Soap Box

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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Farewell diapers

Posted by eemilla on September 21, 2014

We’ve been diaper free for about eleven months, and it has been great not having to wash diapers every other day.  The trade off of wanting to explore all of the options for using the potty while in public has been irksome (it is better now that she doesn’t like porta potties), but it still beats rinsing poop diapers by a long shot.  LB expressed interest in using the potty around 18 months, and she pooped and peed in a training potty twice then decided that she’d rather not give up diapers for about seven months, and it took an additional two months for her to completely stop using diapers.

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Family vacation

Posted by eemilla on September 21, 2013

For the past few years I’ve been lobbying my maternal family to forgo the end of the year gift card exchange in favor of a family vacation, and last year everyone finally seemed to agree it was time to do something different.  Then interest dissipated for about four months so my honey and I planned a trip to Manhattan thinking we would not be taking a vacation with the extended family.  An almost collective itch to travel brought the idea back to the fore after our vacation had been booked for months.

My idea was to travel somewhere new or exciting or exotic which was in direct conflict with economic concerns and comfort levels that limited us to the Charleston area or the Savannah area.  As we’d just visited Savannah and Tybee Island last year and only I wanted to visit the Outer Banks, my honey and I were all for Charleston.  After spending hours searching for houses in both locations that met all of the various needs of everyone (pool, close to the beach, large kitchen, bath for every bedroom, enough bedrooms) the group decided the Charleston area had better large house options for the money.

Once we narrowed it down to the Charleston area we had to find a large enough house available and in our price range.  While the task sounds easy enough it required hours of searching between three or four members of our group.  My frustration was that there were multiple folks who were non-commital about if they would be joining us or how many people would be in their party.  Without having one person footing the entire bill another concern was the best way to distribute rooms without having to haggle over different pricing, and fortunately everyone acquitted themselves admirably.

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great room panorama great room panorama from dining area
bar in need of an icemaker 2nd floor alcove laundry room
king sans daybed one of 2 jetted tubs walkin shower
king bed with day bed king with daybed bathrom king with shared bathroom shared bathroom twin room twin room bathroom
view of screened in pool from twin room balcony 2nd floor balcony with view of twin room balcony spiral staircase to rooftop rooftop

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Including the couches in the living room there was enough room to sleep 20 adults based on double occupancy in each of the king beds, and there were enough areas for everyone to mingle or retreat as needed.  The crows nest or rooftop was a favorite place to escape the noise, and the patio chairs were comfortable even though a few were worse for the wear.  The second floor balcony was sparse without any furniture, and the balcony off the twin room was so small it seemed superfluous.  My honey and I didn’t want to have to spend the extra money to rent a house with a pool, but we were certainly sold on the benefit of having the pool to float around in especially after the ocean.  I believe the house came with two separate gaming consoles, and there was a nice flat screen over the fireplace in the great room.

For a house with a 20 person capacity, the refrigerator/freezer/icemaker was the feature that everyone agreed to be insufficient; it was a double door deal so there were narrow shelves which made it difficult to accommodate groceries.  Even after the ice maker was replaced it took about eight hours to make a tray or so of ice which left of us purchasing bags of ice for the sodas, iced tea, and blended adult drinks.  There is a nice wet bar with a wine cooler, and a stand alone ice maker would be perfect there.  The maintenance man said the freezer’s ice maker had repeatedly been an issue.  The large gas range was more eye candy than functional; all five burners had two temperatures: on and off (which for a gas stove is really irritating and unexpected).  We also had to have a towel rod and a door knob replaced on the first day, and although we mentioned the additional three of the five (in addition to the one that was replaced) atrium doors had alarmingly loose handles they were not replaced.

With so many cars it was difficult to juggle them as the two driveways were a car’s width, and the street was much too narrow to park on.  The golf cart created most of the tension as people wanted to pocket the key rather than leave it in the lockbox, but it was an even better feature than the pool as we could cart our gear to the beach rather than lug it the few blocks on foot (especially as any parent knows the kid will want to walk then insist on being carried whilst you juggle the beach bag and/or chairs).  The key to main house also had a lockbox which really came in handy as we had about fourteen adults sharing three keys.

The house was a few blocks from a public beach access point, but we were so far down on the Isle of Palms that the beach was never crowded even though we were there during the high season.

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Tybee Island

Posted by eemilla on December 18, 2012

In order to mix it up, we had planned on taking our second day in Savannah to hit the beach at Tybee Island.  We were blessed with warm and clear weather for late September, and LB got to build sand castles and play in the ocean.  The ocean wasn’t a hit, but building sand castles rocked.  Parking is fairly pricey, and the beach infrastructure is spartan (we didn’t even see the rinse station on our first day).  Compared to Sullivans’s Island, the beach had a large amount of candy bar wrappers and bottle caps and dead fish.

I also wanted to check out the Tybee Island Marine and Science Center; the $4 admission is pretty steep considering the space is so small; however, everyone enjoyed their time.  When LB is older, it might be nice to come and do a beach trek as well as take a visit to the lighthouse.

turtles turtle gator starfish unknown footprint Tybee Island beach

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Reedy River Park and the Greenville Zoo

Posted by eemilla on November 3, 2012

I’ve wanted to visit the Falls Park in Greenville for a while after hearing so much about it from various friends over the years so I talked my mom into joining LB and I for a day trip a few months back.  I was surprised to learn that the trail is over seventeen miles long connecting Travelers Rest to Furman to downtown Greenville to Greenville Tech.  It makes me really sad that Asheville and Buncombe County cannot get their acts together and create some substantive greenways, especially when so much of our economy is based on tourism and enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds us.  Also what a better way to move away from fossil fuels than to have pleasant walking and biking trails and paths.  My husband and I live less than two miles from our jobs, but the commute would be neither pleasant nor safe as it involves a five lane highway for at least a quarter of the route.

We arrived around mid morning so there were still a number of joggers and cyclists getting their exercise in for the day.  Shops along the trail were just opening, and no one was playing in the water feature.

water feature

The pathway took us on a small bridge across the river before we arrived at the iconic Liberty Bridge.

bridge over the falls

Liberty Bridge

Liberty Bridge again

The gardens were pretty with lots of lawn for picnics or benches for relaxing

amphitheater

We ambled along the trail by the river chatting, and when I saw that the Greenville Zoo was only a mile or two away I convinced my mom we should go.

We stopped seeing the zoo on the informational signs along the trail so we ended up making a huge loop around it (which meant we walked around Cleveland Park and on the Eagle Trail).  However, there wasn’t a line to enter the zoo, and the admission was the same as the WNC Nature Center; I could have gotten free admission as the zoo is a reciprocal facility with the Nature Center.  The zoo was small and easy to see in an hour or less although we skipped the flamingos, alligator, farm animals, and the playground.

elephant

toucan

leopard

By this time everyone was tired and hungry so we made our back, and after we had returned to downtown LB was more than ready to be off my sweaty back which led us to eat at a smoothie bar because it was quick and filled with people in workout attire.  It was relatively cheap and served decent food, but it I doubt I would go back unless urged by convenience.

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Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest visit

Posted by eemilla on August 5, 2012

On a rare day when both my honey and I were off of work by happy happenstance, we planned on hopping in the car and traveling the two hours west to visit the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest.  After seeing the Giant Poplar just outside of Highlands, we’ve been thinking of taking this tour.  We were shocked by the number of dead hemlocks we encountered.

dead hemlocks in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

dead hemlock

The stumps of fallen trees were awesome, though.

When we came across the dedication plaque on a boulder in front of a large tree that appeared to have been struck by lightning, I admit that I was disappointed at the size of the tree.  Fortunately, we had only gotten to the center of the figure eight loop with the giants at the far loop.

Joyce Kilmer dedication plaque

Although my husband had downloaded an app that advised us on which direction to proceed we managed to bypass the back loop at the intersection, so on our first pass we missed the giants. We then backtracked to the memorial plaque and continued on the right side portion of Poplar Cove Loop.

Joyce Kilmer map

Poplar Cove Loop sign

I think our navigation error resulted in a more private experience of the large tree grove as when we first left the parking area a couple of other groups were just ahead of us.  The sky was darkening with the possibility of an afternoon thundershower which lent a more solemn air to our tour.  It is difficult to not feel awe in sight of these trees (of course the photos fail miserably to convey their grandeur).

These next few photos are some of the other cool sights we ran into along the trail.

We didn’t expect that Little Santeetlah Creek would be a nice spot to cool down, but our daughter thought it was the highlight of the trip so pack some towels too.

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One Year

Posted by eemilla on June 16, 2012

A few weeks back our little one turned one year old.  She tasted her first chocolate, and she expressed a strong preference for frosting over cake (unfortunately, the first recipe I’ve made to suffer from whole wheat flour).  She’s got teeth, and we’re still happily nursing for most of her nutrition.  She cruises and crawls and cuddles even with our cats and dog.  The cats quickly learned that wherever LB was there was bound to be affection and games, and the dog is warming to her bit by bit.

I’ve discovered vast stores of energy and patience in myself, and cliched though it is, she blows my heart wide open with both her smile and strong will.  My love for my husband has grown too; I get teary thinking about our sweet little family.  Every time it feels like we’ve hit a groove, she throws us for a loop; she reminds us that each day is a blessing because who knows when you’ll get a good night of sleep.  I don’t really have anything to add to the parenting conversation, but I can’t stop blathering on and on about her.

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Baby gear

Posted by eemilla on January 15, 2012

I guess I was too busy reading about birth and the first few weeks to bother doing too much research on baby gear.  I read some stuff here and there, but mostly I was on retailer’s websites.  From our experience thus far, here are my thoughts on baby gear we have used.

One of the biggest wastes of money so far has been the crib and changing table combination along with the mattress and sheets (the bumper was handed down).  We waited until about a month before the due date to purchase this as neither of us really wanted to shop for it especially since I was leaning so strongly for having LB sleep in our bed.  While I do like the changing table, LB wiggles and twists so much that I think we’re going to have to start changing on her on the floor.  We did purchase the convertible option so hopefully we’ll get some good use out of it as a bed.

The convertible car seat we purchased failed the hospital’s test as it was too large.  Somehow it was rated for a five pound baby, but LB was about 8.5 lbs and over twenty inches tall when it was deemed too large for her.  Seven months in, we are still using the free baby bucket that a friend generously gave us.  Both car seats are too large to fit in the middle of our car without forcing my tall husband to sit way too close to the wheel, which explains why so many families drive massive vehicles.

We avoided a baby tub, opting for the sink until LB was too big and could push against the side (when she was about two months old).  My cousin allowed us to borrow his bathtub.  We removed the spa piece immediately as we weren’t going to purchase batteries for it, and it has allowed her to use the bathtub longer.  We are now using the tub without the sling/seat as she can sit up without assistance, and it will extend her use of the tub as well as keep our water consumption in check without sacrificing her splashing opportunities.  While the sling/seat helped hold her while we bathed her, it is difficult to keep clean.

Some of the most indispensable baby gear has been our wraps, but this is also something I regret not reading about more thoroughly before purchasing.  I registered and received a Sleepy Wrap, and I purchased a second one in black, which I call my dressy wrap (I wore it to my brother’s wedding).  The great thing about this wrap is that it is soft and comfortable for both adult and baby, plus the give can help reposition the baby if when it is time to nurse if you’ve put baby too high on your body. It does require some knowledge and practice to use; I read and reread the instructions and watched videos on youtube and practiced and practiced at home.  My biggest regret is not knowing that it isn’t safe to wear your baby on your back with a stretchy wrap as it is too easy for your baby to lean out.  By the time LB could support her head and safely be worn on my back, I was ready to move her there since the front carries give one the same body shape as a late pregnancy.

By the time I discovered that my two wraps weren’t going to work for back carries, we weren’t really that willing to spend another $50-$130 on a woven wrap, but babywearing is an invaluable tool for calming a fussy baby while still being able to cook dinner.  I found this tutorial, and I sunk about $20 into some cheap muslin (not organic like my Sleepy Wrap) which is enough fabric for two wide wraps (the tutorial makes three narrower wraps).  Then I watched and re-watched some more videos and practiced and practiced for the back carry, hip sling, and hip carry.  The sling carry is fast and can be tied without the baby which makes it good for runs to the store, but I don’t feel that is very secure for long walks and  lots of moving around; I also like to have a longer tail to wrap around my body to meet the shorter tail under the baby’s bum.  While I feel the back carry is the most secure, I prefer to use the hip carry when we go for a walk as the jacket I wore over my pregnant belly will cover both of us up, and I can make adjustments to her hat if she’s on my hip.

We received a handed down structured carrier that does front and back holds, but the few times that I used it around the house to get used to it I ended up with a sore back as I couldn’t seem to adjust the carrier high enough to hold LB’s weight on my upper and middle back rather than my low back.  My husband is saving it for our first festival as a family in the spring.

Two items that we never would have purchased due to their cost and short life are the vibrating chair and a free standing jumper.  LB has enjoyed the use of both, although once she could sit up the vibrating chair had to be moved into the attic for storage.  The jumper is still in use for those times when wrapping her up isn’t a good option, but again if it hadn’t come to us for free we wouldn’t have it.

We may have used the pack and play that was handed down to us more if it hadn’t been for the bouncy chair and the jumper, but it is both too large and too small.  It is too large to leave set up, and I find it difficult to set up and take down quickly.  On the otherhand, it also seems too small for her to play in for much time to be worth the hassle and floor space.

For clothes, we’ve mostly used onesies and sleep and plays rather than bother with too many dresses and outfits.  While the dresses and pants are super cute, the cost just doesn’t work for us given their lifespan.  Even though LB is in her clothes less than three months, many of the outfits have not worn well between tears and pilling.  We’ve been given and have purchased lots of Carters, Gerber, Just One You, and Babies R Us brand clothing, and none of them have worn well beyond a couple of times.  Aside from the wear issues, the sizing is another problem.  We have had more than a few Carter sleep and plays labeled the same size but with a rather different fit.

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cloth diapering thoughts

Posted by eemilla on January 8, 2012

We’re over six months in with the cloth diapering, and we’ve taken two two night plus road trips without using disposables (we’re so proud of ourselves!)  Here are my thoughts about what has worked for us.

I’ll start with the least expensive option, which is also the most familiar to anyone who diapered before disposables were available, the prefold.  The prefold is a large piece of cotton, cotton/hemp blend, or other absorbent fabric that has been pre-folded to create a thicker section in the middle; these must be used with a cover.  I purchased six infant (for 7-20 lbs) prefolds and six newborn (4-9 lbs) prefolds in case we had a tiny one.  LB was a good sized baby so we used the newborn sized prefolds as burp cloths although they probably would have been better to use as doublers.

Below from back left to right are a stack of inserts for pocket diapers, wipes, some Bummis baby sized prefolds with a Kawaii Baby prefold (one size), and Bummis infant prefold.  I purchased the baby sized prefolds in preparation for our first road trip where I knew we wouldn’t have access to a washer or dryer, and they worked fine with the covers moved to a larger setting.

prefolds with inserts and wipes

This is an infant sized Bummis prefold in a one size Kawaii baby cover.  Kawaii Baby seems to have some of the least expensive options, but they so far they have been good quality products.

prefold in a cover

Below is a picture of a Gerber prefold that we purchased to be used as a burp cloth; it has never been used as a diaper which means we have washed it much less frequently than our diapers (if the forecast is for sun to dry them on the line we wash daily, but if there is rain forecast we wash every other day).  However, it has not worn nearly as well as the Bummi prefold that follows.

Gerber prefold

Bummis prefold

I’ve only purchased the Bummis and one Kawaii Baby prefold (ignoring the Gerber diapers that we have always used for burp cloths), but based on that sample of two the Bummis are super thick.  While it hasn’t ever leaked due to being soaked, the Kawaii Baby prefold was much thinner even after the three prewash and dry cycles, which has put me off from trying the generic prefolds.  Even though I’d like to have a deeper stash so we could do less laundry, we’re not sure that we will have anymore bums to cloth diaper, and part of the reason we are cloth diapering is to save money.

Prefolds do require covers; below is our collection of covers.  The Kawaii Baby covers cost about a $1.50 more than the used Flip cover (not pictured) we purchased from a local baby store.  Even when LB was gaining height faster than weight, we didn’t have a problem with blowouts or leaking with the Kawaii baby covers.  The Flip and the two generic gusseted covers all leaked with the Flip being at the scene of at least three blowouts.

Kawaii Baby cover flat

front of Kawaii Baby cover

Kawaii Baby cover with a prefold

generic cover with gussets

gusset close up

I did two diaper trials with Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique (which has super awesome customer service plus free shipping) to help reduce our investment in case certain diapers didn’t work for us.  For the first trial I selected a Bottombumpers All in One, a BumGenius Elemental One  Size, and a Thirsties Duo Snap Wrap with a Thirsties Duo diaper.  We had our first ever leak in the BumGenius, and it took forever to dry as it is literally all in one with no removable pieces.  The Thirsties functioned well, but we didn’t like how the double gussets made it difficult to check the status without opening the diaper, plus this was a pretty pricey product ($18 for the diaper and $13 for the cover).  The Bottombumper functioned well, but it is probably the least user friendly diaper we own.  Even on the lowest rise setting, it was too high and covered LB’s stump; they also function like a prefold with very little wicking away of moisture.  Of our diaper supply, these are the worse to deal with when poop is involved, and for the price, it seems a shame the wicking function isn’t any better.  However, it has always fit, even during her tall and skinny phase, which led me to buy another one.

Bottombumpers rise settings

Bottombumpers 2nd smallest rise setting

Bottombumpers snap in insert

Bottombumpers side view

The easiest and most familiar for disposable diaper users are the pocket diapers.  We use these as our over night and road trip diapers as they do a good job of wicking away moisture and are heavy duty.  On the downside, much like the Bottombumpers, pockets are messier to deal with when there is poop involved as the insert does need to be removed for washing.  Pockets generally run about the same cost wise as all in ones, but with their overnight functionality and user ease, they are good diapers to have.  Please note that not all pockets and inserts are created equally.

During the course of my pregnancy, I couldn’t resist buying some locally produced diapers available at the Coop; these are not one sized diapers (all of our other diapers are one size diapers), and they cost about the same as many of the higher end one sized pocket diapers.  They come in cute color combos, but after LB went through her tall and skinny phase we had to stop using the Roly Polys due to consistent leaking.  Finally as she was just growing out of the small size, in a moment of desperation (all of the covers were dirty), I pulled out the inserts that came with the RolyPoly pocket and used a prefold in its place.  This worked fine several times (I just hated to not use these cute and soft diapers), but now LB is too big for the small size (8-18lbs), and we only have one medium (15-35 lbs) and one large (22-45 lbs).  The inside of the diaper does a great job with the wicking, but even after multiple wash and dry cycles, the inserts just didn’t seem to work even when doubled and changed within an hour (they have now been repurposed as wipes).

Roly Poly interiors

Roly Poly exteriors (medium on the left and small on the right)

During the tall and skinny phase, we did another diaper trial to find a good fit as basically only the Kawaii Baby diapers were fitting (barely).  Based on the recommendations from Sweetbottoms Baby, I opted for a FuzziBunz because of the adjustable elastic around the legs.  While it is pain to change the setting, it is a great feature.  Additionally, this diaper is just so soft from the outside to the inserts.

FuzziBunz outside

FuzziBunz leg elastic

FuzziBunz insert

The most cost effective has been the Kawaii Baby pockets (although at this point I don’t think it is worth paying extra for their overnight as their standard insert doubled seems to work great for us).  They also seem to fly off the shelves as they seem to be constantly out of stock.  We have never had a fit problem with these, and they seem to have worn well even with all the washing and drying (my husband has run them through the dryer on high heat on multiple occasions against their instructions).

KaWaii Baby pocket outside

KaWaii Baby pocket outside

Finally, our wipes are BabyKicks plus a handful of homemade flannel ones that I sloppily stitched together and a few Roly Poly ones from the grocery store.

Roly Poly wipes, homemade flannel wipes, and BabyKicks wipes

 For the wipe solution, we fill my peri bottle with water then add 25 drops of lavender essential oil and 10 drops of tea tree.  Whether this helps with having avoiding diaper rash or not we don’t know, but it smells better than any the wipes we used while in the NICU.

At some point I will get around to doing the math to see how we’ve done financially, but we feel good about keeping all that plastic from the landfill.  Plus cloth diapers are just so cute!

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Blessed

Posted by eemilla on November 24, 2011

I’ve been thinking about what to write about this year for Thanksgiving, and it dawned on me on the way home from the family get together.  LB has helped me and my honey put so much into perspective, and I cannot believe how wonderful these past few months have been being her mama.  I know it’s cliched, but no one can tell you how wonderful and hard and amazing it is.

 

Like any new mother I had many fears about labor and delivery; I was scared of laboring for hours strapped to a bed with the fetal heart rate monitor.  I was scared of not being able to handle the pain and requesting an epidural.  I was scared of something going wrong enough to require a caesarean section, and least verbalized or thought about I was scared of birth and death coming hand in hand.

While my birth wasn’t what I hoped for, we eventually left the hospital with our sweet LB, and here is our story.

I cannot remember if LB’s official due date was my last day of work or the day that my labor actually began, but regardless she wasn’t born on either day.  The Sunday before Memorial Day I went to bed around midnight only to get up shortly thereafter due to discomfort in my back.  With all the weight I was carrying I didn’t think of it as labor until I noticed the pain was sporadically intense.  Around three in the morning I counted a few contractions, but they never got closer than five minutes apart so I decided to prepare for our trip to the hospital by baking some tofu for my labor snack and cleaning the bathroom rather than wake my husband and the midwife.  After those tasks were completed and I still couldn’t sleep I baked banana bread for the nurses.  Around five I had to get off my feet because they were so swollen that they hurt, but I still wasn’t able to lay down so I continued bouncing on my physio ball until around 9 am when I put in Fantasia and fell asleep on the couch.  I got up a bit later and went to sleep in the  bed, but I woke every hour or so with back pain.  While I was active I didn’t really notice the pain but being still made it all too noticeable.

Memorial Day progressed much the same way as the day before, although I really cannot recall how I passed the time while I was not able to sleep.  I attempted to get to sleep watching Fantasia 2000 as it had worked with Fantasia the day before, but I couldn’t sleep again.

I called my boss Tuesday to let her know that I was in labor as the contractions were stronger, but they were still more than five minutes apart.  My husband drove me to the my last scheduled appointment with the midwife, and when she felt my uterus the baby wasn’t engaged so she said that what I was experiencing was not labor.  This was so disheartening.  I wanted to have an unmedicated, vaginal birth, and if these pains weren’t labor pains, I was terrified of what active labor might feel like.  She suggested I try to sleep with the help of 50 mg of benydrl and some calcium magnesium to help with what she called cramping.  Neither provided any relief; twelve hours later, we called her back, and she recommended another dose along with a hot bath.  I had attempted the warm bath at her suggestion previously, but our tub is tiny so it wasn’t comfortable.  I did, however, get in the shower and use the massage feature on my low back.  This provided limited relief due to my poor massively swollen feet and ankles as laying or sitting was difficult due to the tight space.  She also suggested visiting a chiropractor the following day.  I wasn’t able to sleep during this time, and my honey was up heating a rice sock his stepmom had given him.  It provided some more comfort especially once the counter pressure left me with a tender back.

I did lose my mucous plug in the middle of the night, but my amniotic sac remained intact.  The recommended chiropractor didn’t have any availability, but frankly I am thankful as we found an appointment at a much closer office.  The adjustment did bring a modicum relief, but I was only able to squeeze in a twenty minute cat nap (propped up on every pillow in the house as laying down wasn’t an option).  Unfortunately the contractions were still spaced at more than five minutes apart.  Finally at around 12:40 I felt a small gush of clear, odorless liquid, and I assumed this was the amniotic sac leaking.  I called the midwife on call, and she advised to hang out at home until the contractions  got closer but with my group B strep we would plan on checking into the hospital that day (Wednesday) so I could start the IV antibiotics protocol.  She requested we call with an update in a few hours.  I called my mom and aunt to let them know what was going on, and Jeff finalized our hospital bag packing.  He also baked some more tofu (as I had eaten the batch I baked a few days before) and boiled some edamame for labor snacks.  He also steeped my sitz bath herbs.

Around three, my contractions were coming between three and six minutes apart so I called the midwife back and left her a voicemail.  She called back sometime near five to discuss my progress; due to the shift change a 7:30 check in would be better so she advised us to get a good final dinner, but when I mentioned that I had recently vomited and didn’t really have an appetite she advised us to get to the hospital so I get some IV fluids and start the antibiotics.

The drive to the hospital felt like it took forever with the contractions, but it is only about twenty minutes even with traffic.  We arrived just before shift change so I was admitted amoungst a whirlwind of activity with no less than five medical professionals, including the midwife, asking questions and taking vitals and drawing blood.  We had to be very adamant about not being listed in the directory, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way as we didn’t want visitors until we had had a chance to bond as a family and were settled at home.

After the admissions were completed, my midwife performed my first vaginal exam.  Much to my delight, she announced that I was at 8 cm.  My husband and I were both so stoked that neither of us realized that all that progress had happened over the course of three and a half days.

I had wanted to stay at home as long as possible to avoid the temptation of a medicated birth.  Ostensibly I wanted an unmedicated birth as it would be the best for my baby, and it would cost about $2,000.  I was also scared of it not working the first time not to mention some of the side effects.  However, looking back I wanted to prove my mother wrong.  She (and others) regaled me with stories of women dumb enough to just say no.  I do not regret having an unmedicated birth, and in fact I do believe, pride or not, LB benefited from an unmedicated labor.  Depressed respiration is a common side effect for the baby, and she had trouble breathing initially without any side effects from pain medication.

The twenty minute fetal heart rate strip was not nearly as horrid as I had built it up to be even though being stationary was anathema during my labor.  It was superb to be in the tub as the shower head once again provided a warm massage to my low back, and I had enough room to move around unlike our tub at home.  However, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.  My luxuriating in the nice warm tub increased my temperature too much so my midwife sent us to walk the halls.  We did one round around the labor and delivery floor before returning to our room.  I preferred less clothing than I felt comfortable walking around the floor in (not to mention that my feet were so swollen my size 9 feet were pushing it in a men’s size 10 flip flop).

I did return to the tub for another hour or so, but I began to prune up and to feel confined.  I attempted to use the hospital’s physio ball without comfort so I mostly paced and tried to find a comfortable position to sleep in.  Although I never counted or timed by contractions while we were at the hospital, I don’t recall them ever being really close.

Sometime between midnight and two, my midwife offered fentinyl to help calm me down and possibly get some rest.  I thought about it but ultimately declined since we were probably in the home stretch I would be disappointed in myself afterwards.  She performed another vaginal exam, and after six to eight hours I was about 9.5 cm with a swollen lip of cervix preventing me from being fully dilated.  She applied some arnica gel and had me lay on my side for a few contractions.  Although I don’t recall her stating it, I assume I was lying on my side to help encourage the baby to turn to a better position.

After three horrid contractions lying on my right side, I felt the urge to urinate. Unfortunately I was in the process of getting my IV antibiotics so the nurse asked if I could just go rather than have to wheel the IV pole into the bathroom; I insisted that I was not taking that course of action.  After using the bathroom I felt the urge to begin pushing so the nurse called the midwife back into the room (she was attending two labors that night).  I was terrified of giving birth on a toilet so I asked for something comparable, and the nurse suggested a birthing stool.  I thought it sounded like a good idea, but when the midwife returned it wasn’t mentioned again.

Getting the urge to push was awesome because finally something was changing.  I must say that as miserable as I was with no sleep, I feel like I lost my mind during transition.  My husband said it was about twenty minutes from the time I left the bathroom until the baby was born, but it certainly felt like much longer.

I was moved to the bed on my right side, and the midwife discovered that my amniotic sac had not actually broken so she performed the aminoity.  There was meconium present so the stable team was called to be ready in case LB needed help after her birth.

I did ask for the mirror as I thought that seeing the baby’s head would be encouraging, but the pain from her crowning was so intense that I was scared to look in the mirror.  I felt like I was being ripped open, and I did suffer some minor tearing that required stitching.  Unfortunately LB decided to come into this world with her hand beside her face, and her shoulder (no one could recall if it was the left or right one) decided not to wait for the head to be delivered.  Everyone was really supportive aside from one nurse who yelled at me, and I am sure it was no picnic listening to me whine about how much it hurt and how I couldn’t give birth.

The stable team apparently performed her Apgar test before her body was born so the results were less than desired.  While my nurse and midwife seemed to argue about this with the stable team, I am not sure how much difference it made based on hindsight.

Once she was completely born, she was laid on my tummy while my honey cut the cord then due to her low Apgar’s she was taken to the bassinet and the stable team examined her while I birthed the placenta.  Her cord had a perfect square knot in it, but with everything going on neither of us took a photo.

My husband said that she seemed to be breathing fine, but the nurses bulb syringed her, checked vitals, and gave her oxygen.  I then had to say goodbye as they were leaving for the NICU.  My husband was torn between whether to stay with me or go with her as it was obvious he was needed in both places. While I dealt with the continuing uterine massages, he sat with her for an hour as the nurses tried to start an IV in her hand, foot, & finally got one in her head.  The IV delivered sustenance and antibiotics which were required due to the meconium.  She received the IV diet the entire time she was in the hospital so our nursing relationship started off slowly, but we’ve outgrown those difficulties.

While my husband & LB were upstairs, I was cleaned & stitched.  I flitted in and out of sleep while suffering the injustice of periodic uterine massages, which is a cruel and misleading misnomer. After about an hour from their departure for the NICU my nurse cleaned the room and got me in a wheelchair so I could reunite with my honey & LB then get to my room in the mother/baby unit before shift change.  Between the exhaustion, blood loss and the drama/trauma of birth, I could barely sit up in the wheelchair much less walk.  My birth nurse wheeled me up to the NICU, and  it was so scary to see my sweet little girl hooked up to so many machines.  It was overwhelming to say the least, and due to the impending shift change everyone was trying to get us to our room and out of the way.  Exhaustion set in and we meekly acquiesed.

Much like the blur of the labor, those days in the mother/baby unit sans baby are a fog.  We would sleep a bit only to be awakened for a nurse to check on me or to get a call from the NICU that LB was awake and ready to nurse; even if the NICU didn’t call or no one needed to check my vitals, I had trouble sleeping more than an hour or two without waking up.

The first several attempts at nursing were not good, and it only added to the guilt I felt over her condition.  It wasn’t until Saturday when we met with another lactation consultant that we had the breakthrough.  She basically came in and said she wouldn’t leave until we had a successful nursing session; she also told me the nipple shield the first lactation consultant provided was superfluous, which was a boon to my flagging confidence (especially as all my pregnancy reading had advised against using nipple shields).  She helped me get a good latch, and I’ll never forgot the bliss I felt as LB really nursed for the first time.

It also wasn’t until Saturday that we were able to talk to her doctor about how long she would need to stay and why she needed to stay because to us she seemed healthy.  With her low Apgar scores, slight fever, and difficulty breathing on her own (she was on oxygen the first six hours of her life), they ran blood work which showed high C-reactive protein levels, but they were never able to determine what caused the infection due to the course of the antibiotics LB and I  shared for the group B strep.  We were dismayed to learn that our seemingly healthy little girl would have to stay an entire week getting IV antibiotics every twelve hours.  During her stay she had to endure four separate IV starts with multiple sticks to get a vein, and it wasn’t until the day before discharge that a lactation consultant suggested a hep lock as she was nursing enough to not need the IV nutrients, but they were keeping her on the lowest dose to keep the vein open for the IV antibiotics she was getting every twelve hours.

However, spending so much time in the NICU helped put everything into perspective.  Sure it sucked to have a wired baby and to have to stay in the hospital, but LB’s neighbor weighed two pounds and was in an isolette.  Her mom couldn’t even touch her for more than a few minutes because it overstimulated her, and here we were able to hold LB as much as we wanted.

I was discharged on Saturday night. Fortunately the hospital has sleep rooms so I could be close enough to nurse her without having to camp in the NICU.  Unfortunately the accommodations are worse than dorm rooms as most don’t even have windows.  The walls are paper thin, and three rooms share one full bathroom.  My room did have windows overlooking the roof, but I would spend most of the day at home because at least one of the other two couples were loud and dirty.

On Tuesday we were transferred to a transition room in the NICU. The transition rooms are just like the mother/baby rooms except they have a futon and a chair rather than the hospital bed and banquette sleeper. The chair opens into a chaise, but my husband said not even the Thermarest could make it bearable. The futon was a single so LB and I stayed in the hospital while my honey went home and got everything ready for us as well as keeping me fed.

With our NICU stay we had to complete a laundry list of items including taking a quiz and watching a couple of DVDs; we also had to bring her carseat to her room for inspection.  This seemed ridiculous because we had a huge convertible carseat rather than a baby bucket.  Our inspection deemed our carseat too large so my honey had to scramble and find another carseat (it ended up needing lots of cleaning after spending a couple of years in storage, but at least it was free).  This was really irksome (aside from the hassle my husband endured) because our seat was rated for 5-65 lbs (with a rear to front conversion somewhere around 30lbs), and LB was a bit over 8.5lbs and 22″ the day of the inspection so it should have easily adjusted to fit her.

After a week in the hospital, it seemed miraculous to be able to sit on the couch and nurse LB rather than sit on the couch and pump for LB.  Being able to sleep and snuggle in bed with her just made me cry tears of joy and gratitude.  Picking her up and not having to worry about tangling any of her monitor wires was bliss.

Almost six months later, she’s off the charts for her height, and her weight is normal.  She has a dazzling smile that greets me every day when I return home on my lunch break to nurse her.  She shrieks in delight at the dryer door, the remote control, and the lamp in her room; the cats and dog also provide many giggles, and she enjoys sleeping at night.

I feel blessed to have such a daughter and husband and family and friends.

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Eating Crow

Posted by eemilla on August 24, 2011

Of the things I promised not to do as a parent, my scorecard is already a mixed bag.  I knew we wouldn’t meet all of the goals, but I did expect that it would take longer for us to fall off the wagon.
My goal of using cloth diapers exclusively ended minutes after LB’s birth as she was wheeled off to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).   We started using cloth as soon as we got home.  However we plan on resuming our spring tradition of attending The French Broad River Festival, and I might bow to the convenience of disposables (plus I’m not certain we’ll have enough to do without laundry facilities).  Thankfully our childcare provider is supportive of cloth diapering.
I would like to note that our electricity and water bills have increased nominally, and with this heat wave the a/c likely accounts for most of the increased electricity consumption; we also have been slacking on hanging her laundry out on the line to dry.  Even with the increased consumption, our rate plan is about even with the standard plan so we will be sticking with it and working harder to reduce on-peak consumption.  Once I return to work this should be easier.
As for limiting screen time, my husband & I watch TV or surf the internet while holding her.  Even if I turn her away she will turn back towards the screen.  We have not yet used the screen as a babysitter, but as I said before I understand that will become harder as she gets older.
It took about three weeks before I realized that we hadn’t read to her once since her birth, and even though I am reading to her it is far from daily in frequency.
Although I am still breastfeeding, I am looking forward to her weaning.  While I haven’t had any issues, aside from thrush, nursing is a chore.  I love the time she spends cuddled against me and most of the noises she makes, but I hate my sore nipples.  I hate that my other breast leaks while she nurses because it makes public nursing that much harder, and selfish as it is I miss my beer, liquor, and wine.  Due to my knowledge of the benefits of breastmilk, my distrust of food processors and their regulators, and my frugality I cannot see myself discontinuing breastfeeding until LB is eating food, and I hope returning to work will help me appreciate our nursing relationship more.
LB has recently outgrown her 0-3 month clothes without even wearing all of them; of those I believe I purchased only three.  My pack rat tendencies want to put everything in storage containers, but hopefully common sense will prevail and I’ll be able to trade them for larger clothes.
I’m optimistic about making her food and keeping the birthdays within reason, and I am hopeful about the breastfeeding.

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