Thursday, September 24, 2009

Random postpartum thoughts

My daughter is 3 1/2 weeks old and I am just now sitting down to write anything. Surprising? No, not at all.

Life with three kids has not been nearly as bad as I'd feared. The transition from one to two when G was born was harder and my memories of that time are not all good ones. I was an emotional mess, D had more difficult time adjusting and things were pretty overwhelming for a while. I expected a replay of all that, only possibly worse because now I have three, not two.

What has happened has been much smoother, and boy am I grateful. D is older, and although he'll always be sensitive, he's mellowed out some as he's gotten older. He's also not used to being the only recipient of my attention. G has never had me all to himself all the time, so for both of them, adding another little person to the household hasn't been too traumatic. Plus, they have each other and that has made a world of difference. They've bonded over the summer in a way that makes me so happy. G's language skills have improved dramatically and I think that's made it easier for he and D to play together. They have fun, they fight and do what brothers do - but keeping each other company has been a big part of what's made life easier for me now that there are three of them.

And it helps that Little Miss is quite the easy baby. She's mellow most of the time, sleeps a TON, nurses well and doesn't cry a whole lot. Sure, there are times when she won't settle enough for me to put her down for long periods of time, making it tough to get anything done. And my expectations are much lower than they would be without a newborn; its a win if I get a shower, and we're all dressed and fed regularly throughout the day :). And I do look forward to getting more than a couple of hours of sleep at a time. But all in all, I either hit the jackpot with my daughter or she's going to make me pay for this when she's a teenager.

I'm taking things one day at a time and trying very hard not to dwell on the fact that I feel fat and out of shape, or that none of my clothes fit, or I can't find a decent nursing bra that is both comfortable and supportive enough. It isn't always easy having a newborn to care for, let alone a newborn, a 2 year old and a 4 year old. But I know how quickly they grow, how fast things change, and I'm trying to enjoy things for how they are now, even though it can be a little crazy.

More than anything though, I'm so amazed at God's graciousness. I look at my beautiful children and almost can't believe I would be blessed so tremendously. I couldn't possibly have asked for a better scenario - my two kick ass boys and my beautiful little girl. She's like the icing on the cake - and not just any cake, the best, most delicious cake you've ever had.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What a day

Late last night (or perhaps more accurately, early this morning), I woke up to a strong contraction. The clock read 2:45 am. About 5 minutes later, I had another one. Very uncomfortable. I stayed in bed a while, but after one or two more contractions, I realized I wasn't going to be able to sleep, and I got up. I had a feeling it might be the start of labor.

I knew I wasn't ready to go to the hospital just yet, but it felt like that point might be a few hours away. I got up, messed around online a bit, and played a lot of solitaire. I used this handy-dandy online contraction timing tool, and they were averaging about 5 minutes apart. They hurt. Not baby-is-imminent pain, but I figured this was the beginning.

After a while I went downstairs, had a glass of milk, and watched part of Napoleon Dynamite. I was sleepy, but the contractions were still too strong to sleep through. In between each one I wondered if it was going to continue, but as each one came I kept thinking... of course this is it. Now its just a matter of time until they pick up in intensity, and I'll start making phone calls.

By 6am I was really tired, and decided to go back to bed. I knew I needed DH to get up with the boys, even if I was up too. I didn't want to be dealing with diaper changes and breakfast if I was in labor. So I headed back to bed with the sneaking suspicion that the last few contractions had been further apart than before. My husband woke up shortly after I came back to bed and I told him I thought it would be today. When the boys got up a little while later, he told me to stay in bed and rest and he got up with them.

By that point I was so tired, but wishing I had my laptop handy to time the contractions again for a while. They didn't feel like they were coming as fast. Could it be possible that labor wasn't starting? That all these strong, 5-minutes apart contractions were not going to intensify, that I'd fall asleep and wake up later to nothing? A couple hours ago, that had seemed impossible. I was starting to wonder.

Unfortunately, I was right. I fell asleep for about an hour and a half. It was 9:00 am by that point and I had been sleeping... meaning either not having contractions, or they were mild enough that I was once again sleeping through them. I waited a bit. Nothing. No more contractions.

To say I was discouraged would be putting it mildly. I had thought things were getting started, that by that time of morning we'd be at least heading to the hospital, if not there already. I was feeling calm, ready to face the challenge. My anxiousness over labor was gone, resolve in its place. And then everything stopped.

I've spent the day tired, quite uncomfortable and trying very hard to keep a good attitude about the whole mess. Baby will come when she's ready, I know this. I can hang in there as long as necessary; I'm not one to go to my doctor begging for an induction (hardly, pitocin and I don't exactly play nice together, as I discovered with my first). But that was really hard to deal with. I was ready, just waiting it out until it felt like the right time to go - and I'm sure had this been my first baby, I would have gone to the hospital and been sent home. But here I am, wondering if I'll get any sleep tonight, wondering if things will pick up again, wondering how much time I have left before labor really starts and we can get this show on the road. And wondering how long I'm going to have to wait through regular contractions before I can be sure. Part of me feels like it must be soon - how could my body do all that and then stay pregnant for much longer? But part of me knows you just can't predict these things.

Thankfully I have the greatest husband ever. He took care of the boys all day long so I could rest, not complaining at all about the fact that he was tired too (and he was - he expected to be sleeping in this morning, since that's usually the plan on Sundays, and I'm sure he was up late). But he handled things without complaint and let me do what I needed to do, whether it was get out of the house for a while or take a long nap this afternoon. I'm a lucky woman, that's for sure.

So now we keep waiting. I just hope I either get a good nights sleep tonight, or go into labor for real so I don't have to deal with another night of contractions that don't do anything.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Keeping it in perspective.

There was a time when I had to face the possiblity that I wouldn't be able to have children. Not to the extent that some women do, but it took 2 1/2 years before we conceived our first son. That gave us ample time to contemplate - what if the next step doesn't work?... how far are we willing to go?... how much are we willing to spend?... what about adoption?... can we imagine life without kids at all?

Ultimately, we were able to get pregnant without medical intervention (the medical interventions hadn't worked), and then get pregnant two more times very easily. I consider myself extraordinarily lucky, not only to have been able to get pregnant once, but three times. That's a feat many women in my position are never able to accomplish, and many more are only able to do so with a lot of expensive medical help.

I'm keeping that in mind as I look forward to the birth of my third child. I've found myself dreading the labor process, nervous about going through the pain and hard work again. And I've found myself similarly dreading the newborn phase, with the fussiness, the lack of sleep, the early days of nursing, and dealing with all of that along with two other children.

But wait - I get to deal with all of that with two other children?

There is a moment, or perhaps a series of similar moments that blend into one, that keep popping into my head lately. It was around 6 1/2 years ago and I was driving to work in the morning. I wasn't happy at my job and was contemplating whether or not I should start looking for a new one. We'd also recently undergone a series of infertility treatments that hadn't worked and decided to stop because of the expense and emotional toll. I remember looking in my backseat and wishing so hard that there was a carseat there; and that I wasn't going to work, but going to some baby class or a check up at the doctor or to visit my mom. And I prayed, as I did so often then, that God would bless us with a baby soon, and if it couldn't be soon that He would bless us with a baby someday so we would know the joys of raising a family.

He certainly has answered.

Six or 7 years ago I would have given almost anything to be where I am today. Not just pregnant, but pregnant with my third child. So many nights I spent wondering if it would ever happen, and wishing I could at least know the answer to "if", even if I didn't know "when". Here I am, about to actually cross the finish line on that journey. Our little family almost complete.

I need to keep that in mind in the days and weeks ahead. I am so grateful for this gift. No, parenting is not easy and there will be times when I am tired, overwhelmed and frustrated. But instead of thinking with dread on how much work it is to have an infant, I need to keep in mind the woman who wanted this so badly she could taste it, but still had to wait. And all those other women out there who tearfully offer up their prayers that they may be similiarly blessed. I add mine to theirs, a soft plea to the Lord that He may grant their wish and bless them with a child. And may He bless me with the stamina, patience, humility and gratitude that I need to be a good mother to these children, and to get through the harder moments.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Contractions and me

I wish I was one of those women who only got contractions when they are actually in labor - or just about to go into labor. Recently I was talking to a friend of mine about how things went down with her second son. She remembers having one contraction as they were watching something on TV, and it made her wonder. Then nothing for an hour or so, then she had another one. By contraction three, she knew it would be that night and they called me to come (I was going to watch their then-two-year-old). When I got there, she was having regular ones, they went to the hospital, and four or five hours later, her son was born.

I'm the polar opposite. I have daily contractions for the last several months of my pregnancies. And when you get to this point (I'm 37 1/2 weeks at the moment), I get nice, strong, uncomfortable ones some of the time. Not strong enough to make me head to the hospital, or even call my doctor's office. But strong enough to be a pain in the ass. Or more accurately, pain in the uterus.

Yesterday I had contractions about 10 minutes apart for 12 hours. TWELVE HOURS. The problem is, every time my husband and I get busy, I pay for it for the next half a day. And making it slightly more anxiety producing is the fact that my labor with G started in just that way. An afternoon quickie, followed by 12 hours of regular, but not too intense contractions, led up to my contrax picking up in intensity and a few hours later we were headed for the hospital. So you can imagine last night around 10pm, when my contrax had been going since noon, I was starting to wonder if I'd be getting any sleep last night.

Clearly, I wasn't ready to go into labor just yet. Part of me is glad for that. I'd like this baby to bake a little bit longer. Not that 37-ish weeks would be a bad thing, if things started naturally. But a little more time to put on some weight, make sure her lungs are completely ready, and a tiny less time in the extra fussy newborn zone would be great. I'm with Weissbluth on the theory that fussiness peaks at 6 weeks old, then gets better - except it can be 6 weeks from the due date, not necessarily 6 weeks from the date of birth. G was textbook in that department - he was 10 days early and right around 7 1/2 weeks his disposition improved a lot. So, to me, the earlier the baby is born, the longer you get in the extra fussy phase.

But I digress...

I've had a bunch of contractions today too, especially tonight. Nothing regular, nothing too intense. Just enough to make me uncomfortable and remind me of what I'm about to go up against.

Last night I was pretty stressed and upset (hormonally driven in large part, I'm sure). My husband was remarkably understanding. He said it reminds him of wrestling. You're at this tournament and you know you're about to go up against a guy who is really good. He's bigger than you and he's probably going to throw you around pretty good, although you know you can beat him if you work really hard. The time leading up to the match leaves you with butterflies in your stomach and you really don't want to be there. You almost want to quit and walk away, but you stay, and you face it. You wrestle the guy and its really hard, you're exhausted by the end, but you won and it was worth it. I told him its a pretty good analogy, especially from a guy's perspective. But you have to add one thing - in this case, you have to show up to this ongoing tournament day after day and you don't know when your match is going to come up until right before you have to wrestle. So you sit there on the bleachers, trying to be ready, but not too ready; trying not to think too hard about what you have to do or whether the guy is going to be hard to beat. You sit there day after day, until finally, the coach calls your name. But until then, you wait.

The waiting is tedious. Will it be tonight? Next week? September 1st? No real way to know, and in the meantime I have all these damn contractions to keep me company.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Spoke too soon

Apparently I was wrong on two counts about having my mom with me during labor/delivery. My husband doesn't mind if she comes, and unbeknownst to me, she's already been preparing.

I told my husband last night that I wasn't sure if I would have her come, and that part of the reason is because he didn't seem to want her there. He assured me that he doesn't mind at all, and if I want her here, it's more than fine with him. I still maintain that part of him wasn't kidding, and he feels as if I'm saying he isn't good enough - but he swears that isn't the case.

As for my reservations about how committed my mom really is to being there - she called me this afternoon to tell me she's been reading up on labor coaching and such online. I haven't even talked to her about any of it in months, so obviously she not only remembered that I'd asked, she's been preparing. That made me feel quite a bit better. I was so worried that if/when I brought it up, her reaction would be lukewarm. Like if I said, "So, do you want me to call you day or night so you can come down?" she might have hesitated, or acted as if she didn't really want to come at all hours, but would if I wanted her to. I guess I was wrong.

So I think my mom will be coming down to help me through labor and delivery - and knowing that she's fully on board and my husband is too makes it feel like the right thing.

Now onto my next problem - I can't seem to get my wedding ring off my finger...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The mom dilemma (as in, my mom)

Early on this pregnancy, I was contemplating if I want to do anything different while I'm in labor. I've tossed around the idea of a doula, since I think the concept is wonderful and I'm sure it would help. The cost, however, is definitely an issue. Then I got to thinking - maybe my mom could fill that role.

My husband means well and to his credit, both times he's been more than willing to do/get anything I ask for. But the problem is, I have to ask. When I'm in the midst of high pain, I'd kind of like someone to suggest things - here, try sitting on the ball for a while. Do you want to sit in the tub? Does rubbing your lower back help? That kind of thing. My husband gets a little overwhelmed and doesn't really know what to try. He's great if I ask for ice, or cold water, or help with something. But I think it might be helpful to have someone there who has been there, done that and can take things a step further to help keep me relaxed and comfortable as much as possible during the worst of it.

I asked my husband early on if he'd mind if I asked my mom to be there to help. He said something along the lines of, "Of course not - whatever you need is fine with me." That was early on. More recently his attitude has taken the sound of, "I guess I'm not good enough to help you birth our baby and you need your mom here since I suck." He's half kidding - but only half.

While I realize I'm the one giving birth, therefore what I need is the most important thing and he can live with it - I'm also sensitive to his feelings on the subject. If at the getgo he had said he didn't like the idea of my mom being there, I probably would have said ok and not worried about it. But this gets trickier because months ago, I asked my mom if she'd be willing to come and help me through my labor. So it's already out there.

Last night he brought it up and asked if my mom would be coming. I haven't talked to her about it in a long time, but I'm sure she remembers that I asked. He still feels a little put out that I would have her there. And to be fair to him, it's more than just his ego. He wants it to be more intimate, the moment we meet our child for the first time. He doesn't like the idea of anyone else being there (except the doctor and nurses of course - he has no interest in doing things himself, LOL). And I do understand where he's coming from.

But now I have to decide if I want to ask my mom again if she can be there, or if I should just let it go and not call her right away when the time comes. I do know that I'm blessed with a mother who won't take it personally, make me feel guilty, or make a big deal out of it. Whatever I want will be fine with her, whether I have her come or not. Well, she might be a little disappointed if I don't have her there, but it won't be a big deal.

The other thing I have to consider is how willing my mom really is to come, day or night. She's very busy with her job and although she has the flexibility to leave at a moments notice, I don't know if she really wants to - or maybe it's whether she feels like she can. It's a part of my relationship with my mom that sometimes troubles me, but I feel like it's the selfish child left inside me that gets rubbed wrong. If you asked me if my mom would be willing to drop everything for me - the answer would be yes, and no. Yes, she would in a heartbeat if I told her I really needed her. But it isn't always her first instinct. She has a busy life of her own and she's grown quite accustomed to her children being self sufficient adults. It's not that she isn't willing to help or doesn't want to - but she doesn't always think of doing that above other things. I mean, she does - but at the same time, she doesn't. Don't get me wrong, my mom is wonderful and I have a fabulous relationship with her. But I wonder, if I talk to her about coming and ask if she wants me to have her come day or night, I have a feeling she'll hesitate.

So it makes me wonder if I should go ahead and ask her to be there or not. I guess the bottom line is how badly do I want her there, and I'm torn on that count as well. While I think she would be helpful, right now I'm not feeling sure that she'd be helpful enough to overcome my husband's reservations about having her there. And I know he'd feel put aside and probably end up sitting and watching, feeling useless, and I don't like that.

I have some more time to consider it, so for now I think I'll leave it up in the air. But it has my tendency to overthink things going into overdrive. And let's be honest - if I wasn't overthinking this, I'd be overthinking something else...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The weird things about Sunday

Sunday was my baby shower. It wasn't a regular shower, really. We met at one of those places where you can paint your own pottery and then went out to dinner. It was nice, we had a good time - but I was pretty surprised at how few people actually showed up. I invited 33 people and 5 showed up. Five. I have to admit, that was pretty disappointing. It wasn't about the presents at all - in that sense, it wasn't a traditional help the mom stock up on stuff shower. I just wanted to celebrate the fact that I'm having this baby by getting together with family and friends. But apparently any sort of celebration for a third baby isn't too high on people's priority lists.

The really crazy thing is that the one and only member of my family to show up was my aunt who lives 2 hours away! This when the venue was 5 minutes from another aunt, and maybe 20 minutes from 2 others. I'm quite appreciative of my aunt who did come - it means a lot to me that she would drive all that way, especially when no one else felt compelled to come.

In any case, the other weird thing about Sunday was that I had contractions starting at about 2 until probably 10:00 that night. They weren't the type to make me think I was in labor, and I'm certainly prone to bouts of contractions in the weeks leading up to the baby's arrival. That much is normal for me. What wasn't so normal was how long these lasted. They were probably 10 minutes apart or so, but whereas typically I would expect them to taper off after an hour or maybe two, these just kept coming. I was starting to wonder not if I was in labor then, but if I would be headed that direction overnight or possibly on Monday. As it turns out, my uterus was probably just irritable from all the activity that day and had I the opportunity to lie down, they would have stopped. But I didn't, so they kept coming. It was annoying and uncomfortable and did motivate me to pack my hospital bag, just in case.

I'll be 37 weeks tomorrow, considered full term. I'm hanging in there, but definitely at the point where if this baby is ready to come, she can make her appearance any time now. I'm a bit apprehensive about labor, and bringing a newborn home, but man am I uncomfortable. And tired. I don't remember the last weeks being this grueling with my boys. I think I'm carrying her low and its probably putting more pressure on my pelvis and bladder. I never want to be one of those "get this kid out of me now!" women, I can hang in there for the long haul if I have to - but if she wants to come a little earlier, that would be great by me.