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 :)