really were learning something.  The most important thing I got from the class was that I was already as prepared as possible to give birth and I didn't need 12 weeks of classes to get there.  So I guess that is something.

All in all, I still agree with the idea of an athletic event that you should prepare your body for. I agree that your partner is the best person to help you and be there if you need guidance. Maybe books written by other people on the Bradley Method aren't quite so awful. But I honestly don't care enough to find out.

The most important lesson I learned from roller derby: Be fearless.  Just do what needs to be done, it will take longer and be much more painful if you are afraid.

Me jamming at 2007 Nationals, maybe I'll have a flat belly again one day!
A jamming at 2006 Nationals (she wasn't normally a jammer, poor A)