Saturday, April 23, 2011

My infant is keeping me out of the movie theater and for that I thank him and give him a big kiss on the nose

I read "Water for Elephants" two years ago when my mother had her first knee surgery, so I didn't really have the time or interest to write a review (I'm Terrible at writing reviews anyway). At the time I just wrote (here: that I didn't like it.

The movie looks pretty horrible to me, too. Can Robert Pattinson or Reese Witherspoon act? Here's one movie I'm glad I'll be missing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The weekend

What a weekend!

After Exton's two days in daycare (which went okay... I'm still not crazy about the idea of it, but the reality is, it's fine.*), I was so happy to have him all to myself on Friday! I can't even remember what we did but I suspect there was lots of cuddling and cooing involved. He's so animated now, and happy in the mornings - he smiles all the time and though he's not quite laughing out loud, you can tell that he wants to. I do know that we went for my daily trip to Kaiser, where he got to meet Birdie, the nurse who changed my packing a few times last week and who I kind of fell in love with, she's so nice. Birdie was excited to meet him because I'd been talking about him a lot, and he, of course, charmed her as he has charmed every nurse he's come into contact with so far.

On Saturday, I got up early to go to Urgent Care to have my bandage changed and repacked, and that took forever. Ex and I were waiting for two hours, and in that time he had a huge poop, needed a costume change, and got very hungry. I ended up having to nurse the baby in the waiting room, which I was prepared for - I bought a nursing cover the other day for just these kinds of situations. Of course about 10 minutes after I started, the nurse called me. Actually, it was a medical assistant, and a male, and I think he was a little thrown off by seeing me breastfeeding. But once we were in the back, all the nurses saw Jules and commented on how cute he is. Of course they did. When we got home, my sister came for a visit, and she had a great idea - she suggested we take Ex out to lunch. Usually when my family visits we send someone out to pick up some lunch for us (my brother has been getting these really yummy chef's salads from Hof's Hut), but she was feeling adventurous (and it was so hot at my house on Saturday!). We decided to go to Islands.

Islands was the perfect restaurant for a baby - they have something they call a "sling," which is just a little hammock to hold the car seat. I've never seen it before but I think it means we'll be going to Islands a lot in the future. It was perfect - Exton was quiet and content for almost our whole meal (he did get a little fussy toward the end). We had a great time.

When we got home, Angie was playing with him on the couch when she saw something on his thigh that she thought might be ringworm. She's a pre-school teacher so she's seen a lot of ringworm. I called the Kaiser advice nurse to see if they would tell us we could buy something for it and treat it ourselves, but unfortunately, the nurse said that if we really thought it was ringworm, we needed to take him to urgent care. I guess because ringworm is contagious.

I wasn't looking forward to going back to urgent care, but they have a separate one for kids, and that was perfect - there was nobody there. The nurse who checked him out wasn't 100% positive it was ringworm (it was a very small mark), so she called in another nurse to consult, and then the doctor took a look. Between the three of them they decided it was only a little eczema, which I also have. Apparently it runs in families, unfortunately. They told me how to care for it, and we were on our way. I'm glad it wasn't ringworm. I was afraid he'd picked something up from daycare. I know he will but after only two days?

Anyway, after that we had a quiet night at home. Sunday Ex and I were both kind of cranky and tired, but we went to visit my folks - I had to get out of Long Beach's heat! Culver City is usually about 10 degrees cooler. It was a nice visit, though short.

Here's a picture from our outing to Islands. Fun!

Mommy looks a little insane here!

*I talked to another mother who has twins in the infant room with Jules. She was effusive with her praise of the center, and in particular of Jules' teachers. She told me she had also been nervous when she started bringing her babies there, and that she still calls every day but that she was happy with the care her kids are getting. And when I hung out Wednesday morning, her children did seem very happy and content.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Healing from the inside out:

A post in which I attempt to avoid using the word "breast."

This week is better than last week.

I seem to be healing fine from my surgery. I've had to return every day to Kaiser to have a nurse repack and check my wound. I'm not a huge fan of this - going to Kaiser is a hassle. At first I was pretty pissed off about it but I'm trying out an attitude adjustment. I need to be more positive. It's true that at first it hurt me to repack it but as time goes on it takes less time, and hurts less, and the nurses are all good at it. And they all say it's draining nicely and looks to be healing. They have to repack it because the surgeon didn't close up the hole: I have to heal from the inside out. I did cry the first couple of times, but I'm not sure that was from pain. Just frustration that this has happened to me. But that's what I'm talking about - changing my attitude. I'm really lucky it wasn't worse, that there were no complications, that my family was able to come and be with me and help with the baby - lots of people have worse stuff to deal with, and here I am, with a loving family, beautiful baby boy who I can still nurse. I'm not going to complain anymore.

This week we started Jules in daycare. Even though I don't go back to work for two more weeks, I wanted a chance to adjust while I can be around the house and not all the way in East LA. He's going to go twice a week (he'll spend two days with his dad, two days in daycare, two days with me solo, and one day with me and his dad). It will eventually be a long day for him: Patrick will drop him off at 6:30 a.m. and pick him up by 6:30 p.m., unless he can adjust his schedule and leave a little earlier. I hope he can do that. Yesterday was Jules' first day. I stayed for the morning so I could check things out, and nurse him (to save my precious milk supply). We've met the teachers before and seen the place but I wanted to see how things really go. I stayed until about 11:30 and then I had to go to Kaiser. His class (the Infant room, of course) has about 6 other babies, all older than him (the next youngest is about 5 months, I think), and two teachers (other teachers help cover breaks or if they need help). The other babies are cute. I really enjoyed spending the morning there. While I was out, I called and his teacher told me how he was doing. Leaving him yesterday surprisingly wasn't very hard, and after I did what I had to do, I picked him up early and brought him home. His teacher told me he was a good boy, and I believe her. He seemed very happy.

Today we're doing it differently, though. We tried our "real" routine - we got up at 5 a.m. and I fed the baby. That takes about 45 minutes. Patrick got ready for work. When I finished feeding Jules, I brushed my teeth and got dressed. No shower. This schedule already needs tweaking! Also I'll have to have clothes ready because when I go back to work, I'm only going to have 15 minutes, 20 tops, to get ready. Then Patrick got the baby in his car seat, got the bottles and stuff he'll need for the day, and took him to daycare. I followed in my car to make sure Patrick got him checked in and settled okay (of course, he did). Then I LEFT.

That's right, I'm sitting on my couch in a baby-less house. It feels weird. I've already thought through how I'm going to spend my day: in about 30 minutes, as if I were at work, I'm going to pump some milk (before that I need to start a load of laundry). Then I'm going to clean out all the ancient toxic household cleaners under the bathroom and kitchen sinks. We're going natural. Then, as it gets closer to the time I need to go to Kaiser, I'm going to take a shower. I can't get my bandage wet unless it's right before the nurse is going to change it. This shower is going to be such a luxury! I feel guilty looking forward to it. We have to do a whole day of daycare, though so we know how much milk to send him with when I'm not all the way at work. Yesterday he only had time for one bottle (though I sent two) before I picked him up.

After Kaiser I might go out for lunch. I'm thinking Subway but it might be nice to go somewhere and sit down, and read a book. Maybe my favorite Mexican place, which is close to Jules' daycare. I'll stop by and check on him and try to control my urge to take him home.

Well, an alarm is going off in the bedroom that has never gone off before (7:30 is a weird time for me to have set an alarm), so I guess that's my cue to stop wasting time and get started on my chores. If I have to be away from Jules I want to make the most of it and do the things that are hard to do while I'm focused on him. Otherwise I'll just sit around today and mope.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Hey, so let the breastfeeding/boob stories continue!

Thursday I returned to Kaiser to be checked, and Dr. T decided that yes indeed, there continued to be infection, which meant that further action (surgery) was necessary. It was about 4:30 p.m. when he made this decision.

Thing to remember: I (stupidly) thought whatever was in store for me would be nothing more than a in and out procedure.

Dr. T sent me to Emergency; apparently this is how they do it. Patrick met me there. I told him to wait for me for an hour and if I wasn't done by then (ha ha! Seriously, I had no idea) to take the baby home. They let me nurse before they checked me in, but since I didn't know I was going to be staying, I didn't have my breast pump with me. After they checked me in, they took me back to a bed, and I proceeded to hurry up and wait. Within 20 minutes, I was crying. I missed my baby. I haven't been away from him for that long since he was born. After an hour, Patrick came back and said he was taking Jules home. It didn't seem right to make them wait in the waiting room with all the sick people.

It took the doctors awhile to check on me, and while I was waiting, my sister and brother were texting me. Angie asked if she should come to be with me and at first I said no but the more I thought about it, the better having someone with me sounded. They both decided to come.

Finally, after a nurse came and started an IV of antibiotics (and made me take a pregnancy test!), an ER doctor came to look at me. He was nice enough but unfortunately he had a huge, disgusting booger in his right nostril. It was grossly distracting. He wasn't a surgeon, he was just there, I guess, to assess my situation. Later a surgeon came to check me out (I had been asking the nurses for water, which they refused to give to me. Well, they didn't "refuse," they just neglected to get it. Eventually one of them explained that they had to wait to see what the surgeon said before they could give me anything to drink). This guy pissed me off, because he said things about breastfeeding after the surgery that weren't right. He told me that I should wait 3 days afterward to breastfeed, that I should pump and dump all my milk during that time because I didn't want the anesthesia to get into Jules' system. He said that there was a possibility the infected fluid could get to Jules while he was feeding. Now. I've been reading all about this abscess thing for awhile, and though by this time they had started an IV of antibiotics that I hadn't yet checked out (I did later), I knew that what he said about the anesthesia, about breastfeeding, was wrong. But I didn't say anything. I just sat there and stewed.

My brother and sister got to the hospital right before they took me to the OR, just in time to collect my "valuables" (cell phone, eyeglasses, car keys, wedding ring). My brother went with me to pre-op where things suddenly got very serious.

I still thought this was no big deal. But when you're lying in a bed with an IV in your arm, and an anesthesiologist suddenly shows up, hey, things have progressed wildly beyond "in and out." I'm not telling the story very well - at some point someone, another surgeon, showed up to explain what was going on and that my abscess needed to be drained and that I might have to stay overnight in the hospital, but I don't really remember when that happened. The pre-op nurse (a dude named Rudy) was nice, and he tried to find a breast pump for me in Labor and Delivery but amazingly, they didn't have one. My sister went to my house to get mine but I never used it. Later, when the anesthesiologist came, a youngish Asian guy, he was really nice. He told me that though he wasn't sure about the antibiotics, he was positive that once I woke up, it would be safe for me to breastfeed. This jived with everything I read. He was the first person to understand how important breastfeeding is to me.

My brother hung out with me in the pre-op room , and I tried to be calm about the whole thing, but look, I've never had surgery before. I've never had anesthesia before. I was scared.

The good part is, when it was time to get the thing started and the anesthesiologist came back, the last thing I remember is him telling me, "this might sting a little." It did. And then I woke up sometime later.

At this point I should ask my brother to write about what happened because all I remember is someone saying I could go home. I don't know what time it was. I don't remember getting dressed. I do remember Rudy pushing me in a wheelchair downstairs. My sister drove me, Dan drove my car.

I hada big bandage on my breast, taped down with what felt like all the tape in the world. Dan said they told him I was supposed to go to general surgery on Friday to be checked... or maybe this was on one of those after visit summary sheets Kaiser is so fond of? I don't remember. Anyway, we went home. Patrick had fed the baby one feeding from my precious frozen supply, and one feeding of formula, but I was still a little out of it and not 100% sure I should nurse, so I did a dumb thing: I pumped from the breast that hadn't had surgery, and I threw it away. I wish I hadn't done that. Overnight I leaked a ton of milk.

So Kaiser, apparently wanting to dope me up, prescribed an antibiotic (safe while breastfeeding) and some pain medication (Norco; not recommended while breastfeeding). I chose not to take the Norco, and instead am relying on good ol' 200 mg of Advil. I haven't had much pain. I also haven't had a shower.

On Friday, my mom and dad and Dan came over (Patrick had to work). My mom and Dan watched the baby, my dad took me to get checked. A nurse "repacked" my wound, and let me just tell you, that sucked. She removed and replaced what felt like 100 feet of gauze-y stuff. Saturday I went back by myself which may have been a mistake but I survived. Jules too.

Anyway, that's it. There are more details I could tell you about but I think I'm okay now. I hope.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Never-ending adventure

So I know the following won't be of interest to most people, so if you're not interested in breastfeeding, you have my permission to go away and do something else instead of reading this. Personally, my thoughts lately have been on almost nothing else for the past 9 weeks, but I understand that it's a big world out there with other things to do.

I'll just be blunt: I think I have mastitis. What's that (wait, I thought the only people left were those with familiarity in the topic)? It's a plugged milk duct.

I'm so bummed about this. For one thing, it tool me a week to put two and two together. For another thing, I'm bummed that of the three doctors, including my mid-wife, plus a lactation consultant, who, upon hearing my complaints (fever, chills, achiness), not one of them, knowing I am breastfeeding, asked about my breasts or even looked at them (fever + chills is one of the main symptoms). Maybe that's not fair. But I did try to get help, and instead I got a couple strong prescriptions for a skin problem I don't have, a diagnosis for a bladder infection I also don't have, and I was told that my right breast just "doesn't produce as much milk as the other one." Right. You think it's because there's a blocked duct?

And because this process took so long, I've been worrying that there will be complications, like an abscess, which could require surgery.

But, on the plus side:

1. Feeding the baby, since getting help last week, continues to be pain free.
2. My faith in my primary care physician is restored. She's 8 years younger than I am but a sweetheart, and much more thorough than most.
3. The nurse got me an appointment for today in rhe breast clinic, so I don't have to wait anymore.
4. Jules is smiling and cooing and talking to us so much, he's such a happy baby! Being tired and achy and having this stupid lump? Whatever. I want to play with my son.

Not shown: 1 small bottle of Advil.