Expecting our Little Brother in November!

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

I love Breastfeeding

So I think we've reached a new and awesome place with breastfeeding. I know before I complained about it hurting a lot (which it did, at first) and him eating so frequently (which he still does, on occasion). But here at five weeks postpartum, things are looking up--so much so that I find myself really loving it, now.

James is getting a lot better at latching and eating. He can now (usually) latch himself back on when he pops off and can do so pretty well. He also is getting a lot faster and more effective at emptying the breast, so he doesn't tend to eat for nearly as long as he did at first. In the first week or two, it would take him 30 (sometimes even 45) mins to finish a good meal--now he can be done in 15-20 mins, and his snacks which used to be 15 mins are now 5.

I can now breastfeed in many different positions--I can go from sitting to standing, I don't rely on the boppy pillow anymore, but can hold him myself pretty comfortably. I can pretty much take him around with me while he is feeding (of course, I only have one arm free, tops, but it is better than being tied to the couch and not really having any freedom).

And it doesn't hurt much anymore at all. The initial latch/letdown is still slightly uncomfortable--but the letdown sensation is uncomfortable whether he is eating or not (and can be triggered by very funny things--like just a passing thought of him or glancing at a picture of him. But within about a minute of him starting to nurse, breastfeeding is pretty much totally comfortable now.

With this comfort is coming a love. Those prolactin hormones get released and I relax and zone out, often while staring into his beautiful blue eyes. I get lost in how beautiful he is, how amazing it is that I am feeding him . . .

And the breastfeeding relationship is really special too. I think it helps my confidence as a mother. The process of becoming a mother is so surreal. People have asked me what it feels like to be a mother and I still don't feel like I am one.

I gave birth, REALLY?
I have a baby, are you SERIOUS?
Who left this kid here?

I still feel like that. Sometimes it is easy to question if someone else couldn't care for him just as effectively (if not more).

But breastfeeding is like continual proof that I am, indeed, the mother of this beautiful baby, and actually the most qualified person to take care of him, the one who knows him best, who loves him best. Breastfeeding means that I am a unique person in James' world--no one else can do that for him. I think this helps the strange journey into motherhood--it reinforces that I am different in myself and special to this baby--that I HAVE changed into a mother, no matter how strange that seems to my intellect.

The last thing that is amazing about the breastfeeding relationship is how much James loves it. The absolute best moments for him is when he is eating. When he is crying and I lay him on my lap and start to get ready to feed him, he gets quiet and expectant.

In the article I posted a while back, "Breastfeeding in the land of Genghis Khan," the author talks about how in Western culture, we are focused on figuring out why the baby cries and therefore, the right solution. But she says, "In Mongolia, babies might cry for many reasons, but there is only ever one solution--breastfeeding." This quote pops into my mind all the time now. James wants to eat when he is hungry, obviously. But he also wants to eat when he is tired (and it puts him right to sleep), he wants to eat if he is cold (the breasts are very warm and will actually change in temperature if they sense even a one degree drop in the baby's temp), if he is uncomfortable, etc.

Never has there been a situation when James is crying, and nursing will not console him. No matter what is wrong, breastfeeding makes it better, stops the crying, and turns a fussy baby into a happy one.

Most recently and adorably, James has started to smile--but only while he is nursing (and I just see the corner of his mouth turn up as he pauses from his eating to smile about it, still latched on), or when he has finished a good meal and he is very full and content, he just smiles and smiles. I don't think it is voluntary yet, but breastfeeding makes my boy uncontrollably smile, and it is just too much for me and his Dad.

All these things are wrapping together to form a deep love of this method of feeding and the relationship that is borne out of it. I can only imagine how much I will love it when time goes on even more, and the difficulties continue to fall away while the benefits continue to stack up.

Top Christmas Moments

On Christmas morning, before we went downstairs to open presents, when James was so excited for Christmas that he got on my sister's bed and started jumping on the bed, only to bang his head hard on my parents low 7-foot high ceilings.

On Christmas day at my in-laws, when we dressed the baby as Santa and we all agreed that if he got any cuter we would all explode because of the cuteness.

On Christmas day when we sat all together as a new family--me in my red pajamas, James in his green pajamas, and baby James in his white snuggly pajamas, and we loved each other as we opened presents with my family.

On Christmas Eve at my parents' house, when we brought little James outside for the first time (besides just going to and from the car). He was crying and as soon as we got outside, he got so content and alert--he loved the outside and being surrounded by our family doing the annual luminary design (this year was Rudolph).

On Christmas day evening at my in-laws, when we lit the Christmas figgy pudding, and watched the blue light at it danced, and then circled around the bottom of the pudding again and again and again before it burned out, and we all decided that this would be an annual tradition.

And the top Christmas moment . . .

On Christmas Eve when my family was gathered in my parents' living room singing Christmas Carols (as we do every year), and my uncle, our guitar accompanist, asked for volunteers to sing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". My two sisters volunteered, and squished on the loveseat with my uncle so they could see the lyrics to sing. I was sitting on the ground breastfeeding James, but the song was so beautiful that I had to join in. So I perched on the arm of the couch while nursing James, and leaned over my sister to see the lyrics so I, too, could sing hallelujah and give praise for being so blessed.

"I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah"

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Big Boy in and out of Clothes and Diapers

So this morning I went through James' clothes and put away the stuff that was too small--he is already out of most of his newborn sized clothes and into 0-3, 3 month, and 3-6 month clothes.

Plus he is already too big for the 12 newborn sized prefolds that I bought when he was born and the regular sized prefolds were WAY too big. Now I've taken those out again and I bet they will fit him just fine.

Also he is almost grown out of the three extra small size happy heiny pocket diapers, and fits really nicely in the three small sized ones I have. I really like these diapers more, though, and I bet small will fit him for awhile because he has a little butt, so I've been looking for more size small happy heinys on ebay . . .

It is crazy that he's already out of his smallest sized clothes--he is growing and changing so much, I can't believe it.

Wearing James

I have two main baby carriers--one is the Moby wrap, and one is the Ergo.

I tried out the Ergo a couple of times, but James always wants to nurse once he's in it which I haven't figured out how to do yet.


So I've mostly been using the Moby and I really like it. This hold is called the "breastfeeding hold, I can breastfeed him while he's in there and then he usually falls asleep in a few minutes:


The moby is basically one long strip of fabric, that you fold and wrap around you so that it holds him near you. It is a little overwhelming at first, but it is already getting more automatic for me after only doing it for maybe 4-5 days now.

I tried this hold out once (the lotus hold), but it didn't support his head very well while I was moving around.




But I can see how this would be a fun hold for when he's a little older and able to hold his head up more.

The same is true for the Ergo. I can tell it is a really supportive carrier and will be better for my back once he's able to sit up better, so I'm really looking forward to using that more, too.

In general, I'm really loving baby-wearing. I'm able to clean up around the house while breastfeeding him and "holding him" and rocking him to sleep all at the same time!

Monday, December 20, 2010

James Back to Work

So James was back to work today for his first whole day (he had done mornings only on Thursday and Friday last week). It wasn't too bad being alone with (Baby) James all day. I just had to do a lot of sitting on the couch, watching TV and feeding and rocking him, and rocking/bouncing him to sleep while walking around downstairs, and diaper changing. Honestly I didn't accomplish a whole lot besides.

I was able to finish drying and fold a load of cloth diapers, and to collect, wash, and dry all the baby laundry. I also unloaded half the dishwasher and ate not only breakfast, but lunch as well, along with nearly an entire bag of Newman O's.

We also took a trip to our chiropractor (Yaling) to get adjusted. He slept for the ride there and back, so from about 11 until almost 1--but besides that he didn't sleep for more than 20 mins at a time all day, so it was definitely a big challenge to accomplish anything.

I sort of could envision some kind of routine, though--one day when his schedule is more predictable, hopefully I'll actually be able to get some stuff done during the day . . .

I obviously missed (big) James while he was at work--I can't say how nice it was to have him home with us for an entire month. I feel really blessed and lucky to have been able to bond as a family like that during this important time of our new family. :-)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

One Month Birthday

James is one month old today.


I can't believe how much and how fast he is changing. He is getting so much fatter and being able to eat more and more at one time. We are definitely starting to get into more of a routine, understanding each other better, sleeping better, etc.

James goes back to work on Monday fulltime. He went in for the mornings on Thursday and Friday, but that was easy, because (lil) James usually sleeps from 9:30/10 until 12/1 . . . so I only needed to take care of him by myself for a couple of hours, which I've done before when James has gone shopping or out running errands anyway. So Monday, being by myself with him all day, is going to be pretty different--the first time that has happened . . . I know it will be fine but it seems daunting right now!

But nursing is getting easier and easier and James is sleeping better and better, taking more predictable naps, so I'm sure we'll get into a good routine in a week or two. And even though I'm nervous, I'm also excited to find a new normal with James as part of our life.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ooooowww Update

So in my previous post, published at 9:30ish pm, I'd said that James had been nursing non-stop for three hours . . . Yeah so, this went on with only a few breaks to sleep for 5 mins, be changed, or cry inconsolably, until 2:20 am.

Holy crapola. Today we tried REALLY hard not to let him sleep for too long during the day. We woke him up from both his long naps (and we had to try REALLY hard), but he fell asleep (hopefully "for the night") around 7:30 tonight, so so far, it has worked!

Now we just need to get me to sleep and I'll be ready to face a new "day" (ie, whenever he wakes up next).

Sorry all my recent posts have been whines. Hopefully I'll write something of substance soon.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oooowwww

James has literally been nursing non-stop for three hours. I'm trying to just be resigned to it but as my boobs get sorer and sorer it is hard to go with the flow. Every time I take him off he starts crying and rooting. ::WHINE::

Just needed to get that out of my system.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Witch's Milk

So, there's no easy way to say it. I have an amazing lactating baby.

You heard me right. When you squeeze James' little boobies, milk comes out.

I wasn't too concerned when I noticed this, because I had read about it before. This milk is known as witch's milk, or neonatal milk, and according to Wikipedia, 5% of babies, or 1/20, will lactate in their first month or two of life.

I thought this was crazy and wanted to take a video of it and post it here, but James forbid it--insisting our future teenage son would one day discover this and be mortified. But he permitted me to write about it.

I guess it's caused because the hormone prolactin is secreted in high amounts by the mother's body to stimulate her body to produce milk, and this hormone is passed to the baby through the breastmilk, which sometimes causes the baby to also produce milk.

James sort of thinks it is freaky but I think it is awesome. LOL

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fun Times Tonight

The title of this post is sarcastic. For some reason, James was really fussy tonight. Even after eating and eating and eating, and getting changed, and getting burped and rocked and changed again, and fed again and again, he continued to fuss and cry no matter what we did. Unless I was actually feeding him, of course, because breastfeeding never gets old for him.

Finally my boobs were killing me and I couldn't deal anymore, and I asked James to take him upstairs and I sat down here listening to him cry for a few minutes. Finally I decided that today was a good day for his very first bottle.

I'm very proud to say that up until tonight, he has breastfed and only breastfed--nothing else has ever gone into his body by any other method. And while I fully intend to never give him formula, and plan on waiting to introduce food until the recommended six months old, I did always intend to start introducing bottles as a way for him to drink the breastmilk that I've pumped and collected . . . so that James could feed him sometimes, and so we could someday go out and have a babysitter . . . I sort of thought I would wait until after the holidays, but apparently James David had other plans.

Because today when I was feeling completely touched out and exhausted and like I needed a good meal and a never-ending drink of water, I just couldn't deal with nursing him anymore. But hey, that's why I've worked so hard to pump that frozen milk, right?

So I went down to our freezer and picked out an ounce and a half of milk saved and frozen from his first week of life, and I brought it upstairs and stood in the kitchen defrosting it in one of our Tommee Tippee bottle, in a hot water bath, over the steamer, and I listened to my poor little son cry continuously as I watched the pot and checked the milk again and again, tapping my foot and standing there beside the stove, mentally pacing.

And finally I brought that little bottle of milk up to James and he said: "I thought you were going to do that." And he popped the bottle in the open maul of our crying baby, who eventually figured out that there was food in there, and proceeded to gulp it down like his life depended on it (which I guess it kind of does).

It was odd watching him eat like that--obviously, I am normally feeding him and looking down at him--it was so funny to see him across from me, in James' arms, eating away.

Of course once he had sucked down the bottle he continued to cry and I had to breastfeed him anyway, but it somehow took the edge off--after only a few minutes of additional feeding his eyes began to droop and he finally fell asleep (because the little tyke was not only hungry but also tired, which added to his misery).

And when he finally was asleep and quiet, James and I just hugged each other like we'd came out on the other side of a natural disaster . . . and that was pretty much what it felt like.

Fun times tonight.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thanks Mariclare!

Mariclare gave me the most amazing present tonight! She painted this picture from a photograph she took at our intimate pregnancy photo session, that I'd shared a few pictures of before . . .



It is just so beautiful, I'm so grateful to have my pregnant self immortalized this way. I'm so lucky (and James David is so lucky) to have so many amazing and talented people around us . . . like Mariclare. We love you, MC, you are the best friend a girl could ever ask for. :D

My Baby is 3 Weeks Old!

James David is three weeks old! He is continuing to grow and change so much--it is just crazy. I feel like his cheeks and arms and legs are getting chubbier--slowly, but surely!


I was thinking the other day how a month ago I was hauling my huge stomach around. I was getting into bed, holding James in my arms, and I pictured myself when I was still pregnant, climbing awkwardly into bed . . . So much has changed in so short a time, it almost feels like another person's life. James David has changed us so fundamentally . . .

I had this same feeling when James and I fell in love--a few days after, we walked hand in hand, and I struggled to remember the events from before I loved him. It felt like someone else, the person I had been "before". My life had been cleaved open by this monumental event--and now it has happened again, with another little James coming into my life, coming into my heart . . .

Now my heart will never be the same.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Things People Don't Tell you About Post-Partum

First, I'm still spotting. It's almost been three weeks--I guess I didn't realize it would go on for this long! Some of the people on my message board (a group of people all expecting babies in November) have been bleeding/spotting for SIX WEEKS! That is just crazy. I really hope that I'm not bleeding for that long, and that the spotting stops soon. ::sigh::

Second, I'm constipated as hell! And, according once again to the people on my message board, this is a normal post-partum thing . . . it's not even related to nursing--some of the people who are formula feeding are also constipated; AND some of the people who weren't even constipated while pregnant are now constipated post-partum. I guess it's just something that happens a lot of the time after you have the baby. (Yeah, WTH?)

Third, I was honestly surprised by how long it took me to recover after having the baby--it was six entire days before I was really able to be up and about--and apparently I was pretty ashen after a few hours of this (according to my family).

Fourth, nursing is a hell of a lot more painful than I thought it would be. It is totally still worth it and in other ways I love it--that the milk is always with me, warm, ready to use, and never runs out. I also love how much James David loves it--he gets this look on his face when he first latches on, and he is SO serious and determined--it is like the most important thing in the world to him (seriously) and I love that I can do that for him.

Yet, honestly, it is now almost three weeks since I had him, and while the pain is no longer excruciating, and my nipples appear to have recovered (no longer blistered and scabbed), it still definitely hurts sometimes--especially when he's been nursing for a long time or I'm engorged. I didn't think it would take this long to adjust to nursing but I know it does eventually become painless, so obviously I'm still adjusting.

All these things definitely surprised me!

In other news, I attempted to post another video but even after (literally) hours of "uploading it", I decided that it was not actually going to upload. Sooooo yeah. I'll try again tomorrow. ;-)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

James' First Bath in Videos

My first attempt at posting videos on the blog . . .

James had his first bath on Monday. We have the Prince Lionheart Washpod, and it was definitely fun washing James.

Here is the before bath video:
video

And here he is getting in for the first time:
video

Here he is in the bath! He seems to like it a lot actually, despite the fact that he's a bit too small for the bath, LOL:
video

video

video

And here he is all clean and getting dried up in his Pooh towel, hehe.
video

My only complaint about the whole experience was that I didn't get to squeeze him enough while he was all naked and cute. Therefore I've decided our next bath, we'll all get in the big tub together! There will be no video of this, LOL!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Do we actually have a schedule?

James David is settling into a bit of a schedule, to my complete surprise. I honestly did not expect any regularity for at least a month. But inexplicably, I have observed almost the exact same pattern for at least 4 days and the days before that were pretty similar, too.

We have been heading up to bed around 9 pm. James and I will bring the computer up there and watch shows on Netflix while I feed up the little dude for the long night ahead. Around 10-10:30pm I start really crashing and getting tired--and ideally by now James David is asleep or very nearly. If he needs additional changing/burping/rocking, etc, I pass him off to James and pass out. Usually little James is asleep by 11, though, in his cradle by our bed.

Then he will sleep until just about 4-4:30. I start hearing his waking up noises in my sleep(slash my boobs start ACHING) but both of us take a good half hour after this to get fully awake--this is usually the 4-4:30 time slot. Finally I wake up (big) James and ask him to change (little) James and while he is changing him, I sit up, arrange my pillows and boppy around me, and I'm all set to feed him.

James David eats for a good half hour, sometimes even 45 mins, because this is by FAR the longest stretch he goes without eating so he's really quite hungry when he wakes up, and needs to eat for a long time. When he's done eating, he usually needs to be changed again, and he typically isn't ready to go RIGHT back to sleep, so I wake James up again, he sets up the cosleeper, changes him again, and then usually hangs out with him for a half hour or so, burping him and rocking him--I go back to sleep while all this is going on. Then James David goes back to sleep from 5/5:30 until about 8:30.

We repeat our middle of the night situation at 8:30--James changes him before and after a long feed. Then we usually get up, get the little man dressed for the day, get ourselves dressed for the day, and go downstairs.

Around 9:30 or so, James will fall asleep again and take a nice long morning nap. Usually he'll sleep for at least an hour and a half--and sometimes he'll sleep for more than two hours and I'll start thinking about waking him up so he doesn't sleep too much during the day.

But usually he wakes up on his own between 10:30-12, and again wants to eat for a good long spell.

Then he is pretty awake for the rest of the day--a few hours later--sometimes between 3-5, he'll start his all-night eat-a-thon where he'll cluster feed and basically nurse non-stop (5 mins on, 5 mins off, etc) for several hours. He might at some point in the evening take another longer nap as well but this afternoon/evening time is definitely the least predictable in terms of eating and sleeping.

And then we're back to 9pm or so and it's bedtime again! Not a bad little schedule! I am SOOOO grateful that he is such a good sleeper and we have minimal middle of the night wake-ups. There was ONE night that he woke up every two hours and I wanted to pull my hair out. I can't imagine days upon days of that.

Of course, it would be amazing if he continued with this same schedule/pattern, but I REALLY don't want to get too attached to it. I know babies can change at the drop of a hat because of growth spells, getting older, everything. So I know that tomorrow he might do something completely differently. But I'm going to try to enjoy the predictability and sleep while it lasts.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Co-Sleeping

So James David does not have his own room. I just didn't see the point. Little babies need almost nothing. He has a dresser for his clothes, receiving blankets, and wraps and carriers--it is in our room. He has a changing area--in the bathroom--located in close proximity to the toilet, which is very handy while cloth diapering . . .

He has a cradle, located next to our bed, and then there's his cosleeper, which goes on our bed:

Since we would have wanted him near us at night anyway, the only thing that we maybe could have put in a nursery is the dresser . . . not a very full room.

So he doesn't have a room. I think by the time he is one or definitely by the time he turns two, we'll have designed and decorated a nice little toddler room for him, complete with his own bed, dresser, painted letters and animals on the walls, chalkboard paint, cork boards, the whole deal.

In the meantime, he'll sleep with us. This was, quite unexpectedly, the one point that my Dad freaked out about. It was fine that we had a midwife, a home birth, that we'll delay vaccinations and didn't circumcise, but co-sleeping was just too much for him. (It's sort of weird how everyone has their points of contention).

In the first few days, he was just in the cosleeper. Both James and I wanted him RIGHT THERE, between us, in front of our eyes, at the reach of our hands--we both woke up multiple times in the night with a gasp, reaching over to check that his chest rose and fell, poking at him to see his eyelids flutter--making sure that it was not all a dream--that he was there with us.

Now, typically, we'll get him to sleep "for the night" sometime between 10pm-12am, and we'll put him in the cradle. We'll have our opportunity then to snuggle with each other, hold each other as we fall asleep. Then James David will wake up between 3-5am, and at that point, we pull out the cosleeper and he'll sleep there for the rest of the night--easy to reach out and comfort if he is fussing--easy to get if he needs to nurse . . . accessible.

At some point in the future when he outgrows the co-sleeper and the risk of SIDS falls, he'll probably just sleep right in our bed, and so far, that is where James and I like him. It is by far the easiest situation for nursing and bonding.

Honestly, I can't imagine putting him in a crib in a separate room and closing the door. I carried him inside me for nine months, and such a drastic separation right away feels so unnatural. I want to be near him, to hear his noises and see him--all the time. It feels very very odd to be apart from him--even in a different room.

So I know co-sleeping isn't for everyone, but it is working great for us, so far. My Dad insists that we'll never get him out of our bed but I'm fairly certain that he won't take us to college with him, ;-) Anyway, at this point I have bigger fish to fry--sleeping in close proximity to your baby greatly reduces the risk of SIDS, promotes a good breastfeeding relationship, in short--helps a newborn grow into a healthy toddler. That's what I'm focused on right now--we'll worry about teaching him to sleep without US when we're ready to sleep without HIM, and that time is definitely not now!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Two Weeks!

It was two weeks ago today that I gave birth to my precious son!

In that time, he has already changed and grown so much! He is back up to his birth weight (or very nearly)--he was 8 lbs 6 ozs this morning and 8 lbs 7 ozs at birth.

He is getting to be a bit fussier than he used to be--I find myself so thankful for nursing because he will instantly stop crying, usually just from being put on my lap on the boppy, because he knows he will get to eat in a minute. And nursing stops him from crying no matter what, and usually puts him right to sleep--though of course he will wake up again a few minutes later unless he is actually tired . . . I wonder how formula feeding Moms do it, because I'm pretty sure you can't just give tons and tons of formula to a baby as a fix-all solution the way you can with nursing.

Anyway, I think the little chap is rather gassy--he burps and farts A LOT, and even if I burp him multiple times while eating, it doesn't seem to help. He just tends to swallow lots and lots of air--both while nursing and other times. I actually don't even know how he does it while nursing--isn't there supposed to be a vacuum in his mouth?

So while he's awake he is often fussy, but as long as I feed him often enough I can keep him from crying. It's going to be interesting when James goes back to work, though, and I can't just feed him all the time! Luckily he still sleeps well--both at night and takes long naps during the day. I usually have to wake him up from naps at least once a day because I don't want him to sleep so much that he doesn't sleep at night.

It's starting to be a bit more real that I'm a Mom and he's my baby. I don't know if the full reality has REALLY hit me, but it's getting there.

On a final note, we have such such amazing friends and family. As if the tons of things we got for his baby shower weren't enough, we've gotten tons of presents from the most unexpected people in the last few weeks . . . everyone has been so generous--and not only with traditional gifts but with food, helping us clean up, and so so many visits. It just feels like this huge outpouring of love, and it makes me just swell with thankfulness.

Then again, who could resist loving him?


I really can't believe how fast he is changing--he already looks so different and so much older than he did two weeks ago. I keep meaning to take videos of him and most days, forgetting. It just feels like everything is happening so fast and before I know it, he'll be a man.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Benefits of Cluster Feeding

So our evenings--starting as early as 4, and ending as late as midnight, but usually for a good 4-5 hour stretch . . . are basically an all-night eat-a-thon. Meaning that James David nurses for 5-15 mins, then takes a 5-15 min break, and then wants to nurse again. This seriously does last for at least 4 hours.

I will let him go on one boob for a total of 30-45 mins of EATING time, and then switch to the other one--but after several hours of this, they haven't had time to fill up again by the time it's "their turn" again.

So, by the end of it, I almost feel bad because my boobs are completely done--or at least, it feels that way--like there is no milk left in them. And yet when he pops off, there is still milk in his mouth--where is it even coming from???

Yet eventually the baby goes to sleep--typically, sometime between 9 and 12, and when he FINALLY and REALLY goes to sleep, then the benefits of all-evening cluster feeds start to shine through. Because that baby will sleep almost the whole night through!! Last night he slept from 11:30-4, ate, and then slept again from 4:30 to 8:45. Ahhh, the blissful wonder of (nearly) uninterrupted sleep.

There was ONE day (in the past week) that he didn't spend all evening eating. And that night he woke up every two hours on the dot, and it was SO SO much worse. For some reason one's body is not programmed to sleep in tiny chunks (unless one's body is 13 days old, that is).

So, all in all, no matter how sore my nips are by the end of it, or how deflated my boobs, I'll take the cluster feeds and sleeping at night over an every-two-hours-throughout-the-day-and-night sort of schedule. The sleep at night is totally worth being attached to an adorable baby all evening.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Baby is a Prince

I've been a bit neglectful (of the blog) and this won't be a very long post either, but . . .

James is a sensitive little dude. Specifically, he HATES to be wet. He also (apparently) like pooping in completely clean and fresh diapers. So today James changed him. About a half hour later he started fussing again, and low and behold, was once again wet, and so, got changed again.

Literally the SECOND James sat down from changing him this second time, we heard a huge poop explosion. And so, the prince was changed for the third time in an hour.

In related news, today was our first day in exclusively cloth. We'd been doing some cloth and some disposables for the past week or so, but I quickly realized that the prefolds we had were WAY too big for him, and so were the size small Happy Heiny brand pocket diapers that I had. So the only diapers we had to fit him were four fitted diapers (3 size 0 Kissaluvs and 1 Happy Heiny), and 3 size extra small Happy Heiny's pockets. I'm really glad I didn't try to go for one size diapers because I'm pretty sure they wouldn't work for us at all, at this point.

Anyway, these seven diapers were not enough to get us through the day, especially given how often James likes to be changed, so we were doing both for awhile. However, by a happy stroke of luck, we got 12 prefolds as a present from our family friend Sharon and her husband Skip, and they were really slim and fit James really well. So today is our first day doing entirely cloth, and I think it's going really well!

James is the master diaper changer and is even quite confident now with the prefolds, snappis, and covers. I also ordered 12 more small size prefolds and two small fleece covers, so when these arrive, we'll really be rocking! So there's a little update for you!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Visitor Log

So here are the visitors we've had since James was born:

Friday, Nov 19th, Birth Day: Midwives (Kim, Cindy, Nancy), Mom (Dabney), Mom (Julie), Dad (Chris), Lauren, Marilyn, Kate, Mariclare, Grandma Rosemary.

Saturday the 20th: Midwives (Kim and Cindy), Jianlin, Lixia, and Lily

Sunday the 21st: Mom (Julie), Amy and Karl

Monday the 22nd: Midwives (Kim and Cindy) Mom (Julie), Mom (Dabney), Dad (Chris), Marilyn

Tuesday the 23rd: Mom (Julie), Dad (Chris), Dad (Arthur), Marilyn, Amy and Karl

Wednesday the 24th: Midwife (Kim), Kate, Marilyn, Mariclare, Sky

Thursday (Thanksgiving): Mom (Julie), Dad (Chris), Mom (Dabney), Roger, Grandma Marline, Andrew, Natalya, Lauren, Marilyn, Kate

Friday the 26th: Jessie

Saturday the 27th: Mom (Dabney), Andrew, Natalya, Emily, Trevor, Tim, Mariclare, Norm

Sunday the 28th: Aunt Lu, Uncle Chuck, Marilyn

Monday: NO ONE! Wow!

Tuesday the 2nd: Uncle Lou, Max, Mom (Julie), Dad (Chris)

Wednesday the 1st: Marilyn, her roommate Grace, and her roommate Jenn (Koenig)

I'll have to keep updating this. James David is a pretty popular dude.

Doubting Thomas'

So it's pretty funny to me how many people have come out of the woodwork since we gave birth who are totally surprised that he was so big and healthy. Apparently, we had plenty of friends and family members who totally doubted that I could grow a healthy baby as a vegan.

I guess I get the impression that they expected him to be really tiny, or sick, or something . . . YES PEOPLE, a vegan diet CAN contain all the nutrients you need to be completely healthy. LOL! You'd think that the fact that James has been vegan for 12 years and I have been vegan for six years would be enough to convince people that you can indeed sustain life on a vegan diet.

Buuut, apparently the true test is growing a baby, and the fact that we had an 8 lb, 7 oz, long, healthy baby means that we've passed. So if you were wondering, it is NOW official, a vegan diet is healthy. Mine and James' stellar bloodwork and slim figures weren't real evidence, but a healthy James David is. ;-)

Whew

I wish that doctors and professionals wouldn't tell new Moms that breastfed babies eat every two hours. It is a bold-faced lie--at least for the first few weeks. Yes, there are times that James goes 2, 3, 4 (one glorious night, even 6 hours) between feedings. But much more often, it is one hour, or a half hour.

And there are things called growth spurts--and again, I'm glad for all my research on breastfeeding that makes me know that these things are totally normal, because otherwise I would be doubting everything about breastfeeding . . .

There is supposedly a growth spurt around one week--and yesterday, at exactly one week, James started to eat NONSTOP. Like, here were the times he ate in the evening:

5:05-5:30--left boob
6:05-6:35--right boob
6:50-6:55--left boob
7:40-7:45--left boob
7:50-8:20--left boob
8:30-8:50--right boob
8:55-9:05--right boob
9:15-9:25--left boob
10:45-11:10--left boob

Then he FINALLY went to sleep for three hours, before waking up again and wanting to eat from both sides between 2:30 and 4, and then he went back to sleep for two more hours and then was up from 6:30-10:30 and ate 4 times for a half hour each.

WOAH. My nipples are FREAKING sore and my boobs are like two deflated balloons. THIS IS NOT EVERY TWO HOURS. That is why it is a lie and they should just tell new parents to expect their baby to eat every hour on the hour for at least two weeks.

Because I have done my own research I know that these frequent feeding times have the specific function of bringing up your milk supply. After one week, the baby's stomach is getting bigger and able to hold more milk at a time. So he eats non-stop so that your breasts understand that his stomach has grown, and they can start making more milk for him.

Breastfeeding is an absolute perfect system (though unfortunately it can be very difficult for some Moms/Babies), but so much of it working, I think, is trusting in that system. I could be panicking right now and think my milk isn't there and that my baby is starving. But my milk IS there and my baby ISN'T starving. He is doing exactly what he needs to in order to have as much milk as he needs in the future, so I'm glad of that.

I'm also glad that he finally settled down for a longer nap and I can have a break, because my mind started bending around 3:45 this morning.

Friday, November 26, 2010

One Week Baby Gratitude

My beautiful son is one week old today. A week ago at this time I was already holding him in my arms--he might have even been getting passed around to my various family members by now.

It is sort of insane that I have a son--a baby.

On the one hand, James and I love him so unconditionally--we are (obviously) obsessed with him. Every face is the cutest face we have ever seen. We just stare at him and ooo and ahh over every little thing he does. We love every little body part and noise and movement. We take a million pictures of him every day. I usually wake up before he does in the morning because I miss him. I stare at him sleeping and I wish that he'll wake up because I want to snuggle him and kiss him and hold him. We just love him so much, and it is crazy how immediately he was the most important person in our world.

And on the other hand I'm still in this weird state of disbelief. It doesn't really seem real yet. Am I really a MOTHER? Is he really MY SON? Is our life REALLY changed forever? It keeps feeling like someday we'll wake up and someone will show up to take him away because it was just a fun experience that we bought and after a week it will be finished and our life will be back to normal. It just isn't real to me yet.

And, if there was another hand, it would be how funny it is that James and I seem to have taken to this very naturally--it's almost part of the reason it feels unreal. All of a sudden, it is totally normal that our life revolves around someone else--that there is a person depending on us. James and I both feel so confident in caring for him--I can usually tell right away if he's hungry or needs to be changed, and James is good at recognizing when he is overstimulated and needs some quiet time, or Mom and Dad time . . . it's like he is so naturally a part of our life and it's so crazy that James and I are the ones that know and love him best, that we are the ultimate authority on this tiny and precious life . . . sometimes he cries when someone else holds him but he stops when I take him. How does he know me? Why does he think I am the best person to take care of him? It's all a strange mystery to me still.

And yet, there have been moments--and these moments give me insight into how insane it must be to be a new parent to a baby who is sick, who has trouble latching, who doesn't sleep or who is colicky--or to be a new parent that is having trouble breastfeeding, family issues, a single parent . . . there are moments where I feel tiredness taking over my brain, my nipples ache, and he starts to fuss in his "I'm hungry" way, and I resent that I'm the only one who can feed him, that I have to deal with the pain, that I have to stay awake. In these moments, I feel crazy as my unconditional love for him wars with the natural urge to be selfish. I can only imagine how it must be in the situations I mentioned above, when the demand on you is so much greater--when the support is so much less--when the baby is so much harder and you have to give so much more and get so much less in return. I can only imagine how depression can creep up with the realization that your life IS changed and this IS the new normal . . . and in SPITE OF an overwhelming and beautiful love for that same baby . . .

I can only feel very grateful, in the wake of the Thanksgiving Holiday, that I was, and continue to be so blessed. James is a ridiculously supportive and amazing husband--staying up with him at night so I can sleep when he needs to--doing the middle of the night diaper changes--feeding and caring for me so I can take care of Little James. And my Baby James is a ridiculously amazing baby--he sleeps so well, during the day and at night--he eats well, latches well, communicates his needs well. He never cries except when he is hungry or wet or tired, and when he is awake he is SO awake and aware and engaged. And my family--they have been so supportive. My Mother, and James' have been cleaning and caring for us almost non-stop, and the rest of our family just loves him so much and have been helping so much. I know that the blessings are way way too many to count. Sometimes it is really too much.

Blog Changes

It has come to my attention more and more recently that lots of people are reading my blog who I was completely unaware of because they didn't have google accounts and so, couldn't leave comments.

I guess I didn't really realize that there was a setting like this that prevented anonymous comments . . . but there was!

Anyway, I just changed the settings of the blog. Now, anyone is able to leave a comment. If you are an "anonymous" commenter (someone without a google account), please just leave your name in your comment so I know who you are.

I am excited to hear from more people more often now! :-D

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Birth Story

In the days before the birth I was definitely having some things that could be considered "prelabor", and I totally attribute them to getting acupuncture. My friend Craig the acupuncturist guaranteed me that his patients never go more than a few days past their due dates, and I had no reason to doubt him.

So I went on my due date, Tuesday, to get acupuncture and get a chiropractic adjustment, and this set off a string of pretty consistent Braxton Hicks contractions. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I continued to have Braxton Hicks contractions often, to feel extremely uncomfortable, to get up many times each night to pee and feeling uncomfortable, etc. We went to walk around UConn on Wednesday (?) night, and while I walked around as briskly as I could with a 9 month pregnant belly, the contractions became slightly more painful, but they would go back to just tightening as soon as I stopped walking.

On Thursday I went again for acupuncture and a chiropractic adjustment, and Thursday night the Braxton Hicks contractions continued, and I woke up several times over the night. At 4 am I realized I'd woken to pee at 2, 2:30, 3, 3:30, and 4 . . . even that was a bit much for me. I felt even more uncomfortable than normal, and thought MAYBE I was in the beginning of labor, and that, either way, I couldn't really sleep any more.

So I got up and went downstairs to watch Harry Potter, time the contractions I was feeling on the contraction master, and go online. After a few minutes of timing contractions, I took this herbal supplement that Craig (acupuncturist) had given me. Sometime after this (or maybe before, I can't quite remember), the contractions started to definitely get more painful--not just like tightening, but like something more. I couldn't sit still and started to pace around, bounce on the birth ball, and lean over our overchair during the contractions. At 5:00 or so, I started to think MAYBE this was actual labor, and at 5:40, I started texting my family to let them know--since the plan was for everyone to be here.

First I texted my sister Lauren since she lived in Brooklyn and had to take a train to my parents house (an hour to an hour and a half) and then they all had to drive another hour and a half up here. After I texted her, she called me.

"I'm pretty sure this is it." I said.
"Should I call out of work and get on a train?" she asked me.
"Well," I said, "definitely call out of work and start getting ready to go, but call me back again before you get on a train to make sure."
"Okay."

Next I texted my sister Marilyn, but she didn't call me back for a while. Just before 6, I called my Mom to let her know--and to tell her that Lauren was already on her way.

At 6, I woke up James. "I'm in labor!"
"What, really?" he said. He was pretty excited because all week he had been going to work instead of not going to work, and every morning he would ask my sleeping self:
"Okay, are you in labor?"
And I would say no. So this morning when I was in labor was pretty awesome for him.

I left him up there to go back and text my sister again. She called me back a bit later and I told her that this was it, and she should go get my sister, and she said: "Okay I'll go right now." And off she went.

James did a nice long qigong practice, thinking he would need his energy and concentration for a long day of labor. I was downstairs and the contractions started to get more intense and I started to think that I wanted his support. I went back upstairs and tried laying on my side in bed like we'd practiced in our Bradley class, and "relaxing" through a contraction. However, when the contraction hit, I could NOT stay down there.

It's interesting because I COULD say that trying to lay or sit through a contraction was excruciating, but it just wasn't like that. What I mean is that it was way less comfortable laying or sitting than it was standing, or leaning over. But the intensity of the word uncomfortable isn't right, and yet PAINFUL doesn't really hit it either. Yes it was painful, but it is such an event that you (well I) didn't think PAIN. I was excited to finally have the baby and this was the crazy rollercoaster to get me there. It was obviously uncomfortable, and I guess it WAS painful, but I brought forth life. Considering the miracle, the sensations were understandable and bearable and just part of that miracle, you know?


Anyway, so I tried laying down and relaxing through a contraction but as soon as it hit, I jumped back up and said: "NO WAY," and left James alone to practice to go back downstairs and labor by myself for another 15-20 mins. I was down there wondering what was taking him so long to get up. Finally I went back up to find him laying in bed after practicing, which he usually does for a few minutes before getting up for the day.

"You should start filling up the birth tub," I said.
"Already?" he asked me. "You could be in labor for 12 hours, we shouldn't fill it up yet."
"Okay, well, get up I need you."

So he started to get up, and went to call the midwife. This was about 7, now. Her phone went to voicemail, so he came up to ask me what he should do, and started to realize I was in pretty active labor. At this point I was bending to lean on the bed or a chair with each contraction, and trying to breathe deeply though them.

"I guess I will call Cindy," he said (our midwife's apprentice), "and have her get in touch with Kim (our midwife)."
"Worst case scenario, you can drive over to Kim's and get her," I said. Our midwife lives about five minutes from us, so I was totally not above resorting to this.

Another contraction hit me. "I want you to fill up the tub NOW," I said. "I want to get in it." This was maybe five or ten minutes after I first asked him to fill it, but it was enough time for him to start taking me seriously. We got the tub liner in, and arranged, and James started to fill it up. Then he started to change the sheets on the bed, put the plastic sheets over, and then put the sheets for the birth on top.

Each time a contraction would hit, I would tell him to come push on me. I wanted pressure on my back and on my low abdomen, too. He would squeeze me while I leaned over, or tried to bend my back straight and put pressure on my back myself. Then when the contraction was over, he would go back to what he was doing. At some point this got frantic, where he realized that there was only a few minutes for him to get all this done before another contraction would come.

In the meantime, he was also communicating with our midwives and families. The apprentice, Cindy, was on her way over, and she had talked to Kim. They decided that she would do an exam to see how dilated I was, and then she'd let Kim know.

At some point, James talked to Kim, too, and she asked how I was doing, how he was doing. "Is she able to talk through the contractions?" Kim asked him.
"Uhhhh, no," he said, "she is pretty focused at this point ..."

So Cindy got to our house, apparently at 7:35, and came upstairs--I greeted her and a minute later a contraction hit--I bent over the bed and breathed through it as James pressed on me--at this point I was definitely starting to make some "vocalizations" (ie, moaning) through them. I remember when the contraction was done I stood up and looked at Cindy.

She was like: "Oh, am I making you feel self-conscious?"
And I was like: "No not at all, I'm looking at you like, 'Well, what do you think?'"
"I'm not sure what I think," she said, "I'd like to check you."
"Okay," I said. "After the next contraction how about?"
"Okay!"

So after the next contraction, I took off my pants and underwear and laid on the bed and Cindy put her hand inside to see how my cervix was doing. As she was doing this, another contraction hit me, and I said: "Another one is coming!"
"I'd like to feel your cervix while it is happening to see what happens, if that is okay," she said.
"Ahhh, okay," I said, even though, as I'd previously mentioned, laying down seemed unbearable to me at that point.
After the contraction was done, she let me get up, and said: "Well, you are well effaced and dilated." She didn't give me a number of centimeters, which turned out to be because she thought I was already 8-9 centimeters but she thought that that couldn't be right, so she just didn't say anything. But she did go call our main midwife and tell her she'd better get over there.

This was definitely the beginning of what they call "labor land" when you really lose touch of what is going on outside and your focus turns inward. I was aware of everyone and what they were saying, but my memory wasn't recording time or events--not in the same way as everyone else.

Something people don't realize about natural birth is that pain causes the release of endorphins, and more pain releases more endorphins, and endorphins are not only more powerful than morphine, but they cause a state of dissociation that puts a barrier up between you and the pain. I honestly think that medicated childbirth is probably more scary and painful in a lot of ways because you don't have this natural high, natural painkiller--and I really think it is stronger.

So now I am working off of the midwife's notes because I was in laborland. At some point I was in the birth tub. I got in to soothe me during the contractions, and the water was really warm. James ran back and forth bringing cold water into the tub--and later, taking some water out so it didn't overflow. The water felt good but I started to feel overheated, so I got out again.

Apparently my water broke at 8:00, and at this moment I thought to myself that I was in transition. We learned in the Bradley class that transition is marked by emotional upset, and when my water broke, I was already in very intense labor and was in the middle of a contraction, and it broke with the classic splash sound like in the movies. I was leaning over the birth tub and James was pushing on me, and when the water broke I saw there was meconium in it.

For those that don't know, meconium is the baby's first poop, and if they do it before they are born, they can breathe it in, which can cause serious problems. So when I saw that meconium I got really upset. "There's meconium." I said, and I started crying and leaning on James. I sort of bawled for like a minute, and James held me and said it was okay, and that Little James was fine, and it was okay.

I was worried but I also knew that I was in the middle of a road I couldn't turn back on, and I needed to stay focused and get the job done. So after my minute of sobbing and worry I pulled myself together and just decided to move past it.

Apparently ten minutes later I started to "sound pushy"--meaning that I had an "ugh" sound during the contraction. Again, I was making a lot of noise during the contractions, but it wasn't because it was PAINFUL (though obviously it kind of was), it was more like there was this crazy thing happening inside me and I had to let it out. I honestly didn't think I would be a person who made a lot of noise while I was in labor but I did. I yelled. But oh well, it's what I was doing. I seriously was not in control, I was just along on this ride of my birth, just like James and James were. I didn't feel like I had any more say in the situation than they did.

My main midwife, Kim, got there a few minutes later--it was now 8:15. They suggested that I go sit on the toilet to help the baby come down. So I waddled over there and sat myself down. This felt especially good because I was feeling like I had to poop and though I was prepared to poop while I had the baby, since apparently this is really common, I felt a little more free to do so on the toilet. So I was on the toilet for awhile, and I did poop a little, and the baby's head did come down.

According to the midwives I was already pushing at this point, but I never thought so. It didn't feel like pushing to me--again, I was just there and trying to let my body do its thing. I would sit on the toilet but would stand up over it during a contraction and sort of squat. Again, sitting or laying down at all during the labor did not feel good.

Mariclare got there while I was on the toilet. She was a little freaked out (apparently) so James (apparently) went to talk to her and calm her down. He gave her the video camera and told her I was making noise but everything was okay.

From this point I have the record from the video camera but the way it happened from inside me was different (I feel like I keep saying that). But at least I have a clearer idea of exactly what happened from this point.

So I got off of the toilet and was leaning/hanging on James during the contractions, and the midwives said that they had brought the birth ball into the bedroom and asked if I wanted to come lean on it while I was laboring. So I waddled back into the bedroom. James' Mom got to our house at this moment and I remember being worried that she would see me naked, LOL! I had a tank top on but hadn't put anything back on my bottom half since I got out of the birth tub. Anyway, she stayed downstairs, but I remember walking back to the room quickly so that she wouldn't see me from the bottom of the stairs--I find my concern so funny at this point.

So I went back into the bedroom and labored for a bit while leaning on the birth ball which was on my bed. At some point I wanted to start squatting. I guess this was when I started feeling like I was pushing, but honestly I still didn't feel like I was "pushing", and just now I remembered learning in the Bradley class how to hold my breath and push with my chin tucked down, and it is SO funny because I never once thought of this during labor. My body was just doing it--I know I keep saying that but it's just so true.

So then I was squatting, holding on to the side of the bed--the midwives apparently put a pad under me, and eventually a mirror--I'm realizing now how cool it was that they just did whatever I wanted to do--they made suggestions but it sort of felt like they just followed me around with their stuff and took care of me whereever I was and whatever I was doing there. It's not until this moment I'm really realizing how different things would have been under a "managed care" mentality. Most of the time, I was just doing the only thing I could do--I couldn't imagine someone telling me to do something else.

So I was squatting over the mirror and really started feeling pushy (but only in retrospect)--but I wasn't looking at the mirror. So when they said they could see his head, I honestly didn't even believe them. But I guess I felt like he was getting close because there was one contraction where there was a serious burning feeling in my cervix.

At this point, they asked me if I wanted to get back in the birth tub, so I could have a waterbirth, and catch my own baby. It was that burning feeling I was thinking of when I said: "Okay, maybe it would feel good."

It took me two contractions to get from the side of the bed about two feet away into the birth tub. I didn't want to put my legs together too much because I didn't want to push him back in. When I got into the water, it did feel really soothing--and the midwives said that if I put my hand down, I could feel his head. I touched this soft and squishy thing, and asked if it was really his head and they told me it was but I honestly didn't really believe them. On the one hand, it felt too soft and squishy to be the hard round head that had been pushed into my ribs and then pelvis for months.

And honestly, on the other hand, I just didn't believe that I was so close to having him. Labor hadn't been that difficult. How could I be already at the end? Wasn't it supposed to be way harder than this? There is a moment on the birth video after they told me that it was indeed his head, when all that is running through my head, and I have the funniest look of disbelief and "woah" on my face.

After one or two more contractions, I had a little break from contractions. Maybe like 3 minutes. I relaxed in the water while the midwives tried to get everything set up. They put a mirror on the bottom of the tub to see what was going on with me. After this little break, it was time to push him out. In one or two more contractions, his head was out. I reached down to feel it and I was almost panicky--I wanted it to be over, and I also was worried about his head being out underwater while his body was still in me.

"Get him out!" I said. But the midwives told me to wait and I would push him out on my next contraction. This was honestly the only contraction where I actively and intentionally "pushed". I wanted him out. So I pushed and all of a sudden he popped out! They brought him up through my legs so I could sit down and pick him up. This was 9:06am.

It was absolutely insane to see him. I just kept saying "My Baby! My Baby!", and James and Mariclare were crying. He didn't cry at first, but his eyes and face were moving so I knew he was alive. The midwives moved his arms around and rubbed his back, and finally they told me to rub his back from the bottom up, and I rubbed him way vigorously and he took his first breath and everyone cheered.

He was very gurgly and I was worried about him--they suctioned him and then I asked them to suction him again. But eventually he started to breathe better. Because of this slow start, his 1 minute apgar was only 5, but then his 5 minute one was an 8.

He was 8 lbs, 7 ozs, and 23 inches long, and beautiful.

**************************************************************************

I can honestly say that giving birth was far easier than I thought it would be. I attribute my fast and easy labor mostly to one thing--a lack of fear. I was able to get out of my own way and let my body do what it was made to do.

I had spent many years retraining and reconditioning my mind's perception of what birth was. I cleared out the scary pictures painted by movies and popular shows like Birth Story, and replaced it with positive messages about birth, the power of the woman's body, the ease and benefit of natural birthing . . . I worked hard to release any fear of birthing and instead turn birth into something that I was excited to face--a completely unique experience--a once in a lifetime opportunity to look into my soul and find out that I was strong.

One of the best movies for this was The Business of Being Born--the births that they show in here were SO relaxing and inspiring. But my favorite favorite resource was the book Journey Into Motherhood. It is a collection of inspiring natural birth stories, written by Moms. All of these stories are different--some in the hospital, some at home, some with midwives, some with doctors, some unassisted, some planned, some unplanned, with different approaches and using different preparation methods, but they have a common message.

Birth is normal.
There is a reward that comes from birthing naturally that is worth pursuing.
Birth is not something to be afraid of.
Women are powerful.
Women's bodies know what to do.

I read this book over and over and over. While I was reading, I let these stories wash over and into my mind, take away the fear and replace it with power. Take away the misconceptions and replace them with knowledge. Take away the reticence and replace it with excitement. And replace the nervousness with confidence.

By the time I went into labor, I was the powerful woman I had read about--the Mother. I could make a baby, and I could give him life. In doing so, I would find a further power and confidence that would make me into someone capable of caring for another person. I am powerful, I am wise, and I will guide and raise this child.

P.S. on Breastfeeding Products

I meant to say in my earlier post about breastfeeding that there is something else that has been saving me--I literally could not imagine how bad the nipple pain would be if it weren't for these: Lilypadz.

They are silicone pads that stick to your boobs. They not only keep them from leaking, but they also protect them and keep them from drying out. It is awesome because I can wear them at night without a shirt, and I can wear them under clothes without a bra. I literally cannot imagine any fabric rubbing against my nipples right now. I don't know how people live without these Lilypadz.

One last thing that has been awesome is this nipple butter. My friend Ella recommended it to me as an alternative to Lanolin, since Lanolin is sourced from sheep oils, and we're vegan. I'm sure Lanolin works great, too, but it was really nice to have a vegan alternative, and the nipple butter has been a lifesaver, too.

Quick Note on Diapers

A few people have asked me if we are cloth diapering.

Why yes, we are! I'm super excited to cloth diaper and have all my stuff set up ready to go. There are a few reasons why we haven't started cloth diapering YET, however, and instead are using Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Disposable Diapers(a gift from Aunt Sue via Diapers.com).

1. We are waiting for him to finish pooping meconium (the black tarry first poops) so that he doesn't stain the cloth diapers.
2. We are waiting for his cord stump to fall off since the cloth is bulkier and seemed to be rubbing on the stump when he was first born and we put him in a cloth diaper.
3. (This is the biggest reason) We are waiting for me to feel better. I had a pretty significant tear and had to be sutured, so I have stitches healing and I'm supposed to be confined to the couch and bed. Since I can't do laundry and James already has to feed me and run the baby and all of our supplies up and down the stairs for me, I figure it wouldn't be smart to add an extra load of laundry each day to his roster at this point.

So that is why my baby is currently wearing disposables. However, we WILL be cloth diapering in the long run and I'm quite excited about it. So that's that!

Milk Boobs

I can't describe the transformation of my boobs--particularly the left one. I started one pre-pregnancy as a B cup, then got to a C while pregnant, now I think they are double D's and look like fake boobs, they are so round and hard and taut.

And they are HOT. Before he eats, and they are full of milk, they are so hard and hot, it is just crazy.

And my nipples. God they are sore as hell. Particularly the left one (evil left boob)! I know I have him latched pretty good but they are still killer, especially during the initial clamp-down. And when he is done eating, my nipples are crazy--easily twice as big as they were when he began.

Besides this metaphorasis, and the pain factor of the left boob and letdown, breastfeeding is going really really well. I feel so lucky that I had a baby who would latch, my milk came in well, and him and I were able to get it figured out relatively quickly. I know lots of people aren't so lucky.

I also will attribute our success to having learned so much about breast feeding in the past three years though. My favorite book was Breastfeeding Made Simple, and the best best website is Kellymom. During the first day or two, when I was having trouble latching him, it is because of things I learned from THAT book that I was able to figure it out. And because of Kellymom, I know that things like cluster feeding and other breastfeeding behaviors are totally normal.

I'm so happy that breastfeeding is working for us, and I get to see something beautiful like this every day:


Birth Story in the works!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Breastfeeding and Labial Tear

Still haven't written my birth story, but I wanted to post a little update on how we're doing.

And mostly, we are doing good! We're really starting to get the hang of nursing, which after three years of excessive research, was still harder than I thought it would be. My nipples are painful while he is nursing, especially right at first, which is SUPPOSEDLY not supposed to happen if you have them latched "deep enough", but I have him latched as deep as I can possibly get him and it is still happening so idk.

BUT my milk seems to be coming in okay and he is spitting up occasionally, so I know he is getting enough milk. I can grin and bear it for awhile.

One SERIOUS bummer is that I apparently got a PRETTY BAD labial tear when he was born, perhaps because his head came out with a hand (I gave birth under water so they are not sure about that), or maybe just because it was a fast L+D. But I had to have stitches and I cannot really move around much at all. The first two days I stayed in bed except to use the bathroom and then yesterday I was up a little but I was feeling more pain, so today I was on the couch but I still didn't get up at all except to use the bathroom. But I have to sit up to nurse him and depending on how I'm sitting I think it can pull on the stitches a lot and it was seriously hurting a little while ago. :::sigh::: DH is going to call the midwife to come check and make sure it is healing, so I guess we'll do that tomorrow.

I honestly didn't expect the recovery to be this big of a deal, and I honestly think I would be feeling great if it weren't for the tear and/or the stitches. My Mom got here on Sunday to help us and she's staying until tomorrow (Tues) and then everyone will be back on Thursday for Thanksgiving. I really hope I am feeling better by Thanksgiving.

Sorry for the lack of more updates--I will try to do the birth story soon!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I HAD A BABY!

I'm still in pretty good shock. James David arrived yesterday--November 19th, at 9:06 am after only 5 hours of labor.

He is 8 lbs, 7 ozs, and 23 inches long.

We totally love him! I will post a birth story soon.



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another Update

Not in labor.

Goodnight.

Pre-Labor (I hope) Update

So on Tuesday, my due date, I got acupuncture, and I definitely felt like it started something. Since then, I've been having Braxton-Hicks contractions non-stop, and I'm pretty sure I lost my mucus plug or some bits of it over the last day or two. I've also been feeling increasing pressure on my cervix.

Last night I was desperate enough to try taking a long walk--I wanted to harness the power of these Braxton-Hicks! Plus, my Dad has been pushing the walking for a week now. So James and I went to UConn and I waddled around at top speed and raced up and down many sets of stairs. I will say that this had the effect of making the contractions I was having more painful. However, if we would stop for even a minute, they would stop being painful, and once I returned home, that was it. They might have been been painful because I was asking my poor abdominal muscles to hold up a 30 pound uterus while I jostled it all over.

Anyway, I couldn't fall asleep last night, partly because my back was hurting, and partly because I drank caffeinated tea all day yesterday. I eventually fell asleep on the couch watching Harry Potter 4 and with my ribs belted together.

And now it is Thursday the 18th--the last day of my prediction window that I felt was incredibly realistic. ::snort:: Anyway, honestly, if it wasn't for the acupuncture, I would have little hope of giving birth before 41 weeks. But my friend claims his patients are more or less "on time", within a couple of days.

So I have another acupuncture appointment today at 1pm and considering all the pre-laborish stuff I've been having for two days straight, I'm feeling good about the possibility of going into labor tonight. Please send little James all the evacuation vibes you can possibly spare!! ;-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Belting my Ribs/Shower-Baths

So I FINALLY think I realized why I have been having such serious back pain. I think my huge uterus/baby is pushing my rib cage apart, and specifically putting pressure on this one spot in my back just because of exactly how James is positioned in there.

The other night I took this belt of James and put it around my ribs and belted it really tight, putting counter-pressure on my rib cage. Of course this was/is uncomfortable in a different way, but it TOTALLY relieved the pressure off of my back. I fell asleep like that, and didn't wake up until 3 am, at which point I thought I should probably take the belt off, but the second I laid back down, my back started hurting again and I regretted it. So I've been wearing the belt around my rib cage here and there throughout the day, especially while I'm sitting or laying down because that seems to be the worst for my back hurting.

And in other news, my new before bed ritual, as I think I've mentioned, is taking a shower-bath. It is so comforting to get in the hot shower and feel my body relax, and then to lay down in the bath and just feel so warm and comfortable. I'm so glad we have the birth tub for me to labor in, because I'm pretty sure I will be in it non-stop, LOL. I think in the last two weeks, I've gone to bed without first taking a shower maybe twice. And I was NOT an every-day showerer before the development of this end-of-pregnancy ritual, let me tell you.

Anyway, I just keep hoping that *this* night will be the last one and soon I will be holding my big beautiful baby on the outside of my body instead of inside and my body will have a break.

So Excited for Christmas!

As a change of pace, I figured I would stop talking about the fact that I'm still pregnant, and instead talk about how excited I am for Christmas!!

Part of it is that it will be Little James' first Christmas, and honestly the first time he will really meet most of my extended family, but part of it is just that I LOVE Christmas and it is my absolute favorite holiday. I am listening to Christmas music on Pandora right now!!

We usually set up our Christmas tree in one of the couple weekends after Thanksgiving. Since James will be home every day, though, we could probably do it anytime. My sister lives in the same town as us, and my two cousins are going to school in the next town over, so maybe we can have a little tree-decorating party and listen to Christmas music and snuggle Little James! Maybe since my Mom is going to come stay with us for a little while after James is born, she can even be here!

DOESN'T THAT SOUND FUN??? Hehehe. Yay Christmas! I'm going to put in a Christmasy picture just to get the point across. (God so many options!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

40 Weeks

Well, here it is, my due date.

Hopefully these are my last belly pictures until I am in early labor. This may sound like an echo from last week and you'd be right, LOL.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Soooo Soooore

So my patient period has ended and I am back to feeling miserable. My back and belly are just CONSTANTLY so sore and I just want it to be over.

I have another acupuncture appointment tomorrow. Sigh.

0 is the number of days until I can go into labor and still have my home-birth (36 weeks)
0 is the number of days until I am full term (37 weeks)
1 is the number of days until my meaningless due date (40 weeks)
9 is the number of days until the actual average due date (41 weeks and 1 day)
15 is the absolute maximum number of days that I could be pregnant (42 weeks)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Intimate Pregnancy Photo Session

So Mariclare came over tonight to take some more "intimate" belly shots. We got some really beautiful ones!! I wouldn't feel comfortable sharing most of them, but here is just a taste of some of them.



I really can't get over how huge my stomach is!! I'm glad we have these to memorialize my crazy distorted body, LOL.

Still Pregnant

I am still pregnant.

Plans for today include putting Moxa on my toe . . . this is a Chinese Medicinal herb practice in which a coal made of Moxa is lit and then the hot coal is put near an acupuncture point (and/or injury) to increase qi-flow to that area.

So there's this one point on the pinky toe of either foot that is connected to stimulating labor. We're doing that now--ie, I am sitting here writing this blog while James is holding the Moxa coal near my toe.

Other plans for the day include finishing raking the leaves in our yard (I'm so glad we are almost done, geez we have a lot of trees!), and then I'm going to mow the lawn on our riding mower (ie, take a long ride down a bumpy road, LOL). It has been broken for months and we just got it back and fixed, so I'll do the final mow of the season, which will also include blowing the final "spread out leaves" into piles so James can haul them into the tiny strip of woods we have that separates our yard from the neighbor's.

So those are all my "trying to get labor started" plans for the day.

And last but not least we'll go to buy a fishnet in case I give birth in the water and we need to skim the birth pool (LOL). We've been meaning to do this for ages but keep forgetting when we are out of the house.

In other news, it's been like 5 days now since I printed out the checklist and hung it on the fridge and it has definitely helped me be more productive--though I think I had a shift in the productive direction to have even typed it up and printed it in the first place, so maybe I was just ready to start being productive again, anyway.

But along with me using the list, I have also been trying to train James to use it--he responds really well to to-do lists but I want to make it more ingrained as a daily-use tool, so that when we are home for a month with a baby it will help him stay more focused and productive while I'm spending the majority of the time feeding the baby. Ideally, instead of me having to tell him what to do, he'll be able to look at the list and see what needs to be done. So I figure the more practice we can get in with it before Little James is born, the better off we'll be!

Finally, I have another "labor induction" acupuncture appointment on Tuesday--if I haven't gone into labor on my own by then. So, hopefully we'll have a baby by Thursday at the latest. Stay tuned!
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