Monday, September 26, 2016
Yes another post about my dear baby, but I feel as though this is a very necessary social post on a very controversial topic: breastfeeding in public. In the United States, women are scolded for feeding their infants via breast in public. Some people will even have something negative to say to a breastfeeding mom who uses a cover. It's ridiculous, and as an exclusively breastfeeding mom, I'm going to give my two cents based on a very recent experience.
Last weekend, me and my husband decided to go out and eat with some friends. Elliott was 3 weeks exactly, and I was excited to get out of the house and actually socialize with someone. Since I'm still establishing my supply and he is too little to leave with a babysitter, we of course take him along. Well we went to a place to eat in the mall and found out that there was a waiting period for a table. No big deal. Until Elliott started getting hungry. For those who have never had an exclusively breast fed baby, they can eat every 2 hours and if they are cluster feeding (going through a growth spurt) they can eat every hour.
I had brought my nursing cover, but I had practiced with it a little at home and knew that it just wasn't an option yet. Here is why. When your baby and yourself is still getting used to latching and all those other details, a cover makes it 10 times harder. Then the baby gets frustrated because you can't see half of what's happening in there, or you can't position him right so he flails, knocking the cover off. This is strike one as to why it's impractical for a breastfeeding mom to be conservative. Some moms might be able to make it work, but for many it is a struggle to use a cover. I've even had an improper latch because I couldn't see well enough to get Elliott on the breast right due to the cover. Any breastfeeding mom knows that latch is everything. Anything less than a proper latch can lead to pain, blisters, and worse your baby not getting enough milk! Common guys this should be enough of a reason to stop sexualizing breastfeeding moms; however there is more to this adventure.
When I looked on the map I found that there was 1 nursing station in the entire mall. So we made our way there and by the time we did he was already extremely fussy from waiting to be fed (It's a big mall). Low and behold, it's a single room and a mother was already occupying it. We waited it out 10 minutes with Elliott screaming his lungs off before I gave up and just went back out to the car to feed. Thing is, breastfeeding can take up to a half hour, so if the room is occupied and there is only one, what do they expect waiting moms to do while their child is starving? So with a crying baby Elliott, we rushed back to the car (it was raining outside by the way) just so I could feed him to avoid the stink eye from people I shouldn't even have to worry about offending. Strike 2 and 3. Not every place even has a nursing room and if they do, just one doesn't cut it for high traffic areas. You can't let your baby cry from hunger pains while you wait for other moms to finish feeding their babies. And what happens if there is more than one mom waiting ahead of you? I'm not feeding my baby anywhere near a toilet, so you can forget it. Take your sandwich and eat in the restroom. Tell me how sanitary you feel. Then going back to the car is even more of a problem. Like I said, that day it was raining so we had to drag him all the way back out in the rain. Load the stroller up so it didn't get wet. If I hadn't had my husband with me, I have no idea how I would have managed to do all of that by myself. By the time I was able to feed him, he was red in the face from crying because of how long it took us to get from inside the mall to outside and all the way across the parking lot. Then we had to unload everything again and go back inside. Did I mention it was raining?
I had half a mind of just sitting down on a bench inside the mall and plopping him on my breast, but honestly I was so frustrated at the time that had anyone said anything, it would have been something that ended up on YouTube.
It's ridiculous that a country like the Unites States, whom has become very liberal on many other topics, is now moving in the opposite direction with women by sexualizing them and making things so conservative that it can actually make our lives miserable. Americans, get over yourselves! We are feeding babies. That is what our breasts are for. Up until the 30s and 40s, when bottle feeding was becoming more popular, women never covered up to feed. They would be in church and just plop it out.
Now I'll admit, the thought of putting myself out there is daunting to me. That's why I still went to the car. However, that's exactly the point. I shouldn't feel ashamed. I shouldn't have to go all out of the way to feed my child when he can just as easily be fed on demand had society not turned it into something sexual. And until you are a mom who has exclusively breastfed you don't know the struggle.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Every time you think you have found your new daily groove after becoming a mommy, you are wrong. Truth is, I have only been a mom for 29 days and I have came to realize that I will never have a daily groove again.
Before Elliott was here, I had a schedule that worked best for me to get my words in. It was pretty strict, with few variations. Now, don't get me wrong, I knew going in that I would have to adjust my schedule with the babe, but nothing prepared me for how much time really would be taken away; especially since I'm a breastfeeding mom.
After the first week, I decided to try to get back into a routine of some sort. I strapped my baby to me in the Boba wrap and reached a pretty decent word count a little by the afternoon just before Elliott's next feeding. It worked--for the first two days.
After those two days of success, Elliott started getting into the fussy stage. He didn't like being wrapped up because newborn wrap kept his legs bunched up and he wasn't big enough to use the regular infant wrap as of yet. He didn't want to be put down. I could only hold him in my arms. And he was cluster feeding like crazy! He wanted the boob all day it seemed like.
By then, I was so tired that what would have been my writing time, turned into my sleep time. I was beginning to think that I would never be able to write again and I should hang this career until he was much older. Well, then I noticed Scrivener had finally released their iOS app. Hallelujah, I was saved! Well, writing on your phone isn't that much easier, but it was a start. That is all I needed. I needed something that would give me a little bit of comfort and normality.
I might not be able to get in 2k words like I used to in one sitting, but I'll settle for 500 or even 300. As long as I'm able to get in a little bit of words down, then I know that I will be able to continue on. My advice is though: don't have a routine. A baby will boot that idea right out the door.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
I am now a mommy! I repeat. I am now a mommy.
So if you read my last post, you would know that I was scheduled to be induced on August 28th. Well, Elliott had other plans, and he came the day before.
It was hectic, exhausting, and life changing.
On Friday, I started having some minor contractions around 7pm. I figured they were Braxton Hicks and went off to bed. I woke up around midnight, and the contractions were excruciating! I started to time them, but they were sporadic between 4 minutes apart and 7 minutes apart. I woke my husband up around 1am and told him that I was going to call the midwife. After I called her, she told me soak in a tub to see if that would help ease them up. Well, they didn't so we were off to the hospital.
We got there somewhere around 3am, and by 6am they had sent me home. I was only 1.70cm dilated. And wouldn't you know that on the discharge papers it said, false labor? But how could this be? I was in so much pain. Well, she also gave me some morphine to help with the pain and said it should let me sleep for about 4 hours and when I woke up, the pain would be gone. That's what they told me anyway.
When we got home around 6:30am, I slept for 2 hours before I woke up to more pain. It radiated from my back down to my legs. I kept thinking, isn't the morphine supposed to be working? I was exhausted and hadn't slept since midnight. I decided to turn over in the bed when I heard a POP! I remember thinking, was that my water or a joint popping? Well, I went to the bathroom and after I got done peeing, I stood up and more water continued to leak. At that moment, I was nearly sure it was my water. However, after being in the hospital for 3 hours, just for them to send me home, I was discouraged about going straight to the hospital again. When I got into bed, I told Patrick in these exact words, "I don't want to freak you out, but I think my water just broke." He shot up out of bed. Ladies, if you are pregnant and need your husband to wake up at any cost, these words will work!
He asked if I wanted to go to the hospital yet and I said no. I was still disappointed about being sent home and feared that I might be mistaken and it not be my waters; however minutes later, my contractions hit me so hard it took my breath away. Let me tell you something about back contractions. They hurt. Seriously! I was expecting abdominal pain, but that didn't happen. Everything in my lower back tightened as if I was being beaten with a million bats at one time. If you've ever had kidney stones, the pain is like that, but 100 times worse. Then that pain radiated down into my thighs. I called the on call midwife to at least get an opinion before we left, but the pain was so much that while we were waiting for her to call me back, we just left for the hospital anyway.
On our way there, a midwife called me back. I told her we were on our way back up to the hospital. She started asking a bunch of questions, but I couldn't even talk through my contractions. Patrick ended up having to take the phone. At that point, I remember her asking how far apart they were. I was in so much pain I had forgotten to use my contraction counting app. Patrick was paying attention apparently because he told her 2 minutes apart. At that point I was almost worried I would have the baby on the ride there.
Now here is a part, that to this day, still agitates me. When we got into the emergency section, we waited down in the lobby for about half an hour before they came to retrieve me. Seriously, I was not happy in that moment. I was there moaning loudly while all these other people, patients and family alike, were around. My contractions were getting worse, and I had spectators. I was uncomfortable and Patrick was trying to reason with me. I wasn't really in the mood to be reasoned with. Patrick told me after the fact that he was about to ask the receptionist where he should set up to have the baby, when they finally came to get me.
From here, it goes by pretty quickly...sorta. When we got to triage, I was 5 cm dilated-- to their surprise. I wasn't. I would have been more upset if I was still at 1.70. While we waited for them to get me to Labor and Delivery(L&D) (apparently, there was only 1 room available. Lucky me) the midwife came in and actually suggested I get the epidural. Now, anyone who knew me during my pregnancy knew I wanted to go natural and despite the pain I was hanging in there. However, the midwife noted that I wasn't breathing during the contractions as they literally took my breath away and was concerned that I wasn't getting oxygen to my baby boy. That's all it took and I was onboard. Now, on a side note, I had never snubbed the epidural. In fact, I had told my midwife at an earlier appointment for my birth plan, that if I just couldn't handle it, I wanted to make it to at least 6-7 cm dilated. So since I was at 5cm, I figured by the time they got me to L&D and the anesthesiologist came I would have met my goal. Boy did I.
2 hours later, but it felt like minutes, around 11am, I was finally in L&D and the anesthesiologist had came. At this point, I already felt like I had to push. They hadn't checked my cervix again, but they didn't think I was that far along yet. Once the epidural was in, I was at 8cm. From that point on, I was passed out asleep. Seriously, I had been up all morning hurting so of course I was tired. I slept a little and woke up just in time for my next cervix check around 1:30pm. Now, I was fully dilated! They decided to let me, labor down and get more sleep before pushing. So sleep, I did.
Now, here is the point that I look back at now and regret the epidural, and I only say that because I feel like I could have had him even sooner--and it's not because of the reasons you might think. Around the time they came back to have me push, my epidural had worn off. I was in just as much pain as I was before. That button--the one that is supposed to give me more of the drugs--yeah it wasn't working for me. I have a high metabolism, so medicine doesn't last long. I remember at this point, I threw up while waiting on the anesthesiologist to come back and top me off. I recall the midwife telling me that we took the time to get me the epidural we shouldn't let me go in more pain. She was right of course, but looking back on it, I should have just started pushing then. Why? Because once they got the epidural topped off and I did start pushing, near the end, it wore off again!
So here I was, reaching the end and the epidural had done wore off again. Now, at this point I had been pushing for over 2 hours. It was nearing 8pm. Now, not everything is contributed to that epidural. Another problem we were having is that baby boy was OP, occiput posterior. That meant that his head was facing out rather than towards my back. That explains not only the back pain, but also why I was having such a hard time getting him out. While I was laboring down, they had me laying with a peanut ball in hopes to get him to turn. He did eventually turn. I think. Honestly, I was so out of it I don't remember.
Another problem we encountered was I was having a hard time pushing him past the pelvic bone. For one, my contractions were just as sporadic as when I went in at 3am. They would be back to back 2 minutes apart, and then I would have a short period of contractions being 4 minutes apart. Secondly, and this I do attribute to the epidural, while I could still feel my contractions, slightly, I could hardly feel anything down there. This made it hard to know where to push. They were even worried about needing to bring in a OB to use forceps. The OB came and checked things out, but he believed I was more than capable to get my baby out without intervention. He was right. Not long after he left, I was pushing as hard as I possibly could. Even when the epidural was starting to wane, I just continued to push. Then part of his head was out. I was so ready for him to be here, but then we had another long period of waiting between contractions. Uhg. Baby boy must have been just as eager because he started pushing himself out without the contractions. At this point, I just decided to push too and he was out!
All of that, and I ended up with a second degree tear-- I have no idea how many stitches.
Now, my labor was crazy, in my opinion. But I loved my midwife team. Even though things didn't go as planned, and even though I did end up regretting the epidural later, they did what was right at the time. They couldn't have known that I would end up at 10cm dilated that quickly. Most first time moms have a much longer labor. Also, I was in so much pain, I didn't rationally think through what my initial wants were. I was suffering, the midwife was worried I wasn't getting oxygen to the baby, and I caved like a mine shaft falling in. Everything I had read to help ease the torment without drugs, I threw out the window with a brick tied to it. But you know what, I would do it all over again regrets and all, if it gave me the same outcome of a healthy baby boy.
I still got my golden hour with Elliott. The minute he was in my arms, it was like nothing else was happening. I must have pushed out the placenta, but I don't remember it as I was a mommy now. Elliott was my world. I know I got stitched up, and I didn't feel it thank goodness because of the epidural, but that baby was in my arms so nothing else mattered.
So next time, hopefully, I can prepare better. Especially since I know what I will be in for.
As for the recovery, well, let's just say that, that first week was almost worse than the birth. Try not being able to sit down for a week without it feeling like you got paddled straight on the tail bone. That's especially tough when you have to sit straight down to breastfeed.
Speaking of recovery, it's going on 3 weeks and I am still in the midst of it. This is actually the first week I've been able to sit in the chair at the computer. It' still uncomfortable, but hey, at least I can do it. That means that I will finally be able to get back to writing. It will still be tough as Elliott needs to be fed very often and diapers need to be changed, but yesterday I was very pleased to be able to go over 2 chapters in my newest series, Beautifully Disguised.
I might post some more about how becoming a mom has changed my life. I think other author moms-to-be might like to know how it affects writing life. Also, it's very therapeutic for me. You know, post partum hormones and all.
Until then, I'm going to snuggle with my baby boy.