Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Word Vomit - Bringing Baby To Work

I was going to post my 6 week postpartum update today, but I feel like I need to get some things off my chest and maybe get some advice from you all.

Today was my first official day back to work. As many of you know, I work at an art gallery and am in charge of finding artists as well as hanging/taking down monthly exhibits. It's a small gallery, just me and 4 other coworkers.

My boss is awesome and is letting be bring Kieran to work up to a year, or until he's too much of a handful for me to get any work done. I am extremely thankful for this, but after today, I'm not sure if it's going to work.

Day to day, I don't really do much activity. I do a lot of work at my computer and that's pretty easy to handle with a little one. However, at the beginning of each month, we take down and hang a new exhibit which requires me to be away from my desk for hours at a time talking to the artist and hanging artwork. Today was one of those busy days and it was really difficult to juggle my work and my baby. Kieran still loves to be held and will only give me about 10 minutes of down time for me to get anything done. This is fine when we're at home; ten minutes is enough for me to do laundry or the dishes, but at work, it's not enough for me to get any substantial work done. Kieran also isn't a great napper, so pair that with a new environment for him and extra stimulus, means that he didn't nap all day.

I can't blame any of my inconvenience on him; he's a baby, and when we're at home, we don't really have a schedule, so I can't expect him to suddenly sleep when I need him to at work. But I'll admit, it makes things hard, harder than I thought. It doesn't help that I don't really have any space to put him. I share an "office" (I say office lightly because it's literally a closet...our supply closet) with another coworker and space is tight. The only places I can put Kieran are on me, in his stroller/car seat, or on my desk. He'll hang out in his car seat for a little while, but I feel like I need to use that sparingly so that he doesn't grow to hate it when we have 10+ hour car rides to visit family. Propping him up on a pillow on my desk works for now, but it's only a matter of time before he becomes too big to do that. I do have a Moby and an Ergo, but one, my back cannot take carrying an almost 10 pound baby for too long, and I don't feel comfortable hammering over his head.

I think my biggest problem is that I'm stressing myself out about him crying. Again, small workplace, and my office is right by the front desk where we interact with patrons. At home, his crying doesn't bother me because I know that it won't bother anyone, and I can try numerous things to try and calm him down. At work, however, I feel the need to calm him down as fast as possible so that I don't bother anyone, especially our patrons. He's a good baby and doesn't cry often unless he's hungry or wants to be held, but man that boy has a set of lungs when he wants to use them. I think my biggest fear is that he'll cry during an event and my boss will get complaints from patrons. I don't want to be the cause of stress or problems for anyone, and I want to continue my professional appearance. It also didn't help my confidence when during one of his crying spells, my coworker said under her breath, "so this is what our lives will be like now."

All of this is to say that today was stressful enough for me that I contacted a daycare to see if they had any openings. Before my boss offered to let me take Kieran to work, we had discussed putting him in this daycare, I just never got around to contacting them before. It's a church run daycare which I could care less about, but it gets great reviews from a lot of our friends and they have a school-like curriculum where kids (hopefully) learn to read by the time they leave for school.

During one of the times in which I couldn't console him, I thought to myself, "it would be so much easier if he was in daycare, I could get so much work done." And then I felt automatically guilty. Why would I send my son, this little boy who I love so very much, who I hoped for for years, to another person to raise him? Why would I pay someone else to care for my son? I don't want someone else to care for him, thinking about not seeing him for 9+ hours each day breaks my heart. But guys, it's hard. Having him at work is harder than I thought, and I don't want to get in trouble for not taking care of my responsibilities.

Deep in my heart, I think this is just a rough patch that we need to get through. The coworker that I share an office with is leaving in November and we're not getting a replacement until February at the earliest, so for those few months, I'll have the entire office to spread out in. I can bring in Kieran's pack and play which will give him a place to sleep as well as a confined place to play. Hopefully by then, he'll be more willing to be put down for longer periods of time which will allow me to get work done.

I just don't know what to do. Keeping him with me is the best of both worlds. I get to continue a job that I enjoy while also raising my son. However, I know that interactions with children will be good for him, but I'm wary about putting him in daycare when he can't communicate if something is wrong. Working doesn't allow me to go to any children's programs during the day, and while we do have friends who have twin girls right around Kieran's age, we only see them on the weekends and I'm not sure if that's often enough.

Basically a lot of thoughts are running through my head and I don't know how to begin to sort them out. I know that my emotions are heightened right now due to stress and that things will look better in the morning. I was so frustrated today that I was sure I was going to enroll him in daycare, but then he stopped crying, looked at me and gave me the biggest smile and my heart melted. I don't think I could ever let someone else take care of my son.

If you've read all of this word vomit, thank you. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First Month Must Haves

When I was pregnant, I loved reading posts from other moms about what they used most in the first few months. I learned about helpful products as well as some tips and tricks. Below is a list of things that we wouldn't want to live without during his first few weeks.

1. Graco Duet Soothee Swing & Rocker
While I was pregnant, Keegan and I told ourselves that we wouldn't buy a bunch of baby "furniture," especially a swing, because it took up so much space. However, we ate our words when I realized that we didn't really have a good place to put Kieran during the day so I could get things done. We have a crib, and a pack n' play, but he would fuss when I would leave the room. This swing has a detachable rocker that is easy to move from room to room and as an added bonus, he sleeps pretty much through the night in the swing.

2. Ingenuity Washable Play Yard with Dream Centre
We decided to get a pack n' play / play yard to set up in our room while Kieran co-slept with us for the first few months, as well as a place for him to sleep when we travel to visit family. We like it because it has a sleeping area as well as a changing station which makes life easy at night. He slept pretty well in it for the few weeks, but now he sleeps in his swing. 

The pockets on the side were handy when we were using disposable diapers, but now that we're using cloth diapers, we use it as a space to store extra wet bags. 

3. Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat and Graco LiteRider Click Connect Stroller

We chose the Click Connect system because one, it's fairly cheap, and two, it makes life easier when you're able to click the car seat into the stroller instead of having to take baby out of the car seat. The car seat is light enough for me to carry with a 9+ pound baby, and the stroller is light enough for me to pick up and place in the back of our crossover SUV. The stroller also has a fair amount of storage space in the bottom. 

4. Moby Wrap Baby Carrier

I absolutely love our Moby Wrap. I've used it around the house so I can type at the computer or pick up the living room, I've used it at work when I've had an event, and we use it every week when we go grocery shopping. Since he's wrapped up next to me, it keeps him calm, and 99% of the time, he falls asleep. Some people say the wraps are difficult to learn, but there are a bunch of video tutorials online that break them down step by step. 

5. Medela Freestyle Breastpump
I was lucky in the fact that our insurance covered a breastpump, so I got the above package shipped to my house absolutely free. Since I'm trying to have a fairly large freezer stash built up by the time I go back to work, if I don't have a baby attached to me feeding, I try to pump. The pump is easy to use, quiet, and fairly compact. I love the small insulated bag that came with it; we throw a bottle or two inside with an ice pack and bring it with us when we go out just in case he gets fussy and I don't feel comfortable nursing. 

6. Medela 5 Ounce Bottles

While pregnant, I purchased many different brands of bottles because I kept hearing stories of parents going through bottle after bottle trying to find one that their baby would take. We got lucky in the fact that Kieran took to the Medela bottles because I'm able to pump right into them. I think one of the good things that came out of his blood sugar scare was that he learned to take both bottle and breast early, and we've kept up with that so that he'll be able to take a bottle whenever I'm not around. 

7. Soothie Pacifier 

We had purchased only one set of pacifiers during my pregnancy because we were pretty adamant that we didn't want to give Kieran one at all for fear of having to wean him later. However, while we were in the hospital, the nurses would pop a Soothie pacifier in his mouth while they were pricking his heal so that he wouldn't scream. We somehow came home from the hospital with four of them and we ended up letting him suck on one when food, a clean diaper and cuddling wouldn't calm him down one night. Now, we try not to give it to him too often, but it is nice when he's starting to fuss and we're out to dinner or driving home and I can't comfort him in other ways. He also gets it at night, but as soon as he's fallen asleep, it falls out. 

8. Summer Infant Swaddleme Swaddles 

Kieran really enjoyed being swaddled in the hospital, especially in the tight swaddles the nurses could do. Keegan learned how to swaddle pretty tight, but I never could get the blanket tight enough for Kieran not to break free. He still has his startle reflex, so he'll wake himself up with his flailing arms if he's not swaddled. We got a Swaddleme as a baby shower gift and decided to use it one night to see if it would help Kieran sleep, and he loved it. The fabric is light enough that we felt comfortable using it in the hot Mississippi summer, and are easy to re-swaddle in the middle of the night. If we didn't use these, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have a baby who sleeps through the night at 4 weeks. 

Those are our first month must haves. Anyone else use any of these products and love them or have another must have to add to the list? 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Microblog Mondays - Schedules

Lately as I've been reading blogger's "day in the life" posts, a question came to mind. When did your baby/babies start on a schedule/routine?

I've been fighting with Kieran this past week to try and get more of a routine down so that he'll sleep throughout the day. If I left him to his own devices, he'd sleep in short 10-15 minute naps with maybe a longer nap thrown in, but only if I'm holding him. I know that he should get more sleep throughout the day, especially since if he doesn't, he's so over tired by the time Keegan gets home from work that he's super fussy.

I'm hesitant to try and put him on a strict schedule because he is only 5 weeks old and I'm going back to work soon, so our schedule will change once that happens. I'm also hesitant because our weekends are so different from our weekdays; we're normally out running errands and seeing friends, so I'm not sure if a schedule will fit well with that lifestyle.

So mamas, chime in. Does your little one have a schedule? Is it one you started or one they made themselves? Is it strict or pretty flexible?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Birth Control or No Birth Control...

... that is the question.

I have my "6 week" (really 5 week, but whatever,) postpartum appointment with my doctor on Thursday and per her protocol, we'll be talking about my birth control options.

It's been a debate going on in my head since my OB mentioned it at my 2 week postpartum appointment. There are a lot of pros and cons, and honestly, it's a decision I don't feel ready to make yet.

I think the biggest "pro" about going on birth control is the fact that I will have a monthly cycle (something I don't have naturally due to my PCOS,) which will eliminate the "am I pregnant this month?" question. I don't really want to go back to feeding my peeing on a stick habit, and having a guaranteed monthly cycle will save both my sanity and my money.

However, that's the only good thing I can see about going on birth control.

There are a lot of "cons" such as having to pay for it (even though it's a measly $5 per month,) having to remember to take it, being confident that it won't be passed on to baby through my breast milk and worrying about it drying up my milk supply. I know that my OB would prescribe a pill that is breastfeeding friendly, but it's still a worry I have, especially since my supply is barely sustaining Kieran as is.

I'm also worried about it messing up my already messed up hormones. When I went off birth control back in 2012, I didn't have a cycle for months, which eventually lead to my PCOS diagnosis. I have no way of knowing that my lack of cycle during that time was due to my PCOS, or my body not knowing how to cycle without having the birth control hormones.

We eventually want to try for baby number two, and I'm afraid that being on birth control will hinder that process when we're ready. I don't want to have to wait extra months because we have to teach my body how to cycle again without the BC hormones.

I know that not going on birth control is basically saying that we're ready for another child to come into our lives at any moment (since we're not taking preventative measures,) and honestly, we're not. The ideal time to get pregnant would be when Kieran is about a year to a year and a half old (like infertility ever works with our "ideal" times.) However, I'm scared that taking birth control will hurt more than help.

Anyone have any advice?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Microblog Monday - New Blog

Keegan and I have decided that we don't want too many pictures of Kieran on this blog. I've heard so many stories of people stealing baby pictures, and even if I watermark every single one of them, we still don't feel comfortable having them on this blog since it's not password protected. 

However, he's too cute not to post pictures, so we decided to start a family centered blog that is password protected. There will little talk of infertility on that blog, instead it's more of a way for us to keep family and friends updated on our lives. 

I'm still going to continue writing here. I don't know how often or on what subjects, but I don't want to leave this space, especially since I'll need it to talk about our journey for (hopefully) baby number two. 

Our new blog is here. If you want to follow, leave a comment with your email address and I'll send you the password.

As always, thank you all so much for following our journey and supporting us along the way. We love you guys!

Learn more about Microblog Mondays here

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kieran One Month

Height: Will find out at his one month appointment on Wednesday

Weight: Ditto. I'll be surprised if he hasn't reached 10 pounds

Clothing: He can wear anything from newborn to 3 month clothes depending on the brand. The 3 month clothes are a bit big in the shoulder area, but he's long, and his cloth diapers add some padding in the booty region, so they fit him length wise.

Nicknames: Fussy Pants, Chunker, Chunk-a-monk, Chubby Cheeks, Chubby Cheekers, Little Love, Baby Boy

Food: After being on formula for the first week and a half of his life, he's officially only on breast milk now. I'm also pumping and giving him at least a bottle a day so that he is used to taking a bottle for if/when he goes to daycare.

Sleep: One plus to having such a large baby is that he already sleeps throughout the night. We'll put him to bed between 9 and 10, he'll sleep until 3-5, eat for about half an hour, and then he'll fall back asleep until around 7 (most nights. The last couple of nights, getting him back down to sleep after his feed has been a bit difficult.)

Naps: Unfortunately he doesn't sleep much throughout the day. He'll sleep in the car and will take short cat naps, but he'll only sleep for long periods of time if he's lying on me or Keegan. As much as I enjoy him sleeping through the night, I would gladly wake up again if he'd give me a good hour or two nap during the day so I could get things done!

Milestones: I think we may be getting smiles. They're not really brought on by anything, but I catch them once in a while after he's just woken up, or when he's hanging out. He's also holding his head up really well. He'll be hanging out on his tummy on Keegan's chest, and he'll hold his head up well enough that they're looking eye to eye.

He got to meet my parents and youngest sister as well as Keegan's mom. We're hoping he's able to meet my other sister and Keegan's dad and brother soon!

Likes: Snuggles, eating, sleeping, bath time, tummy time.

Dislikes: Getting his clothes changed (he doesn't like things going over his head,) getting his diaper changed, being cold, being left alone while I try to get something done.

I cannot believe we've had this little boy in our lives for a month already. We got really lucky with him; he's a great sleeper, he travels well and he's overall a happy baby. My only "complaint" is that he doesn't nap well throughout the day, so it's difficult to get things done, but I'd much rather sit on the couch with him asleep on my chest than do dishes. Sometimes I look at him while he's sleeping and get teary eyed. For so long, it seemed like we'd never have a child; I cannot believe how lucky we are to have this wonderful little boy in our lives.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

C-Section Healing Tips

When I was envisioning my birth, a c-section wan't even on my radar, so I was in no way prepared to deal with the emotional and physical changes that happen when healing from major abdominal surgery. I guess you could say I did a lot of on the job learning, and I'd like to pass on the nuggets of wisdom I learned along the way.

1. Have a great support person / people. 

I was lucky enough to have Keegan, my parents, and a few wonderful nurses who took it upon themselves to help me out as much as possible. When it takes you 20 minutes just to get out of bed to go to the bathroom, you'll want someone who is willing to take the time and not rush you. You'll also want someone who you're not embarrassed to have them see you at your physical worst. Let's just say I never thought I would pee in front of my husband. 

2. Walk (when you're cleared to, of course.) 

My nurses got me up and walking the day after surgery which was the scariest thing I have ever done, but I'm so glad they forced me to. Yes, it was painful, and I'm pretty sure my newborn could have wiggled across the room faster than my shuffling, but it gave my muscles a chance to stretch out after being in bed all day. Keegan was really good at forcing me to walk around the postpartum wing of the hospital at least twice a day. We were lucky that my parents were in town, so they would stay with baby in the room while we walked, but even once they left, we would take Kieran out with us in his crib. 

3. Keep up on your meds.

The first 24 hours after surgery, I was on an IV of morphine that I was able to dose myself when the pain got too bad. However, after that, I was given ibuprofen and Percocet in pill form every 6 hours. Sometimes my nurses would forget my dose, especially at night, and I was such a space cadet that I didn't remember either, but if I missed a dose, I would wake up feeling like I got hit by a semi. Everything ached like I had the flu, and it made doing even simple tasks difficult.  Even though I hated relying on medications, it made life so much better and allowed my body to heal faster.  

I would say keeping up on your medications when you're home is even more important because you don't have nurses and hospital staff to help you. You have to walk yourself to the bathroom and it's much more difficult when you're in pain. 

4. Bring comfy clothes. 

Again, I didn't think I would have a c-section so I didn't pack clothes that were meant to not bother my incision, but I did throw a maternity dress into my hospital bag thinking I'd wear it home since I expected to still look 5 months pregnant. I am so thankful I had that dress because it allowed me to wear something other than a hospital gown, that didn't rub on my incision. I also had a pair of black yoga pants that we're soft enough to not bother my incision and also hid any...leaks that happened.

I also brought a pack of cheap underwear that I didn't mind getting dirty. Without even realizing it, I purchased high rise underwear that I thought would be huge on me, but they ended up being perfect. They reached high enough on my stomach to not hit my incision and they've worked so well that I've worn them since we've been home as well since all of my regular underwear hit directly where my healing incision is. 

5. Shower. Wear your own clothes. Put on makeup. 

Getting up to shower was another one of those tasks that seemed impossible, but I was so glad I did it. I was able to wash all the leftover liquids and adhesives off from surgery, and in general just felt cleaner. Wearing my own clothes was much more comfortable than the hospital gown, and if I wore makeup, I probably would have put that on too. 

6. Eat and Drink. 

My hospital provided three meals a day and sometimes the nurses would slip me snacks of graham crackers and juice. The hospital food wasn't exactly a 4 course meal, so I'd eat whatever seemed remotely eatable, and then asked my parents or Keegan to get me food when they'd run out to get something for themselves. I was starving most of the time due to not being able to eat for 24 hours while I labored as well as breastfeeding, so eating enough was important. If you're breastfeeding, getting enough water really helps your supply, so make sure you're keeping hydrated.

7. Room with your baby. 

Deciding to have your baby room with you, or to have them spend the night in the nursery is a very personal decision, but I can't say enough how glad I am that Keegan and I decided to have Kieran room with us. It was easier for us since we had to feed him every three hours, but it also allowed us to learn from the nurses. They were constantly in our room, so we asked them to teach us how to swaddle a baby, how to take care of his umbilical cord, and more. They were there, they had the knowledge, so we decided to get as much information out of them as we could.

8. Be easy on yourself. 

This might be the most important tip besides having a good support system. I know there were many times I got upset and frustrated because I couldn't physically do as much as I wanted. The entire time I was in the hospital, I didn't change a diaper because it was too difficult for me to get out of bed to do so. Whenever Kieran was hungry, I had to have someone bring him to me because his crib was too high for me to reach from the bed. There was one really memorable time when Kieran threw up all over himself and the bed and I felt so helpless because I couldn't help to clean him or myself up.

Keegan was really great at reminding me that I just had major abdominal surgery and no one expected me to be able to move around like I normally do. I really had to let go of my urges to be in control of the situation and allow my husband, family, and nurses take care of me. I'm one who doesn't like to ask for help, but I really had to let that go and remind myself that I would be able to take care of my son soon enough.

9. Take Pictures / Video

Even though I don't want to dwell on our time in the hospital, I'm so glad we took pictures of our time there. Those are our son's first moments and our first moments as a family of three. We also got pictures of my family meeting Kieran for the first time which are some of my favorite memories. We made sure to get pictures of the not so happy times like the IVs and our difficulties at the beginning of breastfeeding because they are also a part of our son's story.

I had no idea what to expect from a c-section, so these are all things I learned along my healing process. Healing from a c-section is no walk in the park, so I hope that these tips are helpful. Any other c-section mamas have anything to add?