Friday, March 31, 2006
I've been told for a couple of years by many mother-friends that breastfeeding is very hard at first. Somehow, in the midst of all that well-intentioned advice, I missed WHY breastfeeding is such a challenge. I think I had the idea that new mothers had trouble adjusting to the time that it took or the way it tied them down or something like that, which seemed like a non-issue to me. About six hours after Caleb was born, I knew exactly why breastfeeding was going to be difficult for me. Caleb, in his precious innocence, spent most of his first few breastfeeding sessions chomping on me rather than suckling. Not only were his efforts ineffective in obtaining milk, but they left me with raw, cracked and bleeding nipples from the first day. During the next seven days, his 8-12 feedings were charactized by excruciating pain. At the suggestion of Caleb's pediatrician, I actually started using Lamaze breathing to cope with the pain as he latched on and began nursing each time. There were several late nights when I, an avid breastfeeding advocate, actually longed to give up. Marcus encouraged me and reminded me how much I would regret it if I did, which he was 100% correct about. Anyway, I eventually began to heal and breastfeeding became less painful. Caleb is eight days old today, and I'm beginning to enjoy our feeding sessions, as I know I will continue to in the days to come.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Today, on his one-week birthday, we took Caleb to Picture People at the mall for his first professional pictures. It was so much fun to take him on his first non-medical outing. I've longed to be one of the moms strolling their darling babies around the mall for ages, and today I finally got to experience it. Grandmama Susan came with us and we ended up meeting Aunt Traci for lunch at the mall as well. It turned out to be a wonderfully enjoyable day. During the photo shoot, Caleb was amazingly cooperative! He was wide awake until just before we finished, and not fussy at all. He seemed to be performing for the camera in many of the shots. Our photographer, Juliana, was amazed that he was so alert at only one-week-old. Rather predictably, I ended up spending more money than I'd planned, and even joined the photo club so we can go back several more times at a discounted rate as he grows this first year.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
There are so many things about being Caleb's mommy that I absolutely love. I love watching him breathe while he's sleeping. His whole body rises and falls, and he has a delightfully peaceful look on his face. I love the way little shudders run through his tiny body after he stops screaming and finally gets what he was asking for (usually food). I love the drunk expression on his face after a nice long feeding. I love the smell of baby that exudes from him. I love the adorable series of expressions he makes while he's trying to poop. Most of all, I love cuddling him to my body and feeling his warmth, knowing that God has entrusted his physical, emotional and spiritual care to his father and I, and knowing that God will give us the strength to fulfill that responsibility.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
At 41 weeks, I was scheduled to be induced at 5:30 am on Thursday morning (March 23rd). On Wednesday afternoon, I called my doctor because I hadn't felt Caleb move much at all the whole day, and I was concerned. Dr. Duff sent me to the labor and delivery triage center for a fetal monitoring test. I called Marcus and he met me there. When we arrived around 3:30 pm, the nurse hooked me up to the monitors, took my blood pressure, and then casually asked me how long I'd been having contractions. I, thinking she had misunderstood why we were there, replied that I was not having contractions. She said, "Oh yes you are honey. Look at the monitor." I was indeed having small contractions every 4-5 minutes. By the end of the 30-minute test, I was just beginning to feel them. Since Caleb appeared to be fine and my labor was just beginning, they sent us home for the evening. My contractions continued for the next six hours, gradually becoming stronger and closer together. Around 9:30 pm, the contractions were painful enough that I was ready to go the hospital. It took another hour and a half to get everyone out the door. We arrived at triage for the second time that day around 11:00 pm. Dr. Greene, the on-call resident, checked my cervix and proclaimed me to be a measly two centimeters dilated. It was a busy night and being only two centimeters put me third in line for the next available labor and delivery room. I was extremely dismayed, to say the least, when the nurse suggested that I "walk around for a couple of hours," until more rooms became available. By now, the contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes, and they REALLY hurt. I ended up laboring in the labor and delivery waiting room (instead of walking around) for the next 2 hours, until they finally gave us a room. Those two hours were definitely the worst part of my labor. I made Marcus call the other hospital in town to see if we could go over there instead. I was disgusted that they didn't have a room for me. One of the other people in the waiting room (there were 10 or so) asked me if I shouldn't get a room or something. I said, "They're out." He was pretty shocked.Anyway, once we got in a room around 1:30 am, things started happening. The anesthiologist came around and quickly became my favorite person in the world. They only let Marcus stay for the administering of the epidural. I squeezed his hands very tightly and concentrated on not moving during the five minutes or so that the doctor was working. The pain of the contractions began to subside immediately, and within an hour, my legs were numb.Shortly after I got the epidural, a nurse came in and started me on Pitocin because my contractions were lessening in strength and frequency. Dr. Greene came in again and checked me, and I was dilated 3 cm. By now, it was about 3:00 am, and all three of us were exhausted. Marcus folded out the chair that was supposed to pass for a cot and slept for a couple of hours. I also drifted off for a couple of hours. When I woke up around 5:00 am, someone was there to check me, and I was happy to hear that I was now dilated 5 cm. Another doctor, I don't remember the name, took this opportunity to break my water. For the next couple of hours, we just chilled out, waiting for Dr. Duff to arrive. The nurse had told us that Caleb would probably be born Thursday afternoon or evening, based on the progress I'd made, so I wasn't looking for anything to happen soon. I was just happy that I wasn't in pain :) Dr. Duff arrived around 7:30 and checked my cervix. His eyes widened and he didn't say anything, so I said, "What is it?" He said, "What would you like it to be?" I said, "10!" to which he replied, "Will 9 cm do?" I was ecstatic! We were soon going to see our little one! Dr. Duff was in a shirt and tie, so he said that he would go change and be back in about 30 minutes. He said that when he got back, it would probably be time to push. True to his word, he came back a little after 8:00 am, proclaimed me fully dilated, and whipped out the stirrups. Marcus and the nurse had to life my legs up and put them in the stirrups, because I had no feeling in them at all. I pushed for a total of 23 minutes, which is not long in the laboring world, but felt like forever to me. My nurse, who had been downright rude several times throughout the night, was not very helpful during this stage. She didn't count, or give me any idea how long I was supposed to be pushing. Instead, she constantly interjected little confidence-boosters like "Now push HARD this time" and "Okay, now REALLY try." A few minutes into the pushing stage, Dr. Duff told Marcus to suit up. I remember feeling excited because I knew Dr. Duff was going to let Marcus help deliver Caleb! I probably would have ended up pushing longer, but Caleb's cord was wedged between the birth canal and his head, and the closer he came to being born, the more his oxygen supply was being cut off. His heartrate slowed enough in those 23 minutes that Dr. Duff decided to do an episiotomy to hurry things along. I, of course, didn't feel a thing. A few minutes later, Caleb's head was out. I think Dr. Duff delivered the head, but during the next push, it was all Marcus. I opened my eyes to see Marcus lifting up a squalling infant. I couldn't believe it was over and he was born! It was 8:36 am. My first thoughts were: "That cord is huge!" and "He's not bloody at all!" They put him on my stomach and I gazed into his little face, amazed at his perfect form. I don't remember much after that, except that Dr. Duff told me to push once more to deliver the placenta, and then immediately said, "Never mind, there it is." So I didn't even have to push :) I also remember us all guessing his weight just before they put him on the scale. Susan though 6 lbs, Marcus thought 6.5, and I thought 7 lbs. He shocked us all with his 8 lbs, 5 oz. He didn't look like a big baby, but the scale said he was.This is my labor story as I remember it. Overall, it was MUCH easier than I was expecting, and I am extremely grateful for that epidural!