Thursday, March 28, 2013

The first month

My daughter is one month old today. And it still thrills me to say my daughter.

For those of you still awaiting your first child, please don't give up (and please don't read this post if you're not up for it - this is hard shit you're going through and there's no need to make it harder by reading about some blogger's baby bliss). So far, this experience is beyond amazing. I cannot find the words to say how grateful I am that we KEPT FIGHTING to become parents. All the effort, the years, the tears, the fists shaking at the sky, the early morning trips for monitoring, the international treatment, EVERYTHING was worth it when I hold and look at Gummy.

just look at her
Gummy Girl in dad's arms
Here are a few observations on her first month of life.

Sleeping: Much like her parents, this girl likes her sleep. She has stretches of 4-5 hours at night, and 2, 3 or 4 hours during the day. Lots of REM sleep - bodes well for her neurons.  

Eating: She eats formula. I am still a bit sad about the breast feeding not working out, but I feel better about it. You extraordinary women have really helped me accept that this was the right decision. I told my doctor this morning, and she also supported me in the decision to give up on breastfeeding.

Gazing: I noticed that in her first few days of life, she could not hold my gaze at all. After about a week, she started being able to hold it for at least 5 seconds. I love that she now focuses on my face and holds my gaze as I am talking to her.

Bilingualism: Operation One Parent One Language is going ok so far. I can't help speaking to her in English most of the time, because it's now the language I use most in my life. However, I read to her and speak to her in French every day. So far, she is using neither English nor French to respond.

Early Modeling Career: We had our newborn photo shoot on Sunday and she did great! She was actually a total ham. The photographer sent us a few shots as a sneak peak and we were very pleased with how those turned out.

Early Hiking Career: Gummy Girl has been out on many walks already. None have actually been in the woods yet, but there are trees where we've walked.  I have even been able to strap on the ergo carrier myself and take her out for 20-30 minutes. So far, her reaction to walking has been to fall asleep. I take that to mean that she is comfortable with the activity, which as with the sleeping, this reflects that she is her parents' girl.

Dining Out: Newborns are extremely portable, it turns out. We've been out to several restaurants in town for breakfasts, lunches and even fancy dinners, all of which she handled beautifully.

Assertiveness: So far, Gummy's temperament is awesome.  She is calm and content most of the time. That is, until she needs something. Then she lets us know. Gently at first, but if need be, she will get loud. I love a girl who knows what she wants and can express her needs.

Happy One Month, Gummy Girl

One month today!
 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

No milk

This is the breastfeeding post, as you might have gathered from the title.

Breastfeeding my baby is what I really hoped to do. I know the benefits for both mom and baby. And it just sounded so darn convenient compared to formula feeding. I also went in knowing that it wouldn't be the end of the world if Gummy needed to be formula fed. This baby would be fed and loved, no matter what.

I had worries all along about whether I could breastfeed or not. The same issues that have caused my infertility would possibly (probably?) make it impossible for me to breastfeed. As a teenager, puberty sort of passed me by, and my breasts never really developed fully (and I never menstruated without meds, and never ovulated ever. Hence, the last 4 years). I worried that milk glands had not been fully formed and so wouldn't produce milk. Also, I worried that because my HPG axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis) is screwed, and that the pituitary is responsible for releasing prolactin, I would simply not make any prolactin (I felt confident that my body could make oxytocin, you know, since I have close relationships with other humans).

You would think that 1) hypothetically nonexistent milk glands and 2) a potentially missing essential lactation hormone would be enough to put sticks in the wheels of mama who wants to breastfeed. But no. There were more sticks.

Breastfeeding started off with a bang. And by bang, I do mean flourish...and pain (oh, my nipples paid for this in blood). Gummy was nicknamed 'the barracuda' by different nurses at the hospital. Her latch was ferocious. I was over the moon to see colostrum. I could hardly believe my eyes. My body might be able to do this after all. My confidence took a hit when we had a 16-hour cluster feeding session in hospital (hospitalization #1 - the birth) where Gummy grew increasingly distressed, and ended in her spending a few hours in the nursery being given formula while I wept in my hospital bed. We did start supplementing at the breast with a narrow feeding tube after this, and it seemed to be a good solution until the time when My Milk Would Come In.*

And then I was separated from my baby for 24 hours when she was 5 days old (hospitalization #2).

And then I had a massive postpartum hemorrhage because of retained products of pregnancy (hospitalization #3). As far as one's milk not coming in, the retained products is a usual suspect. Placental bits left in the uterus tell your HPG (well, the H and the P mostly) that you are still pregnant, so there is no need to lactate: placenta's feeding your fetus (except that your fetus is now a baby, and she is crying to be fed). I spent about 36 hours neither feeding nor pumping during that ordeal, and then resumed pumping on Sunday and putting Gummy to the breast on Monday.

We had a good chat with the lactation consultant on the day of discharged from #3, and much help from or dear friend who is a midwife with a special interest in breastfeeding. I left with a plan to help my body calm down from all the stress, recuperate from the physical strain, and help promote lactation while balancing the need for rest. The lactation consultant felt that while I may never be able to feed my baby 100% breast milk, there was a good chance that we could get back on the breastfeeding train. I went home and was pumping, breastfeeding with the tube, taking the herbal supplements, and spending lots of time skin to skin with my baby. I wasn't putting my expectations too high, but I was going to give this a good shot.

Sigh.

I have no milk. It's not that I have very little milk, or insufficient milk, or that my baby is now used to living large with formula and is turning her nose up at the breast because of the bird-sized portions. No. I have absolutely no milk.

Trying to guess at the why is a circular exercise (see above). There are so many factors that could explain it, not to mention the interaction between all the factors.

I went to see my family doctor yesterday and we talked about the possibility of meds (dom.perido.ne - I think it isn't prescribed in the US, but it is prescribed commonly for lactation problems in Canada). There are risks in term of this medication (although those risks have been cogently downplayed by breastfeeding advocates - see this website for more info). My family doc was reluctant to prescribe it to me at first, but then changed her mind. She gave me the prescription, but said I had to go for an EKG first.

And that's kind of where I hit my breaking point. I didn't go get the EKG and didn't fill the prescription. Instead, I went home and pondered this some more. And talked to Mr. A. This is starting to feel ridiculous. And the risks to my health now scare me more after the postpartum circus. And what tells me that this drug is going to make me lactate at all. How much more work do I put into this before I surrender completely, and just embrace my baby's formula-fed double chin and tell myself that she will build her immunity through exposure?

That's about when the GUILT hits me, and the nagging voice inside (the superego?) tells me I should move heaven and earth to try and breastfeed her.

And then I develop an overwhelming urge to take a nap. Because, you know, we've already moved heaven and earth just to have her. 
 

*italics added to emphasize the mythical tone of this pronouncement. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

rocket rounds, blogging edition

On one of my many practicum placements, the mental health unit had rocket rounds in the morning. Just 2-3 minutes to talk about each patient on the unit, in order to give everyone a heads up about what was going on for him or her. I'm thinking blitz blogging might be the equivalent for the new mother who likes to blog. I'll use any 2-3 minute stretches of time instead of waiting to have that hour to write a long, detailed post about what's up. Gummy is starting to squawk for food, so this will truly be brief.

Augusta update:
I have not returned to hospital since being discharged last Monday (honk horns and throw confetti).
My blood pressure spiked again on Monday morning, so the discharge was delayed until the afternoon, when they finally agreed to let me go home, with 3 follow-up appointments during the week to check on me.
It finally started coming down a little bit on Wednesday, and significantly on Thursday. When I took it this morning, it was 126/81. WOW! I haven't seen those numbers since...well, since the tsunami of blood, but before that it had been many weeks.

Gummy update:
She is thriving! Oh, I love this girl so much. She was 7lbs 13oz on Tuesday at her second doctor's appointment. And yes, she is being fed mostly formula. There is an entire breastfeeding post to write, but I'll have to tackle that when I do indeed have more that 2-3 minutes. Suffice it to say that the disruptions encountered in the post-partum period have done nothing to help an already precarious breastfeeding situation. Trying not to feel guilty for sleeping more than 3 hours in a row at nigh.

We went for our first walk yesterday, the three of us. Gummy liked the ergo carrier. Today, we are hoping to make it to market.

(pictures in the next post)
 


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Update

I am Hoping that three hospital visits will suffice. I woke up this morning with a new resolve: I am going to get better (dammit).

I had the D&C last evening at 7pm. The doctor said he removed about 400 mls of "products" from my ute and that it was infected. The big bleed was my body's way of trying to eliminate it.

Mademoiselle Gummy (having narrowly avoided being eaten by Bunlet), spent part of Saturday with good friends who have an 18-month-old. Since they put me in the labor & delivery unit this time, Gummy has been able to visit us. She is lying on my chest as I peck out this post. She spent the night at Sattva's, where she was ogled by Sattva's girls. Quote for 4-year-old Ginger: "when can we teach Gummy how to walk?"

I am getting a blood transfusion at the moment. My hemoglobin got too low and the doc felt he couldn't get it back up well enough with just an iron supplement.

Mr August has been amazing throughout all of this. He is not so good with seeing lots of blood, yet remained calm when the blood bath occurred and managed to keep me safe, to call 911, and to make sure gummy was alright. He even got me a breakfast bagel sandwich from my favorite spot in town.

We are hoping that I will get discharged tomorrow. Then we can go home and get started with the rest of our lives as a family of three. In the mean time though, we are counting our blessings. We have amazing friends near and far who have offered us so much love and support. And that includes you, dear women. Thank you.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

One more time, with feeling

I'm back at the hospital. This time, I got here by ambulance. We woke up at 3am for little gummy who needed a feed. Something was not right with my underwear. Turns out I was lying in a pool of blood.

There seems to be retained products of pregnancy logged in my ute (pieces of placenta). i bled massively. I have never seen that much blood in my life.

I stable right now.

Awaiting a D&C. Within the hour.

I look forward to updating you on all the great stuff about my gummy girl.

I'll leave you with a picture.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We interrupt this motherhood

For another hospital admission. Gummy is in great shape but my blood pressure decided to climb new heights. So after spending 10 hours on a cot in a busy ER hallway, the doc decided to admit me. The blood pressure wouldn't settle despite a 5-course menu of drugs given to appease it.

I spent the whole day breaking into tears. I just kept seeing her little face, her dainty fingers, her soft little head. I couldn't bear not to be with her.

Thankfully, I am being discharged
today.

There are many tales from the birth and hospital stay to be recounted here, but it will have to wait. Right now, all I can think about is getting home to my girl.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Gummy girl is born

A quick post to let you know that Gummy arrived on Thursday, February 28 at 7:05pm. She weighed in at 7lbs3oz, with her dad's big eyes and jet black hair. We are completely swept off our feet by this little miracle.

More details to follow.