Birth Story Part 2

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, My Pregnancy

Before reading Part II, please read Birth Story Part I

(…) We called the nurse to do a cervical check.

I’m 3.5 cm 50% effaced!

No progress! Twelve hours of intense frequent contractions did absolutely nothing!

My first thought was “Thats it! I want an epidural!”  I was too tired and sleepy to fight any longer. And as if by command, before we were even able to discuss it or tell the nurse, my contractions started spacing out. They were coming 4-5 min apart. It was like my body’s way of telling me to relax.
In retrospect, I can see that I wasn’t able to effectively relax during contractions (even though I thought I was). Instead my body had to work really hard against my tension (hence no progress and super strong frequent contractions) which is exactly what I was trying to avoid by doing hypnobabies but obviously it didn’t work for me.
I think if my body was given a chance to rest, the contractions would have picked up again but I was so exhausted and sleepy at that moment, I didn’t feel I had the energy to wait and see even through spaced out contractions, so we requested an epidural. Cynthia administered the IV drip, and after they made us watch this silly 70s video, my anesthesiologist came in and took care of the rest. The procedure was painless and I felt relief almost instantly. Aaaaaahhhhh! It’s easy to become an epidural convert when the relief is so immediate.

Later, when I was going through the photos taken during labor, I found this photo immediately followed by the one below it.


{It’s like a commercial for medicated birth}

The first thing I tried doing was SLEEP! Oh the glorious gods of slumber! It was great! I didn’t really get to sleep for a long period of time but just resting for an hour made all the difference.

Soon the nurse shift changed and a new nurse, named Jackie came in. She was actually  a hypnobabies trainer. She was a goofy woman and luckily now that I had an epidural, I didn’t mind joking around.

She talked to me about getting some Pitocin to get the labor going since an epidural slowed it down a bit more as well. I suggested we wait an hour or so and then see. Realistically, with enough time my labor would have picked up on its own but none of us wanted to sit around and wait till that happened. We wanted Lexi and we wanted her now. {Funny how impatience can get the best of us}

We figured if in a few hours it doesn’t pick up, we’ll be ok with a low dose of Pitocin. I wouldn’t have wanted to have Pitocin to start the labor, because it would sabotage my chances of  laboring without pain relief but since I was already hooked on an epidural, it didn’t really matter much, as long as it was administered wisely.

My OB came in to talk to me in about an hour and I repeated what I had told the nurse. That “generally” we don’t mind starting a pit drip, but we’d like to wait an hour to see what my body does on its own.

I have to mention that at the hospital my nice sweet OB was more bossy and strict. It wasn’t a bad change, per se, but I did feel like i had less say in the matter than before. So after an hour of lack luster contractions we went ahead with the first low dose of Pitocin.


Contractions picked up quickly and were coming regularly. The goal was to up the dose every 20 min until they come every 2-3 min apart again. As far as I remember we upped the dose 3 times.
Pitocin was first administered at 10am and I was fully dilated by 2pm. The whole time I just hung out on my phone, not feeling a thing waiting for the drugs to do their job.

Around 2 pm- 2:15 pm we were ready to push. Her head was right there. After every push it would come out and then get sucked back in. We like to say that the first thing that was born was a curl of dark hair! Before we saw Alexis, we saw her curl for a few contractions.

It was really frustrating to push while numb. I felt helpless and ineffective. BUT it WAS painless. I clearly remember thinking (and still do) that while the pushing with an epidural was frustrating, I was not sure I wanted to experience it without, seeing all the stretching my OB was doing there- Yikes! Speaking of stretching, I won’t go into gory details, but it appeared that my OB was in a hurry and wanted to speed up things a bit ( he had to make a call to his office saying he’d be there in 30 minutes) and used his hands “freely”. My husband believes it was one of the reasons why I got 1 tear ( 1st degree). In the end, we decided that we didn’t mind, because him stretching me out meant less pressure on Lexi’s head and since I didn’t have a painful recovery, it was all for the best.

After about 30 minutes of pushing her head came out and it looked sooooo little! Before she was even pulled out completely, she started crying. She was so alert the whole time. She was immediately placed on my chest where they sucked liquid from her nose and mouth and Andrew started drying her off. I didn’t want to post more graffic photos on here, but there are 2 photos in particular that don’t show anything per se, but are pretty cool since it was the exact moment of Alexis being put on my chest with the cord still attached. The photos are blurry and bad quality but they mean the world to me. You can see them here:  Photo  Photo 2

Then he wrapped her in one of our Bambino Land organic blankets and put a hat on her. I just remember her looking soooo scared and helpless. And there was so much love for her in that instant. Like I said before we didn’t feel overwhelming love, we felt this calm deep feeling of knowing we’ve always loved her- like a “duh” feeling. She was soooo sweet and adorable and scared and she needed us to keep her warm and safe and comfortable. She just lay there on my chest frantically sucking her fist. It almost makes me cry just thinking about how scared she must have been.

 

{Organic Hat and Recieving Blanket is by Bambino Land}

The rest was a bit of a blur. I breastfed her- she latched onto my boobs like a Hoover vacuum and killed my nipples that first time.

After some bonding time when everyone left us alone, the baby nurse came in to weigh her and do routine procedures.

We were so wrapped up in this little girl we had been waiting for for so long that we didn’t even bother to ask her measurements.

After a while I got put into a wheelchair and with my baby in my arms wheeled up to the recovery floor.


It was almost unreal to have this tiny being in my hands- the one who spent 9 months inside me, submerged in water, upside down, with food and oxygen delivered to her, perfect temperature, no outside influence. It’s her little feet that stretched across my abdomen, her butt that stuck out whenever we touched it.

I spent the whole post partum time at the hospital wearing a designer hospital gown by dearjohnnies. I didn’t feel comfortable putting my own clothes on, because anything loose would feel too bulky under the covers and let’s admit it, pictures wouldn’t have turned out half as good if I wore the hospital provided one. Once again, just like Pretty Pushers gown, you can read about dearjohnnies and win a gown for yourself here.

Those first days before my milk came in on day 2 Alexis ate every 2 hours and slept sporadically (mostly stayed awake and alert) and pooped 1 and 2 diapers a day (which was exactly what I read and everyone tried to tell me was wrong). The next day Andrew drove home to pick up my mom, who stayed with us at the hospital for the day. She even held Alexis in her arms for a few hours just so that we could both get some sleep.

We both didn’t sleep at night because Alexis wouldn’t, so we weren’t even up to having visitors at the hospital – we were so exhausted from days of no sleep that started before delivery. To add insult to injury, medical personnel for some reason thought it was a good idea to keep coming in at night, turning lights full on and cheerfully and loudly announce that it’s time for them to take Alexis temperature right as we FINALLY put her to sleep.

One night this doctor comes in (after we had spent hours shushing and rocking her and finally got her to sleep) and insists on turning the brightest lights in the room and waking up Alexis because she needs a full body exam since “it’s been 24 hours”. It made no sense to me….  After he wakes her up and undresses her, he looks at the name tag and non-challantly announces that he’s got the wrong person. Lol I was ready to kill him right there and then.

{Swaddle in both pictures is by Bambino Land, purple onesie is by Best Baby Organics}

Originally, we were hoping not to introduce a pacifier until breastfeeding is established, but this girl LOVED and NEEDED to suck, so we gave in. It’s funny now because she spits every single one of them out.

Whenever they needed to take her somewhere to test her hearing or anything else, Andrew went with them. We never let her out of our sight and never let her be without at least one of us.

On day two We got cleared by both OB and ped to go home. By then I felt relatively good and had almost no bleeding. My body was still sore and it was a bit hard to get up but in the excitement of going home that got completely overlooked. I took a shower, brushed my hair, put some make up on and got into my going home dress, put my favorite cupcake footie on Alexis and felt like a new person, a new family, going home.

We only took a few shots on the way home and I would have really liked to have had Alexis out of the car seat, but they wouldn’t let us out that way. I still looked about 6 months pregnant going home (Thank you Boob Design dress for not making it obvious!), but by 2nd week I was back to “visibly” semi-flat stomach.

I loved driving home in the backseat with Lexi holding my thumb, only 2 days old and so adorable.

All in all, I consider my labor experience to be great, despite not doing it med-free and ending up with Pitocin. I got to labor for 10 hours without medication, I experienced the relief of an epidural without any side effects that sometimes follow it, I would totally do it again and pretty much with the same plan of action: try to get through it without pain relief, but in the end get an epidural if it’s too much to handle.

My next post will be Reflections on Birth Experience, where I’ll try to write my feelings and thoughts about the process, Hypnobabies, my hospital bag, the epidural and so on.

Birth Story Part I

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, My Pregnancy

I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me until now, but instead of taking all this time to write my full birth story, I should have broken it into parts. And while the full birth story is essentially written, I am still going to go ahead and break it down to make it more manageable. Don’t worry you won’t have to wait long for the other parts:
Birth Story Part II 
Birth Experience Reflections (hypnobabies, hospital bags, etc)
Breastfeeding Journey 

Preface:

If you’re new here, you’re welcome to read the following posts pertaining to Alexis’ birth: childbirth preparation, birth plan, hospital bags.

As many of you know I started preparing for labor a few months ahead. My hopes were to labor naturally without drugs, though I was always open to an epidural if such need presented itself. However, I was pretty confident I’d be able to have a natural birth experience  using Hypnobabies techniques barring any unforeseen circumstances. As I was getting closer to my 41 week deadline, I was told to schedule an induction date in case I got past 41 weeks. While I always wanted to avoid an induction, I was pretty sure that if I were to get one, my hypnobabies would go out the window (though many of you assured me it’s possible to labor naturally even with pitocin). In the end, the only thing I really wanted to avoid was a c-section, however I did realize a c section isn’t smth you “plan not to have”- it’s done when necessary, therefore in my mind there was no labor and birth experience end result that I would regret: natural, pitocin, epidural, c section- as long as my baby was here safe and sound.
Since I had never been in labor before I had no idea how it would go for me but I was putting all my faith into hypnobabies to help carry me through the contractions.

Birth story

My 41 week induction was scheduled for Wednesday evening with an application of Cervadil. Prior to that date I was doing anything and everything possible and safe to kick start my labor on my own: miles curcuit (which is what I think threw me into labor), walking, sex, etc.

Sunday night I spent most of the night not sleeping and trying to deal with pretty strong contractions that never got closer than 6-7 min apart.
All day Monday I was crampy and having light contractions. On Monday evening I started having strong contractions that kept getting closer together. I was using hypnobabies relaxation techniques to get through them. I labored in bed, on the birth ball, on the floor while hubby packed the rest of the things for the hospital. We were sure this was it. When the contractions got to about 3 minutes apart and it was difficult to handle them, I told Andrew that it was time to go. I was well beyond the excitement stage – this was serious! One of my fears was that I’d transition in a matter of minutes like my sister did and we wouldn’t make it to the hospital.
Well, let’s just say that fear was unfounded lol

I barely remember the ride to the hospital. I know I had my fuzzy blanket with me and that I thought it wasn’t that bad. I had my headphones in listening to HB tracks. I thought I was pretty focused on the tracks and relaxation and doing a decent job getting through every pressure wave.
We drove up and walked through the doors of the birth center. I couldn’t believe we had to actually come up to the guard and answer his “Can I help you?”
I don’t know… Do you see a very pregnant woman in the middle of the night looking miserable? lol I told him we were there to have our baby.
He had me take a seat while hubby parked the car.
About a minute later a nurse comes out and gives me a gown and a bag for my clothes to change into.

Michelle, the triage nurse, got me into a room and hooked me up to the monitors. She was really sweet and soft spoken. She quickly figured out that all the questions are to be directed to my husband and kept saying how cool it was that I was doing hypnosis and how well I was handling the contractions, which at that point, she told me, were 2-3 minutes apart over a minute long.
At some point during this process, which took a little over an hour, I started getting the shakes. In the back of my mind I was hoping it was transition, but now looking back at it, I’m pretty sure that was me getting sidetracked from my relaxation and actually tensing up at each contraction.

When she checked me I was 3.5 cm dilated and 40% effaced and after a quick call to the doctor told me we were staying.
That was just before midnight.

{In my labor room getting through a contraction before I even had a chance to change into my Pretty Pushers gown}

 

Now, based on most everyone’s experience, we were going in prepared to fight for our birth plan (certain things in it, at least). Hubby was the one who was supposed to be talking to L&D nurses to make sure things are done a certain way (or more like not done just for the sake of doing them).

Michelle left to get my paperwork and came back to admit me. I guess somehow she had a copy of our birth plan because, before we even mentioned anything, she asked us if a heplock was fine since we didn’t want an IV. We asked her if it’s ok if we skip heplock but we’ll totally do it if there’s a need to. She was so sweet about it too: “Oh yeah If you guys don’t want it, it’s fine. As long as you’re open to getting it, if we need to.”

That was the first shocker of the night. The one if two things, that even my OB said nurses will have a huge problem with, was a slam dunk.

So Michelle proceeded to go over things we could do:
We were fine to labor however we wanted, use birth ball, wear whatever we want, eat and drink, have 20 min on and off monitoring, no cervical checks, etc
She basically said if we’d like, we would just be left alone to do our thing with occasional visits from the nurse to put a monitor on.

I was honestly floored. I expected insistence on routine IVs, no food, continuous monitoring and a bunch of other “hospital protocols”. But she was so sweet and supportive and she had this nurturing quality about her. I could not have asked for more.

Once we settled in, I changed out of the hospital gown into my Pretty Pushers gown. I really loved having a cute gown to wear that had all the right access to medical personnel ( monitor, epidural) and was cheap enough that I wasn’t worried about getting it dirty. {You can read more about Pretty Pushers and win yourself a gown HERE}

We were assigned a nurse named Cynthia who was just as laid back as Michelle. She’d walk in every 30 minutes, put me on the monitor, didn’t really say much, just kept quiet and sweet. I have to say the L&D nurses made this experience a thousand times better and I am very thankful for their support!!!

I kept trying to hydrate to make sure I don’t get an IV, but a few hours after admittance, I started to feel sick to my stomach and just like my OB had warned me I promptly threw up the contents of my dinner earlier and later all my water into a bag. Cynthia offered me an anti nausea pill, which i declined, and warned me that if I continue throwing up, they’d have to hook me up to an IV. After I threw up again, I took the pill :)

This whole time I continued laboring with contractions that were coming every 2-3 minutes. It had been 7 hours since the strong contractions started and we all didn’t think it’d be much longer.

BOP I was doing the finger drop technique every time, however I am not sure how much it was really helping. I had never labored before so I wasn’t sure if the hypnobabies was taking the edge off or not. I could feel the contractins really well regardless how much I was relaxing and there was no real comfortable position for me to labor in. I remember feeling a lot of pressure on my pelvis, really overwhelming pressure during the contraction.  At the time I did think that it was due to my relaxation that I was handling the contractions. In retrospect, I am not exactly sure. End BOP

I kept going thinking that with strong contractions like these I must be near transition time and then I just have to get to 10 cm.

Around 4-5 am I started getting really tired. I hadn’t really slept the night before and here I was another night dealing with strong frequent contractions. I remember thinking that I’d take the pain so much better if I could just sleep. All I wanted was to put my head down and sleep, which is sort of weird when you’re in pain lol However, I was getting really worn out…. I’d slump over the bed and close my eyes and just wait for the contraction while I half slept in the meantime.

Soon enough I started thinking about an epidural. I voiced it to my husband who had been trained to know that it’s an emotional signpost meaning “I’m close to transition”. I knew that too but I was also soooo sleepy and tired I wasn’t sure I could take much longer of the same intensity. He held me off for a while and then we made a deal: I get checked for progress and then we go from there.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 Birth Story Part II

Happy 1 Month, Alexis!

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, VIDEO

1 MONTH OLD

{cute organic cupcake onesie is by My O Baby}

 

Yesterday was 1 month since Alexis came into this world. And while some people seem to wonder at how fast time flies by, I feel like it’s been ages. Ages since we’ve known her, ages since she’s been in our lives, and let’s be honest, ages since we haven’t gotten enough sleep.

It’s probably the sleep deprivation and her demanding schedule talking, or maybe the fact that we’ve considered her a part of our family a year before we even conceived her.

Either way, a month is nothing, compared to the vastness of experiences we’ll get to have with our daughter in years to come.

But for now, here’s what our 1 month old is up to ( from the last update)

The cooing has really picked up – this girl really talks to us.

As a 1 month special, I wanted to include a video. It’s probably boring to everyone but me, but I want it here for posterity. After a few months, I’ll compile a bunch of short videos together in a better fashion. But for now, just simple barely edited footage.

I’m speaking Russian to her, and basically all I am saying is prompting her to talk, having a sort of conversation like “Yeah? And then what?” If you understand Russian, don’t laugh at me too much :)

That is when she’s in a good mood, because she gets quite fussy at times.

SLEEP/FEEDING

Her schedule has been pretty much the same: she eats every 30-50 minutes during the day, naps about 20-40 minutes at a time. At night, feedings space out to every hour with one stretch of sleep being 2 hours. That means I get up to feed her 7- 8 times a night ( yes, you read that right!).

Now I don’t know what happened last night (maybe she got clued in that she’s a big girl now), but she slept for 3 hours before waking up, and then continuing waking up every 2 hours until the last feeding. That was amazing! Aaaaand today she’s back to every hour :) Lucky us!

Despite having to nurse that frequently at night, I’ve been doing pretty good with sleep. We all try to go to bed at 8 pm and end up getting up for the day by 7-8am. So in the end I get about 6 very interrupted hours of sleep.

Hubby is really lucky, because I try not to wake him up unless I need something, which means he gets to sleep 4-5 hour stretches. It’s for the better, because HE IS HORRIBLE when woken up, like he can’t function at all.

MSC

She also developed baby acne all over her face, which means along with her second chin, she now looks like a TEENAGE sumo wrestler.

After the first spontaneous outting with the Moby wrap, I thought I could actually go places with her. I was mistaken. We decided to go to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods with Alexis and Moby wrap. Well, let’s just say she cried the whole way and in the Moby. So I spent the whole trip in the car nursing her or calming her while hubby shopped.  Realization: when your baby still eats every 30-40 minutes and gets really fussy when she doesn’t, don’t attempt to go places with her. Lesson learned!

So I’ll be waiting until she spaces out her feedings to at least a reliable hour or maybe 2 hours and for breastfeeding to become more comfortable before I start venturing out. She doesn’t like being in a stroller or a bassinet either, or anywhere for that matter, except for our arms and occasionally Boppy but with our attention included, so a few stroller trips I attempted were a disaster, especially in Florida heat. So I am pretty much stuck home nowadays, but I don’t mind. I want to rename the fourth trimester a ” Chill out and Snuggle Trimester”, because that’s what it’s going to be!

On photo: My first trip out with washed hair (still wet on photo, washed doesn’t mean blow dried) AND make up! Woohoo!
Wearing: Boob Design Nursing tank top. BTW, their spring collection is out and it’s awesome! 

And my final thought is this: I love physical books, so while I read mostly on my iphone on a Nook app, I thought it’d be a good idea to buy a few actual paper baby books when I was pregnant. WRONG! You know how everyone says you won’t have time to read books when you have your baby. Well, they are right, it’s extremely hard to read physical paper books! However, reading on my Iphone has been the best thing to ever happen to breastfeeding or to those hours that I spend with Lexi sleeping in my arms. Luckily, I only bought 4 books in a physical paper format and they’re still sitting on my table half read, while I keep buying and reading other books on my Nook. So I guess what I am trying to say is learn from me: if you’re pregnant, get used to reading on your iphone/ipad, or buy/register for a Kindle (it is SO a baby shower register-able item). And then if you get a baby who’ll only sleep on you, you won’t die from boredom!

 

Dress by Bungalow Bebe, hairband by Violet’s Velvet Box

 

On another note, I am half way done with the birth story. It’s hard when I have to split my time with Lexi AND writing intermittent posts. But I’m loving looking at the birth pictures as I work on them.

BABY QUESTIONS:

1. Girls who live in hot climates, what do you do about taking your little one out, since they’re not supposed to get into direct sunlight. The carriers are waaaay too hot, especially against a human body. Am I stuck inside until she turns 6 months and can use sunscreen?

2. How do you put a baby into a pram? Alexis seems to cry every time I do it. Do you wait till she’s asleep to go for a walk with a pram? How do you make sure she doesn’t roll around there (blankets?) and what about her head? The whole set up just doesn’t seem comfortable to me.

 

FUTURE POSTS:

{hopefully in that order}

Birth Story
Breastfeeding Challenges and Lifesaviors {along with some giveaways}
Best 1st Month Baby products {what we’ve been using}
Many many baby related giveaways to come {if there’s anything specific you’re interested in giveaway-wise, let me know, I’ll attempt to host it}

Alexis Weeks 1,2,3 + Postpartum Update

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY

Since I’m so behind on weekly updates, I’m going to lump them all together.

Postpartum update

Week 1 and 2 Photos (I totally forgot to take front ones for week 1- we were so exhausted I’m surprised I actually took a picture). Click on them to see large.

Since there has been no change, I won’t be posting further pictures. However, once I start working out, I might resume the progress shots if there’s any noticeable change that can be seen through photos.

 

Recovery

My recovery has been amazing. Honestly, there was not much to recover from. I had no pain, super light bleeding that virtually stopped after the first week. My butt was sore for a bit from pushing and sitting on my glider all day long but nothing bad enough to even take ibuprofen for. I had no afterpains, or any other pains. My body was sore for a total of two days after we arrived home and then I went back to feeling completely normal.

Body

My belly took about a week to contract back leaving me with a nice fat-ish stomach for week 2 and 3.
After delivery I immediately lost 20 lbs and since then not much at all. It actually took me a week to even remember to weigh myself.
At this point I still have 17 lbs to loose to get to my pre-pregnancy weight but I don’t see myself taking the time to actively work on it until Lexi is out of her fourth trimester.
Luckily it doesn’t really bother me – I’m happy with how I look for now. In a month or so I’ll start trying to slowly get toned and fit again.
One thing that has been strange (and does need to be worked on soonrer than later) is the layer of fat left over from the pregnancy. I have never in my life had a fat roll on my stomach when sitting down. It’s not necessarily my “accomplishment”, to be honest- it’s that my body just doesn’t store fat in my stomach area. Legs-yes, but not my abs. So it was almost “cool” to be able to grab onto something squishy there (cool for one second and then it had to go).
The almost four weeks of exclusive breastfeeding have done nothing to reduce my fat stores or weight, probably because of my mom’s cooking and my mostly sedentary lifestyle (I either breastfeed or lie down with Lexi all day so that she’d sleep)

What else? My boob size has exploded like predicted. Hubby is digging it!

Oh stretch marks! I’m happy to report that I got out of the pregnancy battle unscathed!
I was hoping I wouldn’t get any but I really didn’t think I’d be so lucky!

Whether it’s mostly genetics or the diligent use of Mama Mio oil and proper hydration helped, I don’t have a single mark on my body.

My linea negra is still partially there but I figure it’ll fade over time.

Emotions

Again, it seems that, just like in pregnancy, postpartum hormones have not been messing with me much.
Of course, the initial weeks have been more emotional than normal. Of course, the pain and challenge of breastfeeding coupled with lack of sleep did mean I was frustrated easily, however it was nothing out of line. Times when I got upset and frustrated would have been just as frustrating and upsetting whether I had given birth or not (trying to teach a proper latch while in horrible pain at every latch-on, not understanding your new baby’s cries yet, all the usual suspects of being a first time mom).
Possibly my pleasant birth experience and non-existent recovery are responsible for lack of baby blues or maybe I’m not that susceptible to hormones ( I never got emotional during pregnancy either). And now that things are getting figured out I’m happier than ever.

Having a newborn

It’s really not THAT hard, taking care of a newborn. They have limited needs and desires and all you have to do is cater to them. That is if you’re properly set up with familial support, financial security, no rush to get back to work, etc. Of course, as soon as you introduce an “extra wrinkle”, things can become hard to handle physically and emotionally: twins, health issues, difficult recovery, single mom, no family around, another kid, having to go back to work.

What makes it hard even in an ideal postpartum situation, however, is lack of experience.
Not knowing whether your baby’s cry means she’s hungry or sleepy, not knowing if she’s in pain, not knowing if what you’re experiencing is normal or there’s some kinda of problem, not knowing if fast breathing, coughing, spitting up, extended belly, red rash, loud cry, frequent feedings, grunting while sleeping are normal for newborns (all normal btw). That’s the hardest thing! Worrying that your baby is ok is the most difficult part of taking care of a newborn (unless you have one that just sleeps all day and doesn’t bother you with “issues”)

We have dedicated ourselves to keeping Alexis as comfortable as possible even though it means breastfeeding every 30-40 min during the day or waking up every hour at night or holding her all day because that’s the only way she’ll nap and baby girl needs her sleep.

Alexis Update

week 1

week 2

week 3


{organic footie is by Finn&Emma}

She’s been doing the following things since week 2:

  • smiling
  • holding her head well during tummy time
  • oohing and aaahing and even a few agoos
  • attempting to talk to us ( you should see her mouth move and her little brain trying to figure out where her tongue  goes)
  • being a demanding little girl (ok, she had this one downpat since birth)

New week 3 developments:

  • her gaze follows objects and people
  • greets me with a smile 70% of the time
  • has a very strong grip
  • finally notices objects in the mirror
  • slept a “whole” 2.5 hour stretch at night (woohoo!)
  • took her first “mommy and me” bath –  It is SOOOO the way to bathe her. We both get into the tub and she lies on my chest while Andrew washes her. She enjoys it SOOO much you should see it! At the end of a bath, I take her and float her in the water- I think it reminds her of the womb.
  • finally liked her Moby and took her first trip into town to pick up sushi while hanging out in her wrap, got a ton of attention from passerbys and slept  right through it all
  • has developed a really funny demanding pre-cry (I’ll post a video some time)- it’s a one syllable “AH!”

 

General preferences:

Footie by Finn&Emma

  • LOVES after nap stretches ( potyagushki)
  • is mesmerized by her black and white board
  • finally paid attention to her first book: The Circus McGurcus
  • if in the mood, really enjoys full body infant massages
  • really doesn’t like going to sleep.  Who wants to miss out on all the action?
  • the boob is her BFF! She eats and eats and eats and then wants more!
  • has improved her latch immensely. It was  difficult training her but it’s so worth it
  • loves talking to us. We have full on “conversations” with that girl.
  • doesn’t mind her diaper being dirty. If she wasn’t a loud pooper, we’d never know she has a dirty diaper.
  • loves her grandmas

What we’ve been up to this week:

  • reading a ton of newborn and baby development book ( luckily I have a ton of time while breastfeeding and a nook app on my iphone). FYI, I’ll be making a list of worth while books the same way I did for pre-pregnancy and pregnancy here (which still needs to be updated, since I read a lot more than listed)
  • not taking showers
  • eating more sweets than I should :)
  • taking every opportunity to snuggle with my baby
  • taking more photos than I can ever go through and yet feeling like I haven’t been taking enough.
  • took our first family photos and totally sucked every single one of them up. Wow, self-portraits with a newborn is a bitch and Alexis is way too needy of a girl to ever pull it off. I can’t imagine having someone else take photos either because she doesn’t give us a second of a cute face when we need it.

Father and Daughter

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY

 

In the last 5 days I have opened my laptop exactly zero times. We’ve been dealing with frequent feedings and a baby that wakes up every hour at night plus breastfeeding troubles and pain. It’s not all bad, of course. I love my little Lexi Smexi. And every day she’s becoming smarter and more loveable.

I just wanted to check in here and share this photo. It melts my heart every time I look at it. So much that it warranted its own post.

I am looking forward to the time when I can rely on Alexis to nap for an hour or two or sleep for longer stretches than 1-2 hours. In the meantime, I’m enjoying lots of snuggles and dealing with a very demanding baby that knows what she wants ( even though she doesn’t always clue us in).

 

Also, I said it on my Facebook page and I’d like to repeat it here:

The birth story IS coming. I just finished picking out photos for it out of a ton of completely post-inappropriate ones :) It might take me some time to write it though. I’ve attempted to start but couldn’t get past a few sentences. It’s a somewhat emotional post and  my labor wasn’t exactly a straight forward 6 hour labor, so I’m waiting for the inspiration to strike at the time that Lexi is napping, which is seldom. About a week ago, I gave myself a month to finish writing it, but I am hoping I can do it in less time, again, if Alexis allows. It doesn’t help that my prime writing time (when I nurse) is now taken up by teaching Lexi to latch properly.

Also, I’m totally behind on weekly Alexis updates and 2 postpartum updates  *sigh…*

 

Hope all is well in the real world, because I feel quite removed from it :)

 

Sooo much to say….

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY

Wow I thought blogging desire would slow down when I have Alexis but I have to say it has tripled. There’s so much to share and write about and so much to reflect on.
I’ll try to get a general “thoughts” post once a week- type up some thoughts on my iPhone while feeding Lexi.

So here’s what I’ve thought up in 2 weeks of having Alexis

    • First of all, I gotta say this: despite the sleepless nights, the occasional frustration, lack of time for anything non-Lexi essential, this rocks!
      Not being a mom part (I was never crazy about becoming A MOM per se), but having a daughter, if that makes any sense to you. It’s really an amazing part of life! I don’t get why some women become bitter and competitive and guilt ridden once they have kids. All I feel is love for everyone. Just bliss and joy!
    • I was told my heart will explode from love I’ve never felt before. But both me and my husband agree that for us it’s less of an explosion but more of an all encompassing complete and deep, calm love. There from the very beginning. It’s a “but of course” kind of feeling.
    • Having a baby changes you and at the same time it doesn’t. What it changes is how you look at certain things and desires. I still can’t wait till we have a better handle on this newborn stage so that we could go places, both wear cute clothes, look fabulous, spend time at the beach, till I can work out and get my body into tip top shape, till I can hang with my friends again, till I can work, and we can take weekend trips to Disney and do all the things we used to do but now with Lexi. But at the same time, I look at my model friends’ Facebook photos of them flying to exotic locations, partying, having fun and for the first time since I quit that life, all I think is “wow I so would rather be here with Lexi right now!” which is a big departure from my previous thoughts of “Oh man, this is awesome looking- I could so be there right now if I wasn’t pregnant”
    • You won’t believe this one (because I don’t!):
      Having spent the whole pregnancy not really digging the state and not getting why some women enjoy being pregnant and miss it, some of my first thoughts upon coming home with Alexis and looking at my last preggo photos were “Aaaawww I miss having her in my belly!”
      Now that I know the preciousness that comes out of the whole process, being pregnant doesn’t seem that miserable. :)
    • Not knowing whether what you’re experiencing is normal or something is wrong is tough. The first week or two of Alexis feeding every 30 min 24/7 while the books AND online resources AND all people on message boards say 2-3 hours is average. Her not sleeping at all while everyone’s babies I read about sleep 2-3 or longer stretches at night… Second guessing yourself…
      I have to say it was VERY helpful to hear from all you breastfeeding mamas that for an exclusively breastfed baby THAT is normal. I can relax and not worry that my baby is in pain, doesn’t get enough milk or something along those lines- she just likes to eat and cuddle- Whew!
    • Once we figured out what Lexi wants it has been wonderful. I’m trying hard not to feel pressure to be productive and just enjoy our every 30 minute feedings and snuggles and coos. Taking care of a newborn especially with the support system I have here isn’t that hard at all (minus the 2 days it took us to figure out why she wasn’t sleeping and what needed to be done).
    • Lexi now sleeps and behaves exactly how you’d expect a newborn to be. She isn’t a great sleeper, she does get fussy, she gets bouts of crying where we’re not sure what’s wrong ( usually minor gas that relieves itself within minutes or her being overly tired and not able to go to sleep without a lot of shushing and rocking and swaddling), she loves to be held and snuggled, she loves to eat and is actively working on her Sumo Wrestler face. In other words, she’s our perfect angel who gives her parents a lot of joy along with a lot of work. She now sleeps about 2 hours stretches at night (8pm-5am), with occasional nights being worse than others. After 5 am, she switches to day time and starts feeding every 30 minutes to every hour depending on the day. Yesterday she was cluster feeding- I literally didn’t get out of my rocker all day- every 20 minutes, sometimes without breaks… Today she’s been eating every hour, and currently she’s going on her 2nd hour of nap time, which is allowing me to type up this update.
    • Daddy has been in charge of all diaper changes and dressing, as well as making sure mommy is comfortable during nursing sessions and has what she needs. He does get jealous though, because he thinks Alexis responds to me better but I keep reminding him it will take time and that he needs to keep spending time with her.
    • We’ve been getting a few coos from her and a TON of smiles. Some of them I can tell are gas smiles, others – not so sure. She almost laughs… And always in response to us talking to her. She loves her grandmas too. Gives them more smiles than she gives us. (either that or they make her gassy lol)

      {organic footie is by Finn&Emma} 
    • Alexis is blossoming into a more coherent human being, with lots of alert time which is so much fun to watch.
    • My heart goes out to mothers who have colicky and refluxy babies. Having had a tiny glimpse into what it’s like- its no fun. And I doubt many people understand or appreciate it.
    • We’ve been doing tummy time and this girl has impressive head control. She doesn’t hate tummy time but does get tired after a while. It’s so much more interesting to lay down and look at the blue cover than it is holding your head up.

      Wimmer Ferguson Black and White Development Board can be bought here


    • First bath after her cord fell off on day 7 was a lot of crying, 2nd bath worked out much better mostly cuz mommy and daddy blasted the heater in the house to warm the room up.
      Post Bath Snuggles
    • Alexis is so adorable when she sleeps I can’t handle it.
    • I have tried to put her into my Moby wrap twice now and she isn’t digging it. I keep doing it when she’s about to ask for food or too tired but in the last few days that’s all she’s been- hungry or tired. I’m really itching to go for a walk with her.
    • I’ve been using Baby Connect app on my phone to track her feedings and BM since day 1 and I really love it. The interface is awesome! And I love the statistics bar. Like for the past 5 days she’s had 19-21 feedings a day (most of which occur during the day), 9 BM diapers and 10 wet diapers- you go girl! :)
    • It’s looking like for a while the only photos I’ll have are homey-looking ones. No make up, messed up hair and lounge clothes.  I really need to get Lexi to like Moby wrap so that we could start getting out. Though, I keep forgetting-she’s only 2 weeks old, so little and new but it seems like I’ve known her forever. We’ll have plenty  of time to get out.
    • Oh and we started using cloth diapers this morning. I’m still getting used to them. We’ve been using cloth wipes since the beginning and do laundry daily, so diapers don’t really add any work. I just have to figure out fits and snaps, since I have all different brands.Alright, I’m out- Love and Peace to everyone!

.

“Did you think it was going to be easy?”

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY

{cute organic cupcake onesie is by My O Baby}


The first week was rough. Not normal newborn rough or “adjusting to lack of sleep” rough but “what is going on” rough.
Alexis started off as what you expect a day old baby to be- alert, crying at times, breast feeding around the clock. Once my milk came in on day 2, she spaced out her feedings to every 1.5-2 hours.
Everything was going right as I expected and have been told.
Then around day 5, something changed- she started waking up every half an hour and the only thing that would console her was my boob.
In my mind I’ve gone through every possible scenario from “I don’t have enough milk” (slippery slope) to growth spurts.
For those 2 days we literally had zero sleep. When people say “oh I’ve had no sleep because of my newborn baby” rarely do they mean literally no sleep. Generally newborns wake up every 2-4 hours to feed, that in between time IS sleep.
When I say zero sleep I mean I was able to close my eyes for 0-30 minutes each night for two nights.
It seemed like this is what it’s going to be like for weeks.

We asked around and were told that no, getting no sleep at all isn’t normal.

I love when people say “Well what did you expect? That it was going to be easy”?
Oh darling, you can’t compare a baby that gives you an hour or two at a time to sleep to a baby that wakes up every time you put her down. And no, giving her formula so that she was sleeping longer stretches at night isn’t even remotely an option.

I kept thinking something must be wrong (she’s in pain) and trust me that’s the worst feeling.

Our pedi suggested we keep her awake for longer feedings- that way she’ll go longer stretches without waking up to feed.

The next night Alexis had a huge screaming fit- like “I’m in pain” fit. I’d calm her down, put her in the cosleeper and a few minutes later she’d wake up screaming. Again only boob would console her. We had to call the doctor at 1:30 am because we simply didn’t know what was wrong.

After talking with her we agreed that it’s most likely reflux. She has been gagging and making chocking sounds every time we’d put her down regardless how many times we burped her.
The poor girl was suffering from acid burning her throat.
We broke down and gave her gripe water. It had completely sent me into a break down. I had been resolved not to have her take anything but breastmilk cuz anything else would change the flora of her intestines potentially exposing it to infections. But when it came to my baby girl hurting I just had to try any form of relief.
After another visit to our pedi, we decided that those longer bigger feedings might have made her reflux so bad she was actually in pain.

So we were trying everything and anything: 30-45 degree elevated beds, more frequent smaller feedings, prescription of Zantac in our back pocket that we gave a thought and instantly dismissed as an option at this moment, all possibly offensive foods banned from mommy’s ration.
One night after discovering that no swing or elevated bed does it, I spent the whole night holding her against my chest in a recliner- because that’s the only way she’d sleep.

 


{cute organic cupcake onesie is by My O Baby}

I was starting to get myself mentally ready for a baby that just doesn’t sleep at night. “We can do it for a few months while she matures… Whatever it takes to keep her comfortable, we thought. We’d take shifts holding her, I’d wake up to nurse whenever she wants.”

Then something happened. One night when she was screaming and fussing, we soothed her, put her to sleep and lay her down next to us in bed.
That was the first time since being home that she slept soundly for 2 hours, woke up to feed and slept another stretch and like that till the morning. No gagging, no crying, no reflux, no spit up.
Now don’t tell me babies aren’t supposed to sleep with their parents/mother, because since that day we’ve had 0 issues. She sleeps 2-3 hour stretches, she has zero reflux. As soon as her Moro reflex wakes her up, she instantly settles down by feeling me next to her.
And the amazing thing is she’s a different baby during the day- alert, quiet, happy. She won’t go down for a nap on her own- she has to be in our arms or next to us, but she’s rested. Day time is a different story, since she feeds every 30 minutes, but she’s happy, a happy little girl and that means we’re happy.

It’s funny how while considering ourselves AP parents, we still blindly followed the no bed sharing advice. We have a co sleeper set up , a full nursery but the only way our girl is happy AND healthy is if she’s in our arms.
Obviously the stress of being away from us was what caused the spit up problem to worsen, the lack of uninterrupted sleep caused her screaming fits. It was a cycle she was too immature to be able to get out of on her own. And I felt like it took us 2 days too long to figure it out. (update: lol people, I don’t think bedsharing “cured” reflux.  She had minor reflux that  was possibly made worse by stress of being away from mommy’s body which is what most newborns need in the first weeks)

My personal new mom lesson number 1:

Blindly follow what your baby needs in the very beginning. Screw the “well wishers”, the unsubstantiated cry it out methods, the second guessing yourself that comes oh-so-easily. Only your baby knows what it wants, and if it wants constant contact, then that’s what it gets, especially in its 4th trimester.

Talking to friends and reading blogs, sleeping with your baby is a pretty common occurrence early on. I’m not sure how long it lasts (maybe till they are able to sleep in a deeper state), but it’s very obvious that some (most?) babies need close contact to thrive. I’d like for her to sleep in the co-sleeper at some point and then in her crib, but we’ll see how it goes.

So I’m incredibly happy we figured it out and now our little girl is getting 150% of what she needs and we are getting what I’d call normal sleep: waking up every 2-3 hours to feed/change with occasional hour long stretches.

Coming up: Breastfeeding and its challenges post, 1 week postpartum and Alexis update, 2 weeks postpartum and Alexis update, just random thoughts on our changed lives, final nursery reveal (that we don’t even use lol), breastfeeding products that I’ve been using. I only get to write posts right now while nursing Alexis. I pull out my iphone and type away. She nurses every 30 minutes during the day so I get plenty of time to type, but the challenge is adding photos, since I can’t work on my laptop right now. So you might see a week of no posts and then a cluster of them another week.
And yes, of course the Birth Story- that’s kind of a given! :)

Also something came up workwise that only I can do, which really sucks because right now I can’t get away for longer than 30 minutes – I have to breastfeed. I really hope it can be postponed due to me just having had a baby or I am pretty much screwed. I love how everything always comes in at the same time. I can’t even get a handle on my life with a newborn when I have to deal with something urgent, important  and a bit upsetting. Bleh! :(

Oh and also, I’ll probably won’t be proof reading most of these posts due to lack of time, so ignore all typos and such, please. Thanks :)

Introducing Alexis!

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY

The long awaited Alexis has finally arrived and in that instant became the most important, precious and beautiful person in our lives.

I’d like to introduce our brand new daughter!

Welcome to this World, Alexis!

We’re are adjusting to being parents, sleepless nights, around the clock diaper changes (the girl can poop), outfit changes, shushing, rocking, breastfeeding and most importantly snuggling. And while, I’ll be taking another week or so to just relax without any obligations including blogging, I really wanted to share this special person with many of you who have been waiting for her arrival as well. I am looking forward to taking a million beautiful pictures of her once we get our rest, but in the meantime I’ve got a million snapshots.

Some random thoughts on:

Labor/Deliver/Recovery

My birth experience was nothing and everything I thought it would be. I loved it! { I know that you want to know details and birth story will be coming, but just wanted to say to the girls who have been asking me about the hypnobabies part of it, it was a big help. It didn’t work for me as well as it might have for someone else, but it was definitely a big part of my birth experience. }

{Wearing Boob Design dress}

The horror stories of postpartum recoveries might be true for some, but definitely not everyone. My recovery has been magical. And just FYI, no need for mesh panties and huge hospital pads- I switched into my own underwear and my “tiny” Always pads the day after delivery (and man, I’m glad I brought them).

I used almost everything out of my hospital bags, especially some of the highly contested items and was glad to have bags that were prepared for any situation. So for girls packing your bags now: if you have an option of leaving some bags in the car, pack everything you think you MIGHT need, because you never know what you WILL need.

Labor isn’t scary, it truly is a great experience if you let it be. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

{Wearing Boob Design dress}

My milk had come in sooner than expected (on day 2) and we fed a lot before that, so Alexis only lost 7 oz.

I’d like to also mention the amazing L&D nurses and personnel that were there for us. They were absolutely the best!

Alexis

She is just the most precious thing we’ve ever seen. She’s got mommy’s lips, ears, eyes and hair, daddy’s perfect eyebrows and possibly nose.

She was born on January 31, 2012 at 8lbs 7 oz, 20 inches, with 9/9 apgar scores and incredibly alert. It’s funny because we didn’t even know any of her stats until we were leaving the hospital. We were so enamored and in love with her that the weight or Apgar was the last thing on our minds.

Her dark head of hair was a cute surprise. Andrew says the first thing that came out when I was pushing was this 1 curly lock of hair (lol). We were both straw blonde as kids, so the dark hair is strange. Though I hear that it tends to fall out and be replaced by different hair and my mom tells me I was born with dark hair too. I’m not sure I want that cute head of hair to go away, though :(

She has a faint red birthmark in the shape of an arrow on her forehead which will fade by toddlerhood, but in the meantime it makes her look like Romulin when she’s angry.

Alexis is an EATER and a SUCKER. From the moment she popped out into this world, she was sucking on things. The lactation consultant had Alexis suck her finger a few days later and you should have seen the face on that girl. The words that were used were “Hoover Vacuum”.

Needless to say my nipples are destroyed from that first suck she took, but I am wincing through the toe curling pain and working on her latch as well as healing the nipples, hoping for the time when breastfeeding is painless.

She adores black and white patterns (like all babies do). I have this black and white pattern pjs and she just gets mesmorized by it.

{Black and White Development Board}

And while Andrew and I dread sponge baths, because we don’t want to make her cold, she is sooo quiet when we wash her head. She’s a mommy’s daughter :)

She poops A LOT. The girl has some healthy bowel movements ( I’m hoping that me removing milk products out of my diet before she even arrived is contributing to this factor). She has a poop after almost every feeding with the all time high of 15 a day a few days ago. That’s a LOT of diaper changes for poop alone :)


Alexis is the love of our lives, she is the reason we are here and we are both soooo committed to making this newborn experience as comfortable for her as possible. It’s hard being a baby and it just breaks our heart when she starts crying.

For some reason she adores the car seat. She stops crying the second she’s in it and then quickly falls asleep. It’s kind of funny because the Facebook going home photo of her in the car seat ( that I purposely posted so that you couldn’t see her there) was one little yelp at the very second it was taken. The rest of the time she hung out peacefully in her carseat. Ha!

On our 1st pediatrician appointment, we found out that she has already gained all her weight back (which they don’t expect for two weeks) and is a super healthy newborn.

Life with a Newborn

Somehow it is better than what I imagined it to be in general, but not what I imagined it would be when it comes to details.

Alexis loves to eat. It’s day 5 and last night was the first night when she went for 2 hour stretches between feedings (counting from start of feeding to start of next one). Otherwise, she eats every 40-60 minutes all day and night every day. Since everyone and everything says newborns need to eat every 2-4 hours in the first few weeks, I expected to get at least an hour of sleep in between of each feeding. With her waking up to nurse every hour or so, we get about 30 minutes of sleep at a time. That being said, it’s funny how I would do so much more for her than that. { right as I wrote that she went to wanting to nurse every half an hour, including at night. So my last night I slept a total of 30 minutes lol}

I absolutely love breastfeeding- her naked body curled up on my chest, her open and alert eyes, her hands that open and close and those swallowing sounds are just the best. It’s really the best part of my day when she is done nursing and turns her head away from the nipple and lays it on my boob with a sigh, lips dripping with milk… Awwwww!

That being said,
I think that it’s not publicized widely enough how much work and his hard and emotionally draining the initial weeks of breastfeeding are. I’ve read many online resources, as well as 2-3 breastfeeding books (which were invaluable) and they all seem to give you an impression that it should be so easy. While it’s a good attitude to have, sometimes it sets people up to fail when things are harder than they thought. I’m very lucky I have such a supportive husband when it comes to breastfeeding and that I don’t have any milk supply issues (so far). I remember reading new blogger moms talking about how difficult breast feeding was and tried to keep an open mind to challenges, but cracked sore nipples, shallow latch, around the clock nursing and lack of sleep is beyond anything words can describe.

Andrew is a rockstar with Alexis. It took him a couple of days at the hospital to get the hang of the whole “baby handling” thing, but he’s now a pro diaper changer, explosive poop deflector, and swaddler. He’s so gentle with her.

I’m really digging this time of no routine and no predictability. I have always been the kind of person who needs to be productive to feel good and right now all that’s on my mind is Alexis and her needs which consume both of us 24/7. We are just enjoying our new baby without any regard to responsibilities. However, we can only do it because my mom is here. She has been the hugest help we could ever ask for.

Taking care of a newborn (especially one that wakes up every hour to feed and get a diaper changed) is a 2 person job. With both me and Andrew taking care of Alexis around the clock, we have ZERO time for anything else. Honestly, I have no idea how single moms handle it – they need a badge of honor.

I know it’s been said before, but…

You think you understand what having a baby feels like before having any of your own, but it’s so much more consuming and meaningful than what one can imagine. From day 1, she is to be taken care of and protected at all costs.

WE LOVE YOU, ALEXIS! THIS IS THE STORY OF YOUR LIFE!

 


I’m sure I have forgotten to mention a ton of things I wanted to include into this post, but I gotta go. I wanted to thank you all for your awesome wishes here and Facebook and I am amazed at how much love has been sent our way from you! You seriously are the best and I am so happy to have you as our readers. I simply cannot wait until I can post more photos and stories from our lives- I have so much to share.