On the Road. Again.

After a few days with Mr. O’s aunt, we headed back to our neighborhood to go to Chick’s pediatrician appointment. Though a little fussy because he was hungry, Chick is by all accounts a healthy kiddo. He is gaining weight really well at the rate of an oz a day. I think he may have a wee bit of acid reflux (not uncommon in premies) but nothing that is currently making him uncomfortable or impacting his weight gain.

With that, we went back on the road once more- this time to spend the better part of the week with my dad.

As luck would have it, my dad has decided to spend about 2 months of this summer about 3.5 hours away in a lovely small coastal town. There is ample room for all of us (and all the crap comes with a newborn.) There is also little pressure from my dad to do anything or be anywhere. I think he is grateful for the company, and we are grateful for the hospitality.

Yesterday we ventured outside for a stroll down to the harbor for some fresh air and a lobster roll. Not only was the lobster roll excellent, the scenery was even better. This town is one of my favorites – with a beautiful open park right on the water where you can watch the boats go out and come back in.

After a leisurely hour, we started to pack up and head home, and just in time too because I was getting really tired. I’ve also started to get some lower back pain and cramps which I’m chalking up to all the whacky breastfeeding hormones. My dad was also taking it really slow- he’s over 70 now and has some trouble with his hips. So what would normally be a 10 minute walk dragged out to 20 as he and I both stopped, stretched, and complained about our ailments.

That is the most activity I’ve had since the beginning of June, and boy did I notice. It turns out pregnancy and childbirth have turned me into a 70 year old man.

Mr O is here and taking the week off (which is technically his paternity leave which is in actuality his paid time off because his company doesn’t offer any paid leave.) he has been great about helping with feeding and diaper changes. It’s the feedings that are the hardest. By pure dumb luck, Chick is always hungry when I need to pump. (because of his need for extra calories, I still can’t switch to exclusively breast-feeding.) So I have to feed him first and pump later, leaving my breasts swollen and tender by the time I hook myself up to the good ol’ Medela Pump in Style. So far, Mr. O has taken over when chick’s feeding would push me too far off schedule (I need pump every 3-4 hours.) While I appreciate the help, i’m not quite sure how this will pan out once he goes back to work. Between feeding, pumping, and our pathetic attempts to breastfeed two times a day, I’ll be at the end of my rope quickly. Because this doesn’t even account for diaper changes, tummy time, feeding myself, or sleep. I had a low moment yesterday when I was ready to pack in the pumping/breast-feeding towel because this is really hard to juggle.

The lactation consultant suggested I take Fenugreek to increase my supply. I feel like it is still too early to see if it’s working – though I have noticed my BO smells like herbs now, which is just plain weird. I smell like a damn hippy.

I’ve decided to give it at least another two weeks, and see if the pediatrician will allow for more direct breast-feeding. If this is going to work, I need him to make the transition boob sooner, or call it quits and move on.

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Dispatch from the Road

If there is one thing I have learned through bed rest, early delivery, and 6 weeks in the NICU, it is humility. (Maybe that’s the wrong word, but cut me some slack as I write this on my phone at 4:00am while I’m pumping in the dark.)

I’ve learned there are limits on what I can do myself and sometimes it is okay to ask for help. So when the great mold capper of 2015 began, Mr. O and I asked our families to take us in. Through the weekend, we’re staying with his aunt. And through next week ( yes, this whole shit show is going to take a WEEK to clean up) we will be staying with my dad who is spending the summer about 3.5 hours away.Mr. O’s aunt is one of the kindest people I know. She is like a second mother to him- Mr. O grew up down the street from her family and she looked after him while his dad worked nights. So she didn’t bat and eyelash when we asked to stay.

The funny thing is that she still lives just down the street from Mr. O’s dad. (Who, it is worth noting started talking to us again after Chick was born. Which, it should also be noted, I find almost as rude as the whole not talking to us thing. Like now that we have bequeathed him with a grandson, all is forgiven. Bite. Me.) We aren’t staying with Mr. O’s parents because there is literally no room for us- Mr. O’s dad has a bit of a hoarding problem. But that is a story for another day.

Last night, we went over to Mr. O’s dad’s house for dinner. This was Chick’s first outing since leaving the hospital. Of course, the first thing Murre wanted to do is hold check. Kittiwake was running around taking pictures with flash. Murre was grinning from ear to ear.

And I wanted to punch him in the face.

My kid is not a tourist attraction. Nor is he a Kardashian being chased by paparazzi. He is a premature baby who needs food and sleep right now, not to be lit up like the goddamn Fourth of July.

I literally wanted to rip my child from Murre’s hands because he was playing with Chick. In my defense, Chick was on the verge of a meltdown because he was overdue for a feeding. You can’t hear your baby crying with hunger and not want to rush in an fix it. That’s what the baby hormones pumping through your veins are for. Instead, I mostly bit my tongue and watched the baseball game on TV. It KILLED ME, and not just because I find baseball exceedingly boring.

There is this weird vibe with Mr. O’s folks. I don’t know how to explain it exactly. There is this sense that seeing Chick, holding him, is their right. Murre in particular never once asked how he could help when we were in the NICU. The question wasn’t “How can we help?” but “When can we visit?” What we needed wasn’t visitors in the hospital, which was the only time we had alone with Chick. What we needed was someone to pick up groceries, bring over dinner, or help putting together his nursery. Murre and Kittiwake only checked in to see when they could see Chick.

Interestingly, Mr. O’s mom has struck a better balance. Yes, she still wants to know when she can hold him, but she also helped straighten up the apartment and brought over pizza. Perhaps I underestimated her, but I never saw this coming and I’m grateful for the support she’s given us as a family.

All this rambling has made me realize that I’m still really mad at Murre for his whacked out temper tantrum over the baby shower. Mr. O has even made peace with it all. I have not.

In my most honest moments, I resent him immensely. Murre chose to isolate and alienate Mr. O and me when we needed him. Now that we have something he wants, he flips a switch and gets to be back in our lives.

My mom does not. Though not perfect herself, she wouldn’t have pulled a stunt like this. She couldn’t be here because she is gone. The “decision” to be a part of Chick’s life wasn’t hers to make.

Then I just get angrier. I realize this says more about me than it does about him.

I’m rational enough to know that there is no correlation between my mom being dead and Murre’s ridiculous behavior. Maybe if things had been different and my mom was still here, I would be able to brush it off as Murre just being crazy.

As is, I want to tell him to jump off a fucking bridge.

Homeward and Onward

First, thank you all for your comments and congratulations. Back when I started blogging about this infertility crap, I didn’t really think other people would genuinely care. (Color me jaded, I know.) I am honestly touched by how much support and encouragement you all show me.

Second, these past few weeks have mostly sucked which is why I haven’t been sharing too much. It isn’t for a lack of desire as I just love to share. It has been for a lack of time and mental capacity. Between trips to the NICU, weird tests (which all turned out fiiiiine), and pumping every 2 mother-fucking hours, I had little time to blog.

But the good news is… CHICK IS HOME! As you may recall, Chick’s only need for release from Neonatal prison was to learn to eat on his own. Just as I was about to freak out about this (okay, I did actually freak out all over one of the nurses. She was kindness incarnate)… Chick started chowing down in earnest. Three days later, Chick is officially home.

We are not even 24 hours in and he has already successfully puke, peed, and pooped on me. I think this says more about my own skills than his. What can I say, we’re both learning.

There are some other conditions on him going home. He has to be on an extra calorie diet, so I have to add this Enfamil crap to his bottles. This also means I have to keep pumping if I want him to be getting any of the benefits of my breast milk– lo, my boobs to not come with an Enfamil on/off switch. It also doesn’t help that my milk supply is spotty at best. (Which could be associated with my IF woes? Hormonal imbalance? Any thoughts?)

I had a moment in the car yesterday when it occurred to me that taking him home wouldn’t mean my days as a dairy cow were over. It was sorta like being smacked in the face with a mackerel.

So I write this post as my son sleeps in his crib, and I am hooked up to a breast pump. I go to his first pediatrician appointment on Wednesday and hope to speak to a lactation consultant who can help me sort this out.
I feel like there are more details I’m not sharing– like that time a doctor told me my child likely did not have a flesh eating baby disease– but I’m still in a post-baby/post-NICU haze. More postcards from the edge to come…

Nobody, Not Even the Rain

On July 1st, Chick arrived a fully 6 weeks earlier than he was scheduled. (Yes, it’s a he!)

I woke up at midnight feeling crabby. Crabby slowly but steadily turned into contractions until 2:30 when I could no longer deny I was in labor. As Mr. O and I drove to the hospital, I made peace with this early delivery. Like it or not, this was the labor I was getting. Being anxious about what happened next would do neither Chick or me any good.

Once at the hospital, the contractions were coming fast and furious. There was no resting between them– indeed, sometimes the peaks lasted longer than the valleys. Though I had wanted an unmedicated birth, Mr. O and I knew that wasn’t in the cards. At the rate things were going, I would have no energy to push. We opted for an epidural (which was inserted in the middle of one badass contraction– try keeping still for THAT.) At this point, I could rest a little and it made all the difference. Over the course of just 30 minutes, I dilated another 3 centimeters and was fully dilated about an hour after the epidural went in.

When it came time to push, I locked down and focused. Pardon if this is trite, but it was so much like running for me. In many races, I’ve hit a point where it just gets hard. All the preparation in the world can’t account for conditions– you have to keep yourself tuned into what’s going on, block out every doubt you have, and stay focused on that finish line. Less than an hour of pushing and Chick was born.

From start to finish, from crabbiness to actual baby, labor lasted 8 hours. We were nothing if not efficient.

When my doctor first showed me Chick, I couldn’t really believe it. Giving birth is sort of like being high (don’t ask how I know that…) I was totally aware of what was going on, but it all seemed other worldly. Because he was so early, they took him over to a warmer to check him over. I could hear him crying the whole time, which was absolutely magical. Babies at born at his age often have trouble breathing unassisted, and this clearly wasn’t his problem. His Apgar scores were fantastic. Once it was determined he was in no imminent danger, they brought him over to me, and I could hold him.

And there he was. This little person who has been with me since November, who has been there all along, was suddenly in the room with me. When I held him for the first time, I thought “Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.

This story isn’t without complications, the biggest one that he has been in the NICU since July 1. Though he is healthy in every way possible, he is still learning to eat on his own. At the moment, he is 50/50, 50/50: 50% of his feedings are bottle and 50% are tube, and 50% of his food is formula while 50% is breast milk. (I’m pumping which is miserable, and my milk supply is taking its sweet ass time coming in.) Once he can get nutrition without the tube, he is mine to take home for good.

In the meantime, Mr. O and I visit Chick twice a day.

Love for someone so small can feel so big. It undoes me every time I see him– in the best way I could have imagined.

(As I’m still running back and forth between home and the NICU, my updates might be few. I’ll do my best to keep you all posted.)