Saturday, February 26, 2011

4 weeks and 1 day old

Yesterday Jules reached the 1 month mark, and his day was pretty exciting:

He's still on this crazy every-two-hours feeding schedule, so I was up with him every two hours (did I mention he's hungry EVERY TWO HOURS?) all night until 6:30, when Patrick left for work. Then the baby and I broke rule no. 1 ('no babies on the bed:" it's my rule and I can break it if I want to), and I discovered that Jules loves the bed, where he and I snoozed for a couple of hours peacefully, and, safely. Gosh he's sweet. He lies there on his back, with his head turned to me, and I curl my arm around him protectively, and we both fall asleep.

After that, I put the Moby wrap on, inserted my baby, and got some stuff done in anticipation of the arrival of the Merry Maids at 1 o'clock. What stuff? I washed all the bedding (requires doing 3 loads of laundry), I loaded the dishwasher and/or washed the dishes, and I got myself and my boy dressed so that we could go before they got here.

I took him to visit his cousins and his Aunt Stacey, and we hung out with them for awhile, where we watched HGTV on their giant television, he was admired by his cousins, held by his aunt, and had his diaper changed by me in big boy Matthew's cool room (that kid has neat stuff). Afterwards, we drove in the rain to the post office so I could buy stamps for his birth announcements (is it lame to send birth announcements after a month?), which I ordered last week from Tiny Prints and thought weren't going to come until March but they were rad and got them to me a week early, and without any extra charges or my even having to ask. They also came out really great, and maybe I will share them with you later.

Then we got something for me to eat, came home, and watched TV, addressed birth announcements, and napped (guess who did what?) until his dad came home. And the 1 month birthday celebrations began! No, not really. He was going to have a bath (and get his hair washed for the first time!) but it was just too cold, and I was tired. Yes, everyone has told me to "sleep while he sleeps" (which he's doing right now, in the Moby wrap) but to be honest, I just can't make myself do it. There are other things to do. When I told Patrick all the things I had done while wearing the baby in the wrap, he was kind of surprised. I won't lie to you: before we had the baby, on a rainy cold day like yesterday, if I had been home with nothing to do except wait for the maids, I would've pretty much done nothing. I wouldn't have done laundry or cleaned up the kitchen. I would've sat on the couch and watched reruns of "America's Next Top Model" or something like that. It's interesting that now it means something to me when I make the bed. I don't always get to take a shower, but I've made the bed every day since the baby came home (unless Patrick has done it), and I like that. Not being a slob anymore seems to be a nice side effect of becoming a mother. Patrick's been the same way. It's kind of weird, but good.

So the other day I received a card in the mail from my mother. She likes sending cards with spiritual messages and bible verses. In the past I've sort of ignored the messages and just thanked her for thinking of me. This card, however, was perfect in every way. She picked the perfect verse to send us, and though I'm always going to be a little suspicious about religious stuff in general, I really liked this card. Also, I think I get my corniness from her. Fine, whatever.

On the outside it said, "God wants you to remember: He is for you. He loves you. He believes in you. He will not fail you. He will provide for you. He will bless you. He will give you rest. (Mom underlined that part, and the next:) He will strengthen you. He will answer you."

I mean, jeez, rest and strength? What else do new parents need?

Here's the verse she hand-wrote on the inside, after her personal message for me and Patrick:

"We shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed." I Corinthians 15:51

Now, I think that verse is actually referring to the rapture but boy was it appropriate. It also reminds me of that line from the U2 song "Bad," where Bono says he's "wide awake" and that he's "not sleeping." I don't know what the hell Bono is talking about in that song, but I bet it's about Jesus (even though Wikipedia says it's about heroin; you have your opinions, and I have mine), and it seems like Bono and my mom are telling me the same thing (did I just write that? TOTAL CHEESE! Well, I told you I was corny. Still, I'm not going to delete it, even though I'm wrong about Bono's meaning. I both love and am driven crazy by U2, and I know my interpretations of their lyrics are juvenile sometimes, but those big gorgeous dumb guys know what they're doing, or they did, anyway ["Achtung Baby" and everything that followed: yech]). In one month the big change to our lives that we were told about and anticipating but not really able to conceive has happened. Patrick and I are now parents, to this gorgeous little boy. Our hearts are now attached to him. We've changed. I have changed. Mom was right.*

Happy one month, my little guy! We love you!

*Bono, not so much.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wearing my baby

Today Patrick bought me a Moby sling wrap for wearing the baby, and after taking about a half hour to figure out how to tie the darn thing, I've been wearing a very sleepy baby with much success ever since.

Things I have done while wearing the baby:
  • Started this blog post
  • Facebook
  • Watched "Gilmore Girls"
  • Randomly strolled through the house, picking up trash and, hey! throwing it away
  • Ate the rest of the blueberry tart from last week
  • A little dance
This thing is cool. I think the kid has gone poop, though, and I'm not sure I can get him out alone - Patrick's out in the garage doing something loud.

I'm a goofball, which is clearly evident in the photo below.

Check it out for yourself at

Monday, February 14, 2011

Two weeks in...

It's been two weeks since we brought the baby home! We haven't dropped him yet! The week went by pretty fast. To be honest with you, I don't really remember what I did earlier in the week - my brain doesn't seem to function beyond Wednesday.

Wednesday stands out because we had originally planned to go visit with my parents and Patrick's mom, but got a couple of miles on the freeway before the previous days' lack of sleep caught up with me, and I begged Patrick to turn around. There was traffic, we weren't going to make it at the time we'd planned for, and I was just exhausted and overwhelmed.

Instead, we called my parents and Patrick's mom, canceled the visits, and went home.

That afternoon we made an appointment for me to see the lactation consultant at Kaiser so that I could get a little help - Jules was doing okay but breastfeeding has turned out to be a little painful for me, so I wanted some advice. I realize that it does tend to hurt at first, and so I'm hoping that we will be able to past this, but on Wednesday, I was pretty upset about it. The lactation consultant is also, of course, an RN, and she eased my new mommy fears about a few other things that I had been (needlessly) worrying about. She advised me to "relax." Gee, where have I heard that one? She had a lot of good advice about the pain, and made some suggestions about positioning, and though it still hurts initially when he gets started, I'm hoping it will be better after this week. To aid in relaxing, I was advised to abandon recording the baby's feeding times (this was encouraged while we were in the hospital; I continued with it probably longer than necessary. It was making me nutso) and to 100% feed him "on demand." Understanding that I have maybe some anxiety about this kid's eating habits and my ability to feed him enough, she suggested we come back after the weekend to have him weighed and to determine I "did everything right." <-- Not her words. We do that later today.

We rescheduled the visits with our parents for Thursday, and it worked out much better. They all had a great visit, and I got Tito's for lunch. Thursday also happened to be my birthday, and it was a nice quiet way to celebrate.

On Saturday, my friend Missy and her daughter Hailey came to visit me and the baby, and Missy brought cupcakes from Hotcakes, my new favorite bakery in West LA. It was nice to see them, and to visit for awhile. Jules was perfect, and slept in Missy's arms for the entire visit.

Yesterday, Sunday, my family all came to visit and to really celebrate my birthday. My mom and sister helped show me how to give Jules his first bath, which was a little traumatic for him, but he was warm and cuddly afterwards, and he slept great last night, so all in all, it was a success.

This is Patrick's last week of vacation before he goes back to work... I've been so thankful that I've had him with me, he's been a great help, a wonderful daddy to Jules, and the best sandwich maker ever. After this week I'll have about 9 weeks with Jules before I have to go back to work myself. I'm not ready to think about that yet.

Here's me and Jules, from sometime last week. I think I took the photo on Friday.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A week of having a newborn

So I think I'll keep writing this blog a week behind the events which I'll be relating. Does that make sense? Anyway, it's the only way I think this is going to work. It's Tuesday, and we've had JP home with us for nine days. He seems to be liking us, though he's quite the serious boy. At any rate, he hasn't started packing his little bags...

On Monday of last week, he had his first doctor's appointment, and we met the pediatrician Kaiser assigned to us. I was a little apprehensive about having no idea about this person, but she turned out to be really great. We liked her right away. JP had a touch of jaundice, or his test didn't satisfy the her, so she sent us home with instructions to fatten him up... in 24 hours. At first I was pretty upset abut it, and as a new mom, I guess I get a pass on this, the first doctor visit... okay, so I'll be straight with you: I cried. I didn't cry at the delivery: at this, something I learned later happens to most newborns, I cried. I talked to a bunch of people who experienced this same thing, and one good piece of advice that I got was to (carefully) expose him, in small doses, preferably through the window, to sunlight. So we dragged a comfortable chair into the kitchen (the room that gets the most sun), and I nursed him in there. She also wanted me to supplement the breastfeeding with an ounce of formula, delivered via eyedropper, at each feeding, so we did that. Patrick helped a lot with the formula.

The next day we took him back, and he was tested and weighed again, and this time he came out clear: no jaundice. I know it wasn't as big of a deal as I originally thought it was, but I have to admit, I was very relieved. He's such a little, sleepy guy, and oh so cute: I just wanted him to be OK. And: he was.

It took us a couple of days to get a rhythm down with the breastfeeding. I did great in the hospital, but for some reason once we came home, I seemed to lose my way for a day or two. It started to hurt. On Wednesday, I was having a really hard time with it - JP seemed to be hungry every hour, and I was really frustrated; the plumber was here (our toilet was backing up), making a bunch of noise, and I was sitting in the baby's room, losing it. Then the doorbell rang, and I heard Patrick talking to our neighbor, Terie, who had had the perfect idea of stopping by our house with a casserole and non-chocolate sweets.

Terie is a Labor and Delivery nurse, a sweetheart, and the best person, at that exact moment, to have dropped by. Her timing was truly excellent. I called to Patrick to ask her to come into the baby's room, and she did. She sat there with me for at least a half hour while I cried, and she explained what was going on, and then she explained that that's how it just is... and that it would get easier. She gave me some tips for making it feel better, and had so much good information that she made me feel like I could do it.

After that, JP and I had a bit of a breakthrough in the breastfeeding department. It still hurt (and still does) but it's a lot easier to deal with, and we're both doing much better.

Since then, we've discovered that our boy's favorite activity is to sleep. Boy, he's a sleepy baby! I've had to re-read (a couple of times) the section in the "What to Expect the First Year" book on sleepy babies to reassure myself that he wasn't sleeping too much, but it seems that 10-day old babies... just sleep. He's very good at it.

Speaking of the "What to Expect the First Year" book... that book has been a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I know nothing about babies and so having a book like that is really handy. On the other hand, I find that sometimes I look one thing up and I end up reading something else, or the answer is vague, and I end up either more confused or freaked out about another issue... and I know I'm getting a little wacky with the new mom business (and Patrick does his best to reassure me that everything is OK)... but I think I'll settle down, eventually.

The big news is that a couple nights ago, I was finally able to stop setting alarm so that I could wake up in the middle of the night so that I could catch his hunger cues before they escalated to crying - my friends were starting to make fun of me. Last night I got 5 hours of sleep in a row, and felt like a million bucks. And I know he's eating enough because he's had much success in the wet/poopy diaper area and we're getting in all our feeding sessions.

I'll admit that there are still some things about him that are mysterious and that are probably 100% benign but they still worry me (for example, he's started making a funny little noise while I'm feeding him), but since he seems happy, and is eating, pooping and peeing enough, doesn't have a fever, and/or displaying any signs of distress... I'm going to assume it's okay and not go hunting all over the internet or in that darn book for an "answer." I'm not sure I agree with Kaiser scheduling him for the doctor once the first day after you take him home and then not again until three weeks later (seriously, they let us just take this kid home without confirming that we know what we're doing!), but we haven't hurt him and I've been assured that we can't "break" him... so we're okay.

Today I found out that the school I was hoping would take him for two days a week has a waiting list of about six months to a year. Since we applied in September, you'd think that might've been something they told us a long time ago, but nope. I've even called before to find out about this, so I don't really know what's going on. I know there are other schools but this one is for County employees and right across the street from Patrick's work, and we very much liked it the time we had a tour. We have a couple of other options but I don't like having only two months to figure it out. On the other hand, I wish I could just stay home. Maybe I'll start buying lottery tickets.

Well. I'm learning that motherhood involves lots of worry, an unimaginable sense of responsibility, almost instantaneous true love, and NO SLEEP. Patrick's going back to work after next week... so I'd better live it up while I have him here.

Here's a photo Patrick took of me while we waited for the doctor last week. I look a little tired, and a lot stunned. This little creature needs me... and I need him. I can't believe how quickly that happened.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

One week ago yesterday - updated paragraph

I'm so silly: when I posted the story below, I left off one key detail. Here's the corrected paragraph.

Once there, we flew up to the Labor and Delivery section, where the same lady I spoke to on the phone was manning the front desk with another woman. They were checking in another patient, and I tried to wait calmly with Patrick in the waiting area, but I was super uncomfortable, impatient, and a little annoyed. I believe I said to Patrick, "Why are they making me wait?" This area is supposedly a holding area where they evaluate you and you wait in a litte room until the doctor or midwife says it's time to go to the actual delivery room; it's where I would've waited if I'd come to the hospital two hours earlier. Instead, they took about 15 minutes to get me in a room, on a bed but it felt like forever. The two nurses were kind of funny - they were nice enough but not very speedy or good at getting me checked in. During that time things had definitely escalated. I was asked if I wanted an epidural, and I have to be honest: I said yes. Patrick asked me if I was sure and I said yes. I always said I'd try to do without but that if I needed it, I'd get it. That was my thinking, that I needed it. The woman who was going to be my midwife came in and checked me, and I was 7 cm dilated, and there went the epidural. The midwife didn't think there was going to be time. And so my drug-free labor began.

One week ago yesterday...

Patrick and I are home with our new little baby boy, born last Friday night. Before we left for the hospital, I started writing down the events of the day, which, as you shall see, started very early in the morning. I wrote the rest in fits and starts all week. I can't say it's well done or ready for publishing to my blog, but I'd better do it while it's still relatively fresh.

Friday, January 28
9:24 a.m.

Hey, so, at 3 a.m., I think we got the show started.

I stayed up pretty late (around 11 p.m.) Thursday night, watching TV. I knew sleeping would be hard, because I'd been having a hard time all week, and I just didn't want to even try. Patrick went to bed (he said he was "taking a nap") at 8:30, but I stayed up watching old first season episodes of "Weeds" on Netflix and reading in the baby's room.

When I finally went to bed (Patrick woke up, which is good, because he'd crashed on top of the blankets in the middle of the bed), I wasn't really all that sleepy, so we stayed up and talked for awhile. Then the cats had a huge, fur flying fight in the living room, so I had to come out and squirt Franny with water (we didn't see the fight, so it can't be proved that she was the instigator, but chances are good it was her). Anyway, all I'm saying is, I didn't get to sleep right away. Patrick had to get up early for work, so he rolled over, but I was feeling a little uncomfortable, so I cuddled up with a bunch of pillows and tried to relax and fall asleep.

At 3 a.m., I got up to use the restroom, and realized that what I was looking at was probably what I've been reading described as "bloody show." Kind of a disgusting name but it's kind of a disgusting event. I'll spare you the details. We weren't sure what to do at this point, so we waited a little while, and then we called Kaiser's Labor and Delivery department at the hospital, and the nurse I spoke to explained that I didn't need to come in unless I had a gush of fluid, or contractions 4-5 minutes apart for an hour. I hadn't felt any contractions at that point, and the stuff happening down below certainly wasn't a gush, so we put some towels on the bed and tried to get some sleep.

Once I lay down, though, I started feeling what I can only describe as extremely mild, short (less than 10 seconds) menstrual-type cramps. This went on, at no particularly regular intervals for a couple of hours and then I fell asleep... only to be awakened by Patrick's alarm at 6:15. We had decided, in the middle of the night, that he would go to work, but try to get someone in to cover for him so he could come home. He'd been joking all week that I shouldn't go into labor on Friday because his subordinate would be out of town... I think we'll stop making jokes like that about stuff, in the future. (Patrick has two subordinate positions beneath him but one of them is a new hire, and he doesn't start until the third week of February.)

He went in, made a few phone calls, rounded up coverage, which involved his department's chief deputy, which is kind of a big deal. Luckily that guy is Patrick's former boss, and a nice man. Pat came home after about an hour, with a breakfast burrito for me, which may or may not have been a bad idea. I'm hungry but perhaps a lighter breakfast would've been better. It was good, though. I got up early because, coincidentally, we have a visit from the refrigerator repairman scheduled for today between 8 and 12. I'm glad Patrick's here. I wasn't looking forward to having to ask that guy to take me to the hospital.

I stopped writing at this point.

As the day progressed, so did my labor symptoms. Patrick and I hung out, and then I tried to rest. I probably should've started writing this earlier because while I know that sometime between 1 and 2 p.m. I started having real contractions, I don't have any memory of what they felt like. I stayed in the bedroom, sort of timing them (at this point there was about 15-20 minutes between each one). At 3, I went out into the living room and told Pat we'd better start seriously timing them. I had been told the old 4-1-1 rule (four minutes apart, lasting one minute, for 1 hour) for how you would know when to go to the hospital, and my contractions at this point were about 5 minutes apart. I used some of my Lamaze training and tried out the positions we'd been told to use to help alleviate the pain. The one that really worked was putting one foot up on a chair and stretching - that one helped a lot. At 4, after an hour, we called Labor and Delivery again. I told the nurse the deal, and she said, "Oh, that sounds like active labor! You'd better come in." Then she asked me a million questions, and I started to have another contraction, so I told her I had to put the phone down. When I came back she was all, "Oh, yeah, you're in active labor." I'm not sure if this qualifies as a "well, duh" response for her or me. She started asking me more questions, but she would take forever, which was a bit annoying, to be honest, if I was supposed to be going to the hospital.

Anyway, once I finally got off the phone with her, we grabbed my bag and got on the freeway. It was Friday, at 5 p.m., and I was worried there would be a ton of traffic, but Patrick got us there without driving like a maniac, in 14 minutes. During that time, I had 4 contractions (plus one in the parking lot). Let me tell you: you do not want to be having contractions in the front seat of a Mitsubishi Endeavor on the 605 freeway.

Once there, we flew up to the Labor and Delivery section, where the same lady I spoke to on the phone was manning the front desk with another woman. They were checking in another patient, and I tried to wait calmly with Patrick in the waiting area, but I was super uncomfortable, impatient, and a little annoyed. I believe I said to Patrick, "Why are they making me wait?" This area is supposedly a holding area where they evaluate you and you wait in a litte room until the doctor or midwife says it's time to go to the actual delivery room; it's where I would've waited if I'd come to the hospital two hours earlier. Instead, they took about 15 minutes to get me in a room, on a bed but it felt like forever. The two nurses were kind of funny - they were nice enough but not very speedy or good at getting me checked in. During that time things had definitely escalated. I was asked if I wanted an epidural, and I have to be honest: I said yes. Patrick asked me if I was sure and I said yes. I always said I'd try to do without but that if I needed it, I'd get it. That was my thinking, that I needed it. The woman who was going to be my midwife came in and checked me, and I was 7 cm dilated, and there went the epidural. The midwife didn't think there was going to be time. And so my drug-free labor began.

I was in a bed there for about 15 minutes, and during that time, those two nurses couldn't seem to figure out how to check me in. It was almost funny, and mostly annoying. One of them tried to tell me I needed to sign a form at the desk, but I told her, and the whole room, "I'm not getting up again," so she brought in a laptop on a rolling cart for me to sign electronically. That didn't work out (Patrick said it wasn't hooked up properly). Anyway, what all that meant is that I was not registered until I had been in the delivery room (I think Patrick ended up signing something) for quite some time. My not being registered even delayed me getting my IV!

I was then taken at what I realize was more than just a regular old brisk clip to the delivery room, and on the way, I was pretty much curled up in a ball on the left side of the bed, trying to keep my arms inside while they turned corners, having more contractions.

Patrick and I took a tour of the hospital and the labor and delivery section last week, and while I had been impressed at the time of the tour with the gorgeous room I would have my baby in, when it came to the time, it really didn't matter what kind of room or what it looked like: I didn't even notice. And, without my glasses, I don't really even know what the midwife looked like. She was soft-spoken, African American, and very nice, but otherwise, nope, wouldn't recognize her if I walked into her. My nurse's name was Le, and she spent the most time with me, answering and asking questions. She was at my side pretty much the whole time, which I think might be unusual but I'm not sure. And during the whole thing, Patrick was there, talking to me, keeping me calm, and holding my hand.

Le said a couple of things to me that were interesting during the contractions: she told me that I was doing fine, and that I shouldn't get "out of control" because it would be better for me and the baby. I asked her what she meant by out of control, and she explained, flailing around and screaming. I didn't do either one. I moaned quite a bit, of course, but during the contractions I tended more to curling on my side. I am ashamed to say I don't think I did any of my Lamaze breathing during the contractions. That stuff, aside from the stretching I did at home, kind of went out the window. Oh, maybe not: Patrick probably used the Lamaze training more than I did, because he did a great job keeping me focused and (mostly) calm.

When it was time to push, I'd been having contractions at the hospital for about 2 hours. It didn't feel that long and I only know because I knew what time it was. My midwife came in, all suited up in her (as Patrick called it) welder's mask, and Le got to work on my right side (Patrick was on my left). For some reason I felt more comfortable talking to Le instead of the midwife; I guess I recognized that she had a lot of work to do. The midwife told me when to push, and Le counted. I was a terrible pusher. They wanted three pushes per contraction but I couldn't do it. I managed 2 most times. Pushing went on for about 30 minutes. I remember saying to Le, "Le, I don't like this," and I kept apologizing for making (ahem) messes she had to clean up. I also said, toward the end, "Le, I can't do this anymore." It was hard, and horrible, and while of course I've forgotten what it really felt like, I do remember being scared and hurting, and wanting it to be over. I also surprisingly felt sleepy, like, "Oh god, I just want to sleep." Nobody really said to me anything about seeing the baby's head or anything: for all I knew I was going to be pushing forever. I was also doing a bad job of keeping my thighs open - I kept wanting to keep my legs together. The midwife had to admonish me a couple of times.

But then, they told me I needed to give some really big pushes, and I tried, I really did... and that's when I had the baby, which felt like a huge relief, and I felt a hundred times better. They put him on my chest, and I said something that's just between me and the people in that room, and then I said, "Is he okay?" Le said yes, and Patrick and I cried, and then they took him away to check him out and I had to deliver the placenta, which, to be honest, was even more disturbing than delivering the baby, though, I wish I had remembered to ask to see it, because I've been curious about that thing all this time.

Another nurse came by to wash the baby up, and Le had work to do on the computer, and the midwife congratulated me and then left (I thanked her, of course), and then they finally got around to having me sign a paper I was supposed to have signed before I went into labor (my experiences with the Kaiser nurses after those first two were perfect; every nurse except those ladies was professional and sweet and took extremely good care of me. I don't know why the B team was on in that other room that night, but they were the only ones who were even a little incompetent).

We stayed in the hospital through Sunday afternoon, and my parents and brothers and sister came and visited us, and Patrick's mom, and his brother and his wife (his other brother and his wife were sick and so couldn't come). It was nice to be taken care of and have room service for meals, and a nurse to check on me and the baby. When it was time to go home, Peggy, the very nice charge nurse that day asked me about my stay and care. I told her how excellently everyone had treated us, and said I was trying to figure out which one I wanted to come home with us. She laughed. To be honest, I probaby would've picked her, if it had been possible, though there was a little Filipino nurse named Annie who I liked just as much. Annie kept bringing me extra juices and cookies, and offering Patrick coffee. She was very nice, and helpful with the breastfeeding.

We've been home a week, and getting used to the baby's schedule has been a little stressful. Breastfeeding is hard work. Patrick is home, and helping out a lot. We've got a lot to learn. I've gotten overwhelmed and freaked out by my whole new life, but I've also looked into that little face and felt something I never, ever felt before. We didn't know what to expect, but we're loving our little boy, and we're so proud and happy to have him.

His name is Jules. He looks just like his daddy.

I'd better go, it's almost time to feed him.