Category Archives: Post Pregnancy

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Its Off to Work I go…5/26/13

12 weeks. I’ve never had that much time off of work since I started my first part time job at 16. In the beginning it seemed like so much time. Now here I am thinking about just how quickly it went.

It was hard. I spent the majority of my last day of leave preparing for the first day back. I barely slept the night before (Alexandra waking up to feed at 3:42 am was only part of it). I wasn’t nervous to go back, more just unsure of how I would feel about it. Sometimes the thought of sending her to daycare would bring tears to my eyes while I was still with her! I was so afraid that I’d cry all the way to work and be an unproductive mess the whole day and end up questioning whether or not it was the right thing to do. That didn’t happen.

What did happen is that I woke up way too early (3:42 am) and was ready long before I needed to be. This did give me some extra time in the morning to spend with my adorable little peanut (though admittedly I wasn’t enjoying it as I should have been because I was thinking about how I was going to have to drop her off and it made me sad). She did fine at the daycare. Didn’t cry at all. She even gave her babysitter a huge grin. I left feeling sad and empty, but didn’t cry. Part of that was because I knew it was all going to be alright.

When I arrived at work, I was greeted exceptionally well. My co-worker who had been covering for me for 3 months had sent me flowers to welcome me back and was so nice and told me to “ease back into it.” It blew me away because I know after 3 months of doing the work of two people he had to be anxious to get it off his plate. My boss came over and treated me the same way and then more and more co-workers came by to welcome me back. I know I was already emotional, but it really just made me feel so great and reinforced to me that it was right.

Each family has to make their own decisions about what is best and no one else will ever know exactly why that’s what works for you. Sometimes parents can be so critical of other parents on everything about raising kids just because their methods/opinions differ from their own. During my leave I read a lot of reasons why women choose to not return to work after having kids and had a very hard time finding anything in favor of returning to work for reasons other than financial necessity. Since I do feel passionately about my choices, I wanted to do the working mom’s a favor and describe my reasons for actually choosing to return to work. Before I do, I want to clarify that I am NOT defending my choices, NOT criticizing those that decide to put their careers on hold for their family, NOT trying to say that MY decisions are best for every family. I’m simply explaining why they are right for US.

Its hard to explain your reasons without touching on money at all. Obviously, that is why we work because I wouldn’t be doing this without being paid. That being said, if we really tried, Tim and I could make it work on one income. I don’t just want to “make it work”. I want Tim and I and our kids to be able to see the world and experience as many of life’s pleasantries as possible. If we only have one life to live and we never know when its going to end, shouldn’t that be the point, to have as much fun as we can on a regular basis. Struggling to live off of one paycheck just doesn’t sound like as much fun to me as the opportunities that both of us having a career can present.

Another reason is that I actually enjoy some aspects of working. Sure, the day to day routine can be stressful or mundane but when I really get going on a big project that I’m interested in, I actually have a lot of fun. I take pride in my work and I enjoy tackling big challenges and solving problems. It gives me a great sense of purpose and accomplishment when I help solve a large problem that helps my company or department. These feelings make me happier, and I believe this happiness directly transfers to being a more effective parent (for me).

I love my daughter more than I ever thought was even possible. I love spending time with her. It fills me with feelings of love, but it isn’t exactly stimulating to me to do the same things with her over and over and over again all day long. Usually by the time the afternoon rolled around I was really hoping she would nap for a little while so that I could read my work emails or the news, or even just browse through a magazine. Something a little stimulating. At work I’ll get all that stimulation and I’ll go home and be tired of it and just want to give love and won’t mind doing the same things with my daughter over and over and over.

I realize that I am really fortunate in the job I have at the company I work for. The job itself can frequently be mundane but I have wonderful co-workers and a great boss and honestly it makes all the difference in the world. The people I work with are genuinely good people and the company I work for holds itself to a very high ethical standard and it just feels good to work here. Sure, there are stressful moments and not everyone that I work with fits into that category but the majority of people I interact with on a daily basis do; more so than any other position I’ve held at any company. In the grand scheme of things I may not always feel appreciated, but I DO often feel appreciated by my closest co-workers and my boss, and that also contributes to my happiness.

Obviously, there are MANY things to consider when trying to decide what makes sense for your family. Even after you’ve made the decisions I think its only normal to question them occasionally; especially when love and emotions are involved. Coming back to work reminded me why I made the choices that I did. Its not easy by any means, but for us it is worth it. And I plan on being there for her no matter what. Field trips, vacations, sporting events, everything. That’s what vacations and personal days are for.

So there it is. My reasons for choosing to go back to work full time and be a full time mom. I say “full time” mom because its not like you ever stop being a mom just because you’re not physically with your child. I would leave work in a heartbeat if the need arose, and she KNOWS I’m always on call during the night. So whether you work, or stay home, or breastfeed or don’t, I think the biggest requirement for being a good mom is simply being there and loving. If you can do those two things, I think you’re probably doing something right.

First Race Recap 5/13/13

Yesterday was my first 5K since having Alexandra 10 weeks ago!

I was nervous and unsure how it was going to go. Last year before I got injured I was so in tune with my body and had done so many workouts that I could guess pretty closely how I was going to run in any given distance. So the nervousness came from the unknown.

I had done a couple workouts to try to test my fitness in the last few weeks. In the past they would have been considered so easy. One mile tempo, 2 mile repeats with a minute rest, a two mile tempo and also two workouts of 4 X 400 meters with a 400 meter jog in between. I was hoping that they would feel super easy and I’d blast through them but it didn’t quite go that way. It felt hard. I did them; but I found it really hard and felt tired and sore afterwards. I guess that’s what happens when you go a full year without doing a single workout or race…oh and have a baby somewhere in there! I don’t know why I thought I could just “bounce” right back to my level of fitness I worked for YEARS to achieve after just 6 weeks of running post partum.

Getting out the door on time with a 10 week old is pretty much impossible. So we got there a little late which meant I had to cut my warm up a bit short. A year ago this would have made me really upset because I was so strict in my pre-race regimine, but I actually found myself eager to get back to the car and make sure my parents had arrived and make sure my Peanut was doing ok.

I stretched a little and walked to the starting line with my parents, Tim and Peanut. Again, I found myself hanging around more than I should have been. Tim pretty much had to force me to get to the starting line.

Once there I found myself scanning the huge crowd looking for my cutie’s little head and once I found it I could focus on myself and my race again. I saw a friend from Wayland and found myself wishing him good luck and high fiving him and starting to feel like it was just the start of any other 5K I had ever run.

A year ago I would have been in the very front row. Now I found myself questioning just where I should be starting. I tucked in a few rows back from the front and tried to feel confident.

The gun went off and it was go time. I forgot how easy a fast pace feels when you have all that adrenaline. My plan was to go out in 6:30 and see how I felt. I was running 6:15 and feeling great so I tried to just hold it there. Of course it was a RACE and I found myself picking off all the women I could see. By the time I hit the mile I was at a 6:10 pace. Mile 2 had a large hill so I didn’t even look at my time and focused only on the girl ahead of me and just raced. Mile 2 was still right around a 6:12! The last mile was hard. Really hard. I had to pull out all of my mental tricks just to keep going. I wanted to quit in the worst way but I thought about my little Peanut at the finish line and I thought about how much of a failure I would feel like if I didn’t at least finish what I started! I wouldn’t look at my watch. I felt like I had slowed down (and there was another hill that I had gone up) and I was already struggling. I knew if I saw a slow time I would get discouraged and I was really trying to stay positive. There was still one woman in my sights up ahead. I had been gaining on her but at this point we seemed to be going the same pace. I just kept looking at her and telling myself to just focus on getting her. Before I turned and saw the finish line I passed her.

In that final stretch I was so tired but I found it in me to kick a little. When I went by the 3 mile mark and my watch beeped, I looked at it and saw a 6:30. So I had slowed down quite a bit, but not as bad as I could have. I kicked the last 200 meters and finished in 19:39. I was really happy with that. Its more than 2 minutes slower than my PR, but all things considered I felt like it was a good start.

I’ll do my next 5K in a couple weeks and now I have a goal! I ran 6:16 pace for this first one so for my next one I’d like to run 6:10 pace. That ends up being about 19:12 for a 5K. Since most courses are a little long (this one was 3.15 on my watch) it may be a little slower, but that’s ok as long as I hit my paces. It seems like a lot to take off in just a few weeks, but there are a few reasons I think its doable. First, this one was my absolute first race in well over a year! It takes some practice just to get the feel of racing again and the first one is always kind of test run. Second, the course was much more hilly than I had anticipated so I struggled a bit with that. Towards the end of my pregnancy I was running all flat roads because of my hips. I’ll need to start incorporating some more hills into my runs. Thirdly, I had only been running for 6 weeks at that point with a maximum distance of 6 miles. Even though its only another couple weeks to train, my fitness is still building and each workout I do will get me more used to running fast paces again. We’ll see in a couple weeks how close I am to that goal.

A Mother’s Guilt 5/5/13

Yesterday evening I left Alexandra screaming with her daddy and headed out for a six mile run. It was hot, windy and I felt awful just leaving her like that. It was 6 pm and we had already had a long day. She had her 2 month shots a few days before and didn’t do very well with them. The nurse had told me that some babies sleep a lot for a couple days and other babies fuss more. She definitely fussed rather than slept.

So she had been really fussy the last couple days and was even waking up several times through the night (she’s been sleeping through the night since she was about 4 weeks old, with few exceptions). We took her to Ann Arbor on Saturday to watch my sister in law Mackenzie, graduate from U of M. We got up sometime around 5:30 am and were on the road before 7 am. She did awesome and it was a really nice day spent with family. By the time we got home around 5:30 though it had already been a really long day and I just didn’t feel like running. Still, I knew I had 6 on the calendar and I wouldn’t feel like doing it on Sunday either so I figured I might as well get out there. As I was getting dressed she started crying, well more like wailing.

I hate hearing her cry. I mean absolutely HATE it. I read somewhere that infants cries are specifically designed to have that type of reaction in their parents so that you CAN’T ignore it. When she cries everything in me just stops being able to concentrate and all I can think of is what I can do to get her to stop crying. During those first 6 weeks many times the answer was NOTHING and that was particularly hard to swallow. I’ll admit with complete honesty that during some of those early crying fits I couldn’t get out the door fast enough to go for my 1 or 2 mile runs. For 8-16 minutes I could put my head phones on and get away from it for a while. That’s all changed now though. I wasn’t looking forward to just leaving her with her dad. I felt awful. I felt completely selfish. I must have asked him at least three times if he was SURE he could handle her. He assured me he would be ok and I went out the door, the guilt and her cries echoing behind me.

I try to use my running as true “me” time and not think about all the things I have to do or even think about my wonderful baby. On this run though I couldn’t stop thinking about her and how I felt just leaving her screaming like that. I wanted so badly to just turn around or cut my run short to just go back there and hold her in my arms. I had to keep talking myself out of it. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Tim or think he could handle it. It was just that I really felt like I was abandoning her when she needed me. I knew in my head that it was actually good for Tim to get more time with her and learn how to comfort her. It was also good for her to be able to trust others besides just her mom all the time. I told myself that it was good for me too. Whenever I got back I always missed her terribly (yes, from only being gone for 45 minutes!) and felt so much more refreshed and ready to use my energy to calm her or play with her.

I love my daughter dearly and I dread going back to work and missing out on this time with her. In all honesty though there are some days when its 3 pm and I just can’t wait for Tim to get home and give me a little break. I get all the emails about her development and make time every single day to actively play with her and work on her skills. Its incredibly rewarding when she’s happy and smiles at me and coos and enjoys tummy time and I can just see that little mind of hers working as she looks at her world in wonder. Then there are days when nothing seems to make her happy and I spend the whole day just trying to keep her from having a full on screaming fit and I maybe took a 5 minute shower where I could hear her fussing in her seat the whole time and ate lunch with one hand while she sat fussing in the chicco while I did laps around the house because the second I stopped moving she’d start crying. So when Tim comes home I gladly turn her over and get dressed and get out the door for my run and come home missing her again and find myself wanting to take her from Tim and gladly offering to help calm her when she gets upset.

I enjoy running and it keeps me healthy so I feel like in taking care of myself I’m much better able to take care of her. Hey, walking around your house while carrying an almost 12 pound baby for the better part of the day is not easy. Sometimes at the end of the day my feet and legs just ache.

Anyway, back to the run. I had all these thoughts going through my head. I wondered if Tim would be able to calm her. I worried that he wouldn’t and she’d have spent the whole 45 minutes crying and missing her mom. I worried that Tim would take it personally and feel bad for not being able to calm her down. I worried that he wouldn’t enjoy his time with her and wouldn’t bond with her the way I always hoped he would. I worried about what would happen when she goes to daycare. The list goes on and on and on….and the miles went by quickly. When my watch beeped that I had completed 3 miles it startled me. I had been so consumed with all these thoughts that I hadn’t realized how much time had actually gone by. And that’s when I let it all go. I started thinking about running and racing and how much I loved it. The last couple miles were tough. It was really hot and yet windy at the same time so it felt like I was working much harder than I should have been for an easy run. I got home and found Tim sitting on the couch with a sleeping Alexandra on his chest. I smiled and laughed at myself for my useless worry. Of course they were fine. Tim is a great dad. My endorphins were in high gear and I just stared at the two of them for a minute and thought about how great life is.

Its not just the horrible tragedies in Boston and Texas but also things going here with people I know that cause me to pause and just think. Infertility, miscarriages, complicated pregnancies, child abuse, a young mother being abducted from her place of employment are just a few. I hear about these things and I just hurt for the people that are going through it. And it makes me tear up when I look at my precious baby girl and feel incredibly thankful. Its also in these moments I realize how quickly everything can all be taken away and it makes me want to squeeze her so tight. Sure, sometimes its really hard. I think any parent that tells you its easy is lying or delusional. In fact the night before we left for Ann Arbor Alexandra was still really fussy and it had been over 48 hours since her shots.

I remember being exhausted after having dealt with her the whole day and it was late at night and we were trying to get ready for the big trip. I was holding her as she was crying and I was just pacing the upstairs bouncing her while Tim was packing and I started crying to Tim “Why is she so difficult?! She’s such a fussy baby and I’m tired Tim and I do this ALL DAY LONG and she just fusses and cries and my feet hurt and my arms hurt and its almost 11 pm and I just want to GO TO BED!” Almost immediately after I vented like that I felt guilty and held her tighter and told her I love her, even when she’s fussy because I do. So I hear about all of these terrible tragedies and it reaffirms to me how blessed we are and of everything I have to be thankful for.

So those are my thoughts after 9 weeks as a mother. Alexandra measured at 11 pounds, 12 oz and 22.5 inches tall at her 2 month appointment! She was born just under average for weight and is now just ahead of the majority of her peers so she’s eating great! Its so rewarding to see the result of your hard work (breastfeeding) paying off. Slowly but surely my body is starting to return to its pre-pregnancy shape. The scale still hasn’t budged (I’m the same weight every week that I was 2 weeks post-partum) so I’m starting to accept that this is the weight my breastfeeding body is happy at. My ab muscles are finally starting to make a reappearance after starting back up with strength training 3 weeks ago. I’ve started to include some short workouts into some of my runs to test my fitness and it has been more of an uphill climb than I anticipated but it is starting to get better. Next Saturday I will test myself by running my first 5K since having her. I wish I could say I have a good guess as to where I will finish but I really don’t know. Guess we’ll find out in less than a week!

The First Month 4/5

We’re just over a month in, and here’s what’s been going on:

Me: My mastitis started to clear up after several days on the antibiotics. I waited until all the pain and swelling was gone before attempting to run. 9 days after antibiotics, and 3 weeks + 2 days after my c-section, I went for a run. I only went one mile to start off since it had been 59 days (yikes!) since my last run. At first it felt very awkward. It was like I was going through the motions but it felt so foreign to my body, like it forgot how to do it. A few minutes in though and I got into my rhythm and felt really good. I took it VERY easy. I did not look at my pace until I was finished because I didn’t want my competitive juices to start flowing and make me push myself. I just wanted to give my body a good test drive and see how it responded. The last run I had gone on I was 34.5 weeks pregnant and running between an 8:30 pace (on a good day) and a 9:30 pace so I had no idea where I was going to be post partum. When I finished my mile I was surprised to see I had run it in 7:59! It was just a mile, but I really was taking it very easy and FELT like I was running more like 8:30-8:45 pace so I was pleasantly surprised to see it was just under 8 minutes!
The next morning I woke up sore! It was mostly in my legs, but also in my abs. I don’t know if I’ve ever been sore from running 1 mile easy before…but I guess my body has been through a lot and the muscles took a pretty severe beating. I went for another mile run that day to try to get some of the soreness out. I finished that mile in 7:49! By Monday I was still sore so I took that day off and just went for a walk with the dog. Tuesday I did a mile again, but felt sort of tired and had some achiness in near my incision. Not too surprising, I ran a little slower, 8:07 pace. I continued with my 1 mile runs on Wednesday and Thursday and felt about the same. On Thursday though there was a dad and daughter that crossed the road at the same time as me and they were running faster than me. My competitive juices started flowing again (and I was actually glad they were still there!) and I picked it up and decided I couldn’t let them leave me in their dust! So I stayed right behind them for the remainder of my big 1 mile run and was thrilled to see I ran a 7:19! It felt harder, but not race hard. I was getting more encouraged.
On Saturday I had my best run yet. I went for my first 2 mile run and I averaged 7:09 pace for the two miles. Again, I was NOT pushing myself, just out running and enjoying being out there. I felt good, and didn’t have the soreness near my incision this time. I still have a long way to go, but its encouraging every time I step out the door and feel good.
After two weeks post partum I had lost 20 of the 26 pounds I gained during the pregnancy. I hadn’t done anything to lose the weight. I was just breastfeeding and eating when I was hungry. It was encouraging and I figured in another couple weeks I may be back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Wrong! Now that I’m 4 weeks post partum I’ve stayed exactly the same, 20 pounds down, 6 to go. I did read that when you’re breastfeeding you probably will hang onto 3 pounds or so due to the extra tissue in your breasts. So, I would like to still lose another 3 pounds, but I’m not doing anything right now to try to make that happen. Breastfeeding burns a ton of calories (up to 600 a day) and if you try dieting while breastfeeding, it can negatively affect your supply. So hopefully now that I’m running again it will just happen naturally.

Alexandra: She has been doing great! I don’t know if it’s the ranitidine, the dairy finally being out of my milk or the fact that I’m off of antibiotics, but she’s seemed to be so much happier. Yes, she still gets fussy sometimes and still has some crying spells, but its not like it was before.
She’s already got a strong personality. She’s very stubborn. When she wants something, she will not give in until she gets it. I’ve been trying to get her to take a bottle of my pumped milk since she will have to when I go back to work and I want to start building my stash. We struggled and struggled and then my sister in law suggested Dr. Browns bottles and I finally tried them and we were thrilled she took it! Then my dad watched her for us for a few hours so we could go to my nephew’s birthday party and she took it from him! Then my sister from Colorado comes to town and I thought it would be great to have her experience feeding her niece and the little stinker refused! I think she knew that I was there and wanted to nurse instead and she through a little fit until I finally caved and nursed her.
She’s starting to smile and even laugh. It’s the most beautiful thing in the world when she looks at you with those baby blues and gives you this big toothless grin. I melt every time.
She’s been getting more and more scheduled and has been sleeping longer at night. We HOPE this continues!!

3/28, one month already!

So here’s a look at what we’ve been up to the last few weeks (can’t believe its been a month already since she was born!).

We got home on Sunday, March 3rd and that whole first week seems like such a blur. Thankfully, Tim was home with me that whole first week and I found I really needed him. Even though he couldn’t feed her, he was able to help with diaper changes and allowed me to take care of myself as well as take care of her. I was pretty sore from the surgery still. I stayed on the painkillers for a few days after going home and that helped. I noticed mostly that I still wasn’t really able to bend over. I couldn’t bend over at the end of pregnancy because I had a huge belly in the way and now it was just that it hurt. Still, I got around ok. I couldn’t drive the first week, but since Tim was home, I didn’t really need to. I was incredibly swollen! I weighed myself the day after we got home and I had only lost 8.2 pounds since giving birth (and baby was about 7.5 of that!). I could see all the extra fluid from the IV’s they gave me. My ankles and feet were swollen and my face even looked really puffy. I think overall I still looked 5 or 6 months pregnant in the belly. It takes a while for your uterus to shrink back down, but even besides that all your organs had been pressed up to make room for your enlarged uterus. Add that to the weak abdomen muscles that pull everything in tight and its no wonder things still look very pudgy. I honestly wasn’t worried about it though. I was exhausted and caught up in being a new mom.

The night sweats were something else! I had heard that you sweat during the night, but I wasn’t totally prepared. I would wake up to feed Alexandra and look like I had just run a marathon. We’re not talking about a little perspiration. We’re talking about hair soaked, sheets wet, uncomfortable! I would get out of bed to feed Alexandra and be so cold! But I knew that was the body’s way of getting rid of all the extra fluids so I was ok with it. By that Friday when I stepped on the scale again I had lost 14.4 pounds!

Alexandra was doing great! She was breastfeeding very well, very often and she slept a lot. We took her to her first doctor’s appointment a few days after we were released from the hospital. They wanted to see her sooner because of everything that she had been through during birth. Everything was great! She was already back up to her birth weight which the doctor said was “surprising in a good way for a baby exclusively breastfeeding”.

With Tim being home and Alexandra sleeping a lot, it was a great week and we were both enjoying being new parents. Sure, we were sleep deprived, but we had expected that. I had my 30th birthday that Thursday (when she was exactly a week old). Because of everything going on in our lives it didn’t really seem like such a big deal. I didn’t put much thought into turning 30 at all or think if I had accomplished everything I had wanted to by this point in my life. I was a new mom with a wonderful daughter that I fell more and more in love with by the day. All that being said, it was the perfect day for me. Tim went out and brought home Jimmy John’s for lunch (the whole pregnancy I had to give up cold cut meats so I was so happy to enjoy my Jimy Johns again). We spent the whole day just being a family and lots of family and friends called or sent cards (or flowers from my sister and brother in law) to wish me a happy birthday. For dinner my brother and sister in law came over and we ordered Italian food. I even got Alexandra to take a bottle of pumped milk which allowed me to have a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat beer which I had also been craving during the pregnancy.

So if the first week was the “honeymoon” period, week 2 was…well if I’m honest, pretty much a nightmare, except for my little Angel of course.

Tim went back to work on Monday and I found it was a lot harder trying to manage by myself. I had all these grand ideas about keeping a perfect house and cooking great family dinners since I’d be home all day and babies sleep a lot, right?!

Suddenly our sleeping beauty started being awake A LOT more! And when she was awake, she was fussy and just wanted to feed ALL THE TIME! In our breastfeeding class they told us to always just feed whenever they want to because they could be going through a growth spurt and they will know how much they need. So I was feeding her every 30-60 minutes…and that’s from the start of one feeding to the start of the next! This continued day and night. Sometimes she would feed for 30 minutes, other times only 5 or 10. After a couple days of this I was more stressed out and exhausted than I think I have ever been in my life. If she was feeding every 30-60 minutes it meant that I was sleeping maybe 20-40 minutes at a time. Additionally, she was having tons of diapers. So I honestly felt like 24 hours a day I was in this diaper change, feed, burp, change…sleep for 20 minutes, repeat. I started reading things while I was spending so much time feeding and realized that she was over double the recommended diapers per day. They say a baby is getting enough to eat when they have 6 poopy diapers a day…she was easily going through 14 or more and they were all very wet, which I read is not good.

So I called the pediatrician. They said it could be acid reflux but that they don’t diagnose it or treat it until the baby is 3 weeks old. They suggested burping more frequently, putting towels under her bassinet mattress to raise it to a 30 degree angle, eliminating dairy from my diet (some babies immature digestive systems can’t process a protein in milk), as well as caffeine and chocolate. They also said that I was feeding her way too frequently and that was probably what was causing all the diapers. They told me to not feed her more often than every 2 hours. So I asked what to do when she cries and cries until her next feed: “you’re just going to have to find other ways to soothe her.”

So I started right away with everything they suggested. It was NOT easy. She still wanted to feed constantly so she would just cry and cry and I would want to rip my hair out waiting for 2 hours to pass. She absolutely would not sleep! When they are too tired, they can actually have a harder time falling asleep so it was just everything working against us. I felt terrible for her. She was so frustrated and seemed to be in physical pain after feedings and there was nothing I could do to comfort her. It really makes you feel like you’re failing at being a mom when you rock, kiss, talk to, sing to, dance with your baby and she just screams anyway. I started to feel like she didn’t need me for comfort…just needed the food I provided.

Well, the thing that happens when you’re establishing your breast milk supply is that it responds to demand. So since she was feeding so frequently, I started producing to keep up with her needs. Then when I started holding her off to only every 2 hours, my breasts started to get really full, engorgement. It was uncomfortable and I would have pumped to relieve it some except that I had no time to pump when I was either changing a diaper, feeding, or holding her trying to get her to stop crying.

A couple days later in the afternoon I started to really not feel great. I was freezing, even though my house was just as warm as it always was. I was exhausted and felt like I didn’t have the energy to do anything. So when I finally got Alexandra to sleep, I decided to try to sleep too. I got in my bed under the covers fully clothed and could not get warm. I attributed it to hormones since they were to blame for making me sweat like a linebacker at night. I attributed the tiredness to the fact that I hadn’t been sleeping very much. Well, I finally fell asleep for about an hour and woke up with a horrible headache. I decided to take my temperature since I was still freezing and it was 104.8! That was the highest fever I’d ever had to that point.

So immediately I checked Alexandra and Thank God her temperature was normal! So I called my doctor’s office and spoke to the on call doctor. She asked me a lot of questions about my incision but it seemed fine. She also asked me about my breasts…and at the time, they seemed normal too. She told me to take some ibuprofen and if it didn’t go down in 24 hours, call back.

Well, the fever did not break. I kept checking it at night and it was still well above 100. Sometime in the middle of the night I got up to change and feed Alexandra and as I was carrying her to the nursery I started to feel really dizzy and my feet even stumbled a bit. This terrified me because I feared that I could drop her. When I got back to bed I checked my temp again and it was 105.3! I woke up Tim and had him help me with changing her the rest of the night. Unfortunately Tim had to be gone the whole next day so I knew I was on my own. Fortunately though in the morning I had a very distinctive hard, painful lump in my left breast that was really red. That was one of the things the doctor had asked me about so I called back. I had developed mastitis, which is an infection of the breast that has to be treated with antibiotics.

There’s that saying “God never gives you more than you can handle” and on this day it was so true. Tim was gone. I felt awful and just wanted to sleep all day. Alexandra was great all day and went 3 hours in between most of her feedings and slept a lot, allowing me to do the same. The next morning when I woke up I already felt a lot better from the antibiotics. My breast was still very sore, but the fever was gone so I had some energy back. And Alexandra was back to being very fussy.

The next week was probably one of the hardest I’ve gone through. It tested me in a way that no endurance event I’ve ever done has. I love my little girl, and that never wavered through anything. However, I felt like my sanity was slowing slipping away day by day. I wasn’t sleeping and I started to dread the nights because they brought the hope of getting some sleep and I was always disappointed. The days were long and I couldn’t wait for Tim to get home from work so that I could have a break. Sometimes she would just cry and cry and cry and a couple times I just put her down in her bassinet and closed the door and sat right outside and put my head in my hands and slumped down and cried myself for 5 minutes before I could go back in and try everything all over again. Over the weekend Tim got to see what I was talking about. By Sunday afternoon he had already made the decision he couldn’t go to work on Monday, that he needed to help me. I was beyond thankful! I called the pediatrician again on Monday morning and they had us come in the same day.

They ended up diagnosing her with acid reflux, even though she wasn’t quite 3 weeks old. We got a prescription for ranitidine and with it, a full jar of hope! I knew it wouldn’t be an immediate fix (they say it takes a few days) but there was hopefully some relief in the near future. So we gave her the medicine (which is flavored MINT for a baby?) which she hated and spit out immediately after I put it in her mouth. Thankfully, I have an awesome sister in law that also dealt with a baby with acid reflux and told me that pharmacy can put grape flavor in it. So I took it back, the pharmacist gave me a hard time, but finally added it anyway (I was not going to take no for an answer) and Alexandra has been taking it much better ever since.

It didn’t work right away and during those days I remember I got through it by repeating to myself over and over again “this is not forever, its only temporary”. I knew even if the meds didn’t help, that colic doesn’t last forever in babies. I imagined that I was going through some kind of boot camp. There’s an end in sight and you won’t be getting by on 20 minutes four times a night forever. That seemed to make it at least bearable.

Finally, after a few days we did see a remarkable improvement! The first night she slept for 3 hours straight I wanted to cry in happiness! She was spitting up and vomiting a lot less and not always looking like she was in so much pain after feedings. She still seemed to have painful gas/bowel movements and that kept her fussy, but it wasn’t nearly as bad. Additionally, we would have “good days” and “bad days” but the bad days weren’t nearly as bad as they were before. I was wondering/hoping that some of her digestive discomfort was due to the antibiotics I was on and that once I was done with them, she would improve. Any little bit of hope you can cling to when dealing with a colicky baby can make a huge difference in your mental health.

The Hospital Stay, 3/22/13

The days following Alexandra’s birth were the happiest and scariest of my life.  It was a wild roller coaster of emotions.

We knew they were treating Alexandra as though she had an infection until they had the results.  A pediatrician met with us later on Thursday and explained everything that was going on.  They didn’t know what kind of infection my uterus had but they had my placenta and were doing tests on it to find out.  They had me and Alexandra both on lots of antibiotics.  The first day I was hooked up to an IV and a catheter.  I was given a lot of drugs to control the pain.  I had an ice bag over my incision that I couldn’t even feel.  I felt groggy, but happy to have my baby.  Later on in the day the nurse helped me get up and walk around the room a bit.

Alexandra was wonderful.  We had some visitors and she mostly just slept.

That first night was awesome and scary.  We opted to keep her in our room overnight since we had already spent so much time away from her.  I woke her up every 2 to 3 hours to feed and she did quite well.  It was a group effort though since I couldn’t really get out of bed on my own, Tim had to help with everything.  I think I dozed off and got maybe 15-20 minutes of sleep at a time because I kept looking at her to make sure she was still breathing.  Sometimes she was wide awake and would just stare at me, wide eyed and it brought tears to my eyes just thinking about how wonderful she is.  I didn’t think anything on earth could be any cuter than she was when she looked at me with those big blue eyes and squirmed around kicking up her feet.

She hadn’t really cried a lot yet, so suddenly at 2 am when she started screaming it took Tim and I by surprise and we kind of looked at each other like “what do we do?”  She had just been fed so I didn’t think she was hungry.  We both seemed to realize at the same time that it could be her diaper.  If there had been a camera in that room that night capturing what ensued it would have been hilarious!  It was like the blind leading the blind.  She hadn’t had a dirty diaper yet and we had no idea where the new diapers were or wipes or anything!  We got it done, and I have to admit that we naively believed that we were navigating the challenges of parenthood quite well.  HA!

The next day we received some mixed news.  Alexandra’s white blood cells were showing some immature cells which typically is a sign of stress.  The pediatrician explained that it could be just from the stressful birth, but it was definitely an abnormal result.  I was still running a fever, but luckily her temperature was normal every time they checked.  They wouldn’t have cultures until sometime on Saturday.

Alexandra was a great little baby though and seemed so healthy, which the doctors kept telling us was a great sign!

I will offer some advice for first time parents that I heard and wished I’d followed more.  We had so many visitors, which was great, and we enjoyed having everyone there and seeing her.  But they would bring me meals and if someone was there I felt impolite eating in front of them so I’d let the food sit and then by the time I could eat it, it had been out too long.  Finally though I got past my guilt and just started eating in front of people.  Don’t be shy either about kicking people out of the room to feed.  Its so important to establish a schedule and your milk supply and the baby is too young to wake herself up and let you know its time to feed.

Saturday morning was awful.  Shortly after my breakfast Tim headed over to our house for the first time since we left early Thursday morning.  The nurse came in and said they needed Alexandra for a little bit to take more blood cultures and give her her antibiotics.  She was scheduled to have pictures in an hour and the nurse said she’d be back by then.  I figured it would give me time to get in a shower so I said ok.  I got out of the shower, no baby.  I got dressed and ready, no baby.  The photographer came to the room and I had to tell her we weren’t ready yet.  I waited and waited.  I hadn’t left the room yet and even though I was off my IV now and could, Tim was still at home and I felt strange leaving all our stuff in our room with no one.  I paced around the room and finally couldn’t stand it anymore and walked outside to the nursery.

What I saw I will unfortunately never forget.  My 2 day old baby was on a table where a nurse was holding down her foot as she screamed, white in the face, fists in the air.  There was blood on the blankets, her feet were wrapped in bloody bandages and her hands had big bruises.  She had been gone for 2 and a half hours.  I asked what was going on and they told me that she wouldn’t stop kicking so they had to hold her foot down while the IV went in.  They also said her blood kept clotting in the tube so they had to keep poking and repoking her and taking more blood for the lab.  I couldn’t help it.  I broke down and started crying right there.  I held onto her little hand and looked at her angry face and tried talking to her while they gave her the IV but when they had to poke her bruised hand again, I had to leave.  I felt sick.  I wanted to be there for her, but I just bawled.  I can’t explain just how horrible it was to watch her in so much pain.  She had been enduring that for 2 and a half hours!!!  My heart broke for her.  She was only 2 days old and it wasn’t fair that she had to go through this.  I knew it was for her own good, but she didn’t.  I felt horribly guilty too that it was my infection that caused all of this.

I called Tim so upset and told him that I needed him to be here.  I was an emotional mess the rest of the day.  Finally, we received some great news.  All of her cultures came back negative!  They wanted to keep me one more day due to my fever just going down, but we were ok to go home on Sunday!  Of course I cried again, this time tears of joy.  They had the results from my placenta back and had determined I had group B strep in my uterus.  They test all pregnant women for this at 36 weeks and my test was negative, so how I had it undetected I guess I’ll never know.  While the pediatrician assured us this was great news, he also told us that she could still develop the infection a week later.  He told us we had to be very diligent about watching her for signs and fever and immediately take her in at the sign that anything was wrong.  He also cautioned that there is a lot of nasty flu going around this year.  He told us we should keep her away from public places, not let people touch her without washing their hands and not let anyone who is sick be around her at all.  I asked how long and he looked at me with all seriousness and said “June.”  That’s just what an over protective parent needs to hear, LOL!

So finally, on Sunday afternoon we wrapped up our little girl, put her in her car seat and took her to her new home!  Best day ever!