Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I worked 36 hours between Friday evening and Monday morning. And I slept during the days. And I can honestly say that my baby boy consumed nothing but breast milk the entire time! Now this may not seem like a big deal to many people, but when you are dealing with supply issues, this a big enough victory to make me cry tears of happiness. I worked my ass off for that milk! I literally pumped every hour for several days to try to rebuild my supply and everything. And last night at work, I was actually able to pump 4 ounces at a time, which is double what it was earlier in the week!
I still have my appointment with the Breastfeeding Medicine doc on Wednesday. There is a chance Zach has a mild tongue tie that has been causing a painful latch and could be the reason my supply came in so strong and then dropped off. When he nurses, he literally mashes my nipples into a crease that is blanched white from the pressure. His frenulum may be preventing him from latching deeply enough and that is what the result is. If so, they can fix it by snipping it. They say this is no more painful for the baby than a standard immunization, so I don't feel so cruel. And if it will stabilize his ability to nurse and reap the lifelong benefits of that, then it is worth it to me.
On to other boob news: I have had to pump very, very often. I was getting fed up. I already had my Medela Pump in Style, which is pretty much the pump of choice for working moms. I was looking for something to allow me to pump hands-free. They make bras for that, but have you ever tried to find those things in a 38G or H??? So I pretty much said "screw it" and took the plunge and bought the Medela Freestyle. It has adapters that allow it to connect to any standard nursing bra, has a rechargeable battery, a timer, is programmable for your favorite pumping pattern, and more. It feels so much different than the Pump in Style that I have to keep checking to make sure it is working. You can barely feel it. John asked me what I planned to do with the other pump,which has only been in use for 6 weeks and was pretty pricey. Well I set up a little station for me in my bedroom for when Evan is out and about and I need a quiet, private spot. I was able to use the Freestyle bag to set up a nursing bag for work, complete with the new pump, the cooler bag for milk, and another little bag with the parts for the Medela Symphony they have at work. This way, I don't have to pack and unpack a bag every day before I leave the house. I hated doing that this week. It was just a matter of time before I forgot something. And I plan to use the Freestyle for times when I need to be mobile, either around the house or in transit. We are actually taking a road trip in July and I get to try this new plan out. This may seem like overkill on the pumps, but I am prepared now for every pumping need I could have, which is a pretty big deal when you have to work so hard to keep your supply up like I do.
Monday, June 28, 2010
But there is one thing I cannot stand about this career I have chosen for myself. Quite honestly, if you want to see the bottled-up dysfunction in a family emerge, put them in an ICU when their loved one is critically ill. This is where you see it all. This is when the dirt comes to the surface. This is when it gets ugly.
Brothers and sisters fight over medical bills. Nobody can agree on end-of-life issues. I have even seen relatives attempting to take pictures of the patient on life support, to which I have to be the Patient Rights Police and insist that they could possibly be violating the patient's right to privacy at a time when they cannot give consent.
I can understand the concept of someone wanting us to do all we can. I really do. But what happens when the point of medical futility is reached? Shouldn't there be someone in the family who is able to listen to reason? To see that the medical treatment has reached the point of torture?
So what prompted this? I have resuscitated people for some reasons you would not believe. I think the worst was a 99-year-old man. He had survived cancer. He had lived with lung disease. He was getting dialysis several times per weak to overcome kidneys that had long since failed him. He had had 4 open heart procedures. He collapsed at home and the family called an ambulance. They wanted everything done. He was brought to us on a high amount of oxygen and in the end stages of heart failure. And he coded. And the family made us do everything. I felt his frail 99-year-old ribs crack under my hands as I compressed his chest. It was pitiful. But we got him back, though we all knew it wouldn't be long before we were doing it all again. So we approached the family about signing a do not resuscitate order. And they refused. The reason? (Which I cannot believed they confessed.) They had a huge celebration planned for his 100th birthday in just 3 months and he couldn't be permitted to die before then.
Well, though the situation was not as bad, this weekend I found myself taking care of Mrs. X. Mrs. X is not there. Neurologically, she is gone, which is the result of anoxic brain injury from a stroke that was not treated in a timely manner. She is unable to cough, and so we have to suction her almost every 2 hours to clear her secretions. She does not respond at all. Not even a gag as I threaded the tube through her nose and down her throat. Her tongue and pharynx are so swollen that I predict airway compromise any second, which will require intubation. Her team of doctors has tried and tried to explain to the family, only to have the family adamantly refuse to sign any advance directives. Yet I have not seen anyone come and visit her in the past 3 days. And it pisses me off. I am forced to torture this woman, most likely because someone is still cashing her social security checks. It is almost criminal. This is what I hate about my job.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
He gave me 2 enormous bins full of nothing but designer baby clothes,in pristine condition (some even had tags on them), in the perfect sizes for the seasons as Zach grows. I swear,my child will not need any new clothes for the next 2 seasons! This is what I call a hookup!
Friday, June 25, 2010
I know, I know. I'm easily amused these days.
So I go into work the other day, and he says, "Andrea hasn't seen the TURTLE video!!!" Oh. Oh Sweet Baby Jesus! The Turtle Video? So he whips out his iPhone to show me the video that everyone else has already seen, as they are all laughing and staring at my face to see my reaction. Well, this is that video:
(Turn up your volume first.)
For some reason, this was both hilarious and disturbing at the same time, and has become a night shift joke. So I get home, and I am looking it up to show John. And I start seeing all of these other videos. I thought the one I was shown was a fluke. But no, it isn't. And then I stumbled across this one:
So I guess all turtles do this and I didn't know. So now, as a result, John will randomly go "UUUUUUUUUUUNNNNGH!" to which we both crack up!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
While there yesterday, the lactation consultant asked, "Why don't you schedule an appointment at Children's?" Me? At Children's? She is of course referring to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, which is all of 5-10 minutes' drive from my house. I have always felt lucky to have them there. An award-winning pediatrics center, known throughout the country. Ground-breaking research. State of the art care. Heaven forbid anything were to ever happen to either of my boys, but if it did, some of the best doctors, from every pediatric specialty, are just right there. But I had no idea there would be any reason for me to be seen there. Well, it turns out they have their Center for Breastfeeding Medicine. Breastfeeding Medicine????? Yep. I didn't even know that specialty existed. Apparently it is a team of pediatricians specializing in working with a lactating mother and her baby to determine the cause of, and correct the underlying issue with, virtually any breastfeeding issue that may arise. In my case, there is nothing physiologically wrong since I once had a huge supply. It just dropped off as a result of stress and poor management, and I have not been able to get it back. So I have an appointment there on Wednesday of this week.
In the meantime, Zach is eating like a pig. He would literally nurse for 24 hours a day with no break if I could do it. He is up to 9 pounds, 11 ounces as of yesterday. My little chubbers. This is such a huge difference from Evan, who weighed 16 pounds on his first birthday. He was happy and healthy, but just tiny. But we equate chubbiness in babies with health, so it is nice to see Zach packing on a little bit of weight. Regardless of the problems we are having, I know he is getting the nourishment he needs.
In the meantime, I am reading a book called The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk by Diana West and Lisa Marasco. The lactation consultant recommended it, and so far it is very informative. It lays out the different causes of low supply so you can, detective-style, figure out what may be the culprit, since apparently any tiny detail could be a causative factor. This way, I am getting ideas to discuss with the doctor on Wednesday. I know them having me give Zach supplements after birth is a factor. I know stress has been a factor (and continues to be--a stressful situation caused the drop, then I got stressed about the low supply and trying to preserve the BF relationship, and so it goes...). But I am learning tons of new info, like progesterone lowers supply! Progesterone! As in the injections I got every 5 days up to the week of Zach's birth. Like the active ingredient in the birth control pills my OB gave me, which is ironically the only safe BCP for nursing mothers. So I am gathering all of these clues and will have a list for the doctor.
What I was not prepared for was the emotional attachment I would have to nursing Zach. This whole breastfeeding issue came up initially not only because it is healthiest for both of us, but because food allergies run rampant in my family. I am allergic to everything! Evan had eczema an is following in my footsteps. I wanted to avoid this all with Zach, and BFing is the best start for that. But now? Now I feel like a broken-down, deflated failure when we have to give him more after he nurses. And I am so protective of the milk I do have, fearful that there will come a day when it will be gone completely. So I am truly hopeful that they can fix this next week. If not, I'll just have to do the best I can with what I've got!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
It all started this morning at about 4 AM. I tried to make my morning coffee. I turned it on to brew and walked away to nurse a crying baby before I got my first cup to avoid giving my sweet angel a jolt of caffeine. It sputtered to life first, so I didn't think anything of it. But once Zachy-Poo was fed and fat and happy, I nestled him in his little bassinet and went to get my java, and guess what! Nuthin'! I thought I was seriously going to die when I had to settle for pseudo-coffee. Pseudo-coffee is the powdered frou-frou crap that you add to hot water, in case you were wondering. It tastes great, but is decidedly not real coffee. So I was seriously pissed.
Next came the vacuum. "Jaws" has been with us all of 3 years and is a Kirby. She got her name from Mr. Mom, not that I want to date myself or anything. (Incidentally, if you are too young to remember the movie, I do not want to hear a word about it.) I was suckered into purchasing it from a very good salesman those few years ago. I have allergies and so does Evan, so when they did their little demo, I bought into it. So anyhow, if Jaws was dead, there was going to be some serious drama. I figure when you pay $2K on a vacuum (errrr, excuse me, cleaning system), it should last. And John's dad has one that I swear he has had since before John was born. So now the vacuum and coffeemaker are dead. Now I was really,really pissed.
So later in the morning, John is awake and so is Evan. Evan comes up from his room stating words any seasoned mother sees right through: "I didn't do it!" Completely unprovoked, too. Didn't do what, exactly? Because that usually means " I did do it, but I want to assert my innocence first before you kill me." It would seem that there was something wrong with the basement drain. And water was backing up, forming a small puddle in the center of the floor. No biggie. We have had rain and storms out the rear end lately, so it is probably from that. I don't know how that all works, and usually pay people to deal with such issues as a result of my ignorance, so don't ask me why I jumped to that conclusion when I am never, ever so laid back about anything. So anyhow, John goes down there to investigate. And comes back with the report that not only the unfinished part of the basement, but also the finished part (i.e. Ev's room!) smells like fricken sewage, and he is going to get a snake at the hardware store to clean out the offending drain. And he leaves. Coffeemaker, vacuum, and entire basement now down for the count. And I am now seriously, seriously pissed.
So John is leaving, and he notices water company trucks lined up and down the street. A-Ha! This trips his memory. A memory of the fluorescent tag they left on our door last week that they would be working on water lines on our street from 10 AM through 7 PM today. A tag he just happened to forget to mention to me. And we are not supposed to use water today. Seriously? He tells me this right after Evan has gotten his annual summer buzz cut and has hair all over his little body. He was standing in the bathroom in his boxers, just about to get in the shower to wash off the itchy hair when John said the words. Poor kid. So we had no choice but to take his shower, anyway. And more water backed up in my basement. Beautiful. (But it turned out Evan really didn't do it!)
So since we cannot use water, I am really cranky. What of the laundry I needed to throw in before I go to work? Zach needed a bath. I needed a shower before work. Arrrgh. So I call work because I have it written down that I am only working an 8 hr. tonight which I never do. 10:30 PM to 7 AM. I thought it may have been a mistake. But yep, it is true. Only one of my coworkers called in sick and they want to know if I want to come in at 6:30 instead and do a 12. Gah. Those 4 extra hours amount to $200. For the chick who has been off forever. How can I say no? So I tell them I will call them as soon as I know when the water situation will be resolved. And I go out to ask the men working if it will really be until 7 PM. This is when I discover that they have quietly dug a trench through the front yard. So now I have no coffeemaker, vacuum, basement, or front yard. Ummmmmm...
By this point, all I can do is stare. There is no way in hell I am going to make it into work early. I had to call and let them know that, and I feel horrible about it. It is 3:30 PM and we still have no water. I still only have pseudo-coffee. I am wearing frayed scrub bottoms and the old t-shirt in which I slept last night. I am pissy and mean right now, have been awake since 4 AM even though I have to work tonight, and my boobs hurt because I was trying to pump like a mad woman to store enough breastmilk to cover Zach for the extra unplanned time at work tonight that is now not going to happen. My family is tip-toeing around me as if I am a land mine that may explode on them.
I think I really am going back to bed.
Zach will be 6 weeks into life here in a couple of days. But truthfully, he is only a week or so old right now. With that being said, he has been making plenty of changes. I was looking at him yesterday, as he was sleeping in his bouncy seat while I cooked dinner. And I noticed these little changes. The soles of his feet, once smooth as glass, have started to develop little creases. The cartilage at the tops of his ears is more formed and less floppy. The lanugo that once covered his entire body is now limited to his upper shoulder area. His skin has has started to lose the looseness as he develops fat stores. He chokes less and less often when feeding as he has learned the suck-swallow-breathe routine. He is more alert for larger periods of time. This is great as his face has lost its puffiness. He opens those huge blue eyes and just looks around, seeming to absorb everything. And his breathing has become much less erratic. This last one was a biggie for me as an RT. In the early days, he was having apnea spells (more so in certain positions). When he would lay flat, it often was bad enough that I would notice a dusky appearance and have to lift him up or nudge him to remind him to breathe. We never got it treated. I knew they would just order an apnea monitor, which can be a great tool, but often just causes more alarm and panic than necessary with false alarms. Or they would keep him in the hospital to monitor him. Why? So they can watch him? He has his own personal respiratory therapist! Even the babies in our NICU don't have this, as they often just call us for problems, and even then we can't possibly be with only one baby all day, everyday. But anyhow, all of these were signs of prematurity that we even use to estimate gestationl age in preemies in a hospital setting.
So Baby Zach has been doing plenty of changing. It's a lot of work for a little guy like him, so I have to be more patient. I have to avoid falling into the trap of being fooled by the fact that he was average full-term size at birth and remind myself that he was still a preemie. Now that his due date has come and gone, I can look forward to the fun changes one expects.
Monday, June 21, 2010
I was not prepared for a few things, and had a few surprises. I missed Zach so badly. I did cry a bit as I was leaving him. I knew I would. But I literally was counting down the hours until I could hold him again. Then, upon seeing him at the end of my shift, I felt this overwhelming guilt that I had missed out on 12 hours of his life. I didn't even want to sleep because I didn't want to miss anymore. Exhaustion took over, however, and my eyes finally closed involuntarily. And I realized that my job can be pretty physically demanding. I mean, I knew it could be, but I never realized...I left work this morning with blisters on my feet, aching legs, an aching back. You name it. And I used to do 9 12's in a row. Now, after being off all of that time, I am asking myself how I ever managed that and a demanding school schedule.
So I am back. I have my life back, only it is infinitely better now with Zachy's presence. I really do have it all!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
So from there, I went to Employee Health. To give them my release and have them give me final approval to work. I was very surprised. Of course the two women who have basically facilitated my lengthy leave knew the story. But to my amazement, everyone else did a well. To them, Zach and I are the happy ending at the end of a long horror story of how one does not want their pregnancy to go. Then I went to my department to make sure I had appropriate access to everything. My boss held and fed Zach while I logged into endless software programs, again surprised that after 20 weeks, the passwords to all still flow from my fingertips when I put them to keyboard. And I was also amazed at the warm reception I received when I walked into the department. The people I spoke with seemed relieved that I was returning, concerned about us after our ordeal, and not at all resentlful of the time I have been gone like I had feared.
I came home and packed my bag. I am blessed to work for a hospital that is so breastfeeding friendly, especially considering that they are most definitely not family-planning-friendly (private Catholic hospital, 'nuff said). There is a comfortable room furnished with huge leather recliners and Medela Symphony breast pumps, all arranged in stations separated by curtains for privacy. I don't even need to take my own pump. All I need is the kit, and they issue that to you free of charge. I asked my boss what the rules are regarding breaks to pump and was surprised to hear her say that I can go and pump as often as I need to, and if any of my colleagues take issue with it, to let her know. It is even encouraged for someone to bring your baby to you so you can nurse them there if you so choose. I don't think we will be doing that, though. I doubt John will want to treck out with Evan and Zach at 2 AM so I can feed the baby. So I have packed my pump kit and storage containers, as well as a paperback book to read while doing the deed.
Now comes the hard part. First I have to keep myself awake enough all night so I can sleep during the day tomorrow. Sleeping during the day Saturday won't be an issue as I will be exhausted from my first night back. And I have to say goodbye to my sweet boys for 12 hours. For the first time in Zach's case, and for the first time in 5 months for Evan and John. John knows to keep the phone close by, that I will be calling often to check on them. This feeling makes me wish I could be a stay-at-home mom, but I tried that before and know it left me feeling grossly unfulfilled once the sweet baby stage was over. In other words, no matter how difficult, I know this is for the best.
It's time for me to dust off my stethoscope and go help people breathe. I hope Zach will understand.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
What could have me, the asthmatic respiratory therapist, jonesing for a Marlboro Ultralight? Why, a trip to fricken Wally World, of course.
One day I am going to get arrested in that place. One day I am going to be unable to restrain myself enough.
What is it about that store that makes people lose their manners and allow their inner trashiness to emerge?
Let's start with the approach. The Approach should be capitalized because it was almost epic in its ability to get my blood boiling. Baby Zach is in his car seat, which is secured to the stroller. I am pushing him and John has the shopping cart and Evan behind me. We had all of 5 items. The only reason we had the cart was because one of those items was a case of Diet Mountain Dew, and 2 others were huge jugs of water. So...
Here we go. Approaching the register, when--vroooooooom--some lady comes barrelling past me with her overflowing shopping cart. If you have never shopped for a large amount, those full carts are heavy. And she came about 2 inches from ramming into my newborn son. So now I have to describe her. Huge teased hair. Jet black although there is no way that was her natural color. Muumuu with jeans underneath. Enough lipstick that it is gonna take some paint thinner to wash her face clean. Picture this:
Yep, that's her. She almost ran over my baby. And I would've ended up in the clink if she had. Seriously.
So then comes the part where I actually am in line. Behind this lady who has 8 gallons of milk. I should've seen through it. You know those little dividers the have to keep your stuff seperate from the order before yours? Well, home girl had all of them in use. because she had to pay for her cigarettes and beer first with cash. The next order was for her groceries. They were seperate because they went on her food stamp card. Then there were 3 more orders: one for each WIC voucher she wanted to use, which are apparently processed like checks. So voucher A is for a gallon of milk and cheese, so it is one order, voucher B is for...oh, you get the drift. But oops! She forgot her cheese. Better call the manager and make him get it for her. And oops! She chose cereal that isn't approved. Make the manager make another trip. I really didn't realize one could do that! Next time I could just head straight to the checkout and make one of the employees do my shopping for me! While some poor lady waits behind me with a newborn who is surely pooping in his diaper and her 8-year-old who is begging for every type of candy in front of his face. We were literally in-line for 25 minutes. Seriously.
I don't think I've done it here, but I have sworn off that place so many times. This time I mean it. Until we are out of something at 2 AM, at least.
And so it went, all day long. Before I knew what was happening, we were gone all day. Zach would need a diaper change and I would change him on the seat of my car between errands. I refuse to use those changing stations in public restrooms. I know they are just teeming with bacteria. And for feeding? We used bottles. I didn't pump at all. I still haven't gotten over my fear of breastfeeding in public. We don't even let Evan see me feed him or pump. And since we had Evan with us, there was no safe place.
So we get home last night, and the first thing I do is nurse Zach. Of course by the time we got home, I was so engorged it was ridiculous. But afterwards, Zach kept crying. I offered him a bottle, and he took a little bit, but kept crying. I nursed some more and he seemed content, sitting in my arms, alert and happy. But then I handed him to John so I could do something, and the minute I started to move him away from my body, he started wailing. Not average, run-of-the-mill crying, but this shrill screeching. I took him back and it stopped, though he was still fussy. I thought he might still be hungry, so tried to nurse again, and he calmed down...again. We did this for several hours, this back-and-forth little dance. We couldn't figure out what was wrong at first. But then I realized, and I felt horrible!
In the course of the day, I met Zach's nutritional needs with a bottle. But I never thought that by doing so, I was also bypassing his time to be close to me. Yes, I had been with him all day, but we don't have that level of closeness when he is in his car seat in a shopping cart or strapped into his stroller. It just isn't the same. And after trial and error, we learned that it was not simple hunger that was fueling his screams. My poor baby! Bad Mommy!
But this has me concerned. Today is my last full day off of work. Tomorrow, I have my last post-partum checkup, then my return-to-work visit at Employee Health at the hospital. I have to stop by my department afterwards to make sure all of my passwords are still working for the gazillion computer programs I use at work (1 for charting, 1 to access patient records and labs, 1 to view x-rays) and to make sure my fingerprints still allow me access to drugs throughout the hospital. Then Friday night I work my first 12. I thought the outings yesterday would be good for this reason. Zach gets practice not nursing at every feeding. A sort of separation from me while I am still with him.
Now? I am feeling horrendous guilt. Bad Mommy again. What is John going to do? 12 hours is a long day, then I also have to sleep. Is my baby boy going to flip out on him without me here? Is the bond we have built going to wither away?
Last night, I looked at Zach and started to cry. I love my life. I love my career. My job is necessary. But I do not want to leave my baby. It almost feels traumatic, this upcoming separation. So now I am even more resentful of the pregnancy from hell. If I had not been on bed rest all of those months, I could've taken another full month or so off of work and no one would have batted an eye. Instead, here we are. And tomorrow, I have to look my OB in the eyes and convince her I am ready to go back without a single tear.
Monday, June 14, 2010
"Not here", I said.
"Why?", he asked.
Why? Because I will not so much as purchase a piece of bubble gum from the company who cannot/ will not rectify what it has done to the Gulf region. I was just about to gear up to go into one of my infamous tirades when Evan covered it for me.
"Daddy, it isn't cool to not clean up your own mess!" There! My 8-year-old (well, almost 9) kid has it right. Apparenly he has learned a lesson that the BP people have not. I could ask why he doesn't apply that knowledge to his own room, but for now, I choose to focus on the fact that my dear boy has it right. He gets it.
So I have been thinking about that off and on today. Apparently Evan's school has done its part to teach these kids to be environmentally conscious. The other day, we ate something simple for lunch. I think it was hot dogs. Anyhow, I was about to toss Ev's paper plate in the trash when he snatched it from me. He wanted to use it for some type of craft. Of course I protested. I was grossed out that he wanted to keep a used paper plate when there are scads of them in the cabinet. I started to see his future appearance on the show Hoarders float in my mind.
"MOM! REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE!", he shouted.
But I think we can do more than save a dirty paper plate (ewwwww!).
Evan is right. Our family does not do enough for the planet on which we live. We blatantly waste our resources. About the only "green" thing I do is use those canvas grocery bags that they sell at the stores instead of the plastic ones. And I do that not becaue it is the responsible thing to do, but because they are handier and hold more. So...am I any better than BP? Can I really bitch about wildlife and dirty beaches when I am so wasteful? Our family produces at least 2 huge outdoor garbage cans full of trash each and every week, all of which gets buried at a landfill. We have a toilet that runs and runs and needs to be fixed, wasting water like crazy. I could go on and on.
So I am thinking my family needs to go more to the green side. I'm not talking about a huge, radical swing. But I really do think we can start making choices that are more environmentally sound. We could definitely start recycling more, for starters. I already have a fuel efficient car, but we could certainly combine trips more. We could start conserving our water more and choose to do business with companies who do more for the environment.
There are tons of subtle changes I can make in our home that could make a difference. And we wouldn't even feel a thing. Of course there are some creature comforts I will not surrender. I could not, for example, ever see myself using anything other than disposable diapers. But I can ensure that the ones I buy are biodegradeable. So I think this is going to be the family's new little project for this summer--going green.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I replaced it with a Sony Cybershot. I had that one about 2 weeks when I dropped it in the toilet in the ladies' room at the Cincinnati Zoo.
I decided after that to splurge and get my Nikon I wanted. What was I thinking? While the Nikon was far from professional grade, it was one of the more expensive point-and-shoot cameras. It took awesome, crystal-clear photos, and was so easy to use that even I could work it. But then Evan dropped it. Ha! With my track record, I had purchased the protection plan! I was safe, right? Ummmm, no! Because the protection plan didn't cover the touch screen, and that is what broke. I was so mad! I went quite some time before buying another camera.
The week before Zach was born, I realized we would want one. I was still operating on a drastically-reduced budget, so my choices were limited. I ended up buying a Kodak EasyShare. I liked some of its features and it was on sale. It was easy to use and took okay pictures. But then, before we even left the hospital, it started acting funny. Its little light would flash when it was plugged in to charge, but as soon as you would try to turn it on, it would shut itself off like the battery was dead. We tried to troubleshoot, but couldn't get it to work. So I returned it. I didn't want to buy the same one again for fear of another problem.
So...I bought another one. Can't even remember the brand. But it took the worst pictures imaginable, no matter what settings I used. I didn't even want to take pictures with it. So John returned it, too.
So now I need a new camera once again. And I am sad. Sad because I can already see changes in Zach and I am missing them. But after all of this, I am waiting. I am going back to work and will buy my Nikon again. But this time, it will be tethered to my body. Or maybe, with my record, I should stick to the disposable kind.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
The other day, Zachary was fussy, and out of habit, I started to sing one of those songs (can't remember which). Evan walked into the room and heard. He looked absolutely crestfallen.
"Mama, that's my song", he said.
He's right. Those songs are special for Evan and I. To this day, when I hear one of them, I am taken back to the time when he fit into the crook of my arm. To the day when I was his own personal superhero, able to fix all that was wrong in his world. The love and wonder and amazement I have felt watching him grow washes over me once again. He's right. They are his songs. Zachary needs songs of his own. To sing Evan's songs to Zach feels like I am cheating Evan. And cheating Zach. Those songs need to stay special for Evan. And Zach does not deserve second-hand lullabyes.
There are a few songs I would hear when pregnant with Zach, when we were struggling just to maintain the pregnancy, and thus his whole existence. I would sit up, late at night, and listen to the words and cry for my unborn baby. Tears of worry and hope and love. Those are Zach's songs. I just have to learn the words.
Well, when I became pregnant, the crazy amounts of overtime went out the window, but school could not,at first. When I started to have complications, work and school were over for me, save for 2 classes completed online.
So how does one go from doing everything to being completely grounded, just like that. The couple of weeks were nice--I got to rest, spend more time with Evan and John. But then I realized that it was not a vacation. And I started to desperately miss my life. I continued to do so for over 15 weeks.
So now I am almost 5 weeks postpartum. I have been off of work for 20 weeks. I am ready to go back! Am I EVER! But I am going to have to learn, all over again, how to be away. And I am going to miss my boys, all 3. I have been with them for every wakingmoment for the past 5 months!
As far as work goes, I am on the schedule for my first 12 on a Friday night. That takes care of that work week. But then the next? 48 hours. And the 2nd week? 56 hours. So much for building myself up. I am already signed up for overtime. And it is my fault. I'm a glutton for punishment. But when you can earn up to $900 just by working one 12-hour day, it is really hard to turn down the opportunity. Especially when you have been off this long and living on meager disability insurance benefits. Plus, I am a team player. I know what it is like to work those shifts that are so short. I know how much easier it is to have another therapist working. And so I sign up.
So anyhow, back I go. Old habits die hard.
Friday, June 11, 2010
So anyhow, John and I are outside today. Evan is also. And John said the words that my nightmares are made of:
"Oh look! A Snake!"
And in the brief instant that it took me to utter those two words, I managed to throw my Diet Mountain Dew across the front lawn and bolt inside. I tried to stay in the living room, right by the front door. I was screaming to John to kill it. PETA can come and get me later for it, but I didn't care. So John tries to maim it with the nearest weapon, which was the leg of a chair from the front porch. Of course he missed, causing the bastard to slither under the front porch. John goes to try to get a shovel and starts jabbing it under the porch, trying to either hit the wretched creature or chase it out so he can get it. He never sees it again. We don't know where it went.
So where was I in all of this? I had long since run to my bedroom. It is in the back of the house, and thus the furthest distance from the snake. I tried to stay in the living room,but kept picturing the snake on the other side of the living room window, waiting to get me. And I was shrieking. I mean, it truly is a good thing our neighbors were at work because someone would have called the police. I was screaming that loudly. And sobbing. I think John was on the verge of having me committed. And in the meantime, Zachary started crying from his bassinet in the living room. So I had to perform a rescue operation to get my baby. I took a deep breath, opened the bedroom door, and ran.
So now I am afraid to go outside. To let Evan go outside. It sucks. John got the brilliant idea to scatter mothballs around the property, especially the front and back porch. But that involved a trip to the hardware store. I was not about to let him leave me here alone. Could a snake find its way into the house? What if it did and I was here alone? But leaving meant I would have to go outside. So I made John pull the car to the back door, and I literally bolted the 5 feet I had between me and the car door.
John knew before this incident that I have an irrational fear of all snakes. It is for this reason that I would not watch Snakes on a Plane when he wanted to see it, or Anaconda, or any other snake-related movie. Hell, when they show them on a screen, I turn away and make him tell me when that part is over, like some wuss watching a slasher film. But for some reason, I don't think he got it until today.
Today was the day Zachary was due. June 11, 2010. Instead, he is just over 4 weeks old. It seems so surreal to me. It is almost like a sense of mourning. To use the word "mourning" seems rather harsh. I have an amazing little boy at the end of the teachorous road that was my pregnancy. Instead, perhaps, I should just call it a sort of melancholy. A slight sadness for the pregnancy experience that never was for me. And never will be, because even if we do try for another one down the road, I am told that history will repeat itself. And to have looked at Zach all of this time, knowing he should have still been inside of me? Mentally, I equate that to a parent kicking a teen out of their house before they are truly ready for the harshness of the world. We evicted my little angel.
Now? The Lean Pocket is cold, the bottle of water is warm, I am wearing Zach in our Moby Wrap, and fighting with Evan that microwave popcorn is not a proper lunch. My original intent was to hide out here, ignoring the vast array of household chores I could be doing. I think I just needed a mental health break. What I am getting is something in between the break I wanted and sheer chaos that could have been. Zach is drifting off to sleep in the Moby, his small baby-lotion-scented head tucked warmly under my chin. Evan is doing whatever it is that Evan, well, does. I am left wondering if I should surrender the fantasy and just wash the damned dishes or vacuum or something.
Such is life.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
In the meantime, the sleep situation at night has gotten worse. Last night, after nursing Zach for the last time before bed, he decided he was going to be completely alert. Well, he is just so cute that I cannot even think about putting him down when he is in that state. It feels like a wasted opportunity to me. I want to soak up every minute. But the problem last night was that even after the bedtime meal, the period of alertness, and some bonding, he still didn't want to close his eyes. And he stayed like this until it was time for his next meal..and the next. And before we even knew it, it was 5 AM, and he finally drifted off. For 2 hours, at which point he had peed through his diaper and wanted another meal. Of course the drawback of breastfeeding is that his meals have to come from me (especially now, as I want to boost my supply before my big return to work next week). So I am still awake, it is 9:56 AM, and John is asleep. He said we would "take turns". He assures me I will get a turn for a nap later, and he better be right!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
He didn't want to go to the park in our neighborhood, but rather a large park where his school had their track and field day. Neither of us adults had ever been there, but he insisted he knew where it was and started to tell us how to get there. He sounded like he knew what he was talking about,and Evan is usually pretty good with these things, so we trusted him.
Somehow, we ended up on this narrow, roughly paved road that runs parallel to the Ohio River. And the houses we passed looked horribly unkempt, so we were hesitant to ask for directions from anyone. I thought of sure that we were going to plummet to our deaths as my new-ish car teetered on the edge of the road, at which point there was a violently steep drop. But Northern Kentucky is a hodge-podge of small communities, so we knew we would eventually find something that looked familiar, and kept going. Well, we ended up in the seediest looking area that had me reaching for the door locks by habit, forgetting that my car locks automatically when the spped picks up to 20 mph. So we kept making turns, hoping to end up in familiar territory, but instead kept ending up in this same little town. At some point, we even passed a waste water treatment facility that stank so badly that Evan exclaimed, "Is it a POOP factory??? I smell POOP!" Needless to say, by the time we ended up home again, we were all cracking up with laughter, having never been to this mystery park.
So other than NOT trusting my eldest with directions, what else have I learned this week?
Immunizations can be evil! At Zach's well-child appointment this past Friday, I asked about all of the pertussis stuff I have been hearing about lately. I haven't worked in some time, and wondered if there was something I had missed. The discussion turned to when I had my last pertussis vaccine. Well, other than flu shots (including H1N1), Hepatiitis B (Hmmmm I handle blood, so that one was work-related), and tetanus, I haven't had any vaccines since I was a teenager. Well it turns out that they actually recommend a dose of the equivalent of a DTaP vax for adults every so many years. And to protect Zach and Evan from this re-emergence of pertussis, considering the line of work I am in, our family doc wanted me to get one. Okay, no biggie. Ha!
I was fine. I didn't even flinch and was even actively involved in a convo with the doctor when I got the injection. The trouble wasn't until later that night. Violent chills. I just could not get warm. I was covered in every heavy blanket we have in the house. The next morning,I checked my temperature because I was starting to sweat like one does when a fever is breaking: 102.8. And that was while the fever was breaking. Then came the body aches all over. I wanted nothing more than to soak in a warm bath, but since my uterus still has a relatively large wound in it that is still in the stages of healing, I am not allowed to do anything that could get anything in the plumbing down there--no sex, tampon, baths, swimming, etc. So I had to suck it up without my bath. It took 2 days to return to normal, and I truthfully am still not there because I have this enormous knot in my arm that itches and is horribly sore. And the area gets bigger by the day. Oh well, such is life. But Iwill think long and hard before I ever let them give me that again.
Pregnancy cured my modesty! I was horribly modest. I went years and years without a Pap because I couldn't run the risk of running into a doctor at work who had seen my vajayjay. And through the ordeal of my pregnancy, I was terribly picky about the nurses I allowed to check my cervix. Nobody I worked with was allowed to do it, so basically, only day-shifters were permitted. Finally, one night, a night shifter had to. From that point on, she was the only one, because the damage had already been done with her. Then, when Zach was born, and I was breastfeeding, I came dangerously close to hurting a friend's feelings because I would turn down her help with breastfeeding because I couldn't stand the thought of a friend holding my boob for me as I maneauvered Zach around my incision and tried to get him latched on properly. Yet when the lactation consultant would check on me during her rounds, I would need all sorts of guidance and admitted that it was because my nurse was a friend that I was denying help. She actually went back to my friend and told her I needed a different nurse, and my friend came back to me, crushed. That is how bad it is.
So yesterday, I go back to the store to get my supply of nursing bras. I was having trouble finding ones with a good fit. My usual size just wasn't working. So there I am, in the fitting room in shorts and a bra. My belly looks like a deflated balloon from the pregnancy and c-section. And in walks the saleslady. And you know what? I didn't give a damn by this point. The result? I ended up leaving with 8 beautifully-fitting bras because I had the expertise of someone who does it for a living. I think my pregnancy did it. Because the old me would have shrieked in horror at the thought. Am I cured?
I am an Expert Babywearer! We went to Babies'R'Us yesterday for some Zach essentials. I also wanted to look at some non-essentials too, as they had some good deals advertised in their mailer. I really wanted a baby carrier. I was looking at the Baby Bjorn one, but have read all of the stuff about the versatility of other ones. So I see the Moby Wrap. And I had a 15% Off coupon. So I figured, eh, why not? I was kind of afraid to try it. I took it out of its cover to wash it and was dismayed to find the horrendously long strip of fabric and nothing else. No buckles, straps, snaps. And I am supposed to wrap this around myself in a way that will secure my baby? I doubted my skills, and pictured the trip to the ER for Zach's skull fracture that would undoubtedly result. But nope! I did it! And Zach loved it. There he was, curled up in a ball against my chest like he loves, and he actually fell asleep while I did laundry, washed dishes,vacuumed, and even ate lunch. So now I am feeling all smug about it. Ha!
Good friends are fabulous! Well, okay, this is not news. But as we were about to head to Babies'R'Us, I stopped by to drop something off for a friend, and I mentioned where we were headed. I also mentioned that we needed diapers and they had somegood deals going on, so I planned on stocking up for when we run out of newborn diapers or Zach outgrows them and is into a size 1. Well, this friend happens to be affiliated with a home for single moms. (She is nameless because I am not sure if she would be in hot water over what she did.) Apparently they were overrun with size 1 diapers. And wipes. I ended up leaving there with the equivalent of 4 cases of size 1 diapers and 2 cases (not refills! CASES! ) of baby wipes. And they are the brand we use, too! Thank You, Friend!
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Of course at the doctor's office on Friday, Evan was bouncing off the walls. My nerves were already frazzled because we had taken Zach to the lab first to have his blood drawn. They did that by heel stick, which is the least of the possible evils, but they wanted 3 vials of blood from that one little heel stick, and so I had to hold my sweet angel while he screamed and screamed. My patience was shot.
So the doctor comes in the room and takes one look at me and knows. Evan had lost 11 pounds since January, which had prompted them to stop his meds 2 weeks ago. In those two weeks, he has managed to gain back 5 of those pounds. So after seeing his behavior in the office, and after hearing the tales of his misadventures at home the past two weeks, we ending up leaving the office with a fresh new script for Straterra. I'm pretty excited about this combined with the start of behavioral therapy. I'm hoping we can get a grip on these issues my oldest angel is having way before school starts.
In the meantime, I have been gearing up for my big return to work. I have been counting down the days since that dreadful day in January when I started with my preterm labor shenanigans. But now that the day is approaching? I am so sad to be losing this time with my boys. Granted my full-time schedule is only 36 hours per week, spread out over only 3 days. But still...
So what does gearing up for my return to work involve? Washing and organizing scrubs. And since I am constantly on the prowl for cute scrubs, I have such an enormous quantity that I could go about 6 months without ever wearing the same pair twice. But they have all been collecting dust. So they have all been laundered. I sorted through what were originally intended to be pregnancy scrubs that are now too big, older scrubs that are faded or in ill repair, my skinny scrubs that were initially packed away when I first heard the word "pregnant"....I managed to come up with a huge box to donate to charity. Next on my list was to find comfy nursing bras, which was no small task considering my cup size is a little further along in the alphabet than should ever be natural. I was just about to be custom-fitted for some (waaaaay expensive--about $300 for 4 bras) when I discovered the vast array at Motherhood---sports bras, standard bras, sleep bras. I was as giddy as a kid in a candy store. And the most expensive one was $25! Yippee! Of course I haven't bought them yet. Evan was acting a fool and Zach was starting to fuss, so we fled the mall with the intention of me returning alone to try them on before I buy the entire stock they have in my size. Which leaves only 2 tasks before my return: childcare (check! John !) and building up a frozen supply of breast milk (in progress!).
Other than that, I have nothing else to report. I am loving this boring life of mine!
Thursday, June 3, 2010
So simple, so natural, yet so much work.
We took Zach to be weighed. Last week, our lactation consultant was concerned that he was not back up to his birth weight by 2 weeks of age. He was close, at 7 lbs. 2 oz., but still not quite there. She wanted me to bring him back in a week. Mind you, I have been worried. As long as he didn't gain as much weight as they wanted, they continued to have me supplement his feedings with some formula. So I have been taking that nasty fenugreek, pumping, nursing, bottle-feeding. It is so damned time consuming that I was about to give up. How much easier would it be to just mix a bottle of formula? And since he isn't getting everything from me, this has affected my milk supply, so the grueling routine has had to continue to keep the milk going.
Today, my baby boy weighed in at 7 lbs., 14.5 oz. He has gained almost a pound this past week. Of course, everyone who sees him comments on how they cannot believe he weighs that much, as he is still so scrawny-looking. We have virtually no clothes that are small enough to fit him, barring 2 preemie-sized outfits. But now that he is almost 8 pounds? Wow! Of course he is still an average size for a newborn and he is almost a month old. I guess the poor kid got it from us: neither John or I are very tall people. And John pointed out today that my true due date is a week away, so the kid should still be in there. But anyhow, with this weight gain comes the instructions that I can back off of the formula. She told me today that if I still need to supplement, it is okay to do so with pumped breastmilk instead.
This may seem simple to some. But I have managed to keep this up for weeks. I didn't breastfeed Evan, and I always felt guilty about that. Not to mention, Evan had to have that stinky, expensive hypoallergenic formula--Nutramigen. And he would puke everything he ate, so we would have to feed him more to counteract what didn't stay down. This meant that we spent about $500 a month just on formula. I truly wanted to avoid the health implications and the expense with Zach. So far, so good, and I am thrilled and feeling rather proud of myself at the moment!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The adventures of Andrea, the Milk Maid, continue and I actually have a few work days' worth of breastmilk frozen and ready to go for my big return to work after all of these months. Now I have to teach John how to handle it. I about had a cow when I opened the refrigerator yesterday and found a breastmilk freezer bag I was working on filling turned upside down and laying in the bottom. Whether it was John or Evan behind it remains to be seen, but these days, my milk is like liquid gold in this house, and its squandering is punishable by death.
I also learned today that my husband would make the worst secretary imaginable. Apparently he fielded a call from our doctors' office regarding Zach's newborn thyroid screen. He couldn't tell me what whether it was negative and needed to be positive or vice versa. All he knew was that there was something abnormal and this something needed to be repeated to see if it was still abnormal. He couldn't tell me if I need to take the baby to the office or to the lab at the hospital to have the test repeated. So now I am waiting for a return call from the same doctor so I can get the correct infomation, and I am totally wondering if it would be too much of a blow to John if I had them note in both boys' charts to only discuss medical issues with me. Gah!
So that is it. My mundane little life is compltely uneventful. I kind of like it this way, actually.