Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dear Lemon

This is my first letter to our baby girl, Lemon.  I could never write anything to her when I was pregnant because I was so afraid of something happening to her.  I was scared to write down all of my feelings, in fear that I may never hold my baby in my arms and would have to read what I wrote later, like with our blueberry.  So, here are the words I have for now, they aren't very good ones but it's hard to put into words just how happy I am.  So these will have to do.  

I can't believe you are 3 weeks old this week.  I never believed parents when they said "time flies" but it really, truly does.  Although it seems like I've known you a lot longer than 3 weeks, and that you've been around longer than that.  I am starting to forget our lives without you, and I couldn't imagine you not being here with us.

Yesterday, after I fed you, you leaned your head back and looked at me, your eyes actually focused on my face and you smiled when I talked to you.  That was the first moment I think I felt that you knew who I was, that I was your mommy.  It was a magical moment and I write it here to never forget it.  Daddy came up behind you and your eyes went to his face, recognizing him, really seeing him too.  It was amazing, the coolest thing that has ever happened to me, to both of us.

Even though you haven't grown out of your newborn clothes yet you are getting bigger.  We went out to the reservation today to set you up out there and they weighed you and you weighed almost 8 pounds 5 ounces.  It is such an accomplishment for you, and for me, because I know that I helped you get to that weight, just by feeding you from me.  We have overcome a lot with breastfeeding and I felt like yesterday we turned a corner, something clicked and we got it, together.  It is still so strange, that I am your only food source (eating and drinking) but I am loving and enjoying that time we have together more and more.  It takes me back to when you were in my belly, it's something we share, just the two of us, like when our hearts beat together.

Why don't I talk to you, sing to you or read to you more?  I thought I would when you were here but it's hard for me.  Every time I start a song or a page in a book, tears run down my cheeks and I can't finish.  I am just so incredibly happy to have you here, the emotions overwhelm me.  I love you so much, never thought I could love something so much (and never knew what that meant when moms said that before), and never thought you'd actually be here in my arms.  It was a long road for me and your daddy, full of ups and downs, but here we all are - together.  It was hard to imagine you here, in our house with us, and I still am so surprised sometimes that you are here.  It is truly a miracle and I have no words to describe the happiness I feel at this moment.  I can't bring a song to my lips or a story to your ears without thinking about how lucky and grateful I am to have you.  

I still think of how so many don't have a baby like we do, how so many want what we have and how so many are still struggling.  I also think of what it would be like to lose you and that kills me.  I thought that once you were here it would finally all sink in, you would be ours forever and I would imagine a future with you - walking on the beach next summer for your birth day, collecting shells and waking up looking at the ocean together.  But it's still so hard to imagine because I am still in shock that you are here and that you are staying, and I think it comes from me losing the you that came before, the you that never was.  I am not any less afraid of you being taken away from us, I think I am actually more afraid now that you are here.  I feel as if at any moment all of this magic will wear off and you will be gone, like somehow I don't deserve you or you aren't real.  That's how much I love you.

You have blond hair that is wavy when it gets wet.  You make funny grunting, scratchy noises all the time, especially when you are sleeping in the co-sleeper next to me.  You make funny faces while pooping and on Saturday you even peed on me during your newborn photo shoot.  You have perfect skin, not rashy or flaky and you have beautiful big eyes and chubby cheeks that I just want to bite.  Your lips are to die for and your little hands and feet are long and slender like your mommy's.  You like to smile and laugh at your daddy, mostly when he tickles you with his nose, and your favorite thing to do is have mommy pick you up because then you know it's time to eat.  You come at my boobs like a baby bird, not really knowing where to go but forceful none-the-less and your cry is the cutest thing I've ever heard, with a little breath in between each wail.  You like lounging around the house in just a t-shirt and your cloth diaper and don't mind bows on your head when we go out (although you hate when we put clothes over your head!).  You are figuring out day and night and like to be up from 7:30-10:30am now instead of from 9:30-12am at night.  You are such a strong girl, already pushing with your legs on pillow when I'm feeding you and holding your head up on your own.  You love when your Nani rocks you and talks to you and you mostly sleep when people come over to hold you during the day.  You are a good baby, hardly ever cry and only tell us when you're upset if you're wet/dirty or are hungry.  You sleep a lot and sometimes I hate waking you up to eat because you looks so peaceful.  You love sleeping in your bouncer and don't really sleep well in your co-sleeper because you don't like laying flat on your back.  You'd prefer to be on my chest, napping, or to lay next to us, but then it's hard for us to get any sleep with all of your silly noises.  You sleep with your mouth wide open, just like mommy, and sometimes when I wake you up it is dry like you haven't closed it for hours all night.  Just a couple of days ago you learned how to project your spit-up and that has been interesting, you like to do it mostly after daddy has finished changing you and is up walking around, so it goes all over him and the floor.  Last night you spit up twice, two really big ones, and scared mommy but the doctor today said you are ok (and I think it may be your fast drinking skills!).  Last night I dreamt of you for the very first time, as a toddler with long, blond, curly hair; and it was the best thing I've ever dreamt in my life.  I can't wait to watch you grow and learn more and more every day.

You are truly the best thing that I've ever done in my life and the best thing that has ever happened to me and your daddy.  You make me want to be a good mommy and you have taught me so much about myself already.  I never thought I would be able to function on such broken sleep but I can, and I do it because you are here and you need me.  Your daddy watches you when we first go to bed, and when he gets up before me in the mornings, and he loves this time with you.  You have the best daddy, he sings Iron Maiden and Judas Priest to you at the top of his lungs, he does deep throat singing with you on his chest to calm you down, plays the guitar for you, he changes you every time you need it and he cuddles you every chance he gets.  He goes back to work next week and I will miss him being around, he is my best friend and also, along with you, and the love of my life.  Babies change mommies and daddies - I am more in love with him now than I ever was before, a different kind of love.

As I type this you sit behind me in the bouncer, your favorite, and start to cry.  I sometimes hate to stop you because it is too cute but I know you are sad so I send daddy to your rescue.  (And just recently have you started to cry real tears!)  I am off to feed you after he changes you, and enjoy some more girl time with you.  

I am sorry I am not a better mommy to you and will work on the singing and reading to you more.  I just have tears of joy even thinking about it, but will try to be better.  I know you will love it, but don't you see - it's because I love you that I can't do it.  Tears just get in the way all the time; I am just so lucky to have you.  The luckiest.



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lemon's First Week (catch up!)

Yes, yes, yes I am way behind!  It is just tough to find the time to blog, I feel like my boob is always attached to a baby's mouth (and I haven't mastered typing with one hand)!  ;)

In my last post I left off with being wheeled upstairs to our new room.  However, I left out my first trip to the bathroom and I thought I should include that here for those who would like to know.  I didn't get an epidural so that I could get up and walk within two hours after birth but then, due to tearing, I couldn't anyway so I think I didn't get up from my water soaked bed until almost two hours anyway.  I didn't feel like everything was going to fall out of me, when I stood up (like I had been told), but I did feel weak and my legs didn't really work.  I walked to the bathroom hunched over and felt like I was going to pass out, that's for sure.  The hospital gives you huge gauze undies and a giant pad to wear (not sure why the undies) and I put those on along with my cuter nightgown (after I tossed my labor one in the trash).  I could have done without the gauze undies, and think I actually ditched them the next time I went to the bathroom, because they were totally unnecessary and regular, Hanes ladies boxer briefs would do the trick (and be more comfortable holding everything in place).  They give you a squirt bottle to use while you pee and I couldn't wait to get home and actually use my toilet sprayer (thanks Mom, it has been a life saver!) instead (if you are having a baby - get one!).

They wheeled me and Lemon up to our new room, my mom came with us, and then we settled in for the night.  Nurses constantly come in to check your vitals, and baby's vitals, so you are totally not left alone and, in my case, the nurses also came in to massage my uterus some more - awesome.  I called my best friend, Christine, to come to the hospital because she was leaving in the morning for Chicago (and Ian was going to go to her house to watch her son so she could come) but her and Espen were actually up (at like 2am!) and headed over to meet Lemon.  I have no idea what we talked about or anything because I was now running out of steam but I know they came and I was happy to see them.  

What happened the rest of the night?  I'm really not sure.  In the delivery room the baby nurse, whom we loved, was able to help me get Lemon latched on and breast feeding.  Isn't it amazing that your body knows what to do?  It makes this stuff called colostrum, just a tiny bit is needed for baby (like not even a teaspoon a day) that helps baby fight off infection in her first moments of life.  Then, on the third day you get your milk to feed baby - it's incredible.  Well, the nurse did not help me much that night, I remember that, getting Lemon latched on and feeding and I was kind of defeated about the whole thing and worried she wasn't getting enough food.  I actually don't remember feeding her, aside from late that night, until the next day - something I'm sure I should have tried more often but no one told me how or what to do.  I do remember raising up my bed to try to feed her during the night but not having much luck and then giving up.  The next day the nurses asked when she ate last and were surprised when I told them it had been the night before and decided to give her formula just in case. 

We did not sleep much that night and I know that Ian was up with the baby a lot, changing her, holding her against his bare skin, singing to her, and I just laid there trying to sleep and not really knowing what to do.  They had Lemon in a very high clear box attached to a shelf next to me and I didn't like her in there because I kept having to get up or sit my bed up to see her.  No one really helped us with her, or told me when to feed her or how to feed her, so I'm not really sure how we all survived the night.  I think that if I would have gotten some help feeding her then maybe we all would have slept a little better that night.

(If you've found me on Instagram, you might have seen some of these pics like this one.  If you haven't found me yet, my username is allisonpants.)

(Seriously!  Hahahaa!)

No one tells you how many people come in and out of your room while you're in the hospital, and I'm not talking family/friends.  There is the main nurse, then a nurse to empty trashes and check vitals, a lactation consultant (who was not very helpful, more later), a person asking how our experience was, a hearing check, the pediatrician, the OB, a person to tell you to order dinner/lunch/etc. - it's exhausting.  We could not wait to get home and felt that if we would have just had a moment alone we could have gotten a bit of a handle on things.  I even remember someone coming in, when I was downstairs and in labor, to talk about a prepay on my labor/delivery!  What the hell - I was in labor!!!  And then with family coming in and out, who we definitely liked seeing, it was very tiring.  We wanted to leave the next day, thought we could have, but my OB and the pediatrician suggested we stay another night just to make sure the baby was eating, I was ok (with bleeding) and to get her jaundice test done in the day time rather than at 10:45pm at night (and longer than just 24 hours out).  So, reluctantly, we stayed.  My mom was in and out to help and bring us food, Ian ran home a couple of times and I just stayed in the room, not even going out the door the whole next day for some reason.  

 (Her first pediatrician check up!)

 (Grandpa Henry and Grandma Patty)

(Great Aunt Donna)

(Grandpa Joe - before his surgery.)

(Grandpa Greg - who has said from now on he'd like to be referred to as Sir Greg instead.  My Dad drove from Oregon when he heard I was headed to the hospital and he made it home in two days and came right to us as soon as he got home.  Oh and he brought booze, see below!)

The lactation lady came in and gave Lemon formula and tried to get her to breastfeed.  But I don't remember her trying very long because then she ran down to get me some shields because my nipples were inverted ($) and then brought in a pump to help me get some colostrum out to give to the baby for nutrition.  I don't remember her helping me with my latch, even though I set myself up in a chair with lots of pillows and tried, I just remember her offering solutions instead of teaching me what to do.  I didn't really get it, was too tired to argue about it and felt that the only person to actually help me was the baby nurse who was long gone at this point.  That first night we actually asked another nurse to help, who also didn't really help, and I just felt like we got a lot of bad advice - meanwhile I was shredding my nipples because I think the baby had a shallow latch while we were there.

 (Tired mama trying her hardest to get this feeding thing down.)

My step-dad was in the hospital, right next to the hospital birthing center I was at, and so my mom came back and forth between caring for him and helping us.  Thank goodness for her this first week because I don't think we could have done it without her, she has helped us so much.  She came in and took the baby when we were tired and gave us a break and was with us when we finally got to leave the hospital on the 4th of July (my favorite holiday)!

We got Lemon in her "going home" outfit - a cute ruffled yellow onesie I bought on etsy and got ready to go.  We had to have the jaundice test, and then wait an hour for the results (something they failed to tell us) so we didn't get to leave until about 1pm, but then we were headed home.

(A nurse we loved, Scarlett, and an un-characteristically rainy day in July in Arizona!)

We were SO happy to finally be home, it just seemed so much easier at home than in the hospital, having space and all of our baby things.  The dogs seemed really interested in Lemon and came up to sniff her (Linus even licked her ear) but for the most part left her alone.  We introduced them one at a time and Ian got to take Einstein, his parrot, out and everyone was just happy we were home, most of all us.

(Me with the formula again, too tired to try to feed her, too hurt to want to.  I had no idea what I was doing.)

The first week home went by in a blur.  We tried all sorts of things - putting her in the co-sleeper, Ian taking her in the living room so I could sleep, Ian falling asleep with her on the nursery room floor, us both waking up, just me waking up, him waking up to change her - it was like we were living in a dream land.  Time flew by and my mom was here helping so much - doing laundry, emptying trashes, doing dishes - it was amazing.  We had lots of other visitors too and all of a sudden she was a week old.

(Aunt Jenny came to visit.)

(Grandma Patty gave Lemon her first bath.)

(My Dad fell in love with her.)

(Ian's set up on the nursery floor.)

(Our angel, my Mom.)

We held off on the cloth diapering until we felt more rested and just used the Pampers Swaddlers we got from the hospital until they ran out.  We started cloth diapering on Friday (we got home on Wednesday) and it was a slow start but we got the hang of it pretty quickly.  We use the infant prefolds and then I just got 6 Thirsties snap covers from Target (Size 1) and we interchange those if they get dirty or wet.  We have a diaper service, Arizona Diaper and it is AMAZING.  We get 70 infant small prefolds delivered every week and we just put out our dirty ones when they come to deliver and they pick them up at the same time.  We don't have to wash anything ourselves and just use what they give us.  We even started using our cloth wipes and our cloth wipes warmer (making the solution out of lemon fragrance and these from Zoolikins) and then putting them in the warmer to use.  It is super easy and we've even changed cloth diapers out and about - something we didn't think we'd do, we thought we'd use disposables.  I really like them, Lemon likes them (although can feel more when she's wet/dirty) and I feel good about using them and helping the environment (cliche but true!).  We have to make new wipes every 2-3 days and do use disposable wipes for her hard to reach areas (little vajay-jays are tough!) but it's all pretty easy once you work it into your routine.

(Practicing cloth diapering on bigfoot!)

Our first week was really tough, feeding wise.  I had no idea what I was doing, felt like I had no help from anyone at the hospital and was lost as what to do next.  I called a person at La Leche League, who just happened to be out of town, and never connected with her and she ended up giving me someone else to call whom I never did (more later).  I spent some days in tears because my nipples hurt so badly and I didn't want to feed the baby, and then felt guilty for feeling that way about my own daughter.  People kept telling me "it's not supposed to hurt" and I kept reading this online but it did hurt and I truly felt I was doing something wrong, and she wasn't getting enough nourishment.  Ian was at a loss as for what to do and just hugged me while I cried offering solutions like pumping or formula.  But, I had read everywhere not to do these things and so I felt like I was stuck in this cycle of pain but that I had to do it, for my little girl.  I was not prepared for this, thought it would be easy (especially with a natural birth) but it wasn't and every day I grew more and more upset about it. 

We headed to the pediatrician on Friday for Lemon's first check up and we learned that she had lost 6 ounces, from birth, and the pediatrician said that I should be feeding her from each breast, every two hours.  This was a lot for me because that's frequent and both boobs - wearing them both out every two hours.  Ugh.  She didn't have any suggestions as for anyone who could help me, she just referred me to the lactation consultant at another hospital, which I didn't have much faith in because mine didn't help at all.  I left feeling worse than when I started and feeling like I was starving my little muffin.  She wanted us to come back in on Monday for another weight check and I was sure that not much would change and was feeling really down.  I think I took a shower the next day and just cried in the shower, all by myself, because I felt so defeated.  I was ready to give up breast feeding altogether and didn't know where to turn to for help.  It is ok to feel this way, so many women do, and no one tells you this.  I am telling you this, if you are a new mom having trouble - you are not alone.

On Sunday my mom came over in the morning because Ian had band practice.  I slept in a couple of hours because I knew she was at our house and Lemon was in good hands.  When I woke up I came out to the kitchen and my mom was cooking breakfast and told me that she called Zoolikins, got the number of a lactation educator, and that the woman was coming over in 30 minutes.  I could not believe it, I was SO excited and told my mom I'd give this lady all of my riches if she could help me because at this point I was desperate.  My mom told her that she heard her voice, in mine, 33 years ago, and could tell I was in need of help, so this lady came as soon as she could.  Zabrina saved my life.

She didn't do much while she was here.  She checked to see if Lemon was tongue-tied or had a small mouth, like I was told at the hospital, and then watched me breast feed.  She told me it looked right to her, taught me how to unlatch Lemon and then taught me how to lay down and nurse in bed.  The minute she told me I was doing it right, it hurt a little less, just to know and be sure.  She also said I should be waking Lemon to eat (I had been) and that I could do just one side at a time, every 2 hours.  So, I set out to do what she told me and it got a bit easier from there.  It was the best $40 I had ever spent and I will love my mom forever for having her come over (for this, and many other reasons!).

My mom gave Lemon a sponge bath, we skyped my aunt Kathy and my uncle John, aunt Lisa and aunt Donna came for a visit afterwards.  Instantly, I was a changed woman.  I don't think I have cried about nursing since (I have cried for other reasons of course, those hormones are still there!) and it has gotten a bit easier.  Just a bit (more on this in my next post).

(She just wanted to dress her up - bib, hat and all!)

I will end this post (because it got really long!) with some more cute pics from Lemon's first week at home:

(A total mouth breather like us!)

(Do you swaddle your baby?  It's amazing!)