Thursday, September 1, 2016

"Cause if we're talkin bodies..."

Opportunities to hold Lewis while he sleeps are few and far between these days as we work on getting him to sleep on his own in his crib. But on the rare occasions it still happens (like today), I soak it up. I know to many he is still a little baby, but to us he seems so much bigger every day! Because when he lays on my chest, I think of how not long ago, he was such a very teeny tiny baby who found such solace from hearing my heart beat. And how not long before that when I was still pregnant, I was all he knew.

As he laid on my chest and I reminisced about how far he has come and how far we have come together, I started to think about bodies. Josh and I have had plenty of conversations about how unfair various aspects of motherhood vs. fatherhood seem, many of which are because they take their toll on a woman's body physically. Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding...each of these by themselves is not for the faint of heart. But pile them on top of each other one right after another and it has the potential to lead to some difficulties.

I've never really struggled with self-image or body image save a short stint freshman year in college when I thought I was fat thanks to a stupid personal trainer. I worked out a little too much, went on a cabbage soup diet, and then was thankfully saved at Thanksgiving when I remembered how much I love real food. But I've pretty much always worn the same size of clothes and could most of the time walk into a store and find something that I liked on me.

After having Sloane, there were physical aspects that were devastating that I've mentioned previously, but I had the luxury of being able to run as much as I wanted anytime I wanted. This was crucial to my healing and recovery, plus as I worked hard, I was able to get back to my pre-pregnancy size relatively quickly.

With Lewis, while I have this sweet babe to hold in my arms,  I am more limited in how much I can exercise and when I can exercise. Added to that is the cumulative effect that pregnancy and childbirth seem to have on most women--the second time around your body changes even more and it seems a little more permanent.

So I've found myself on a bit of a journey with my body in the past few months. I will always carry with me the emotional and physical scars from the births of my two babies. But I don't mind the C-section scar, and I really don't even mind the stretch marks. The hardest part for me has been having that pile of clothes that I love in the back of my closet that juuuuuust don't quite fit. And walking into a store and not loving everything that I try on, but having to be more strategic about how to dress this strangely new curvier body I now have.

A lot of days, getting dressed, looking in the mirror, and not recognizing the image looking back at me can be frustrating. But then there are those now-rare moments when I get to hold that sweet baby boy while he's napping, and with his head over my heart, our bodies still seem to fit so comfortably together and I know I would do it all again. The heartbreak, the waiting, the tears, and now the bigger clothes and different body...I would do it all again to have this little boy asleep in my arms. I know I won't be able to hold him like this for long. As he learns to crawl and move more on his own that distance between us will grow more and more and our bodies will feel less comfortable together than on their own. So I will work on soaking up that feeling and remembering the great and wonderful things my body has done for me and my babies.


The funny thing about grief is that it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. You'll be walking along in your life dealing with the day-to-day, then all of a sudden, BAM. It hits you like the trauma just happened yesterday, and it is there, and fresh and raw and you have to deal with it. And the difference is that hopefully by now, you've learned to deal with it better than you knew how to at first. Maybe not always, but maybe sometimes you're more equipped. You have more tools in your toolbox to get through this wave.

For me, one of my tools to deal with grief is writing. Writing in my blog, writing letters to Sloane, writing letters to Lewis. My emotions process more easily on paper than they do swirling around in my brain, so I get them down and write people are usually so nice about what I write. That's an added bonus when people actually get something out of what I write.

Today is September 1. Two years ago, this was going to be the month I would meet my baby girl! I was starting my new job as a first year school psychologist, and anxiously awaiting baby girl's arrival. I was due 9/22, but hopeful like most pregnant women to go a little early. So perhaps this is why the grief hits me today. September means the start of fall (in most places besides Mississippi...), and fall means the birth of my little girl. But history shows us that Sloane did not come in September, silly girl waited until October. It seems both of my children are stubborn and have minds of their own, waiting until they wanted to come. So maybe it is because her birthday is just a month and a day away, and I find myself thinking of what we will do this year to remember her and celebrate her birth while still honoring her death. It's hard to celebrate a birthday and a deathday all at once.

Regardless of what brought on the grief, I found myself writing today. Mind you, I am no poet, but sometimes words come out of my head and this time that took the form of a poem. Lewis and I had a rough morning and night, so these words poured out my mind effortlessly.

When my arms grow heavy from carrying you,
I think how grateful I am to hold you.

When my eyes burn and tears fall from lack of sleep,
I think how grateful I am you are here to keep me up.

When all I want is 5 minutes of peace or to take a shower,
I think how grateful I am you demand my attention.

When my ears tire of your cries because you hate falling asleep alone,
I think how grateful I am to have the chance to rock you.

Through the long days and sleepless nights,
I think how grateful I am to hold your warm body and feel your breath on my cheek.
Your very existence is a miracle, and that will never be lost on me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Parenting a Rainbow Baby

I have been quiet on the blog lately bc our lives have been consumed with packing tape and moving boxes! While our house is far from done, it is livable and I have found myself needing a break this week from the craziness of moving. So back to the blog!

We have come a long way in the three months since Lewis was born. Newborn life was absolutely terrible and no amount of time or amnesia will ever let me forget how terrible it was. The combination of hormones, trouble breastfeeding, reflux or something like it was not pretty and was not handled well by me. But we survived and I now know that life with a baby indeed does get better! So if there will be other children in our future, it will not be because I have forgotten the horrors that are newborns, but it will be because I know that time is relatively short and there is hope and goodness to follow. (Like this adorable cheesy grin below!)

My thoughts lately have been on my short experience thus far parenting a "rainbow baby," or a baby born after loss. Pregnancy after loss had it's own ups and downs, as does parenting after loss. 

I found myself in Lewis' room last night rocking him to sleep crying. Crying because of the weight of him in my arms, and the warmth of his little body, felt so sweet. Crying because I will always remember all too well the physical emptiness that my arms and my body felt after Sloane died. But I don't feel that physical emptiness anymore. While my heart will always feel as though it has a hole from her absence, it is more than wonderful to have the physical emptiness taken away by my sweet baby boy. 

I know that having Sloane, and losing Sloane, has made me so much better of a mother than I ever would have been otherwise. It sucks that that is how it had to be, but I appreciate literally every second with Lewis. I don't think I am naturally cut out for this whole SAHM gig, and I already miss my school psychology, but I appreciate so much that I get to be home with Lew because I know that tomorrow is not guaranteed for my sweet babe. And if the day ever comes that he too, is taken, I want to know that I gave him too many kisses, too many hugs, too many snuggles, and that we read too many books, went for too many walks, and played too many silly games. I feel so much more motivation to be an amazing mother to him (or try...) because I don't have that opportunity to physically care for Sloane. So he gets all the love for both of them! 

I am sure these feelings on parenthood in general and parenthood after loss specifically will change as the stages of my life and of Lew's life change. But for now, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for his presence and place in our family, and for the many lessons that Sloane continues to teach me. 

Baby boy at baby girl's grave, May 2016

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

38 Weeks with Baby L!

We tried to take regular photos during the pregnancy with Baby L to capture every moment we had with him. After losing Sloane, we didn't want to miss anything.

Physically, the pregnancy was great, although I seemed to experience a lot more of the stereotypical pregnancy symptoms than I did with Sloane. I had strange cravings (pickles and chocolate for dinner, anyone??), was forgetful, and more emotional. For most of the pregnancy however, I really enjoyed being pregnant. Like everyone, I got to the point where I was tired of wearing the same 4 outfits over and over, tired of sleeping on my side, and tired of feeling so large, but I really did try to appreciate being pregnant. The process of creating and carrying a new little person is incredible to me and I love seeing how my body changes to accommodate this new little person.

Emotionally, this pregnancy was tough, not surprisingly. It took me a long time to even accept that I was pregnant again and I felt pretty disconnected for awhile. Every ultrasound was scary until I could feel him move regularly. There were so so many times I convinced myself he was dead. I think this was a self-preservation coping mechanism, because if I convinced myself he was dead, and he really was, then it wouldn't be a surprise. But if I convinced myself he was dead, and he was alive, then I could just be relieved.

So here is my pregnancy journey with our little guy!

One Month

Baby L is one month old! Our monthly picture set up needs some work, but maybe by month 12 we will have it perfected.
By now life has somewhat normalized. Breastfeeding still isn't my favorite thing in the world, but it's manageable. We met with the lactation consultant again and she said that we are pretty much at the best it is going to be for the time being. Which was what I needed to hear to help me accept where we are at with it. I'm happy to be done with the nipple shields and optimistic that at some point in the future, maybe I'll start to enjoy it more. We have made tremendous progress since where we started, evidenced by the fact that I don't dread and cry through every feeding anymore. Now I just need to work on relaxing my back, neck, and wrists...
L has some pretty terrible gas at times and we think he likely has reflux. This means a lot of the time, he screams when he's hungry, then he eats and it's peaceful, then he screams when he's done, then he sleeps and it's peaceful. So we try and soak up the peaceful moments as much as we can to get us through the screaming. He really is so sweet and adorable and it's painful to watch him be in pain like that, so we keep trying new ways to help him get through it. I am happy to be able to enjoy his cuteness more now that he is not the source of so much pain breastfeeding. 

My hormones have also mostly stabilized, so I spend far less time crying than I did two weeks ago. It was so rough for a bit there, I honestly did not know how I would survive. But the funny thing is that we don't often have too much of a choice when it comes to survival. It may not be pretty (and I assure you, it wasn't!), but if we just keep going, at some point it does get better. With newborns, as with so many other things in life ;)

Things to remember about L at one month: 
  • Weighs over 9 lbs. Way to go baby! This means he has outgrown some of his newborn clothes and is starting to fit into some of his 0-3 month clothes (pictured above). 
  • He loves tummy time and is starting to stay awake for longer periods of time after he eats. 
  • He started using a pacifier this week and it seems it may become his new best friend. 
  • On a good night, he sleeps for 3 hours at a time. On a bad night, he sleeps for 1.5 hours at a time and we all cry. 
  • He loves staring out windows and being outside.
  • He grabs onto your clothes when you hold him. 
  • He likes to take naps resting his head on his hands. 
  • He continues to make the funniest face while stretching after he eats (pictured below from when he was about 2 weeks old).
  • He fits in and likes to be carried in the Baby Bjorn. We've tried a wrap a couple of times, but I'm not skilled enough yet to feel comfortable with it. 
Here's to one month of survival and one month of breastfeeding! 

Ragnar Richmond!

After doing the Ragnar DC in October for Sloane, one of the team members signed up to do the Ragnar Trail Relay in Richmond. The date was to be April 28-29. We hoped we would have a baby by then, but wanted to be able to participate anyway. We figured Josh would be able to run it, and hopefully I would be able to go along for fun.

In the midst of barely surviving the first two weeks of newborn life, there were many times I thought this sounded crazy. But the idea of staying home alone for a weekend without Josh also sounded crazy, so I booked a hotel and determined to make it work. Luckily one of my friends decided she was up for the adventure with us, so she drove down and stayed the night with me in case of any catastrophe that I needed back up for.

We left Friday morning, and made it down to Richmond in 5 hours with only one stop for lunch/diaper change/feeding/bathroom break. Everything went great!
We checked in to the hotel and took Josh to his campsite for the night at the race. We hung out at the site to see Josh's first leg start and finish. Lewis did great!

I was most nervous for night because typically I have Josh to help with diaper changes and my middle-of-the-night craziness. But Lewis did so well! The night went smoothly and we made it back to the race the next morning to see Josh's last leg finish. 

By Saturday night, even though Lewis had done well, I was just exhausted from being outside all day and trying to figure out diapers and feeding in a tent. Josh was exhausted from staying up all night running. It was a rough night, but we survived our first family trip together :) The last leg of the trip came on the way home on Sunday. While it took us 5 hours to drive to Richmond, it took 9 hours to drive home. There was a 20-car pile up on I-95 which left us completely stopped for 2.5 hours+the slowdown surrounding the stop. Lewis still did really well, and only screamed when he was hungry or dirty. His routine got a little out of whack from the trip, but we are working on getting back to 3 hour stretches of sleep. 

While it may have been a little crazy to take a 4 week old on a 2 night overnight trip, it's important to us make sure the little man becomes incorporated into the things we like to do and gets out to have different experiences. Hopefully he will learn to be versatile and flexible and we will continue to learn to be patient. It was also important because I was pregnant with L at the last Ragnar we did, so it seemed fitting for him to be at this one! 

Friday, April 22, 2016


Newborn life is so crazy hard! I think Josh and I had no idea what we were in for. With losing Sloane, it was easy to idealize what we were missing out on and not think about the difficulties of what we were missing. I knew our lives would be different having another baby, because they were forever changed after we had Sloane; I just had no idea how different they would be. The past three weeks have definitely thrown us for a loop and I can only hope at this point that someday we will find another new normal.

The two biggest challenges have been breastfeeding and sleeping (or not sleeping). First, breastfeeding. After having gut wrenching pain, bleeding, and painful engorgement the first few days home, we called a lactation consultant to come help. At the hospital, we had one lactation consultant say Baby L had a minor lip and tongue tie, another one say he did not have either, and his pediatrician said he did not have either. The one we hired to come to our house said he definitely did, and showed us what it looked like. She recommended having it lasered off, which we did the next day. Baby L did fine-he cried, but was pretty easily soothed afterwards. I on the other hand, was a mess and it took me like an hour crying in the upstairs waiting room until I could get it together to leave. I felt so terrible putting my little man through this when he was only a week old! Josh had to do massages on the wounds for the following week to make sure scar tissue didn't build up, but it looks great now and Baby L can move his tongue all over!
The lactation consultant also gifted me with a nipple shield to use to protect myself from the crazy pain in the mean time while we worked on L's sucking. What a world of difference that thing made! It was a life saver. I am forever grateful to it because it likely has saved our BF relationship. I also dealt with the engorgement by pumping myself empty, using cabbage leaves, ice, and ibuprofen. Hallelujah. 

So we had taken pretty major steps towards working on BF, but it has been such a process. I expected overnight results with each intervention we have tried, and that is just not how BF works, at least for us. There have been many tears shed (by mama and baby) and frustrations vented (by mama) in the past three weeks. While I love the shield, it is a hassle. You have to wash it every time you use it, sterilize it every day, and if you go anywhere, it's just not all that convenient. It never felt like a long term solution to me, and it's not meant to be. I tried repeatedly to get L to feed without it though, with little success. At first, it still pinched. Then, he wouldn't even latch at all without it, which may have been the most frustrating because there was just milk dripping everywhere, he was screaming because he wasn't getting it, and I was crying because I couldn't understand the disconnect between me and him. I just kept trying however, because what else was there to do?? 

Two days ago, I noticed that on one side after using the shield, my nipple had four little dots on it in the same shape as the shield. It turns out little man has become such a proficient sucker that he was sucking me right through the shield. That's a good sign it's time to stop using the shield! So we have been without it for the past 24 hours! While I have required positive affirmations and neck rubs from Josh while feeding L, I have not cried (about BF)! This is progress, people. So we are feeling hopeful about this currently. 

The other crazy hard part is the sleeplessness. The recommendations these days are for babies to sleep on their own, on a flat surface, on their back. If you can find me one newborn who this works for, I will call that child a miracle. Newborns are used to being snug inside their mommas, not isolated in a cold little bed! So we have struggled with guilt when he does not sleep like this, and fatigue to the point of being crazy (legit crying/screaming/yelling CRAZY) when he does. The problem is he will only sleep in his bassinet for about 1.5 hours. This means you get between 30 minutes-1 hour of sleep at a time. Which is madness and not sustainable. So we have no solution to this problem yet, but we try something different every day. Mostly, we're just holding out until 6 weeks because that's when people and the internet say it will get better?! Let's hope we haven't gone mad by then. 

Other hard things about newborns, or at least this newborn: they cry all the time! Not like a cute little whimper, but an all out "my life is terrible, do something NOW" scream. This is our routine: baby sleeps, wakes up screaming, baby gets changed, baby gets fed, baby may fight getting fed if he is too hungry OR feeding may go well, baby screams during getting burped, baby falls asleep getting fed again OR he has a blissful 20 minutes of peaceful and happy awake time in which you think "aw, newborn life is beautiful! Hurry, take a picture so this is what we remember!" Then he screams because he is tired. The bottom line is there is a lot of screaming. 

It is also so hard because there a million chances to doubt what you are doing. Should I burp him longer? Should I eat that broccoli or is that why he was gassy? Did we swaddle him too tight? Did we swaddle him too loose? Should we swaddle him at all? Should I wake him to eat? Should we try and set a schedule or let him sleep and enjoy the peace? If we wake him will he sleep longer tonight? Should we give him a pacifier? What about a bottle? What if that ruins breastfeeding before we even figure BF out? ............You get the idea. I don't think I ever realized that he would totally, 100% be reliant on me for everything. Every second of his life right now is dependent on what I do (or Josh). That is a huge responsibility and so incredibly terrifying and daunting. 

So this whole baby thing is crazy hard. Don't get me wrong, there have been moments of peace, joy, love, and happiness. They have just been few and far between in these initial weeks, although I think they are becoming more regular as we all adjust to each other a little more. Some of the highlights of having baby L home with us: 
  • seeing Josh as a dad. I did so well when I married this man. He is the patience and voice of reason at 3am when I am crying hysterically. He is already the fun one who does tummy time, songs, and otherwise engages our child when I am laying on the couch exhausted. He is the one who helps us get out of the house successfully. And he has changed 95% of the diapers so far. Baby L is one lucky little man to have such a great papa. 
  • seeing Baby L's newborn smiles while he is sleeping. We like to think he is playing with Sloane when this happens :)
  • Looking down at Baby L at 1am after he has fallen asleep after eating and seeing the resemblances between him and his big sister. I love knowing they are siblings and they know each other. 
  • hearing L's coos when he eats
  • seeing L's big blue eyes when he is looking around this new world and us as his parents
  • seeing his big belly after he eats and feeling pride knowing that he is growing because of me and the pain and sacrifice I am putting into BF
Life is all about the extremes right now: when it sucks, it REALLY sucks, but when it's good, it's REALLY good. 

I have been so lucky to have so many amazing, incredible female friends who are a step or two ahead of me in this journey of motherhood. Friends who can say, "yes, the first few weeks are terrible, but you will make it!" Friends who I can text endlessly about my nipples and they aren't weirded out, but instead offer encouragement and suggestions. Friends who check in regularly because they know my sanity is at stake if they don't.  Friends who validate every crazy, hormonal, emotional feeling you have because they have felt it, too. There are friends who are a little further down the journey of motherhood and who can look back at the newborn stage with fondness- maybe one day I will get to that point, too. Friends who bring meals and ice cream and sushi and subs. Friends who mow your lawn. And friends who reassure you, over and over and over and over and over and over again, that you are doing the right thing and you are doing your best. If he uses a nipple shield, if he gets formula, if you have to pump every feeding, if he sleeps in your bed, if he sleeps in his bassinet, if he sleeps in his swing, YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST. I should get that tattooed on my arm, but instead I will rely on my friends (husband included!) to help me through. 

Birth Story Baby LeMonte #2

He is here! Our sweet baby boy's much anticipated arrival has come and he is now sleeping peacefully (for the time being) next to me. It is surreal that he is here and he is ok. Before too much time goes by, however, I want to record his birth story.

Baby boy had been head down in all of our weekly appointments until March 18 at 36 weeks. We had our appointment with my midwife and we made a plan to be induced at 37 weeks 3 days and I was for once starting to feel optimistic and hopeful that he would make it safely to us. Immediately after this appointment, we had our biophysical profile, where the ultrasound tech informed us that he was transverse with his head by my upper right ribs. We went back to my midwife to relay the information. This would obviously change the plan to be induced. If he continued to be transverse, we could schedule a version to manually flip him head down, followed by immediate induction. Or, we could opt for a C-section, but this would have to wait until 39 weeks. Neither option was ideal, so we left feeling discouraged. On top of the disappointment in change of birth plans was the added worry that he was flipping around, which made me think he could be getting tangled up in his umbilical cord.

We made it another week in anxious anticipation until our next appointment with my midwife. We looked at the ultrasound and he was head down again! We thanked God for answered prayers and continued forward with the plan to be induced just a few days following the appointment. At the biophysical profile the next morning, he continued to be head down. Emotions continued to be raw however, evidenced by my meltdown when the ultrasound tech wouldn't check to make sure his cord wasn't tangled. I went to the car and broke down in tears, while Josh went back in and got mad at her for being a jerk. But, we were happy and had to focus on the facts that he was healthy and we would hopefully get to meet him in a few days.

After knowing that the plan for induction was in place for just a few days' time, we spent the weekend hurriedly doing many of the things we had put off for so long. Deep cleaning, putting the stroller together, putting the mamaroo together, putting the car seat in the car, buying diapers and wipes, etc. It was exhausting and exciting and terrifying!

Tuesday, induction day, came and it was weird. We packed our bags and it felt like we were going to check into a hotel. I did surprisingly well with my anxiety level, I think because it was a very different situation than with Sloane. I wasn't in labor, it was at night, and we didn't have to go to triage. We went up to labor and delivery and were promptly greeted by our favorite nurse who helped deliver Sloane. After about 1.5 hours, the doctor came to check baby boy's position before giving me a foley bulb catheter to dilate me. This is where the journey began: he was no longer head down!!! So rather than starting the induction, we got to stay an extra night in the hospital and wait until my doctor came in the morning to make a new plan.

In the morning, the doctor from my practice came to check on him. He had moved again from the night before, but still wasn't head down. She put two fingers on my belly and gave a gentle but firm nudge and he was head down! It was crazy. To help keep him in place, they put a belly binder on me. Then we started the foley bulb. This was all incredibly uncomfortable. The nurses told us the foley bulb typically takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 4-5 hours to dilate you to 3 cm. It took 8 hours for me. It was a long day of waiting and we knew this was only the first step. I finally got to 3 cm around 5pm and they started giving me pitocin right away. They increased the pitocin every half hour until I was up to the highest amount that night. They kept it going all night, and when they checked me in the morning, I was still 3 cm.

So now it was Thursday morning. I had thought maybe we would have a baby by now, but we still had so far to go! They broke my water hoping that this would be the jump start my body would need. Everyone kept saying, "your body will remember what to do" and reassuring me that the next procedure would be the reminder my body needed to start labor. But breaking my water didn't do anything. Everyone commented on the large amount of amniotic fluid I had, which likely contributed to how easily he moved around. An hour after they broke my water, they re-started the pitocin. By the end of Thursday, I was again getting the highest level of pitocin, my water had been broken, and I was still only at 3 cm. It had been another long day of waiting without much action. I had some contractions, but they were irregular and not very strong. They decided to take me off the pitocin until midnight to try and "clear the receptors." I had a minor panic about this because it felt like so long to stop and re-start the pitocin and it felt like nothing was ever going to happen at this rate. But this allowed me to eat dinner which was desperately needed.

At midnight on Thursday night/Friday morning, they started the pitocin again. Around 2am, I started having contractions, this time stronger and more regular. This really felt like it could be it! We called my doula and she got in around 5am. I labored from about 3am-8am, when they checked me again, and I was still only at 3 cm! We remained hopeful that the contractions would start to do their job however, and kept going. Until the contractions started getting weaker and less which point I asked when we would need to consider a C-section. All of the doctors and midwives from my practice were utterly perplexed at my situation. I had come in being a great candidate for the induction having previously had a successful vaginal delivery, and no one could explain why nothing was helping my body progress.

While  C-section was obviously not my first choice, nothing was happening otherwise. Josh and I started to worry about my water being broken and baby getting infections. It was pretty much a unanimous decision between us, my doula, and the medical team that a C-section was the best route at this point. Within about an hour of making this decision, I was in the OR! I got really emotional before going in, not because I had to have a C-section, but because the end of my PAL was about to be over and the beginning of a whole new journey was about to begin. Even though everything had always come back normal and healthy for baby, I still felt like when he came out, we would find something was wrong with him. So while I was excited to be able to meet him soon, I was so worried that we would meet him and my fears would come to pass.

The C-section was weird. It was all pretty much fine, it's just a strange experience to be able to feel something happening to you, but not feel what it is. It felt like an eternity before I heard baby cry, but when I did, it was the best sound in the world! Josh helped clean him and cut the cord and I just looked at them and cried. He was ok! He didn't have to be whisked away from us! They brought him over to my face and then before we left, he laid on my chest while we went to the recovery. I immediately thought that Lewis was the right name for him, which was a relief because we didn't really have any back-ups.

In recovery, he started trying to nurse right away. This was another relief because I was also hugely worried that being a few weeks early, he might not get this. It was stressful because everyone kept trying to tell me how to feed him, and I was so out of it and he was so tiny, but I was so happy. Two doctors from the NICU came and told us that he was breathing too fast and they wanted to take him to the NICU observation area to monitor him for a few hours. This was not ideal, but I was happy they were keeping a close on him to make sure he was ok, because I was so worried something was wrong. Josh went with Lewis to the NICU observation and then returned to me to go to our room in the general maternity area.

Lewis ended up being admitted to the NICU because he was still breathing fast after his few hours of observation. They did a chest X-ray and blood tests, which showed fluid in his lungs and low levels of white blood cells. Both of these could either be normal results of a C-section, or they could mean he had an infection. Still, I was relieved he was being monitored and felt ok with all of this. He stayed in the NICU Friday night, Saturday, and Saturday night. He showed progress Saturday and came off the IV, so I was able to nurse him. This was exhausting, because Josh had to wheel me down to the floor below whenever they called, but it was also amazing because I felt like my baby needed me and I was helping him and I loved being able to see him and hold him. They did an updated X-ray, which showed clear lungs, and the blood work showed higher levels of white blood cells. All of this meant he was released to our room Sunday morning!
Josh's parents and my mom came to visit him in the hospital on Sunday. On Saturday, our friends Heather and Jessica came to visit, although they couldn't see him because he was in the NICU still.

It was pretty exhausting in the hospital because I couldn't move a lot, but again, we were so happy.

We got released to come home Monday. I was relieved that despite his NICU stay, he got to come with us because I didn't think I could leave the hospital again without my baby. But he got to come with us and it was awesome.

I'll do another post on the first few weeksof life, because that has been another journey. But we are so happy he is here and he is healthy! Although we tried our best to avoid having him born on April Fools' day, he already showed we are the fools by thinking we could plan that. It was a long and hard journey, but it was all worth it :)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Importance of Self-Care

Being a psychology major and now a school psychologist, I am naturally drawn to ideas of mental and emotional health. Deep breathing, imagery, muscle relaxation...these are all things that I am familiar with and may recommend to students. But it is something entirely different to help take care of other people emotionally and to take care of yourself emotionally.

This lesson hit hard this morning, when I find myself at work, bawling.

There have been some hard things lately. I have spent a month trying to get the right prescription for my contacts, and not being able to see clearly in the process. This affects my eyes. I woke up with an insane ear ache last weekend, and have since tried several remedies--earache drops, warm compresses, cool compresses, ear wax drops, flushing my ear with water, Tylenol. While I did get a nice chunk of ear wax out, I still haven't been able to hear in my right ear since the weekend. Clearly, this affects my ears. Then this morning, I woke up with a cold, thus affecting my nose and ability to breathe and smell. When three of your five senses are compromised, it really affects your ability to function as a human. On top of these somewhat common physical ailments that have beset me, I am 7.5 months pregnant. Most of me loves being pregnant, especially at this stage-there is nothing better than feeling your baby kick and squirm inside of you. But to be honest, pregnancy comes with it's own set of struggles, even when you enjoy it. You don't fit into most clothes and feeling beautiful can be challenging. You don't move as easily as you want or are used to. And you just don't have the energy you would like to, because you are growing a tiny human!! Then there is also the emotional aspect of this pregnancy. I have understandably been more anxious with this pregnancy. Each day we get closer to meeting him, but also closer to potentially losing him. That thought is never far from my mind and my heart, and it is exhausting. I also like to think that the hormones have been a touch on the extreme side this time around, but it also may just all be grief.

You are getting the picture- Physically and emotionally, I was exhausted, and unfortunately, this all came out this morning when I got to work :) Luckily, I work with incredibly empathetic and kind people who convinced me I needed to go home (it might've just been that they were embarrassed for my red, splotchy, post-crying face, but we'll assume it was empathy).

Before I left, one of my coworkers reminded me that I need to remember to breathe, and be mindful of the things I am feeling. This really hit me as truth, because I know I have not been as mindful as I should have been. I have let myself feel overwhelmed with life and dealt with it by going through the motions-wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch TV, maybe exercise if I'm feeling ambitious, go to sleep, repeat. That is not the recipe for happiness.

My extreme reaction to waking up with cold symptoms is a manifestation that I have not been dealing with my emotions healthily lately. So after I went to the doctor and got recommendations for my ear, I came home, took a hot shower, did yoga, drank tea, went for a walk, and took a nap. Most of these things I can do every day (except the nap...), but it is usually easier to lay on the couch and numb your mind than do something proactive that awakens your mind! The downside is when you pay for it with large, embarrassing emotional breakdowns in front of your coworkers :)

The lesson learned is that while being an adult is crazy challenging, I can help myself by being more proactive in my self-care measures. I know doing yoga and going for walks and writing and taking a break from media helps me feel peace. Now I just need to follow through with these things!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Baby L #2: 28 Weeks

The 3rd trimester has hit hard! In the past week, the heartburn has started, I don't fit into any normal clothes anymore, and the fatigue has kicked in! Let the countdown begin :)

People often ask a pregnant woman how she is feeling. This is considerate, although awkward. I have decided to be truthful most of the time and answer this question honestly. There are two aspects to take into account when answering this question: how am I doing physically, and how am I doing emotionally. Lucky for most people who ask me this question, I don't go into quite this level of detail with them.
28 weeks!
Physically: Like any typical second pregnancy, I feel quite large quite sooner than before. Most days, when I get home from work, I want nothing more than to lay on the couch and watch TV. Cooking doesn't really happen much anymore unless Josh cooks-but let's be honest, that's always been the case! It takes a lot for me to do anything during the week other than get dressed and go to work. I do tend to be more productive at home on the weekends...mixed in with lots of time relaxing. I'm just so big and awkward! But I know I will get so much bigger, so I try and keep that in mind. Baby's movements have also started to get big and very noticeable in the past week or two. It's very exciting and is also why I just want to lay on the couch, so I can watch and feel him dance!

Emotionally: This pregnancy has been an emotional roller coaster. It started out tough because it took a long time for me to accept that I was pregnant. Then it was difficult because I couldn't feel the baby move and would often convince myself it was dead. Then I started to feel him move, but it wasn't consistent, so anytime I didn't feel him, I would convince myself he was dead. Now that he is moving a lot more regularly and with bigger movements, I don't worry as much that he is dead, but the current struggle has been preparing for him to come. I have the urge and desire to prepare his room, buy him clothes, buy diapers, etc., but it is just so hard to actually do it. I haven't successfully done any of those things without large and ugly breakdowns first, and even then it has taken quite some time to take any steps towards preparation.

I started working on the nursery over winter break, because I had a few days of extra time. I mostly just sat in there and cried for a long time, followed by moving the furniture around a little. I cried over my little girl who never got to use it, and cried over the uncertainty of the future. I cried over the time I spent preparing it for Sloane, and the time I was about to spend preparing it for a little boy who may never use it. I usually love designing rooms, but I just haven't been able to wrap my head around anything for this room. Part of it is because I want something new and different, but at the same time I don't want to spend money on anything new or different when what we have is perfectly fine.
To do: navy curtains, wicker baskets on shelf, hang art and leaves
After rearranging the room, I went through Sloane's clothes and other belongings. At first, I was surprised at how much we had that would work for a boy. But I went through it again this past weekend and was amazed and how much we don't have! I made a cart of baby clothes, and this time actually bought them! This was a big move. I still have a cart on Amazon that I can't bring myself to buy, but if/when we get closer, the 'zon will get it here in two days.

This Friday, we have our first weekly biophysical profile. They will check baby's movements, breathing, muscle tone, heart rate, and amniotic fluid. The perinatologist said that after a regular/normal BPP, the chance of stillbirth goes down to 1/1000 for the following week. Then I have my normal check-ups with my midwife every 2 weeks until 35ish weeks. Then I will get induced at 37-38 weeks! Which is only 9 weeks away. Which is really really very close.

I remember feeling similarly as I do now when I was pregnant with Sloane-like I am on the brink of a major change in my life, but it is so major that I have no idea what it will be like. I am stuck in between my regular life and my new life, but don't really feel like I am part of either one. The difference with this pregnancy is that I don't assume my new life will be with a baby. I know that it might be, or it might be mourning the loss of him. I just cannot wrap my head around bringing him home.

As we have gotten closer to labor and delivery, I have also started to have more flashbacks to L&D with Sloane, which is really tough. I need to remember that it should be a very different experience since I won't be laboring at home at all and will get induced.

This whole pregnancy after loss thing has surely not been easy. But we have made it to 28 weeks! That alone is plenty to be grateful for and farther than many women ever make it. I don't take that for granted, and in the midst of the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, I am trying to appreciate every kick and every stage of this baby boy's life so far. Here's to hoping for another healthy 9 weeks!