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.



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,


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,


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dear Ehren: How you got here

Dear Ehren,

These are the things I don't want to forget. Your first days, your first cries, and everything about being a new family. I'm sharing them here so that they will never be lost.

Throughout my entire pregnancy I had an odd sixth sense about things. When I started to not feel well on Monday afternoon, I sent dad an email titled "Loose Ends" and told him that he should make sure he is ready to leave work for a while when he came home that night. Then I started to feel awful. I had pain deep in my abdomen, I felt nauseated, I was sweating. I couldn't read my monitor at work and I couldn't focus.

I went to the bathroom to hang out, and mostly hide from well-meaning co-workers, and hoped that the change in position would mean a change in the pain. Alas, it did not. So, taking a page out of the second trimester, I went and laid on the floor in an empty office. After about half an hour of not improving, I went back to my desk and emailed dad to tell him that I needed a ride home and wouldn't be able to make the 4 block uphill trek in the 94 degree heat. I knew I would go into labor at work, I just didn't know what it was at the time.

Your dad rescued me and took me home where I tried to lie down. The upper abdominal pain increased and I tried in vain to ease the discomfort with a bath. It ended with a lot of vomit, but then I magically felt better. I thought that maybe I was going to be okay. Then, I made the mistake of eating a peanut butter & cheese sandwich and an apple. The pain returned, with greater force, and a multitude of pre-eclampsia symptoms started to set in. After a phone call to the OB, a phone call to a dog sitting friend, and one last round of vomiting, we were off to the hospital.

We checked in around 12:35 to OB Triage and they kept me for observation for a few hours. My blood pressure was high in addition to my protein and creatinine levels being elevated and me being dehydrated. I continued to throw up and shake - the full body tremors really bothered dad. But you? You were perfectly ok. Your heartbeat accelerated properly when I had contractions (the monitors cleared up that mystery) and you stayed mobile throughout our observation period. The doctor walked in to talk to us, and let us know that she was unsure if we should stay or not. She moved my leg so she could sit on the bed, and I suddenly felt wet. Then she asked me to move up the bed a little and my water broke in a massive gush. Exciting, but terrifying because we found that there was meconium in the water - a potentially dangerous issue for you. It was settled, we weren't going home. I wasn't dilated very far, and my contractions were coming every 6 minutes, so we knew it was going to be a while before you came.

Dad texted all of the grandparents and worked on getting Grandma Sue to come up to Seattle from Vancouver. Then we settled in for the "night" in our labor and delivery room. I was on the monitor for another hour before they let me get into the bath. That's where I was most comfortable while I coped with the contractions and awaited your arrival. Boy, did we wait. All day. I truly tried to get you out, but my contractions weren't making my body respond appropriately so after much discussion it was decided that we needed to start Pitocin and use some internal monitors. It meant that I wouldn't be able to take baths anymore and at that point, I was not sure how I would cope with stronger contractions and no relief. It took me more than 24 hours of labor to decide to get an epidural, but at least the decision of epidural and pitocin got us all the way effaced and dilated to a 9.5 by the next afternoon. All in all, it was about 56 hours of labor before we talked about a c-section. I was crushed; all of my hopes for a natural, medication-free delivery had been swept away and the one thing that I wanted to avoid the most appeared to be my only option.

I talked it over with your dad and we both agreed that getting you here safely would be a good idea and at this point he would still be able to come into the operating room and be with me. So it was decided, I would have a c-section and you'd be here within the hour. It was an hour filled with anxiety. Grandma took some photos of us, dad got dressed, and I tried to prepare myself mentally for what was about to happen.

The OR was already set up and waiting for us and it was a fairly fast paced 60 minutes from entering the room to leaving. We waited very anxiously for your first cries, and after you were out it was very quickly determined why you hadn't been born yet. You didn't fit! Your head was too big for my body and you were stuck at my pelvic bones, determined to come out but losing to the laws of physics. Dad went with you as they evaluated you and tried to clear your lungs of all meconium. He trimmed your umbilical cord (you can blame him if you have a weird belly button) and helped to get you cleaned up. You weren't breathing quite right so they took you to the NICU for observation. I got one kiss on your sweet cheeks and they whisked you and dad away. I was alone on the table in the OR while they stitched and stapled me back together and then took me back to the labor & delivery room to recover for an hour. Dad stayed with you for a bit and then came to get some breastmilk to take to you. He tried not to leave your side, but I could tell he just wanted us all to be together.Soon enough we were, and while it hasn't been perfect ever since, it's been more than I could have imagined.

Friday, July 12, 2013

2013: One Little Word

I'm catching up with my good intentions, from the beginning of the year with my One Little Word. Yeah, it's July, but I really did pick this word a long time ago. My word for 2013 is: Commit

Seems kind of silly that my word is commit but I haven't blogged since February. Right? Wrong! My intentions (the things I really want to commit to for 2013) are actually as follows:

  • Commit to losing weight (goal is 24 lbs down by the end of the year)
  • Commit to saving (goal is at least 1 month in saving)
  • Commit to quality marriage time (goal is 2 "electronics-free" days a month)
  • Commit to debt freedom (goal is 3 accounts closed by end of year)
  • REALLY commit to debt freedom (goal is accrue no new debt)
  • Commit to cleaning (goal is to clean every room at least once a month)
  • Commit to supporting my spouse (help Ryan achieve his goals too!)

Since we're already here, we might as well do a mid-year check in. Shall we?

  • Weight loss: Yeah, I'm not there. I lost a bit at the beginning of the year and then in my war with springtime, I gained it all back and then some. Those points aside, I actually think this one is doable still. We're moving this week and I'll be walking to work and taking the dog on more walks at lunch. With the grocery store LITERALLY right across the street, there's more motivation to eat well. I at least have good intentions still.
  • Commit to saving: We were actually dead on with this one until I wrote a gigantic check to the new apartment building. Actually, I had to write two of them. With the new jobs and lower commuting costs, I have no doubts that we'll make these goals again.
  • Commit to quality marriage time: Unfortunately, I think we only managed this a couple of times this year. It's time to get back on track with this one. Not having a God-awful commute will help too. (Only 2 more days! Woo!)
  • Commit to debt freedom: We worked out a new budget for the new salaries and this goal is totally doable still. We've been picking away at these debts all year, it's now (finally time) to turn up the heat!
  • REALLY commit to debt freedom: We managed not to accrue any debt through May. (GOLD STAR FOR US!) But with all the holds they put on your accounts for rental cars and hotels, I had to use a credit card. Still haven't decided if that counts as accruing new debt or if it just means that we used our credit card.
  • Commit to cleaning: With moving, all our rooms have been gone through. I've been almost on top of this one. It's kind of a cop out, but I'll take a win where I can get it today. 
  • Commit to supporting my spouse: This year, I bullied him into taking his dream job. Yeah, you read that right. That's love and devotion, baby! I get 10 gold stars for that and minus 15 for every dramatic tear fest he's had to listen to. I truly don't mind continually working on this one.

Let's hope the next 6 months have more success than failure and that I can really keep commit as a mantra for 2013!