Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dear Ehren: Twenty Weeks

Dear Ehren,

So much has changed and it's been such a whirlwind of chaos. One thing I am learning is that just once we have it all figured out, you change. In fact, you change so quickly that I dare not blink. Last week, I went back to work. A few weeks before that, we went to Montana. Most importantly, I started seeing a therapist to deal with my postpartum mood disorders. That was good for the whole family. I started listening to what other people are saying to me and I learned 2 things:
1) The past 18 months have been filled with absolutely awful and traumatic experiences for me.
2) I am a badass for all I've conquered in the past 18 months (and way before then!)

In the past 18 months I have lost a baby, struggled to conceive, constantly vomited, regularly dehydrated, extremely cautious with weight gain/loss, checked into the hospital for vomiting, controlled gestational diabetes, had countless NSTs, worked until the hour I went into labor, battled 56 hours of labor, attempted to push for 4 hours, submitted to a cesarean delivery, had postpartum pre-eclampsia, delayed breastfeeding, struggled with tongue ties, nursed/pumped/bottle fed you every 2-3 hours for 4 weeks, continued vomiting, admitted to the hospital (again), enjoyed emergency gallbladder surgery, EP'd for 3 weeks, worked to bring you back to the breast for 5 weeks, learned that I didn't produce enough milk, struggled with postpartum anxiety, developed postpartum depression, joined a parent group, traveled to Montana twice, took you to daycare, and returned to work. That's just the baby related big things. That doesn't include the HUGE changes at work, the two moves, family drama, or the way that my relationship has phenomenally changed with your father.


Quite honestly, the past 18 months were pure chaos. And for the most part, I should have been really miserable, but I wasn't. I struggled, but I wasn't miserable. I was excited about you. I was determined to succeed. I was focused. And now, I'm just coming up for air. I'm taking a moment to breathe. I'm listening to all of the people around me who are telling me what a phenomenal job I've done and noting how well I've coped. I'm finally giving myself the credit I deserve, because you deserve a mom who knows her worth.If I'm lucky, you'll let me be your role model - strong, courageous, brave, and confident.

I love you,

Mama

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dear Ehren: Week 6

Dear Ehren,

Little buddy, we've made it a 1/4 of the way to our first breastfeeding goal. What success! This has been the most challenging adventure I could have ever imagined, but I did learn a few things along the way. Yesterday, my dear friend Molli made the mistake of asking me what my thoughts were on her registry. Oh, little dude, I nearly wrote a thesis on everything from breast pumps to hydrogel pads. And then, when I was all done, I just felt relieved. Apparently, mama needed an outlet for all that information. I feel like we've lived through the toughest part of our feeding challenge and I now feel like I can better focus on your sweet smile instead.

Tomorrow will be our first appointment without dad. It's been 3 weeks since I had my gallbladder out, and you're still kicking me in the wounds. We'll see what the doctor has to say about that, but I'm hoping it's finally time for mom to be released from all of her medical restrictions. I'm ready to get a move on with you little dude. A bit of exercise will do us both some good.

These days your form of exercise is kicking off your swaddle, trying to roll, and headbutting mom and dad. You also really like to be carried and you're fascinated by the lights when we walk at night to the market. Your voice is changing and your pterodactyl cries are long gone. When you get really mad, dad says you sound like Flipper (you'll have to look that one up, it's an old TV reference). I'm hearing more coos and babble from you instead of all crying all the time. You're starting to change from little human to little person, and it's pretty awesome to witness. For week 6, we'll end this with the top 6 nicknames that we are currently using:

1) Flipper
2) Tiny Dino
3) Lil' Monster
4) Lil' Dude
5) Angry Elf (or South Pole Elf)
6) Sunshine

Much love and many roars,

Mama

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dear Ehren: One Month

Dear Ehren,

We made it a whole month. It seems like the longest month of my entire life. In that time I have spent over a week in the hospital where I had 6 holes cut into my abdomen. We have been to nearly a dozen medical appointments together, dad has missed 3 weeks of work, the family has attended 2 work parties, and collectively we've eaten more pizza than I care to admit. However, we are here and there's some good to this adventure. I haven't cried in days, you've had breastmilk to drink every single day of your life, dad can change a diaper in his sleep, and I'm not terrified to be left alone with you...anymore.

Together we are growing, learning, laughing, and exploring the world. I sing you songs, or at least the bits I remember, and dad smiles.Your noises are starting to change and we can tell a hunger cry from a pain cry. I am starting to recover, both from surgery and pregnancy, and work on a healthier motivated version of myself.

I had surgery to have my gallbladder removed on Tuesday after being admitted to the hospital on Sunday. Our adventures in nursing came to an abrupt end since you and I were separated for days. Dad was able to work from home and I have been pumping like a mad woman to keep my supply up while my 5 fresh incisions heal. All of our routines and patterns have been thrown out the window and caring for you alone has become somewhat difficult. Your dad, is amazing, and everyday is an excuse to fall a little more in love with him. He has been amazing through all of this and has been devoted in sitting by my side in the hospital and taking charge at home. I cannot imagine doing this without him. However, on some small level, I'll have to adjust because on Monday your dad goes back to work, and it will be just you and I again. It feels like we are starting over, but I'm looking forward to it this time. I love our snuggle time together and I'm looking forward to getting into a new routine. I know what to expect and I am excited.

Let's face the world together, one month at a time. There's so much to explore.

Love,

Mama

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dear Ehren - Weeks 2 & 3

Dear Ehren,

You are a baby who moves at his own pace. I have a feeling that this is how life with you is going to work. You haven't lost your cord stump, gained back your birth weight, or lost much of your fuzz, but you can hold your head up for nearly a minute and you smile regularly. Things happen at your pace, and I just have to hold on for the ride.

These last two weeks have been focused on feeding you. We've taken advantage of the lactation consultants, we're going to see a specialist about your (possible) tongue tie, and we're feeding you everything I can possibly make. Your pediatrician told me "Breastfeeding is hard work. If anyone else told you otherwise, you can smack them." and he was right. Unfortunately for us, we're not just breastfeeding. We're breastfeeding, and pumping, and supplementing with what I pump for you. Feeding you is an hour long event. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. And it's exhausting. I wish I could say that it's all worth it because you're growing, but you're not. (At least you're not growing yet.) It's just something that you're taking at your own pace, while your dad and I do everything we can to give you just what you need.

I thought about giving you straight formula, and quitting this breasfeeding business, but the other day after grandma and grandpa fed you formula I caught a whiff of your spit up and I lost it. I threw up everything I had, and decided that all the pain and exhaustion of nursing and pumping was worth it to never do that again. So, I am resolved to figuring this whole thing out and not giving up on myself - or you.

Today marks the first day that is just the two of us at home. And it's already time to feed you. I've got a plan, but I've learned to be flexible with you. We both know you are running this show, I can see it in your smile.

I love you,

Mama

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dear Ehren: Week 1

Dear Ehren,

In the first week of your life, we spent the first 3 days of your life in the hospital and 3 of the remaining 4  in doctor offices. It was a lot better in the hospital than I realized. Someone brought me all of my medications at exactly the right time, you always had diapers in the right spot, the bed did all of my movement for me, food was delivered to us right to the room, and there was always someone there to answer my questions. Always.

We went home Saturday afternoon and just getting you into the house and being home was enough to make me forget that I had medicines to take. Hours of excruciating pain later, I figured out what the problem was and tried to be patient after getting back on board with the pain medication. It wasn't a good time for any of us, but it was a good lesson in getting on a schedule. Dad put all of my medications on the calendar to coincide with your feedings and we were already on better footing.

When we came home from the hospital, I was supplementing you with formula. A rather painful process that I'd rather not recount, but after our appointment with your doctor we decided to just switch to breastmilk only. And then you didn't soil a diaper for more than 48 hours. Never have we been so obsessed with someone's bowel movements. Fortunately, you celebrated being a week old by messing 3 diapers in a row and a trip to the doctor wasn't needed.

Sleep is another thing that has changed. We feed you every 3 hours, whether you wake up or not, so we get about 1.5 - 2 hours of sleep at a time after feeding you and pumping whatever extra I have. The structure is nice in this otherwise chaotic time, but the sleep is starting to get to Dad and I. We're a little snippy with each other and my current favorite pastime is crying for no reason, but I have hope that things will get better eventually. Like all things, it will just take time. Right now, it feels like time is both fleeting and dragging on forever and I imagine it's the same for nearly every new parent. I just don't want to hear someone tell me to "enjoy these moments" again, because right now, I really need to focus on surviving. I'll revel in memories later with photos and these letters, but there won't be much to reminisce about if I don't figure out how to sleep, feed you, recover from surgery, and deal with these hormones.

On the bright side, here is a list of things I know for sure - I love wearing you around and hearing people tell me how cute you are. Your dad is the best partner I could have asked for. He's up with every night feeding (unless I'm sneaky and grab the alarm before he stirs) and makes sure I'm well taken care of while feeding you. I love snuggling with you and kissing the top of your head especially since you smell so sweet. I love our new family, but I'm still getting used to (and figuring out) our new normal. I love how far we've come in a week and how bright the future (even if distant) seems.

Love always,

Mama