1 Week Postpartum

IMG_7084.JPG

What a week!

Our baby girl was born last Sunday, July 31st. In the week since then we’ve learned a lot about how to take care of her (and each other) despite uncertainty, weight scares, and a serious lack of sleep. But it’s all been so, so worth it – because she is absolutely wonderful.

Since the delivery was pretty uncomplicated (I’m actually working on a longer “birth story” post that gets into all the nitty gritty details) and our baby is healthy we only stayed in the hospital for two days. As promised, we got a private room on the maternity ward because of my CF, which was great. Overall the nurses and doctors were fantastic and it was reassuring to have a trained expert available at the push of a button if we had any questions. Also wonderful? Room service. Hospital food isn’t the best, but theirs was surprisingly good – and we could have as much as we wanted, anytime, billed straight through to insurance. Pure magic.

It was great to have food and medical care easily accessible because all of our energy had to be devoted to figuring out how to care for this little person. Neither of us had experience caring for very young babies and I don’t think we had ever changed a diaper before. Fortunately the diaper stuff is actually pretty easy (though the meconium poops are nasty). Less easy was finding a way to sleep when the baby had a meltdown every time we set her down in her bassinet. Since our hospital does “rooming in” (keeping the baby with the parents at all times instead of having a nursery) it was up to us to manage. We ended up essentially sleeping in shifts while the other person held the baby.

Each day we got a visit from the pediatrician as well as the OB. The baby passed all her tests with flying colors, which is absolutely fantastic. I actually surprised myself by how well I was doing, too. I was definitely swollen down there, but not very sore at all. The only real struggle was peeing. I had no idea how focused everyone would be on my bladder! The first few pees after delivery take place in the company of a nurse, who changes your (gigantic) pad and hoses you down with a peri bottle before settling in to wait for you to pee in a bowl inserted into the toilet to measure volume. I don’t know if this was because I had an epidural or not, but the first time we did this I literally couldn’t pee. I didn’t feel like I needed to either, despite the fact that I was apparently holding about a liter or urine. The nurse ended up having to catheterize me, which I would not recommend. Not fun. Luckily my bladder got it together and I was able to do it the next few times, after which you’re left to your own devices.

Much more fun was calling our families to let them know the baby had arrived. Everyone was surprised and excited since we told them it would probably be at least a few more days. It was really heart-warming hearing everyone’s well wishes by phone, text, and social media.

For those of you managing health conditions in postpartum, I heartily recommend bringing all your own meds and equipment with you to the hospital. The hospital staff had a full list of my meds, but inexplicably supplied only a few of them. They also brought me some that were just wrong (well, they were variations on things I take and probably would have been fine, but I would rather stick with my usual regimen). For example, they brought me my daily azithromycin, but no digestive enzymes, which I need with every meal. The respiratory therapist brought me pulmozyme and hypertonic saline, but no colistin – and they brought me some sort of nebulized albuterol combo drug I’ve never heard of instead of my albuterol inhaler. They didn’t provide any chest PT or equipment to use. This was kind of what I thought might happen since it’s pretty rare to have an adult with CF in the maternity unit, so I was glad I brought my own medicine and vesting device. No one gave me any trouble about using them.

Once we arrived home things were both easier and harder. It was lovely being back in the comfort of our own home and not being constantly interrupted for checks. However, there was no more room service and no one to reassure us that yes, it’s normal if the baby sneezes every once in a while (for example). The baby still refused to sleep alone in her crib, and since we’re not set up for bed-sharing (nor do we plan to) we were still getting very little sleep. However, I felt like I was on this crazy adrenaline high: despite getting roughly three hours of sleep a night I had so much energy and love for the baby that I felt like I could power through anything.

The day after we came home from the hospital we had our first pediatrician appointment. Everything looked great except her weight. She was born at 6 pounds 13 ounces, and at 4 days old she was down to 6 pounds and 1/2 ounce. It’s normal for babies to lose some weight, but losing 10% of her body weight is really the upper limit of normal. The doctor instructed us to bring her baby in two days for another weight check.

We spent the next 48 hours really doubling down on feedings. I think our initial mistake was that we expected her to cry when she was hungry, but she was so little and sleepy that she would easily go 4+ hours without waking to feed. In addition, she would fall sleep almost immediately once I got her to latch. So to get her to start gaining again we were strict about feeding her every 2 hours around the clock, even if she wasn’t making overt hunger signs. I also started pumping so that we could supplement her feedings with more breastmilk. Pumping had the advantage of 1) telling us exactly how much she was eating, and 2) reassuring us that she was actually eating something, since it’s hard to tell what’s actually going in when she’s just breastfeeding. She also was much less likely to fall asleep on the bottle than on the breast. I’m very thankful we had gotten the pump and some bottles before she arrived, even though we didn’t think we needed them!

It was a scary 48 hours, honestly. We felt guilty for letting her weight drop like that and worried about whether she was ok. I cried the first time I pumped because it seemed so unnatural and weird. We felt anxious about whether introducing a bottle so early would give her nipple confusion and make it harder to breastfeed. We even tried feeding her with a syringe instead, which was a total failure.

However, in the end, it was worth it. At our weight check on Friday she had gained 7 ounces in 48 hours! The doctor was thrilled and so were we. Since then we’ve fallen into a more relaxed rhythm of feeding every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours during the night. I pump twice daily since all that early pumping had the unintended consequence of really increasing my supply. I breastfeed her for almost all of her feedings, but it’s nice to have a backup supply in the fridge so my husband can bottle feed her if I’m busy or napping. We’re freezing the rest and we’ll have a really nice “emergency” supply on hand. Yesterday, at exactly 1 week old, we weighed her again on a baby scale at a local nonprofit for breastfeeding moms, and she was up to 6 pounds 11.5 ounces. Almost back to her birth weight!

Over the last week she’s become a bit more wakeful (though she still sleeps almost all the time) and a much stronger breastfeeder. The bottle feedings don’t seem to have deterred her at all from latching and feeding properly. Mercifully, she started sleeping in her bassinet around 5 days old as long as she’s swaddled properly. For the time being, she’s actually a champion sleeper – as long as she’s not hungry, cold, or improperly swaddled, she falls sleep easily and stays asleep for the three-hour stretches between feedings. She’ll occasionally fuss but she’s able to calm herself down pretty quickly as long as those three conditions are met. It’s incredible. I have to credit Harvey Karp and the 5 S’s for getting her to sleep properly. If you’re pregnant and you’ve never heard of this, look it up before you give birth! My husband was highly skeptical of the technique when we read it before the birth, but was the first to admit it actually worked wonders on our baby.

Our pediatrician advised us at our first appointment to do our best to get out of the house at least once each day. “It’s a low bar to set,” he said, “But you’ll be surprised how hard it is to do some days. But it will really help you keep your sanity.” He was so right! Between the constant feedings, snuggling, and diaper changes, not to mention my regimen of medications, chest PT, and pumping, we usually don’t get much “free” time until the afternoon. But we’ve managed to get out for walks around the neighborhood, a stroller ride in the park, and even a quiet lunch at a local salad place yesterday. We’re careful to keep her away from strangers, sick people, and smokers, and no one has pestered us to touch her. She does pretty well in the stroller (as long as it’s moving) but absolutely adores the Boba wrap – she just snuggles in and conks out.

We’ve also had a few visitors. Some of my husband’s cousins who live here in the area have stopped by with gifts and flowers, which was sweet. On Wednesday my Dad is flying in for a quick visit, and on Thursday my Mom flies in to stay for the week. My in-laws arrive the following week. It will be a busy few weeks of visitors, but we’re looking forward to seeing everyone. They actually won’t be staying with us: because we only have a small one-bedroom apartment (which is now filled with baby stuff) we told everyone a while ago that they would need to get AirBnBs or make other arrangements when they visit. I felt guilty about this, but I think it will really help with our stress levels not to have everyone living on top of each other in here. I also mentioned a while back that we asked that our out-of-town family wait to fly in until the baby was at least a week old. That didn’t go over well with everyone initially, but they respected our decision and I’m really glad we set that boundary. It gave us this week to bond with our baby, figure out how to best care for her, and establish a routine without having too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak.

Ok, this post is already really long, so I’m going to wrap it up. I’m planning to write postpartum updates pretty regularly, so stay tuned!

FullSizeRender.jpg
Belly a few days before delivery and one week postpartum.

She’s Here!

FullSizeRender copy.jpg

Our little girl was born on the morning of July 31st at 20 inches long and weighing nearly 7 pounds. I was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant. We are totally in love!

We checked into labor and delivery just after midnight and they found that I was 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I labored without any meds for an hour or so, then got a light epidural (lighter than I would have preferred, honestly!). Within 2 more hours I was 9 cm dilated and 100% effaced, which happened crazy fast. Because I wasn’t feeling a strong urge to push we decided to labor down, and we let her descend into the birth canal on her own for about 4 hours. Once she reached +2 station I started pushing and she was born about 15 minutes later. I had a bit of tearing and lost more blood than they would have liked, and the baby was born “sunny side up,” but overall my labor was really quick, easy, and uncomplicated. I’m grateful she decided to come on her own so induction wasn’t necessary.

Our daughter has been doing great and we’re spending our first few days as a family bonding, figuring out breastfeeding, and trying (unsuccessfully) to get some sleep. It’s been exhausting but wonderful. More updates to come!

In Labor?

It’s been an exciting day! Last night around midnight I discovered a lot of pinkish discharge in my underwear. For the next 12 hours I had bloody discharge every time I went to the bathroom. I called labor & delivery and since I wasn’t dripping blood or fluid, or soaking a pad, they said it was most likely just bloody show and nothing to worry about. Just before noon I lost a huge piece (nearly as big as my thumb) of bloody, mucusy discharge, which I think was my mucus plug. I also started having mild, irregular, period-like cramping. I googled bloody show and was excited to read that many women go into labor within 1-3 days of seeing it!

My husband and I had a leisurely day – we took a walk down to one of our favorite little cafes for lunch, then strolled around downtown. We came home with plans to go to the movies this evening, but I ended up napping until about 7pm when my doula called to check on me (I had been keeping her updated throughout the day). Around 7:30 I noticed my contractions were starting to feel stronger and more regular, so I started timing them using an app on my phone. To my surprise, they were coming regularly about every 4 minutes and lasting about 30 seconds each.

It’s now about 9:45 and I’ve been timing them continuously since then. They are, in fact, getting longer, stronger, and closer together, which is the hallmark of true labor. Currently they’re about 40 seconds long, about 3 minutes apart, and fairly intense. My doula encouraged me to wait until they’re closer to a minute long before going to the hospital. Over the last few hours my husband has been finishing up any last minute tasks and I’ve been eating, showering, and doing my evening nebulizers. We live about 5-10 minutes from the hospital and depending on how things go, we may head over there before too much longer so I can get checked. I’ll be back with updates!

38 Weeks: Final Pregnancy Update!

FullSizeRender.jpg
One of the last pictures of me pregnant!

How far along? 38 weeks and 2 days

Due Date: August 9th, 2016 (but I’m getting induced August 2nd!)

Total weight gain: 12.5 pounds

Maternity Clothes: Absolutely. And some of them are too small now!

Stretch Marks: Yep. Still quite a few on my underbump, below my belly button. But no new ones recently.

Sleep: So-so. I’ve been cutting out the afternoon naps, even when I’m tired, in order to get better sleep during the night. It’s been helping. I usually still wake up in the night to pee, get comfortable, stare at the ceiling, etc. but I’m able to get back to sleep more easily. I’m still sleeping 8-10 hours a night which is lovely.

Best Moment of the Week: On Tuesday night I went to a Mommy-to-Be meetup hosted by a local parents’ group. It was great to chat with some other pregnant ladies about our experiences and get recommendations for resources in our community. One of the other attendees was a woman I had met in one of our labor classes. She’s also 38 weeks along with her first baby, a girl. She’s a lot of fun and we’re going to try to stay in touch. It would be great to have a mom-friend with a baby the same age!

FullSizeRender (1).jpg
Another highlight this week: getting a huge box of secondhand baby clothes from my cousin in Texas! Her little girl is 9 months old and they’re not planning on having any more, so she sent me tons of stuff.

Miss Anything? I’ve been pregnant for so long now that I think I’m starting to forget what it’s like not to be pregnant. I do vaguely remember a time when I could get off the sofa without considerable effort, my back didn’t hurt, and I could eat whatever I wanted. I’m looking forward to getting back there!

Movement: Still lots! She’s been really active throughout the whole pregnancy, and even though her movements are more constricted these days, I still feel her a lot. It’s going to be strange not to feel that anymore once she’s born.

Food cravings: Fruit, red meat, sweets. This week I’ve been pretty bored since I’ve kept my calendar clear in case I go into labor, so I’ve been working on prepping freezer-to-crockpot meals for after the baby’s here. I’m not much of a cook and I hate chopping veggies so that part hasn’t been awesome, but I’m feeling pretty smug about all the food I’ve managed to squirrel away. The ones I’m most looking forward to trying are the Chicken Alfredo, Meatball & Veggie Soup, and Beef Stroganoff. And I can’t wait to have some pancakes! From what I’ve read, gestational diabetes usually goes away almost immediately after birth, so I hope they have pancakes on the hospital menu. 🙂

FullSizeRender (2).jpg
Frozen meals!

Anything make you sick or queasy: I’ve actually thrown up a few times in the last couple of days, which isn’t much fun. It’s always right after I wake up, before I get the chance to eat something. Yuck.

Symptoms: I really don’t have much stamina these days. Yesterday all I did was go to my doctor’s appointments and spend about 4 hours prepping freezer meals, and I was exhausted! My back and feet hurt from standing and I was falling asleep on the couch. In general I’ve just been feeling big and awkward, and I’m still having some shooting pains in my cervix area. I’ve also noticed an increase in my Braxton-Hicks contractions, though they’re never painful. It’s just a tight feeling in my abdomen. More on this in a bit.

Belly button in or out: Way out!

Happy or Moody: I’ve been going back and forth. I’m generally in a pretty good mood, but I’ve had some intense cranky spells lately – especially with my husband. If I feel like he isn’t pulling his weight with household chores or being appropriately sympathetic to my aches and pains, I’m not shy about letting him know. In general he’s been wonderful, though.

Looking forward to: Having this baby… in less than a week!!!

I noted in an earlier post that I’m being induced at 39 weeks because of my gestational diabetes. My doctor told us that late in pregnancy my blood sugars would become more difficult to control and the resulting highs and lows could stress the fetus. Though we were initially skeptical about this since I had been able to control my glucose so well with diet alone, I can see now that the doctor was right. She opted not to put me on insulin (yay!) because I’m still able to keep my levels pretty normal by eating right, but my fasting glucose in the mornings has been creeping up to consistently above-normal levels. The cut-off is 95 and mine are usually 95-100. I’m also having to be much more careful about my carb intake. I can’t have any refined sugar at all at this point – just a little fruit if I want something sweet. All of this isn’t severe enough to warrant treatment, but I’m glad this baby won’t be in there too much longer.

At my appointment yesterday I asked my OB to check my cervix again. It’s still only about a fingertip dilated, but I’ve progressed to 75% effaced! I was really glad to see that since any progress will make the induction on Tuesday easier. I’m also having a lot of practice contractions. During my 20-minute non-stress-test the monitor picked up three! In fact, the doctor called me on my way home to double-check that I wasn’t feeling any pain with the contractions (I’m not) because if I was, I would need to go to labor and delivery. They said it’s possible I may go into labor before my induction, which would be great, but I kind of doubt it will happen for some reason.

It still feels really surreal that this time next week we should have a baby of our own. At this point I probably feel more anxious about the whole thing than excited, to be honest. Of course, I’m excited to meet the baby and start this new phase of our lives, but I find myself worrying a lot. Will the baby be ok? Will we be good parents? Will we be able to keep her safe, well-fed, and healthy? I actually don’t feel that worried about coping with the delivery – just about what we’re going to do with this brand new human entrusted to our care.

I’ll be sure to update if there’s any news. I’ll also probably update from the hospital if I can – and of course, I’ll be posting once she arrives! Thank you all so much for all of your support and encouragement throughout my infertility journey and pregnancy. I can’t believe it’s almost over!

37 Weeks

bumpie.png

How far along? 37 weeks and 4 days

Due Date: August 9th, 2016 (but I’m getting induced August 2nd!)

Total weight gain: Still right around 12 pounds.

Maternity Clothes: Yep! Although the dress in the picture above is just an XL maxi dress from Target I bought for a luau party my husband and I attended last night. 🙂

Stretch Marks: Yes (sigh). There are quite a few now, all in the area underneath my belly button. I can only see them in the mirror but they’re pretty noticeable. I’m hoping they fade after birth. Also – my belly is so itchy in that area. It’s so hard not to scratch it!

Sleep: Still feeling really sleepy. I usually take a two-hour nap around 5pm, then sleep from about 1 or 2am to 10am. I’ll often wake up around 5am and have trouble getting back to sleep. All in all I’m getting plenty of sleep, but it’s fragmented. I guess it’s good preparation for being up every two hours to feed a newborn!

Best Moment of the Week: I think we finally have everything ready for the baby! I decided to look into bassinets so the baby can sleep right next to our bed in the early days. Even though the crib is set up just a few steps from the bed, I really wanted something right next to me so I don’t have to get out of bed to check on the baby or breastfeed. Fortunately, we were gifted a pack ‘n play with a bassinet attachment, so we just ordered some sheets and we’re good to go! I’ve definitely been doing some nesting this week but at least for now, I feel happy with how everything is set up. Hopefully this ends the compulsion to move furniture around. Between my (large) size and the (tiny) size of our apartment it feels like furniture tetris.

I also had a good appointment with my OB this week. Everything is still looking good – baby is head-down, she seems to be a good size, and I have plenty of fluid. The non-stress tests have all been normal and at my fluid check ahead of the test I even got to see the baby practicing breathing movements on the ultrasound, which was really cool. It’s funny that she can’t possibly know why she’s practicing breathing and sucking, since they’re completely superfluous to her at this moment, but they’ll become crucial in just a week and a half!

I asked my OB to tell me a bit more about the induction process. I’ll be going in at 7:30pm on August 2nd and they’ll check my cervix at that time. If I’m already a bit dilated they may just start the pitocin, but if not, they’ll likely start off with cervidil or another medication to get me to start dilating. If they use cervidil it will need to stay in for 12 hours, then they’ll start pitocin the following morning as long as I’m dilating normally. From there it’s really a crap shoot in terms of how long it will take for me to deliver. It just depends how I respond to the meds. My doctor said if I go in with a cervix that’s not favorable (not effaced or dilated) it could take “a few days.” Yikes. Luckily when she checked me on Wednesday I was already 50% effaced and about a fingertip dilated, which is something. I’m hoping I’ll have progressed a bit more when she checks me again this Wednesday.

Unfortunately she won’t be the doctor actually delivering my baby or working with me through the induction. The way the practice works is the doctors all take shifts in labor and delivery, so I’ll be delivered by whoever is on that day. She was able to tell me who will be on and was able to introduce me to two of the doctors I’ll probably see, which was nice, but it’s a bit nerve-wracking that she won’t be around.

Miss Anything? As always: sweets. My sugars have been more difficult to control these last few weeks, which is apparently normal in late pregnancy. I still haven’t needed to go on insulin (knock on wood!) but I’ve needed to be extra careful with my diet. I really wish I could have a great big plate of blueberry pancakes!

Movement: Lots! She’s almost always kicking on the right side these days. Usually they’re rolling/stretching movements but occasionally she’ll get a good kick in and really surprise me. She’s big enough now that it can hurt!

Food cravings: Sweet foods, fruit, cake, etc. I’m limiting myself to just berries and the occasional peach since they don’t seem to affect my blood sugar too much… although I did have a little pineapple upside down cake at a party last night. 😉 One of my favorite snacks right now is ants on a log (celery with peanut butter and raisins) since it’s just sweet enough to satisfy me, but it’s healthy.

Anything make you sick or queasy: Just coughing in the morning. I haven’t vomited in a while, though.

Symptoms: Sleepiness, thirst, back pain, some pelvic pain. I’ve been occasionally getting shooting pains in my cervix which my doctor said is normal – it’s probably just the baby’s head pressing on a nerve. It usually happens late in the day and it hurts! I’ve also had some problems with my hips feeling sore from lying on my side in bed all the time (and probably from the ligaments loosening). Basically, I just feel big and uncomfortable most of the time.

Belly button in or out: Still way out!

Happy or Moody: Mostly happy. I’m getting more and more excited to meet this baby. But I get grumpy in the evenings when I just can’t seem to get comfortable.

Looking forward to: Induction day! Just a week and a half left! Or, better yet, maybe she’ll decide to come sooner on her own. I kind of doubt that will happen, and it would really mess with our carefully made plans for pet care/apartment cleaning/family travel, but it would really be nice to not have to slog through an induction.

36 Weeks

FullSizeRender (2).jpg

How far along? 36 weeks and 4 days

Due Date: August 9th, 2016 (but we’re getting induced on August 2nd!)

Total weight gain: 12 pounds

Maternity Clothes: Yep! And even some of the maternity stuff is getting too small!

Stretch Marks: At long last, yes. 😦 They started appearing within the last week in the area under my belly button. The skin there has been super itchy, too. Booo.

Sleep: I’ve been very sleepy and very easy to tire lately. I take a late afternoon nap most days.

Best Moment of the Week: Probably today! My husband has been super busy at work this week (getting home anywhere from 9pm to 3am every night) which is kind of a bummer. But today he was able to take some time to hang out, so we walked down to a little street festival near our apartment. Even though it was hot and I’m a pretty slow, waddle-y mover at this point, it was great to just stroll around and take in the sights. Our only purchase (besides some street food!) was at a little booth selling hand-made baby girl clothes. They were so cute, and my husband really wanted to pick some things out! Here’s what we ended up with:

IMG_6852.JPG
My husband picked out the hat on the left with all the animals. I loved the mermaid dress, and I obviously have a thing for polka dots too. So cute!

Miss Anything? I’ve gotta be honest, this week has been rough for food cravings. My blood sugars, which have behaved so nicely for the whole pregnancy, are now starting to creep up despite my low-carb diet. If I have pretty much anything with refined sugar or potatoes they just shoot right up, even if it’s just one bite. My doctor says that since the baby is looking so good on ultrasound that it’s not necessary for me to start insulin, but we’re keeping a close eye on things. In the mean time I’m eating mostly eggs, cheese, and meat with some low-glycemic-index veggies and fruits. I really can’t wait until after the birth when I can really satisfy my sweet tooth! It’s summertime and I would love to have a lemonade or a slushie or a big ice cream cone…

Movement: Lots! We’re still doing our kick counts every evening and we usually get to 10 movements within 15-20 minutes. She’s an active little thing.

Food cravings: Sweets! Alas, I cannot have them. See above…

Anything make you sick or queasy: Just coughing on an empty stomach in the morning. I’ve had a little uptick in nausea in the past week or two, but I haven’t thrown up too much since I’ve been good about eating something as soon as I get out of bed.

Symptoms: Back pain, some pelvic pressure, Braxton-Hicks, leg cramps at night, fatigue.

Belly button in or out: Way out. In fact, one of the baby’s favorite new tricks is sticking a fist or a foot into my belly button and pushing it as far out as it can go. It really freaks me out! When she starts doing that I try to hold my belly button in with my hand as best I can until she changes position.

Happy or Moody: Pretty happy these days. 🙂

Looking forward to: Having this baby! Only 17 days until induction… fewer if she decides to come sooner! Crazy!

FullSizeRender (1).jpg
So big! This was taken a few days ago and you can see the beginnings of some stretch marks down below. They’re darker now.

Stretch Marks Have Arrived

Guys… my stretch marks are here. I had gotten so far unscathed that I hoped I might make it all the way to the end without any, but no such luck. 😦

On Sunday (35 weeks and 5 days) I noticed the first one. The next day (today) I found a few more. In the span of two days! What am I in for? Will I be covered in stretch marks by the end of the week?

They’re all on the lower part of my belly, below my belly button. My suspicion is that as the baby dropped she put a lot of strain on that part of my belly. The skin is definitely tight, and I guess it just couldn’t hold out any longer.

FullSizeRender.jpg

They’re kind of hard to see, but you can see a few dark pink marks – that’s them. The darkest one at the very bottom by my waistband was the first one to appear. The mark right above my inside-out belly button is just a little freckle that’s gotten reaaaally stretched lately!

I know it’s not much (yet) but I was bummed! Here’s hoping that there won’t be too many more, and that the ones I’ve got will fade significantly after this baby’s out.

This week I have my 36-week OB appointment, another non-stress test, and a baby shower my husband’s coworkers are throwing us at his office. I’ll be back to update on all of that in a few days!