I've been doing my darndest to breastfeed Claire since she was born, but let me tell ya- it's been a tough 3 weeks! You'd think it would be the most natural thing: put baby to boob, feeding commences. If only it were that easy! There's all sorts of tricky things when it comes to latching on, positioning, etc. Oh, and did I mention it hurts? (This post discusses nipples, so if you don't want to know stop reading now). My poor little nips felt like they were on fire at first. Every time she would latch it would take my breath away and make my toes curl. Then when my milk came in a few days after she was born I was amazed at how uncomfortable and painful it was. Luckily things have gotten quite a bit better since then, but we've still been struggling. The main problem is that Claire falls asleep almost instantly, so I am constantly trying to wake her up by tickling her feet, jiggling her shoulder, lifting her up, etc. Sometimes it can take up to an hour to feed her, and even then she still doesn't get enough. Because she sleeps so much (nursing is very comforting to babies) she doesn't eat enough, which was making her jaundice worse, so I had to start supplementing with formula. Now my milk supply isn't enough, so I am continuing to supplement. Plus, she still is having latching issues, so sometimes it hurts pretty bad.
You'd think at this point I would give up, and believe me, I have been so close so many times! The formula they have for babies now is great, and really the goal is to have a fat and happy baby, so I'm not opposed to using it. I'm just not quite ready to give up yet. I really want Claire to get all the antibodies that my body makes to help her resist colds, etc., so that's one motivation. I guess though my main motivation is purely selfish: I don't want to pay for tons of formula every week (that stuff ain't cheap!), and nursing burns up to 600 calories a day, and I am determined to lose this baby weight asap.
So, to make this happen, I went and rented a high quality double breast pump yesterday. Hopefully this will make my life much easier since she drinks well from a bottle. Plus, it will give me some freedom. With nursing you are completely tied to the baby. Not that I don't love her, but I can't ever be away longer than 3 hours which is a little frustrating. This way maybe Brady and I can go on a date. Anyway, back to the pump. I must say it is one of the strangest things ever to hook these suction cups up to me and see milk come out. I feel like a jersey cow. Moo.
And no, I will not post a picture of the pumping process. Sorry y'all.
Monday, August 18, 2008
It's amazing how different life has become in just a few short weeks. Everyone tells you that babies change your life completely, but hearing it and living it are two different things! We just love having Claire in our home. She is such a good baby and we feel like we could kiss her chubby little cheeks all day. I think often about how incredible it is to love this tiny little person that you've never met before- but you love her with all your heart. It's been hard to see her struggle with this jaundice. We had to go in to the doctor every day for a week to have her blood taken. They had to prick her heel and squeeze her tiny foot until it was purple to get the blood they needed. The brave little thing was so good, she hardly even cried each time! She's one tough baby. At first her numbers started to go down, but then back up, and up again! I was a basketcase every time the nurse called with the results saying the numbers had gone back up. We finally figured out that she wasn't eating very well and I started supplementing with formula, which has done the trick. Her color is getting better and she's putting on some weight, so we're happy now.
So, for those of you wondering what it's REALLY like with a newborn (and many of you may already know) here is how my life has changed so far:
1- This is the longest I've ever been away from work, and it's hardly even crossed my mind! It's like it's not even there. Funny how priorities change.
2- EXHAUSTION! The first couple of nights home seemed easy...but when you're getting up every single night without a break, its tough!
3- Schedule? What schedule? Last night I went to bed at 1:00 AM. The night before that it was 11:00 PM. Sometimes I get a shower, some days I don't. I used to have a regular eating schedule, but now that revolves around Claire's eating schedule. Trying to get out the door on time for an appointment feels worthy of an Olympic medal. Schedules don't exist with a newborn.
4- A clean house? What's that? So much for organization.
5- At times it seems like Brady and I are just partners trying to survive life. Occasionally we'll have a priceless moment where we can actually cuddle for a minute and remember what it means to be married.
6- Family is over ALL the time. Which is a good thing (well, most the time anyway)! I love how Claire has brought the family together.
7- I've come to appreciate my own mother more and more each day. She's been so helpful during this time. I'd die without her.
8- It's nice to be able to actually move around again! Being hugely pregnant was tough! It's great to be able to bend over, stand up easily, etc.
9- Dogs become annoyances once a baby arrives.
10- It's depressing to look at my post-baby body and remember what it once was. I used to have abs! And I can't even bear to think about the stretch marks, much less look at them...ugh! I have to remind myself on a daily basis to be patient, I can get my body back eventually...hopefully...
11- Brady is the cutest dad ever. Watching him read a book to little Claire while she stares at him with wide eyes just melts my heart.
12- Meals from neighbors are blessings from above! It's humbling to accept so much help, but people have been very giving and it has been a lifesaver.
13- Above all though, I'm head over heels in love with this tiny little person. Staring at her has become my favorite pastime. No wait, cuddling her is! I love it all! It's exhausting and difficult, but I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the opportunity to have such a sweet and beautiful little daughter that I can raise.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
She's here! Our little baby girl surprised us by coming 4 weeks early this last Thursday on July 31st. She was born at 6:41 pm and weighed 6 lbs 3 oz and is 18 inches long. We are thrilled to welcome little Claire Paulich into our home! (That's right, no middle name).
On Wednesday I was feeling pretty good for the first time in a couple of weeks and had no indication that the baby was on her way. We went to bed that night and at 2:15 in the morning I woke up thinking I was wetting the bed or something! I figured it was just yet another super fun side effect of late pregnancy and got up to use the bathroom. I came and lay back down, but it started coming again. At that point I figured something was up. I woke Brady up and called labor and delivery. We packed our bags, threw the box with the car seat that we hadn't even opened yet in the trunk, and headed to the hospital. Turned out my water had most definitely broken and I was starting labor on my own. A couple of hours later though I wasn't dialated much more than one centimeter and we needed to get that baby on her way, so they started me on a Pitocin drip to make my contractions come faster and harder. A few hours later I was only at a 2. Ugh! So far I had been managing the pain ok. I hadn't decided whether or not I was going to get an epidural yet and was just going to see how things were going. At about 10:00 AM or so I got a dose of painkiller in my IV that made me SOOOO loopy. I couldn't even focus my eyes. They were also pumping me full of antibiotics, since I hadn't even had my Group B strep test that pregnant women are supposed to get in the last couple of weeks. They were doing it just a precaution. Anyway, the drugs wore off after a little bit and the contractions were getting pretty bad at this point. I asked for another dose of the painkiller, but by this point the contractions were so powerful that I didn't even notice the effects. I was getting pretty discouraged because the last time they had checked me I was only at a 2- there was no way I could survive dialating another 8 centimeters and it already hurt that bad! I was exhausted from trying to deal with the pain. At about 1:00 I caved and got the epidural, which I am now very grateful for! I wasn't really in love with the way it made my legs feel, but at least the pain was gone. The nurse checked me again right after they did the epidural, and surprise! I was dialated to a 7!! No wonder those contractions were hurting so bad! I went from a 2 to a 7 very quickly and things were moving along at this point. It was crazy to think that I was actually in labor and about to deliver this baby!
A few hours later we were good to go. I had Brady and my mom in the delivery room to support me as I pushed. Brady started out holding my leg, but realized that the gore of childbirth was not for him, so he switched my mom and supported my head and shoulders instead. Poor guy, he was awesome through the whole thing! I ended up pushing for about an hour and 15 minutes. I had no idea pushing would be so difficult and exhausting. It was tough work! Things started to get a little complicated as I was pushing. My temperature was rising and the baby's heartbeat was dropping a bit. Between contractions they had me roll onto my left side so the baby could get more oxygen. It was nice having Brady there at my head. He would hold me in his arms every time I rolled over and feed me ice chips and tell me how good I was doing. I honestly don't think I could've done it without him. My mom and the doctor and nurses were great at coaching me along as I was pushing too. The doctor ended up having to do an episiotomy because she was getting worried about the baby and wanted to get her out as quickly as possible. Finally I got her head out, and it turned out the cord was wrapped tightly around her neck twice, which was a little scary! Dr. Sloan worked quickly to cut it off and got her out safe and sound. Sadly, I didn't get to hold my little girl right away. Because she was early and there were some complications we had some extra people from the NICU there that whisked her away. Her breathing was a little labored, but she gave some good strong cries! I was so exhausted and relieved to be done pushing that I couldn't really put a lot of thought into anything. It was absolutely amazing though to see a baby come out. It was a moment of a lifetime.
They kept her in the NICU for a couple of hours and I got all stitched up and finally was allowed to eat a little bit of food. Our families were there to see us and it was great to have the love and support of everyone. It was so surreal to hold this little baby and to think that she belonged to us! Brady immediately became an awesome dad and cuddled and talked to her in the sweetest way, and he continues to do so. He has been taking good care of me too.
We spent about 2 days in the hospital and came home on Saturday. Recovery is tough, I feel like I've been run over by a train. Pushing uses more muscles than I ever thought! Even my biceps, neck, and shoulderblades were incredibly sore. I also can't believe how swollen I was after I delivered! They were pumping me full of fluids for hours, and I was already puffy from being pregnant, but I can't believe how huge and swollen my face, hands, feet, and legs were. I am feeling better every day though and have had a lot of help. Breastfeeding is an adventure of its own! You would think it would be the most natural thing, but it's tricky stuff. And boy does it HURT for the first little while! I am determined to do it though because I know it's really good for my little girl and it will be worth it. It's already getting better, and Claire is a smart little baby and has caught on quickly.
The poor girl has had some pretty bad jaundice so we are working on treating that, but she is starting to get over it. I could go on forever about things right now but I will have to write more later. We sure love our little girl and feel so very blessed.