Sunday, January 31, 2010

Breastfeeding blues

Man, this is harder than I thought! I've now had mastitis plus 5 blocked ducts. I'm getting them constantly and they are so painful - sometimes keeping me awake at night. The lactation consultant couldn't offer any good advice on how to avoid them, and I've gotten pretty good at massaging to get rid of them in about 1 day. But it's so depressing when I feel that certain pain, check, and sure enough, another blocked duct the size of an egg.

And she also feeds at least every 2 hours. I'm starting to feel very tied down, even though I take her out a lot, I always have to plan ahead to have a place to nurse discreetly. I'm still not very comfortable nursing in public, although I've done it... So excursions to stores or to run errands are always a little stressful because of the nursing situation.

And a fairly new thing... she's getting very fussy at the breast. Latch, pull away, on, off, lots of noises, kind of playing. It could be many things - a growth spurt and she wants more milk, so she's trying to stimulate another letdown, could be the milk comes out too slow and she's getting impatient, or maybe she's gassy or uncomfortable. It's frustrating not to know what the problem is. I've also noticed that she's getting more fussy in general at night in general. I like the mornings!

I'm coming up on 6 weeks, and I have another 5 weeks before I return to work. However, I'm starting my childcare plan the week before - 1 day MIL, 2 days mom, 2 days daycare (including Friday when I know I'll be able to leave work no later than 5pm). So I have 4 more weeks to build up a milk supply. Sadly, though, when I pump, I'm only getting about 1.5 oz total. And she usually eats more than that each feeding (I'm guessing, based on the one expressed milk bottle feeding DH does at night). So I'm not having an easy time building up any supply. Especially since she feeds so much as it is. Adding in the time to pump is hard.

I'm very committed to breastfeeding, but I'm nervous that I won't be able to build up and maintain enough of a supply to keep formula out of the picture.

On another topic, DH got very sick last week. He had to go on antibiotics. His doc said he needed to stay away from Aysia at all costs - that if she got sick, it would almost definitely mean a trip to the ER, and if she got a fever, they would need to do a spinal tap! Yikes! He said to stay away for a week - no holding her, sleep in guest room, etc. So I was 100% on the hook. He usually takes her from about 8-midnight, giving me so down time, and a head start on sleep. I was so upset that I couldn't have that time anymore. The ped was a little less conservative and said that once his symptoms stopped, he could hold her again. So it only turned out being 4 days of all me. But it was hard - I can't imagine how single parents do it. Much respect! And DH was devastated that he had to keep his distance, he really loves his daddy/daughter time. He made up for it by waiting on my hand and foot and doing all the household stuff (laundry, dishes, cooking, etc.), which was very helpful!!

On a good note, we went out and bought a new bed today! The bed we have is old, not good quality, and kind of sagging in the middle. So we splurged and got a real nice, good quality bed, which is being delivered tomorrow. I can't wait! Now I need to find nice new bedding to complete the look...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Time flies!

Wow, it's been almost 2 weeks since my last post, where has the time gone? I'll tell you where it's gone... breastfeeding, burping, diaper changing, laundry, repeat. Seriously, taking care of little Aysia can get very repetitive unless I plan some diversions!!

First, on the breastfeeding... much harder than I thought. I had mastitis on one breast, which was very painful and needed a doc appt and antibiotics to clear up. Then I promptly got a blocked duct on the other breast, even more painful - you need to massage it and continue breastfeeding for it to go away, when even a light touch hurts. Then 2 days later, another blocked duct. I think the problem is that my little girl is a lazy eater. She sits on my breasts for at least an hour for each feeding. She sucks, sleeps, sucks, sleeps... I continually try to arouse her, burp her, whatever I can do to keep her focused on the task at hand, but she likes to take her time. And sometimes, it doesn't feel like she's fully depleted the milk, and that can lead to infection and blocked ducts. So what I should be doing is pumping the remainder out after each feeding, but here's the problem - she feeds every 2 hours max during the day (every 3-4 at night, thankfully!). During that 2 hours, I first change her diaper (5-10 mins, depending if the clothes need to be changed, too), feed her (60 mins average), and burp her twice (5 mins). That leaves me about 45 minutes between each feeding. I like to try to give her some tummy time for playing, or sing or read to her. I also may have to pee, or shower, or grab a bite to eat, never mind do the laundry, get thank you notes done, check emails, return calls, and a whole list of other things that need tending to. And that's if Aysia naps, which isn't always the case between each feeding. So if I pumped, that would take about 20 mins form start to finish, leaving me almost no time for Aysia or for anything else. I'm lucky if I get to pump once or twice a day!

I think the lack of time has been the hardest thing so far. It's difficult when people come to visit, and I can hardly focus on them (I'm reminded of a scene from a SATC episode where Miranda is breastfeeding her son while Carrie is over, and she can't pay attention to the conversation because she's trying to get Brady to latch). It's difficult when I go out to do errands, as most places to not have a good spot to breastfeed (thank goodness for BRU and their mother's room). And it's difficult when I have so many things to do around the house, but can never get to them.

Thankfully, my mom has been coming over 2-3 times per week, and that really helps me out. She is so good with Aysia - she talks to her, reads and sings to her, plays with her... it's really great to see. I feel completely comfortable with her watching her 2 days a week when I return to work. My MIL, I'm not as comfortable with. She's a little older than my mom, and has much less energy and agility. Plus, it's been so long since she's cared for an infant, I think she just doesn't know what to do. She's been over a few times when DH was off of work, and he showed her a lot of things, but I need to have her over on a regular basis when it's just me, so I can coach her and teach her what to do, and get more comfortable with her caring for Aysia. She is supposed to watch her one day a week, so I need to do everything I can to get her up to speed. She's coming over on Thursday, and I think I'm going to have her come over one day a week ongoing. And maybe even when my mom is here, too, as they get along well, and maybe my mom can help her out, too.

The most frustrating thing has been the endless paperwork and fighting about my disability pay, benefit elections, etc. Turns out my disability plan only allows 6 weeks for a c-section as a standard practice. What???? One of the main reasons I had them cut me up was to get the extra two weeks of disability!! I had the doc fax over a form for the extra 2 weeks - denied. They wanted medical records. Doc visit notes, etc. So I had to get them to fax that over, and after several calls, the 8 weeks was approved. Then, since I live in NJ, I have to fill out all kinds of paperwork and have my doc fill out more paperwork to get the NJ disability payments (which is offset from my company disability). And then, since Aysia was born so close to the end of the year, the ability to make changes to my benefits was not working properly, and I couldn't get my new health and dependant care FSA elections input into the system properly. I've been on the phone several times about this one, and it's still not resolved. I hate that these things are taking up my very limited time!

So those are my complaints! On the positive side, I love the time spent with Aysia... she's developing a personality and it's so fun to watch. I've learned all kinds of little tricks and tips for caring for her, and it's fun to learn new things and become more competent and confident. We've also had a bunch more playdates with other friends with babies, joined some parent / children groups, and taken her out to a restaurant and even a few family and friend parties. I enjoy taking her out, as long as I can figure out the logistics of feeding and changing her at the right times! And so many friends and family members have come over to visit - that's a lot of fun and a lot easier logistically, too.

And here's a tip for anyone buying clothes for a new baby... buy 3-6 or 6-9 month sizes (season appropriate). New moms have soooooo much newborn and 0-3 month clothes from the shower that the baby will never get to wear it all. Not to mention they grow out of it so quickly. So larger sizes really come in handy!

And a tip for new moms - read Dr Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block. The 5 S's really do work, especially swaddling, swinging and shushing. A real lifesaver for me!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fun with Aysia

The past week has been quite eventful, as I've decided that I'm not staying in the house all day anymore! Although I am definitely self-conscious about bringing her out if she cries and fusses and annoys other people, but I've decided I'm not going to let that stop me. And I think when I feel more confident, and less worried, she actually behaves better, too.

So what have we done together this past week....
  • Shopping trip to BRU to get more "necessities"
  • Quick errands at various stores
  • "Play date" over at my friend's house who has a baby girl 5 days older than Aysia
  • Mommy and baby support group at the hospital
  • More doctor's appts (Aysia has gained weight again, and is up to 8.3 now. Doc is no longer concerned, no more weight checks, yay!)
  • Waxing and pedicure. For me, not Aysia! :)
  • Blood test at Labcorp. For Aysia, not me!! :( This was horrible. They had to try both arms before they could get a vein. But the doc needed to check on her jaundice which was still higher than he wanted. It was "breastmilk" jaundice, the good kind, no worries
  • Doc appt for me - I now have mastitis - a breast infection. Very painful, and you have to keep nursing through it. Yikes! On a course of antibiotics that will hopefully help.
  • Many visitors to the house to meet my little girl
She was very good through all this activity. Only fussed a lot at the mommy baby group, and I was able to calm her down by swaddling her (love the swaddle!!). Today it's supposed to be in the high 40's, so I think we're just going to hang at home today and take a walk! I'm hoping to get the time to finally send the birth announcements out.

Meanwhile... here's a picture of our beautiful little girl. This is the day we took her home from the hospital (Christmas day):

Thursday, January 7, 2010

All about Mommy

In addition to all the amazing things I've discovered about Aysia in these past two weeks, I have also experienced some interesting things about myself - physically and emotionally....
  • The c-section was much easier than I thought, and my recovery has been great. In the hospital, I got up and walked around the maternity ward at least 2-3 times a day, and when I got home after 3 days, I could easily walk around, including the stairs. After one week, it was as if I didn't have surgery (almost!).
  • The doc says I can't exercise until my week 6 appointment, and it's killing me as I feel great. But I am listening, as I don't want to do any damage...
  • The scar is real low and looks like it will heal well. I opted for sutures, not staples, as I read they heal better.
  • I never had the dark line coming from my belly button as many pregnancy women get, but after the C, I had a dark line from my belly button almost up to between my breasts. Strange! And my belly button was partly black. Not as noticeable now that it's retreating back in, but still darker than before.
  • After one week, my stomach was almost flat, and after 2 weeks, I have lost all of my pregnancy weight and even a pound or two of the IVF weight!! Wow, that was incredibly easy! I will need to be careful when I stop breastfeeding, though, as I'm sure that's why the pounds are coming off, despite eating 3 full, home-cooked meals a day (thanks DH and mom!)
  • Breastfeeding - easier and more difficult than I thought. Latching - piece of cake. Milk production, not so much. I was a barely B before the pregnancy, and now, although I've bought C-cup bras, I'm really just a B plus. I was really hoping for some big boobies during the breastfeeding stage, but I guess not. :( Not to mention, I'm sure the size has something to do with the not-so-stellar milk production.
  • My nipples are soooooo sore!! Ouch! When she latches on, it's the worst pain ever. Then the sucking is not so bad. Usually when she's done, she lets the nipple go gently, but sometimes she maintains the suction and rips her head away. Ouch, ouch, ouch!!!! I put lanolin on constantly, and so far no infection or cracking, but by the end of each day, I'm ready to give it up! Except I like the closeness/bonding, convenience, and the great health benefits for Aysia. I'm hanging onto the hope that it will get better!
  • I found myself weepy the first few nights. Mostly about Aysia's weight loss and my lack of milk production, but I also think it was a touch of the baby blues. Luckily I could recognize it and talk to DH about it, so neither of us were freaked out or worried about post-partum depression.
  • Holding and caring for Aysia - really came so very naturally. I was worried that I'd be awkward, or not good at it, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how easily I figured it out. And honestly, I don't mind the diapers, even the big poo's, at all!
  • DH and I have gotten into a good groove - no fighting about who's turn it is, and we are both a little in awe of how good the other one is with her. He naturally takes the late night diaper changes and formula supplements, so I can sleep earlier, and I get up with her in the early morning, as I'm more naturally a morning person. An we each probably get 4-5 hours of sleep a night, with one 3-hour stretch. It's actually manageable. While I'm not working. Hopefully we'll get more sleep when I'm back at work!
  • I'm definite stir crazy. I think having a winter baby is really tough. With this weather, I can't take her out for a walk (low 30's and windy), and the doc advises against malls or stores until 8 weeks. I have a bunch of friend/relative visits setup for next week when DH goes back to work, but I'm also going to take her out to stores (in moderation). I've read other mothers talk about taking their babies out to stores right away, and just being very careful about keeping strangers away and not letting anyone breath on or touch them. I just need to get out with her, I can't stand staying inside all day!
  • Things stay on my to-do list way too long now! I can't plan on getting things done the way I used to. I'm just getting a website setup to show her pics, haven't done my thank you notes yet, and the list goes on and on. Between constant nursing and being tired, I have to accept not being nearly as efficient. But I am good at multi-tasking while I'm nursing - e.g. using the laptop while she's sucking away!

That's about it for now... it's really a great learning experience!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

All about Aysia

Where to begin?!?!

Aysia turns 2 weeks today, and it's been amazing so far! I've been meaning to write, but my days seem to disappear in a cycle of diapers, feeding, sleeping, laundry... But I love every minute of it! Some things about Aysia....

  • She was born with a full head of black, silky hair. So beautiful. I have dark curly hair, but I think this is a trait from DH. His hair (before he started shaving bald) is jet black, and I think the straightness comes from his part-Asian background.
  • She took to breastfeeding right away - no problem with latching on. How cool!
  • She's a "rester" - she falls asleep while feeding and constantly has to be woken up and prodded to keep going.
  • She lost a lot of weight the first day - over 10% (14 oz). This was pretty scary, and also a little emotional for me. I want to breastfeed exclusively, but she wasn't getting enough. I couldn't help feeling inadequate and disappointed that the doc wanted me to start supplementing formula with each feeding. I didn't want to on the one hand (less milk production, risk of nipple confusion), but on the other, I didn't want her to keep losing weight. So we started supplementing 0.5 oz of formula with each feeding, giving DH a chance to get involved in the feedings. It was emotional for me. After a week and a half, she had only gained one oz back. But at least she was gaining. We've had to go to the doc 4 times since leaving the hospital to weigh her, and yesterday she finally had significant gain - 5.5 oz in 5 days. Yay! So now we are only supplementing at night. The doc said I just might not make enough milk, some women don't. I've tried pumping after each feeding to fully drain each breast, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. I have milk, but I guess not enough for what she needs. I'm getting to be OK with this - it is what it is, plus the formula helps her to sleep a little more at night!
  • She smiles in her sleep - so cute! It's like little laughs, and when we giggle in response, she smiles even more
  • She picks up her head when having "tummy time", and she likes to interact with us
  • She likes to hear me sing (love that she has no idea what a bad singer I am!!)
  • She loves to be swaddled, and "shushed" (Dr. Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block techniques work like a charm for her)
  • She's a great sleeper - we usually get two sets of 3-4 hours of sleep at night, and then 1-2 hour naps many times during the day. Very reasonable and easy on her parents!!!
  • She loves her hair and jawline stroked by mommy, and her fingers munched by daddy
  • She doesn't mind diaper changes or clothing changes - very mild mannered
  • She has beautiful, smooth, soft skin. Hasn't been affected by baby acne yet
  • She likes to be rocked. Thankfully we bought 2 gliders, one for each floor. And DH thought that would be a waste - silly man!!
  • She has way too many clothes - typical girl!! But I'm glad we didn't find out her gender until she was born, so it's not all a "pink explosion". She has a good variety of colors.
  • She sleeps in the car seat and stroller (the one time the weather was above 40 degrees and not terribly windy so we could take her for a walk! Please, weather, cooperate with me - I want to do many more walks!!)

All in all, this has been a wonderful experience so far. Much better than I imagined, because I am lucky enough to have a very good baby. The sleeping time and minimal crying has made it easier for me to recover and in turn, appreciate her more.

Next, I'll post more about some of the things I've been going through physically and emotionally...