The Not-So-Sexy Infertility Adventures of a Girl in the Big Apple

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Breastfeeding - The Highs and the Lows

Hi everyone, it's been a looong time since my last post.  I've been in survival mode for the last month or two and got very behind on blogging.  I've caught up in the last week, though, and am happy to see that my favorite bloggers are all doing pretty well.

The babes just turned four months, and I'm pretty happy with where things stand at the moment.  I have finally managed - after weeks and weeks of trial & error and second-guessing - to find a day & nighttime schedule that works well for both babies.  As of about a month ago, the babes were still getting up 2 times a night (every 3 - 5 hours), and J in particular needed tons of soothing and attention to get him back to sleep.  After hearing from all kinds of people about how their 3 month olds were sleeping through the night, and how our babies were big enough to sleep longer stretches, I was beginning to worry.

I read and re-read 4 key books on sleep/scheduling - Ferber, Weissbluth, Gina Ford's "The Contented Baby", and Susie Giordano's "The Baby Sleep Solution" - and used bits and pieces of all of them in putting together a schedule that worked for them.  I was convinced that J would need a horrible few nights of CIO to get him to sleep well, but I'm happy to say that he only needed one night and a few tries of shushing and patting to figure out how to get to sleep on his own.  We did the graduated extinction thing where you go 1 minute, then 3 minutes, then 5 minutes, etc.  I think we got to 7 minutes and that was it!  From then on (and this was about a month ago), it's been really good.  At night both babies have been sleeping 12 hours, although O has started waking up again in the middle of the night hungry - I think he's going through a growth spurt.  J now goes to sleep with very little fuss and sleeps 12 hours consistently.  It's pretty awesome.  I think he and O will probably regress more than once as they hit growth spurts, but right now I am loving it!

The only thing is that I had to separate them in order to sleep train J properly (my husband sleeps with O and I sleep with J because he used to be the more difficult baby and my husband has to work).  We have yet to put them back together again in the same room - I think it should be fine, but we may have a few more issues with them waking each other up once we do.  We'll see how it goes.  I had to sleep train them for naps too (for which we do put them in the same room) and once in a while they still wake each other up and it makes things more complicated.  I think I'm going to put them back together in the next couple of weeks, so keep your fingers crossed that this doesn't screw everything up!

But now to the subject of my post - breastfeeding.  This has definitely been the most challenging part of being a new mother.  I've been lucky in many ways - both babies are pretty good breast feeders, although both are slightly tongue tied and have a tendency to latch shallowly unless I make them open wide.  Also, my supply has been pretty good considering I'm feeding two big, hungry boys.  I've been feeding them mostly breastmilk for several months now, with a little formula supplementation at night.  HOWEVER.  All of the above has been complicated by a whole series of painful/frustrating episodes, including:
- Not enough supply when babies have gone through growth spurts
- Oversupply when my body overcompensates for earlier lack of supply
- Babies pulling off the breast constantly in response to overactive letdown
- Babies turning their heads downwards and clamping down on breast to deal with overactive letdown
- Babies having smelly, runny poops because of foremilk/hindmilk imbalance
- Babies twisting and scratching and punching me while feeding because they are gassy and can't relax on the boob
- Babies eating for 5 minutes and crying when I try to put them back on
- Babies eating for 45 minutes and not wanting to come off (which adds up to a 1 1/2 hour feed time total, and a very looong day for mom)
- Recurrent plugged ducts due to oversupply
- Milk blister related to plugged ducts (which I still have after 2 weeks, but I have learned how to deal with)
- Lack of sleep because of pain associated with plugged ducts
- etc. etc.

How good any day/week is for me is directly related to how breastfeeding is going at any time.  On those magical days (or moments during the day) when the babies are feeding peacefully and my breasts aren't uncomfortably full (or worryingly empty), I feel great!  But otherwise I'm dealing with one of the above issues, and I'm somewhere between mildly worried/irritated to completely exhausted and frustrated.  Not to mention the fact that after 4 months of this I am definitely starting to feel tied down and isolated.  I want my body back!  I want to take advantage of the fact that I have help during the day and get out more often.  I want to see friends, go shopping, work out...get a little of me back.

But I've decided I'm going to tough it out for another couple of months, and then I'll begin slowly weaning.  I've already (after much trial, tears and tribulation) managed to wean off of the middle of the night pumping session, although it caused me a LOT of pain and I still often have to hand express before the morning feed because my boobs are too full for the babies.  But it was worth it so I don't have to deal with doing that anymore.  If I can get to the point (post 6 months) where I'm bfeeding first thing in the morning and pumping once during the day and once before bed I think I can keep going for a while (assuming no other issues).  It would really be nice to have so much time in between feeds...I might get something of a life back!

I have so much more to write, but I'm going to cut this off here or I'll never get anything posted.  I keep starting to write posts and never finishing them because I'm trying to include everything that's going on - impossible!  I'm going to try to write less but more frequently (I can hardly write less frequently so that shouldn't be hard!)

In the mean time, I leave you with a couple pictures of the cuties.  And man, are they cute (if I may say so)!  I am madly in love with these two little creatures, and cannot imagine life without them.  Despite all the whining about bfeeding, these two make every painful moment worth it!

 O hanging out on boppy
 O in stroller
J smiling
J mugging for the camera

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Lot Going On (Or How I Survived Hurricane Sandy and Other Harrowing Tales)

First off, how the hell did 5 weeks go by without me posting??  It's been crazy around here I guess.  I have the utmost admiration for all you mamas who post regularly - I've been truly pathetic so far.  But I have been reading your blogs faithfully and trying to comment as often as I can.  Just not so good at keeping mine up to date!

Now, to bring y'all somewhat up to date:
Hurricane Sandy - A total s*$# show.  Hit us when the twins were just 3 weeks old, and I was still very much in recovery mode from the C-section.  Lost power and water for almost 5 days.  Tried to tough it out for a couple of days and then when we realized how long it was going to take to get power back we fled first to a hotel (which we barely managed to book) and then to a friend's place in Brooklyn.  Total nightmare trying to move 2 infants and all associated gear down a completely dark stairwell 7 flights down (as our elevator was also not working).  Not to mention the fact that I couldn't carry anything heavy, so my poor husband almost killed himself trying to get everything up and down the stairs.  A lot more to this story, but suffice it to say that it was kind of a nightmare but we survived.  And given how hard so many people have been hit on Long Island, New Jersey, and elsewhere, we have no right to complain.  I can't believe there are people still without power or worse, who have lost their homes.  Luckily for us, the babies made it through the experience beautifully, so this is now just a great story that we will tell them some day.

Post Partum Recovery - Finally starting to feel a bit more normal, after 7 weeks.  My incision took forever to heal, to the point where my OB considered, twice, reopening it and sewing it back up.  But both times she reconsidered and literally as of two days ago it finally stopped oozing.  I hope that means I'm done with going back to the doctor - so sick of it!!  I got the lump under my arm/above my left breast looked at by sonogram.  They thought that it was just a collection of cysts and nothing to worry about, but they wanted to aspirate it to be sure.  I set up an appointment and then cancelled it - just cannot deal with another medical thing right now.  Plus I don't love the idea of messing with something that is likely a milk duct when I am breast-feeding.  I think if it's still there in a month I'll go back and have it looked at again (sigh).  I also really need to get a moles check - I had a million new moles grow during pregnancy, and some that got larger.  Don't really feel like dealing with that either, but I really should.  Targeting January to get all of that stuff done.

I'm currently about 10 lbs above pre-pregnancy weight.  My weight seems to have stabilized about there, which I'm okay with.  Don't really care what I weigh, just how I look.  As far as I can tell, I am as skinny or skinnier than I ever was everywhere but my stomach, which is still loose and stretched out looking.  I'm sporting about a 3 month bulge there, which isn't going anywhere.  I am not surprised given that I was carrying 13 lbs of baby and 2 amniotic sacs!  I suspect my stomach will never be the same, but I'm hopeful that once I'm cleared for exercise I can at least get it down from where it is.  New mamas - how long did it take you to get your stomach back?  Any recommendations on good exercises to strengthen/tighten the belly?

The Babes - Are amazing, beautiful, strong, big-eating, fast-growing bundles of joy.  I cannot believe they are mine.  My parents have been here for the past month and I put them to work in a serious way - they were chomping at the bit to come here, but after a month of heavy-duty childcare I think they're ready for a loooong break!  But we had so much fun with the little munchkins, and made so many precious memories.

O is huge, just huge.  Suddenly around 4 weeks he got these enormous cheeks and about 5 chins.  He's a solid kid with a huge appetite.  J is growing really fast too, but he's probably 1 -2 lbs lighter than O.  He's got huge, beautiful blue eyes that look nothing like either me or my husband's.  We speculate that someone at the hospital switched him, because he looks nothing like O either - skin, hair color, physique and features are completely different.

Both kids are breast-feeding and bottle feeding well.  I am mixing up breast feeding with pumping/bottle feeding and some formula supplementation when needed.  Seems to be working reasonably well, and I think they are probably getting around 70 - 80% breast milk most of the time.  I'm pretty happy with that, all things considered.

The kids are growing so fast it's scary - they have already outgrown their 3 month clothes and are wearing 6 month clothes, and they aren't even 2 months yet!  I have a pediatrician appointment tomorrow and I'm wondering what they are going to say - maybe I'll be told that I'm overfeeding them or something?  We'll see...I think O is already over 13 lbs!

I have so much more to write, but I'm going to cut it off here or this will never get posted (I've already started & stopped this post 3 times!)  Here are a couple pictures to share, more to come:

This is during Hurricane Sandy when I was staying with my friends in Brooklyn.  Walked into the room and saw them asleep like this.

More recent picture of O
More recent picture of J

Friday, October 26, 2012

2.5 Weeks

Hello everyone, I am so sorry for the long delay in posting.  I've only just come up for air, I think.  It's been an intense 2 1/2 weeks, full of all kinds of emotions.

I'll save the birth story for a little later, but suffice it to say that recovery from pre-ecclampsia + C-section sucks!  In addition to the usual pain of surgery, I had the most awful swelling all over my body from the pre-ecclampsia and from 20 straight hours of IV fluid being pumped into my body.  I was literally unrecognizable after the surgery, and it took forever for the fluid to drain.

I'm still in recovery mode, though obviously much better now.  Unfortunately my incision isn't healing as well as my doctor wants, and they may have to open it back up and drain it.  I am so dreading that, the thought of it depresses me to no end.  In addition, I found a little lump under my armpit that I'm getting checked out.  I know it's probably nothing, but it's kind of freaking me out as well.

But then there are the little babies, who are magic, just magic.  Every time I hold them, or see their little hands clasp around my finder, my heart hurts.  They are both doing incredibly well - they spent a week in the NICU and came home with us last Tuesday.  At their last pediatrician appointment they weighed 7 lbs 3 oz and 6 lbs 14 oz, so they are now well over their birth weights.

Unfortunately I'm able to breast feed them only about 50% right now.  They alternate between breast and formula every feed, and even when they breast feed we are still topping them off with formula.  This is what my baby nurse recommends, and I'm sure it's a good way to get them to gain weight.  But I do want to try to transition more to breast feeding wholly, and I'm not sure she's going to be the one to help me to do this.  She's only here a few more days though - we just hired her to help us get through the first couple of weeks - so after that we can start to do whatever we want.

I'm meeting with a lactation consultant today who will hopefully help me more with my breast feeding goals.  Hoping, praying she can do that, as I am finding it one of the hardest things to cope with.  It wouldn't be so bad if I was fully healed, but not feeling 100% and trying to breast feed is really tough.

Anyhow, I'm sorry for what sounds like a complain-y post.  The truth is that one look at these two little babes, and it's so clear that it's worth all the pain.  Hubby and I are so in love with these two precious creatures!

Here's a pic of the little burritos, all swaddled up.  I hope everyone is doing well, more to come on birth story soon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

They're here!

Remember how I said I just wanted to make it to 36 weeks?   Well, I did!
Babies were born via C- section on Tuesday, Oct 9th.   O (our Baby A) was 6lbs 7 oz and J (our Baby B) was 6 lbs 3 oz.  Two pretty strapping birth weights!

So much more to tell later but need to get through the next couple crazy days/ weeks first.   More to come soon!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

33 Weeks and Big Babies

Today I went in for what may be my last ultrasound before I deliver.  Babies were measuring 5lbs 3oz and 4lbs 14oz - which depending on the chart you look at is either HUGE or slightly below average.  Anybody have an online source for weight percentiles they trust?  There is a pretty big discrepancy between sources as far as I can tell.  Also, my cervix seems to be holding up reasonably well, although it has shortened.  2 months ago it was 3.7, a month ago it was 3.1, and now it's somewhere in mid 2's.  But I think that's still pretty good, or at least the ultrasound tech said so.

My belly is getting just monstrous...I promise I'll post some pics soon.  But trust me, it's BIG!

I'm really hoping I make it another 2.5 weeks, which will bring me to 36 weeks.  After that, the babies can come whenever as far as I'm concerned.  In fact, the thought of waiting until 38 weeks (which is when my OB said she'd schedule delivery if they don't come sooner) sounds crazy to me - could I really make it that long?  Seems impossible....

We had our nursery closet installed today.  It will be painted next week and then our curtains and new windows will be installed the week after.  If I can just get through all of that before delivering it would be heavenly!  Keep your fingers crossed for me girls!

I have passed my last two NSTs without incident, thank goodness.  I did have a few contractions again today but the doctor who reviewed it said it wasn't necessary to send me to Labor & Delivery.  Phew!

My main source of complaint right now is carpel tunnel and heaviness in the pelvis.  Sleep is just so-so, but it's been that way for a while now.  I'm in this weird place where I am simultaneously so ready to be done with this pregnancy and also desperately hoping to stretch it out another 2 - 3 weeks.  We'll see what happens, talk about having no control over this outcome!

Oh, and I wanted to thank everyone for the very helpful comments re: c-section vs. "natural" delivery as well as contractions.  It made me feel a lot better to hear how many of you had frequent Braxton Hicks in the third trimester.  I'm getting used to it now and not freaking out about it anymore.  I think right now I'm leaning towards trying for "natural" with the understanding that it may not happen for me.  We'll see how I feel when the time comes, though!

Hope everyone is doing well, whatever stage you are at...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

31 Weeks and a Pre-Term Labor Scare

A warning that this is going to be a whiny, complaining post, reflective of some recent stress and lack of sleep!

As I get further into my third trimester, I've gone from feeling relatively relaxed and reasonably prepared to stressed out and totally behind in my preparation.  It started with my last ultrasound a couple of weeks ago, where both babies were measuring in the 80th percentile (!) in terms of height/weight.  On the one hand, it's great that they are growing so well, but I was worried that their size is related to the effects of GD.  It also made me worry about them getting too big too fast and pushing me into pre-term labor earlier than I want.

The following week I had an appointment with my OB, who was generally very happy with my progress.  She was relieved that I made it to 30 weeks, because according to her, at this point I could deliver tomorrow and while things wouldn't be ideal I would be okay.  But she spent most of the appointment talking as if I would be delivering in the next few weeks, and that totally stressed me out!  I'm not ready yet to go into labor - we are only halfway through our preparation for the nursery.  I haven't yet bought everything we need to buy.  We have a closet being installed in two weeks and new windows being installed in 4 weeks.   Not to mention the fact that I'm not just mentally prepared to go yet!

She also said that both babies are heads down, my blood pressure looks great, and assuming things don't change that I could be a good candidate for vaginal delivery.  This also threw me for a loop.  When we first met she cautioned me that I would most likely be delivering via C-section, and that I should prepare myself for that outcome.  Even if both babies were heads down there was a risk that in the process of delivering vaginally I could end up delivering one, having the other one flip around, and THEN having to do a C-section.  That prospect horrified me enough to scare me off of vaginal delivery.  Hence I've taken no birthing classes, read no books, hired no doulas - I feel totally underprepared mentally for a vaginal birth.

But now I am having to rethink the C-section plan, and I honestly don't know what to do.  On the one hand, the recovery time is so much better with vaginal delivery.  But that risk of having to do BOTH vaginal and C-section delivery still scares me - she estimated it at about a 10% risk.   So I'm still flip-flopping around about this, and at some point we will need to make a game-time decision.  At this point I think I'm going to throw my hands up in the air and make an impulse decision when the time comes - I'm too overwhelmed at the moment to do anything else.

Yesterday I had the biggest scare of all.  I went in for my first Non Stress Test (which I will be doing weekly from here on out).  The babies were very active and did great, but unfortunately they recorded 3 contractions in the space of about 1/2 an hour!  Based on this, they sent me over to Labor and Delivery to ensure that I wasn't going into pre-term labor.  Needless to say, this scared the pee out of me.  I then had to wait close to 3 hours to be admitted to triage - they kept having to put more urgent delivery cases before me - and by the time I was seen I was thoroughly exhausted and stressed out.

Thankfully, they determined that the contractions were NOT the start of Labor - my cervix was still closed and the babies were doing great.  So after taking up my entire day I was sent home.   I was feeling really relieved until last night when I got into bed.  Shortly after arranging myself into position I felt about 6 contractions over the course of an hour.  That freaked me out and I woke my husband up.  However, we were both so exhausted (neither of us have gotten much sleep recently for various reasons) that I couldn't mobilize to do anything about it.

So after yet another crappy night of sleep I must admit I'm feeling rather cranky and stressed.  I am going to spend the day taking care of stuff we need to do for the babies, and then will monitor myself for contractions.  Now that I've gone through the NST I can much more definitely point to when I'm having one - before I was never sure.  The drag is that I'm now going to be paranoid about this every day for the rest of this pregnancy.  So much for that relaxed, energetic pregnancy glow I was sporting for a few months there!

I am praying that I make it at least another month with these babies inside me, but I know I really don't have any control over this.  If you all have any thoughts to share with me on C-section vs vaginal delivery or any of these other issues I welcome them.  In the mean time, I'm going to try to get a nap in while I still can!