Archive for the ‘Postpartum’ category

Postpartum: In the blink of an eye

March 4, 2011

This post is the final post in a series about my labor, delivery, and postpartum story. When we left off, the entire family had been delivered to my room in the postpartum unit to recover.

See the following posts for a recap:

Read on to find out what happened during our stay in the postpartum unit.

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It was late in the evening by the time we finally got settled in our postpartum room. I’m really not sure what time it was, because we had been inside the hospital for going on three days now. The flourescent lights were starting to really throw off my sense of time and place. I was disappointed to realize that my room only had a half bathroom (no shower!!!) and was right outside of the nurses’ station, so was quite loud. But I was so tired and elated and just so full of wonder and fear all at the same time that I didn’t even bother to ask if they could move us. We were all here, together, in one piece (or I guess you could say two pieces :)) and that was what really counted.

I was comfortable at this time because I still had plenty of pain killer from the epidural running through me and a catheter to keep up with my peeing needs. So I was anxious to try when the nurse suggested that I breastfeed. I did so, under the guidance of a gruff and less-than-sympathetic postpartum nurse who seemed bothered by my incessant questions. Lukas latched right on like a champ, and the pain was immediate for me. Too bad that epidural couldn’t have spread just a little further north!

Afterward, the nurse suggested that I pump to help bring in my milk. I complied, after observing her rudimentary lessons, but, looking back, I think this is where all of my trouble with breastfeeding started.
And now a sidetrack about breastfeeding:

It turns out that I really didn’t need any help bringing in my milk – It came in on day two with abundance. However, lacking good lactation advice, I continued to pump in an attempt to build up a “buffer” for when I couldn’t breastfeed. But by the time we were discharged, we already had several ounces of stored breast milk and two really engorged breasts. My totally uneducated opinion is that the pumping I did in the hospital set me up for the oversupply I dealt with later that eventually played a big role in my decision to quit breastfeeding.

So if you wondering about breastfeeding and pumping, here is my advice: listen to your body. If you have plenty of milk, DO NOT pump, not even to build up a “stockpile.” If you’re anything like me, you will end up with more milk than you can use and you will pay for it with sore, rock-hard, lumpy, leaky boobs. So much fun.

Instead, just feed your baby when he or she needs it, and let your body do what it’s built to do. And if you have to supplement with formula at night so that you can get some sleep, try not to agonize over it. A healthy mom is critical to the health of a new baby, and if you are a wreck, your baby will be too.

Of course, everybody is different, so take my advice with a grain of salt. If you don’t have plenty of milk, for example, than you have the complete opposite (and much more common) problem from me. In that case, my advice certainly does not apply.

</end sidetrack>

The next morning, the nurse stripped the bandages off of my incision, drug me out of bed, and showed me how to get to the toilet. Getting out of bed is a lot hard than it sounds when you have a belly full of stitches. But they had removed the catheter and my body was starting to flush out the swelling that the Pitocin had caused, so I got lots of practice getting to the toilet in short order.

We spent four days in the postpartum unit and it was just an absolute whirlwind. I fed Lukas every three hours and my husband changed all of the diapers. In between, we struggled with an allergic reaction to two of the three pain meds they tried on me, gas pains, general incision pain, constipation, insomnia, and the standard noise and interruptions that come along with a stay in the hospital. It turns out that I had more pain than most new moms, so this added another layer to my struggle to recover.

I had one nurse who was a real diabetes moron. She gave me a lot of trouble for not finishing my lunches and for treating my near-constant lows with orange soda pop. My doctor set her straight, though, and she laid off. Aside from that one nurse, the hospital staff went out of their way to be helpful, which was a godsend when I was struggling with all of that pain. And they did not try to impose on my diabetes management. Instead, they just wrote down my BGs in their logs and kept track of the changes I made with my pump and the food I was eating.

Speaking of the near constant lows, I was hardly taking any insulin at all during those first few days. I had entered my pre-pregnancy basal rates into a profile on my pump before we left for the hospital, but most of the time my pump was on suspend. My insulin needs increased slowly over the next several weeks, but I still had random lows, especially after breastfeeding.

Our days in the postpartum unit passed in what seemed like moments and I felt so helpless. I could hardly crawl out of bed. My husband had to help me shower and get dressed.

By the time we got home, it had been seven days since we had stepped foot outside of the hospital and I was so happy to see the light of day that I could have cried. It was late afternoon on a sunny day in June. As I walked toward the house, I felt the warm breeze on my cheek and noticed the sun glinting through the tall grass. I looked down to see Lukas asleep in his carrier. I just stood there for a moment, trying to take it all in. We were all here and we were all healthy. It was just incredible.

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Just in case

January 28, 2011

My colleagues at work ask, “So, when will Lukas get a little brother or sister?”

Strangers at the grocery store ask, “Are you ready for baby number two yet?”

Family members ask, “When will we meet grand baby/niece/nephew number two?”

Even doctors comment, “When you’re ready to have another baby, come back and see me.”

Usually I smile and shrug, or say something non-committal like “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see” or “Oh, I don’t know.” But inside, I’m thinking, “Are you kidding me?”

You see, a diabetic pregnancy is hard. And postpartum is no walk in the park, either. Whether you’re thinking about the 16 BG tests a day or the three doctor appointments a week, or the three-day labor that ended in a c-section, it was all just plain hard. And then there’s the grueling newborn feeding schedule. And the ricochetting BGs as your hormones readjust. And the ricochetting moods. And the c-section recovery. And the exhaustion. I can remember standing in the shower one day when Lukas was just a couple of weeks old. I was not standing there because I was still showering. I was standing there because I was simply too tired to step out, dry off, and get dressed. And I thought, “Who would ever do this again?”

I think everyone has these thoughts during those first few months. They just don’t talk about it or share it with prospective parents. Because if they did, they  might scare you away from experiencing parenthood for yourself.

And that would be a shame, because while you do have these thoughts, these moments of complete and total exhaustion, you also have these moments of absolute bliss. When he smiles at you as he dozes off. when he erupts in laughter at your silly face. When he FINALLY rolls over. When he discovers his feet. When he reaches for you to pick him up. When his face lights up at the site of you after a long day at work.

For the most part, we are past the sleepless nights and never-ending feedings in my house. We’ve hit a stride of sorts. But I’m still in the “I don’t even want to think about it” frame of mind when it comes to another pregnancy.

I was cleaning out the closet the other day and I came across my maternity jeans. I held them up and wondered at the fact that my belly was actually that big. Then I folded them neatly and put them into the donation bag.

But a few days later I returned to the donation bag and pulled the maternity jeans back out. I unfolded them and looked at them again, and then placed them on the highest shelf in my closet, in the back where I can’t even see them.

I’m watching Lukas nap right now in his favorite bouncy chair. And I am so content. Just the thought of another diabetic pregnancy is enough to wear me out. But I’ve still got those maternity jeans. Just in case.

Time Flies …

September 4, 2010

I can’t believe it has been twelve weeks since Baby Lukas was born. I also can’t believe that it has been two months since I last posted here. Where has the time gone?

Lukas is doing great. He weighs over 12 pounds and fills out his 3 months clothes. He is starting to develop those cute rolls on his thighs, cheeks, and arms. The pediatrician says that he has grown both in length and weight just as he should. He holds his head up during tummy time, kicks his legs and flails his arms in his bouncy chair, and smiles, laughs and coos most of the time. We are so proud of him!

I am also doing well. Finally. Things were rough there for a while. At about four weeks postpartum, I started to fall apart. I felt like a zombie. I couldn’t sleep or eat. I was overwhelmed and weepy. I was still in a fair amount of pain from the c-section, too. On top of all of this, Lukas developed an all-day cry, which we later discovered was due to reflux and colic. So I made an appointment with my psychologist, who suggested that I try an antidepressant. Then I started taking Zoloft. And then I gave up breastfeeding.

Both were hard decisions to make, but I realized that something had to change. I needed to take care of myself so that I could take care of Lukas. My oversupply was making us both miserable, and between my insomnia and his need to nurse every three hours, I was not getting enough sleep. So even though it broke my heart to feed him that first bottle of formula, after the engorgement subsided, the milk dried up, and my mood began to improve, I realized that this was the best answer for us as a family. When I think about it too long, I’m still disappointed that I wasn’t strong enough to do this for him. But it was a decision that needed to be made so that I could start the journey back to a healthy place, both physically and mentally.

Things are falling into place, now. Lukas and I have established a semblance of a daytime routine, and we both look forward to tummy time and bath time. My maternity leave is quickly coming to an end, and I am so disappointed that I am going to have to leave him during the day. I never thought I would be “one of those moms,” but it’s happening. I wish I could stay home with him forever. I never imagined that days full of laundry, feeding, and changing could be so rewarding. And so fun. Hard, yes, but also rewarding. Who would’ve guessed?

Three Weeks

July 1, 2010

It’s amazing what a couple of solid hours of sleep will do for you. Thanks to a magic little pill called Ambien, and a wonderful husband who sacrificed his evening shut-eye and took care of the feedings (thankfully Lukas is finally learning to take a bottle!), I have had three nights in a row where I got over four hours of sleep. Four hours in a row! I am not ready to run a marathon just yet (or even a household for that matter,) but I am feeling much more human.

Which reminds me, thanks so much for all of the congratulations and well-wishes over the last couple of weeks. You guys are so great!

I had a follow-up appointment with the OB yesterday. He says that I am doing better, although I am still behind the curve in terms of pain. I’m pretty much off of the Vicodin now (Thank goodness, the side effects were killing me. Night sweats and sinus headaches are no fun,) but I am still taking the maximum daily amount of Ibuprofen.

Besides the expected abdominal pain, I also have a killer lower backache. The OB recommended a heating pad which is helping. If things don’t resolve themselves in a couple of weeks, I might try the physical therapist again.

I had hoped my digestive woes would resolve themselves after the birth, but they are still hanging around. Also not enjoyable, but manageable at least.

My mental state resembles a roller coaster. Most of the time, I am so overjoyed to have this little bundle here with me, that I can’t even begin to describe it to you. Other times, mostly when I am overly tired, I feel overwhelmed and weepy. We’re keeping an eye out for postpartum depression, but so far this seems to be just severe sleep deprivation and a little bit of the “baby blues.” The OB says to take an hour every day for me. I’m not sure how to accomplish that, but I’m going to try. Maybe writing up this post counts?

Breastfeeding is not a walk in the park, but it is much improved. I’ve seen two lactation consultants, including one from the local health department. She came to the house for free and brought a wealth of information on all things baby, including vaccinations, bottle feeding, and milestones. She even tweaked our car seat installation. She also measured and weighed Lukas and listened to his heart, lungs, and tummy. He is growing like a weed. She was astounded to discover that he gained six ounces in a week. She says most breastfed babies gain about half of that amount. His newborn-sized onesies, the same ones he was swimming in last week, are almost tight now.

When she watched us breastfeed, I was dismayed to hear, yet again, that his latch is great. So why am I in so much pain? She was persistent in helping me, though, and she suggested that I pump a little before I feed because I’m making too much milk. This causes me significant pain, especially when he latches, basically because I am too … er … full. Hopefully this little trick will keep me going until my milk supply balances out to his demand. I am trying not to get too hung up on breastfeeding, but it’s hard. I think the hormones and lack of sleep are messing with my practical reasoning skills. It is such an emotional decision to stop breastfeeding, and it’s not like you can change your mind back once you decide to quit. So I’ve made myself a few mini goals; If I can make it to one month, I’ll try for three months and then for four months (when I return to work.) If things are going well then, I’ll shoot for six months. I’m close to that one month goal (just a week to go,) but that three-month goal seems really far off. We’ll see what  happens.

It is amazing what birth, recovery from surgery, and breastfeeding will do for your waistline. I’ve lost 25 pounds in three weeks. I actually weigh about five pounds less than I did pre-pregnancy. Of course, I am still pretty flabby, especially in the belly area, but I almost have a waist again.

Incidentally, my BGs have leveled out some, but they still seem to have a mind of their own. Matching my needs with the right amount of insulin is kind of like hitting a moving target, partly because there is no real pattern and partly because I am exhausted and just don’t have the energy or the time. I am still taking considerably less insulin than I took pre-pregnancy. I was at about 35 units per day then, now I am at about 20 units per day. At the height of the pregnancy, I was taking about 75 units per day. Pretty wild, huh?

Lukas is three weeks old today. I marvel at how much he has changed already. Everyday, he does something new, displays a new personality trait, or grows a little. He’s smiling and meeting my gaze while I feed him. He lifts and turns his head a lot, and uses his strong little legs to push off and squirm during tummy time. Even his eyelashes are growing! And I’m growing, too. Learning his needs and wants, what his cries mean, and how to type with a fussy baby in my arms. Now if I could just learn to care for him in my sleep!

Introducing Baby NoName

June 22, 2010

Just twelve days ago, he was still safe and warm inside of me.

37 Weeks

We were all ready to bring him home.

Nursery

And when his cries pierced the silence in the operating room, our lives changed forever.

Operating Room - Just Born

And today he  is sleeping in the next room!

Sleeping In  My Arms

Sleeping on Boppy

Sleeping in Carseat

Born: June 10, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Weight: 5 lbs 15 oz.

Length: 18 ½ inches

BG: 87

It took over 48 hours of labor and ended in a cesarean section, but Lukas finally joined our family twelve days ago.

Naturally, he is the most beautiful baby to ever grace the planet … would you expect any less? 🙂

He is the poster child for newborn health. His BG at birth was 87 and remained constant from that point forward. Just like the textbooks say, he lost 10% of his body weight in the first two to three days, and then gained it all back by the end of the first week. We are so proud of him!

Obviously, Lukas is doing great. Mom is hanging in there. Between mastering breastfeeding and recovering from major abdominal surgery, I am pretty well spent most of the time. Yesterday I had my one week check up with the OB. He says my level of pain is higher than most. That is, most women are off of the major pain medicines in a week and just taking occasional ibuprofen. I am still hitting the Vicodin every six hours and the ibuprofen every six hours, too.

I also met with the lactation consultant yesterday, who helped a bit with our latch. Hopefully this will be the kick we need to beat mom’s soreness and move forward with breast feeding. Lukas is stubbornly attached to mom and her breast milk. He resists the bottle and the pacifier. I wonder where he gets his stubborn streak ? 🙂

My blood sugars have been erratic to say the least, but mostly on the low side. Thank goodness for my insulin pump so that I can make quick adjustments to my basal and bolus rates.

Sorry that this post is so short, but Lukas is finally sleeping and I really need a nap. Stay tuned for posts about my failed induction, my c-section, our experience in the postpartum unit and our first few weeks as mom and son.