Friday, September 30, 2011

I miss her, but ...

I had my three week postpartum visit with my midwife at the birth center this afternoon.  We had a big, fat talk - the appointment lasted two hours - and I was able to work through some of my thoughts and feelings on Bennett's birth.

I think I was focused on Bennett's birth being this amazing, healing moment because Charlotte's birth was so dang good.  But maybe hers was so good because that was our time, our moment, and the Lord knew we wouldn't be with each other after that.

After Bennett's birth has been such a healing time for me.  Well, the two weeks we've been home from the NICU.  I'm SO happy, there is joy in my soul, JOY friends! and I really didn't think that would come around again.  I thought Bennett would be born and life would still be hard and sad, but it's not.  It's fun and beautiful and I don't cry as often as I thought I would (maybe I'm high from the placenta capsules?).

I feel like I am exactly where I should be.  I felt so lost after Charlotte died and now I feel like I've found firm footing once more.  Of course I want Charlotte here as well as Bennett, but I now understand on some intrinsic level that was never meant to be.  I don't know why.  I'm not going to question.  I don't feel the need to question.  She is our heaven baby.  Period.  

And so not only a joyful soul, but peaceful too.

He will never replace her.  I think I need to be clear about that.  However, there is now a Bennett shaped patch over this torn apart heart and that patch has more healing qualities than I imagined.

I just love him so much.

And maybe in time I will be at peace with his birth.  For now I am happy with knowing my midwife found his birth healing.  I think I need to be kinder to myself.  A part of me believed I would work through his birth with determination and fierce focus because Charlotte's was so gentle, but the emotions crashed in, his position was difficult, a lot came up, I struggled ... I need to work on believing I did well all things considered.  Someday I want to find the pride in Bennett's birth.  

But this after, my goodness it's beautiful.  I feel like Charlotte is smiling down on us from the heavens, blessing us somehow so that I feel such love and appreciation.  We miss her - dearly, oh so dearly - but we are surrounded by her presence.  Her life ushered this life in, she is always connected, tethered to our hearts.

How wonderful it is that he looks so much like her.

My babies.  Beautiful.  Distinctive.  Loved.

Three Weeks!

Bennett has been sleeping so well at night!  Last night Grandma was here, which means I am feeling fabulous this morning.  We have a pack and play with a bassinet next to where Grandma sleeps when she stays over and last night I nursed, handed him over, Grandma held for about thirty minutes, and then into the bassinet Bennett went until he woke up to nurse again.  I admit, I missed having him in our room, but I slept so well and feel rested and ready for another week (Grandma comes every Thursday).

Bennett is three weeks today and in the three short weeks he has been here I have learned ...

* There is no shame in going to bed at 8:30 - or 7 - with Bennett.

* Laundry must be done every day.  No excuses.

* Other housework can wait.

* But the laundry really, really must be done.  We have come too close to nakedness in this house for my comfort considering the weather and Bennett's love of peeing everywhere but his diaper.

* Just when I think it's safe, usually at the end of the change, Bennett will pee, often more than once.

* To thank the Lord for each day we have with Bennett.

* To hope for thousands more.

* Bennett LOVES music.

* That food is on my mind constantly, but I often forget to sit down and eat.

* Breastfeeding is amazing.

* To appreciate friends and family for providing love and support as we adjust to new baby life.

* Newborns are noisy.  Goat noises, snores, sleep laughing, grunts - it's very surprising, but it's all normal.

* It is amazing how much gas a 7 lb body can produce.

* That a week can pass without me realizing it's happening.

* To love two babies.

* A relaxed mama makes for a relaxed baby.

* A lot of progress and growth happens in three weeks.  A LOT.

Just arrived 

2.5 weeks 

3 days old - nursing in the NICU.  

3 weeks - sleeping next to mama after nursing.  We've come so far!  I love that I can now whisper in B's ear, remember when nursing was hard and we thought we may never get it? 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Loves & Recommends: Gripe Water, Sakura Bloom Sling

After receiving a comment on my Out & About post regarding gripe water and the sling we are using I decided to start something new.  Every now and again I'll write a post about a product or two we are just loving.  In my (so far short) experience with Bennett I've learned that good, useful products matter and there is a whole lot of junk out there with baby slapped on it to help it sell. After posting I'll place all of these under the header - next to Rainbow Baby - so they can be found easily.

This one's for you, Rhiannon :)

Gripe Water 

We use Mommy's Bliss Gripe Water because it's what the nearby pharmacy had on hand.  Bennett has struggled with gas since we came home from the NICU. I blame the antibiotics for stripping his poor infant system of all things good. Before we received his probiotics from our midwife we began gripe water to ease his tummy issues.  For those with new babies be aware that gripe water cannot be used before two weeks.  I was SO relieved when we could finally use it I almost cried.  It soothed his tummy so quickly and made it much easier for him to sleep. 

You can choose to use gripe water every four hours day and night, but we've only used it at night.  We try other means of soothing his tummy during the day - walking, rocking, bicycling his legs gently - but at night the gripe water gives him enough relief that he (and mama and daddy) can sleep for three to four hours.

Bennett likes the taste, which makes it easy for us to give it to him.  I like that it's a natural herbal supplement for hiccups (it stops his hiccups fast, which is great because hiccups make him grumpy) and stomach upsets with no alcohol, chemicals or artificial flavors. 

Sakura Bloom Sling 

I bought this pure linen sling from Sakura Bloom near the end of my pregnancy with Bennett because I wanted something a little easier to master than the Sleepy Wrap (like the Moby).  Every time I look at the Sleepy Wrap sitting on the bookcase in the nursery I break out in a cold sweat.  This seemed a little more manageable for our first outings, although we will eventually master the Sleepy Wrap.  I am determined. 

I like this sling because it's so easy to use.  I adjusted it to my body the first time I wore it and now I only have to make minor adjustments when I put it on.  Bennett and I have used it twice - a trip to Target and a trip to the local book store - and we just love it.  Bennett fell asleep both times, happy to be snuggled in with mama, and no one touched him while we were out because he was nestled in so close. 

I love going to the store, pulling Bennett out of his car seat, popping him in the sling and going about my shopping.  No car seat to wrestle with, or haul around, it stays in the car (where I personally believe it belongs) and Bennett is close enough to kiss if I feel the urge (which I do, a lot).  

Sakura Bloom slings are not cheap, but I think they are well worth the price. They are well made, washable, durable, comfortable, soft.  Sometimes there are used ones floating around ebay and craigslist if you don't want to pay the full price.  

* I don't make money from this. These companies have no idea who I am *

October 15th: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

It is with regret that we have decided not to participate in our local walk to remember on October 15th.  Honestly, I don't have it in me right now.  Bennett will be just over one month at that point and it feels a little too overwhelming to tackle it.  I am struggling with my lack of focus regarding this important, necessary day, but I also need to give myself space to welcome Bennett and make room for him in our lives.

We invite friends and family to donate to A Butterfly's Touch in memory of Charlotte.  This is the organization we walked with and raised money for last year.  They provide memory boxes to local hospitals so that those who leave the hospital with empty arms have a few memories and mementos.  A memory box costs $40.00 to put together.

Thank you for loving us and our babies.

More information:   

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Out & About

Thank you for the support and comments on my last post.  When I was pregnant with Charlotte I felt a bit frantic about the friendship with fellow mamas component.  As in, I had none.  Now I have more mama friends than I can count on my fingers and toes combined and I just love it.  I think the support of women is vitally important for new mamas and as I make my way through this hazy postpartum time I am so grateful to have friends who check in via e-mail, friends whose comments here reassure and make me laugh, friends in the area who drop by, who bring food over, who offer advice and hugs and kindness, and friends who have also lost, who understand how overwhelming it is to have a baby in heaven and a baby in arms.  Maybe it's the hormones, but I just love you all so much today.

In other news: the B man had a fabulous night last night!  We only needed the magic gripe water once, he fed well and slept well.  I took the advice of a nearby mama (as in two doors down) and when he woke up for his 6:45 am feed, I didn't get up.  I ignored my book, my phone, the laptop, my slightly hungry tummy, and went back to sleep until 9:15.  It was so wonderful to get that little bit extra sleep in.  Usually I can't sleep past 7 am, but I moved Bennett from the co-sleeper into bed with me and we both slept like kittens. When I woke up to his face right next to mine, his hand on my cheek the words of my pediatrician came to mind: "He sleeps on his own surface, right?  Um, yes, most of the time.

And then we tried the whole side lying nursing thing, but I think that project will have to wait for another time.  Bennett and I need to do some YouTube studying before we attempt that one again.

After our wonderful sleep we were feeling good so I decided a trip to Target was in order.  Our first trip out all by ourselves to a big, big store - eeek!  I dressed him in a really cute outfit, even though it was too big,

popped him in the sling for a while to make sure we had it down,

and then we were off.  

Wait.  Before we were off I decided to let him eat a bit.  I knew it would be more of a snack than anything since it had only been an hour and a half since his last feed, but I wanted him in tip top shape for our big adventure.  I was feeling so confident about my nursing skills I decided to nurse him really quick in the dining room with nary a burp cloth in sight.  He nursed for a second, decided he really was too full to continue and unlatched himself.  Well, goodness me, milk EVERYWHERE.  It shot across the dining room - seriously didn't know I had this skill - drenched B's face, hit the wall, hit two of the dining room chairs.  And I just stood there staring, amazed at the carnage, nothing at hand to stop it with.  I eventually stopped marveling, grabbed a blanket, wiped his face, wiped the chairs and wall, and put myself back together.

The trip actual went really well.  Bennett nestled down in the sling and was asleep within minutes.  I was worried he would fuss, and for a moment I thought I was without pacifier, which left me feeling panicky and sweaty, but he only fussed when removed from the sling and we didn't need the pacifier, not even for one second.

Mama! Put me back in the sling, please!

I bought everything on my list and then wandered for a little while.  It was nice to be out of the house, see other humans, walk around a bit.  I am feeling really good physically right now.  I imagine it's the blood builders, plus the iron, plus the placenta capsules I'm taking.  My back is bothering me, but even with walking around and carrying Bennett today it's not hurting too bad.

The sling is wonderful.  People come close and peer at Bennett, or smile and weave past to get a close look, but no one touches him.  I was so worried about going out in public and having everyone place their hands on his sweet face, but it appears having him close to me keeps people at a respectable distance.  I'm still a little nervous about the sling and my sling wearing skills, but it's much easier for me than hauling his car seat in and out of places.  That thing is heavy!  And with all of the news reports about babies falling and dying after being placed in the top portion of carts in their car seats I would rather avoid the car seat and store combo entirely.

I feel like Bennett and I conquered the world in one short morning.  This newborn baby gig is tough, but I really, really, really love it.   

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sink or Swim

My mom went home Friday evening and J works all week so Bennett and I tried to manage without assistance last night. (What do my fellow mamas do about this?  If you are a stay at home mama do you try to do most of the baby care at night?  J is happy to help and during the day he helps a lot, but I feel like it's more important for him to sleep because I can sleep during the day.  Except I don't ... more on that later.)  While we didn't sink, we didn't swim very elegantly either.  Bennett did better than mama, no fussing, he just didn't want to sleep.

I had a meltdown, which woke J up, around midnight.  It was my first cry since we came home from the hospital and I'm not convinced it really was about Bennett not sleeping; I think maybe I just needed to cry.  My back has been bothering me on and off since I was in labor (it's the exact same place that hurt during my labor, so odd) and lately it's been more on than off, and my hip is starting to hurt too.  My chiropractor said four weeks postpartum is the ideal time to adjust things, but I may not make it two more weeks.  My emotions are all over the place too.  I get so frustrated and annoyed with J.  He is remarkably patient with me even when I snap at him constantly.  (Is this nature's way of ensuring I don't conceive again anytime soon?)

So I cried about failing as a mother and I fed Bennett every two hours (which is unusual for him, he is a three hour baby typically) and I rocked and cried and put him down in his co-sleeper between feeds where he sucked on his pacifier and made his goat noises and stayed wide awake.  But that's fine, right?  Why do I have a hard time putting him down and letting him be awake on his own?  I feel like if he's awake I should be staring into his big blue eyes and rocking him, but it's not like it hurts him to hang out in his co-sleeper with me sleeping next to him.  And if he cries I pick him up right away.  That whole cry it out method works for some, but it's not for me.

We had nursing issues last night too.  Bennett prefers to feed on the left, because the amount of milk on the right side overwhelms him.  At his 5:00 feeding I could not get him to latch on the right so I gave up and let him latch on the left which only made the next feeding more difficult.  I think our frustrations from the 8:30 feeding carried on into the night and made calming Bennett down and just being with him harder for me.

Sweet moments erase the frustrating ones

During my midnight meltdown J calmly pointed out that Bennett had two good sleeps before bed and so was having two longer awake times.  "That's his pattern," J pointed out.  Pattern or not I was having a hard time with it.  At some point, and I really can't tell you when, we did sleep.  Overall I got somewhere around six hours of sleep, which isn't too shabby.

Around 5 am Bennett spit up in his co-sleeper.  I considered changing him and the sheet, but he was sleeping so well I wiped him with a blanket, moved him to a dry place in the co-sleeper and went back to sleep.  He slept until almost 8 so I've decided not to feel guilty about how stinky he was when I picked him up to nurse this morning.

This is my first day alone with Bennett and I think doubting my abilities last night ties into anxiety about doing this solo.  If I could sleep I would probably feel better, but I've never been one to nap and I often feel worse after a nap.  I can go on six hours of sleep without issue until about 5:00 or 6:00, which leaves me feeling as if I don't need a nap.

We'll see how our first solo day goes.  It's 9 am - so far Bennett has peed on his changing table and self and peed through the outfit I put on after his quick wipe down.  I've started laundry, had breakfast, and am now typing this while Bennett contemplates sleep in my arms.  I feel like a cookie is in order because I think a job well done deserves treats and so far we're doing okay.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Birth after loss

Initially I was sad B wasn't a girl.  I knew - down, down deep - that the smattering of cells would become a boy, but when the words were spoken, officially stated, my breath caught.  A boy, I thought, a boy.  Whatever will I do with a boy when I really want a girl to replace the lost one?

But now I look at him and he resembles her so much sometimes it is like she is here.  He is the face of heaven, a small window into what might have been, and I am so glad I can look down and see that he is wearing a white onesie with brown elephants because that proves that he is his own, a boy, not her, though the resemblance sends me off balance.  If the outfit were white and pink I am afraid I would be constantly looking back instead of occasionally glancing over my shoulder to remember, to miss.

I miss C, I do, but I think I am saving my missing her for later because I am so focused on mourning B's birth.  With her I had a wonderful birth experience, with him I just want to put it behind me.  I look at him, try to remember his birth, and can't.  I don't want to understand the dazed post birth look I saw on so many women in hospital, but I do.  I carried it with me while there, and though it no longer casts a shadow over my face my heart wears it still.

I've lost my connection to birth, it is now - and maybe this is temporary? - a means to an end whereas before it was a beautiful moment between mama and baby.  With C all I had was her birth so perhaps I made it more than it was? But I don't think so, it really was an amazing experience.

B's birth was hard work, hard emotional work, not just physical, and I couldn't focus, bring myself to a place of calm, accept the pain, and therefore the pain was much worse (though I will admit that while I have long labors it's transition through pushing that really hurt for me, the earlier bits I can work through).  And his insistence on being born with his hands by his face made the entire process much more difficult.

The hospital setting was different, but still good.  Effort was put into making it feel safe. The back labor was intense.  I labored for hours in the shower with a camping lantern my midwives brought in for light, my midwife on a stool on the other side of the curtain.  (Dr. K asked if the hospital provided the camping lantern.  He seemed amused by it, but proclaimed it a great idea.)

I wanted B's birth to be a magical, healing experience, but it wasn't.  It was hard, discouraging, long, and at the end I was so scared I screamed, said I didn't want to do it, that last time I had experienced that kind of pain my baby had died.  I felt frantic, I wanted to get away from the situation, I couldn't center myself and get on top of the contractions.

I remember my midwife telling me to get out of that head space, to abandon the fear, but I couldn't.  I wanted to ask how, but all I could do was scream with each contraction, my heart rate so high Dr. K had to place an internal monitor so they could track B's.

I can tell you what happened when and around what time with C's labor. With B's I have no concept of time.  I think transition and pushing were relatively short, my midwife has confirmed it was only a couple hours, but there is no clarity, the memories are blurred from adrenaline and stress.

I lost my confidence while birthing B.  I don't know why I insisted on birthing naturally.  Honestly, I wonder if it was worth it.  I stressed myself out, I stressed B out - my midwife speculated (and my naturopath agrees) that B may have been slow to feed and lethargic because he needed time to recover from the birth.  I think she may be right.  I don't blame myself for B's stay in the NICU, and I know my midwife would never want me to feel that way, but I can see how my worry and fear at the end of the labor may have exhausted him.

It's backwards: C dies, I fall in love with birth, with birth outside hospital, with feeling and experiencing labor because it's beautiful, the connection between baby and mama beyond words.  B lives, I fall out of love with birth, I want to block his birth from my mind entirely, I don't feel compelled to do it again, there is no empowerment or pride.

I've lost my way a bit and it's disconcerting.  I haven't read the usual birth blogs since B was born, I can't read joyful birth stories, I don't care who births where or how.  I understand now how a lot of women feel about birth - it's something you have to endure to have the sweet baby, but there's no reason to feel all of that pain.  But there is no emotional epidural, is there?  Even if I had received pain medication the trauma would have been present, much as I want to I can't shed it.

So where does this leave me?  Confused, certain I'll never birth again - it's simply too traumatic - wondering if I'll find my way back to trusting birth ...

Although -

there is a part of me that is sure I've done right by my babies, even if the after this time around doesn't feel as good as I thought it would.

I am one confused chicken.  Perhaps it's too soon to write about this, perhaps more processing needs to happen, perhaps more time needs to pass.  Though I feel a bit of hesitation - sure didn't expect all of this to come out tonight, really I should be sleeping - I'm going to share, because sharing often leads to discovering I'm not alone.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Two Weeks!

Before I embark on a 'my baby is two weeks!!' picture binge I want to say this:

I know it may be hard for some to read this blog since it focuses so much on Bennett now.  For a long time I thought this was a loss blog, but as time has gone by I've realized it's simply my story, my life in words as it were.

Having Bennett has been so healing for me.  I had no idea I would feel this happy after his birth.  I thought I would have sad moments every day and a lot more tears.  Perhaps I have lived my great sorrow and now it is time for joy and life (Ecclesiastes 3 v 1-8).

I hope those who read here who have suffered loss will find peace and joy.  I still have hard days, yes, but I smile and laugh far more often too. And I don't think happiness has to stem from a subsequent baby; I believe everyone has the potential to grow and learn from loss and come out of the intense time of grief with renewed hope and purpose.

May you find your blessing, however it comes to you.


We had a big day.  We are crashed out on the couch listening to 'Baby Mine' on repeat and enjoying our comfort objects (pacifier and blog).  Bennett absolutely loves this song (the Alison Krauss version).  I listened to it all the time while pregnant with him and some afternoons it's the only thing that gets us through his 3:00 pm witching hour.

This morning Grandma cleaned the house for our photo shoot tomorrow morning (more on this later, we are so excited and thankful to have been offered a complimentary shoot from a midwife sharer and blog reader!) and then we headed out to the birth center to pick up my placenta pills and Bennett's probiotics.

We chatted with the midwives for a while - Bennett received lots of love and kisses. My mom snapped this picture while we were chatting. Looking at it brings tears to my eyes. This circle of love and kindness has helped us through so much. 

We weighed Bennett even though we were headed to the pediatrician's after visiting the birth center.

And we took some pictures outside by his sister's rose.

The pediatrician is pleased with Bennett's progress.  We don't have to go back until his two month appointment!  He is 6 lbs 12.5 oz (close enough to birth weight - 6 lbs 13 oz - to count as being back to birth weight) and 20 inches!  He was 18 3/4 inches at birth so he is definitely growing and doing well with mama's milk.

We've had a few exciting moments the past few days - first major spit up, first time pooping so much it leaked out of the diaper, up his back, down his legs, and onto me, lifting his head up during tummy time, going from his back to his side - he is going to roll over sooner than I want him to and it will stress me out.

We went on our first walk this evening.  J posed with us for the picture, but he didn't go with because he is still working on the patio.

A few more pictures because I just can't resist and then I'll wrap this post up.  If you are friends with me on the book you've probably already seen these pictures.

Preemie sizes are too small, newborn sizes are too big. What do we do with this in between baby?

These are the biggest newborn pants ever created!

It's shocking, we can almost fit another Bennett in this one.


Bennett sneezing, J imitating 

It's so hard to keep the pacifier in my mouth, but I'm trying.

Two weeks of sweetness and love.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Think We've Got This: Babywearing & Breast Feeding

I'm feeling a bit smug this afternoon.  Bennett slept great last night.  Usually I feed him, take him up to my mom, let her sit up with him until he falls back to sleep (this takes anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour and a half) and then she brings him down to his co-sleeper where he sleeps until it's time to feed again (what will we do when Grandma leaves at the end of the week?!). Last night he hung out with Grandma before his 11:00 feed, but after that he went down in his co-sleeper AWAKE and laid there without fussing until he fell back asleep.

This morning school was in session for Bennett and me.  We are going to have to leave the house some day so we worked on feeding with our cover and using our Sakura Bloom sling.

But first - I squeezed my twelve day postpartum self into a pair of non-maternity jeans! I can't button them, which is where the belly band comes in handy, but it feels so nice to have more than two pairs of pants to choose from when I get dressed.  I sent my mom out for gripe water and a new battery for the scale this morning (seriously, what will we do when she is gone?) because Bennett is the gassiest baby to grace this planet (my theory: the antibiotics he was on in the NICU did a number on his tummy) and I've been wanting to weigh myself for a while.

I've lost 20 lbs. since delivery, which means I only have 10 to go to hit my pre-pregnancy weight.  Another 3 and I'll be at my weight before I conceived Charlotte.  I know weight loss is low on the priority list right now, but it feels good to be down 20 lbs. already.  And did I mention how good it feels to be back in my trusty, lovely, beautiful Gap jeans?

Anyway, the sling: figuring it out required a bit of YouTube video watching, but Grandma and I eventually mastered it.  Grandma wore Bennett around the house while she unloaded the dishwasher and vacuumed and proclaimed it very useful.  I snuggled him in it for a little while before blow drying my hair (that's why it looks so interesting in the photos) and loved having him tucked in so close.

What do you think babywearing aficionados?  We look pretty good, right?

Hanging with Grandma 

Since that wasn't enough learning for one morning I decided to try feeding Bennett without using the Boppy pillow.  I figured that would be a good start to learning how to breast feed him in public.  There is no way I am going to pull out my breast and feed him without a cover, I'm simply too modest for that, so I figured we would try without the Boppy and then figure out the cover.  But things went so well without the Boppy I tossed the cover over us and fed him like I've been doing it for years.

I am so proud of us for getting off the bottles.  No more pumping, no schedules, no logging feed times (though we do log diapers) we're just letting Bennett boy do his thing and it's working well for everyone.

Like I said, feeling a bit smug this afternoon.  Here's two adorable pictures of Bennett to cap things off.  He was tuckered out from nursing:


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Picture Update

Tired out after eating. We are doing really well with breast feeding. Bennett has been bottle free four days now!

I was so determined he would not have a pacifier, but when I saw how much he loved it in the NICU I caved. He doesn't want it all the time, or even ask for it, but when we give it to him he becomes Mr. Content.  

Bennett spends a few minutes in his swing in front of the window at least once a day. He likes looking at the bears on his mobile, listening to the music, swinging and looking outside. Hopefully the exposure to sunlight will help clear up the last of his jaundice.

So happy to be swinging in the sunshine. 

Grandma helped me get this picture of his sweet feet. Poor dear still has lots of heel prick marks from the NICU. 

With our Charlotte bear

Isabel is slowly adjusting to the new addition. She licked his head when I was nursing him last night, which is a good sign that she is welcoming him to the pack. 

I am determined that he will like to read.

It's never too early to start.

I know this stage of blissfulness won't last forever so I am enjoying every moment.  I love learning about Bennett - he likes music, he likes his pacifier, he gets the hiccups at least once a day, he is one gassy baby, he has at least one long awake time during the day (three to four hours), he won't go down in his co-sleeper unless he is nearly comatose because he would much rather sleep in someone's arms, he is not a fussy baby (so far).  We haven't had any nights of walking the house, he only cries when hungry or having his diaper changed.  Although, the past few changes he's been completely calm and patient with the process.  Next week I may be feeling a little less blissful since Grandma will be back to her once or twice weekly visits as opposed to living in and I'll be getting less sleep, but for now, life is fabulous. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

C & B: Love & Seasons

My mom is here for a few days, which means I get lots of sleep and don't have to do a thing around the house.  She took Bennett after his 11:00 feeding when he wouldn't go back to sleep right away. He started to stir at 1:45 so I got up to feed him, but he has decided to sleep a bit longer.  So, why not cuddle and blog on the couch until he fully wakes up?

When we were in the hospital Charlotte came up constantly.  Every shift change, every NICU nurse, every neonatologist wanted to know, or asked what happened, and sometimes I threw the dead baby card down simply because I wanted a nurse to be nicer to me, to understand why we were in a hospital an hour from where we live.  I said over and over, his sister died, we're here because his sister died, his sister's cause of death is unknown, she lived less than two hours, we're being overly cautious because his sister died ... and it was wearing.  His birth involved her death in a way I wasn't prepared for.

We had to have parenting classes before we could leave the NICU.  We watched these super cheesy videos about baby care, SIDS and CPR.  After the CPR video our favorite nurse came in and went through the steps with us on a dummy baby.  Part way through she stopped and said, "I know you saw some of this with Charlotte.  I know this is hard, I just want you to know I am thinking of her."  Then I cried because I had been thinking of her, fingers clenched, just trying to get through so we could check the classes off our to do list.

One afternoon we went down to the cafeteria for lunch.  We had been eating lunch just outside the NICU ward because it meant we were closer to Bennett, but J convinced me to sit downstairs, look out the large picture windows, see the world.  As I hunched over my food, so tired I could barely keep my eyes open, I noticed a leaf spiraling to the ground.  I stared at it in disbelief, amazed that the seasons were changing, that summer was turning to fall while I hovered over my baby and begged him to eat.  I've never been so aware of time moving forward, of life going on, of the world continuing even though I felt at rest, suspended, waiting for something intangible to change so we could go home.

And now that we are home, another seasonal shift has occurred.  For so long it was the season of grief, of missing Charlotte, of remembering her fiercely. Then it was the season of balance, of trying to learn how to love two babies, to hope for Bennett and mourn for Charlotte in one breath left me feeling as if I was constantly drowning.  With Bennett's birth the season switched again, to one of joy, hope, amazement and thankfulness.  Except, honestly, the change didn't happen at birth.  I expected it to, I wanted an incredible birthing experience, but in this instance the amazing came after birth, after hospital discharge, after nights of sobbing in the NICU.

I thought I would be a mess when we brought Bennett home, but instead I am happy, calm, full of love and hope for this little life sleeping next to me.  I believe the Lord filled my heart with peace so I could enjoy every moment with him.  I put him down to sleep without worrying about his breathing, I don't stand over his crib, I don't place my hand on his chest.  I believe he's ours to keep.  For some reason I'll never know Charlotte wasn't ours to keep, but the season of missing her so acutely I can't breathe has passed into a season of gentleness where I can appreciate everything her short life gave me.  My heart aches for her, but I can look to my right and see her spirit shining from her brother's eyes.  I didn't know a heart could seize and fill with joy at the exact same moment, but when I see her in him somehow it does.

My midwife sent me a picture of my placenta this evening.  I would share it, but somehow that seems too odd even for me - though it is on facebook!  It's heart shaped, which I think is so absolutely perfect and beautiful, because love for a little girl brought me the boy cooing in his sleep next to me.

Okay, I have to share it, it's just too fabulous not to.  If you would rather not see it stop reading now:

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Now that Bennett and I have cottoned on to this nursing thing I need advice from those who have gone before.

How do I feed Bennett without showering both of us in breast milk?  We both require a change after nearly every feed, surely this is not normal?

I soak through breast pads and tank tops constantly.  If he's feeding on the right I often let down on the left - or vice versa -  and it's so much milk I soak myself, him, the Boppy pillow (LOVE this, it's making breast feeding so easy for us), the couch, the rocker, anyone and anything nearby.  J's suggestion was to try two breast pads so that's what we have going on this evening.  Perhaps it will help?  

I think we will do a little better once we manage to coordinate the whole let down/it's time to feed/latch now, baby! thing, but we seem to be far from that stage at the moment.  

I have found that laying a burp cloth on my stomach that Bennett can rest against helps soak up a lot of the free flowing milk.  A friend sent us these amazing, thick burp cloths which work perfectly for this purpose (thank you - I'll send a note soon!) but we soak through one every other feed or so.

How am I ever going to breast feed in public?  I need a change of clothes, Bennett needs his face wiped off during, as well as after, the feed, he often needs a change of clothes too.  This morning we had a less than stellar latching moment and Bennett came away with milk dripping off his nose and chin.  He was none too pleased by this.

Any and all magic mama advice appreciated.  I want to be able to breast feed without leaving the room, but for me to do that and be comfortable I need to be able to manage my cover as well as Bennett and right now that's just not possible.  This completely natural thing is rather awkward at first, hmm?


We had an amazing night!  Bennett has been breast feeding exclusively since his 8:00 pm feeding and he loves it.  The two of us figured out a great routine and I am so well rested this morning I feel like a new person.  I know tomorrow he may decide this routine no longer works for him, but I really hope it does because we were able to sleep a lot.

Bennett would wake up and ask to eat every two to three hours.  I didn't have to wake him once!  I would lift him from his co-sleeper (loving this by the way), take him to the nursery, remove his Halo Sleepsack (we love this too) to let him wake up a bit, nurse, change his diaper, put his sleep sack back on, rock him to sleep.  And then I would walk back to our room, set him in his co-sleeper and we slept until he woke again.

What made the difference?  I have no idea.  My midwife came over to check in on us last night (getting used to home visits - I don't even have to change out of my pajamas).  I haven't seen her since the birth because of various interfering circumstances and it was great to talk to her and have her look over Bennett and me.

I think his time with the pediatrician this morning will be less relaxing than this check-up

Bennett seemed to recognize her voice when she talked to him.  I think they have a special connection.

Midwife love

We visited for a long time, ate dinner together, and when she left I decided to run with the confidence she gave me and try Bennett on the breast only at his 8:00 feeding.  I thought we would need a bottle sometime during the night, but Bennett is completely happy with the situation.

My midwife asked me how I felt about the birth and all I could get out was a strange noise.  I know some are waiting for Bennett's birth story, but it will be a long time coming, if it ever comes at all.  I don't feel great about how it went, how I coped, and even though my midwife said I did great I feel like I barely made it through.  It wasn't what I hoped for.

Of course I'm grateful Bennett is here and healthy.  And I'm happy with Dr. K for letting me spend most of my labor in the dark shower with my midwife sitting outside the curtain.  I'm just disappointed with how difficult it was for me to move forward, sustain contractions, focus.  Laboring is hard, laboring with post traumatic stress riding along is unimaginably difficult.  The entire process was frustrating, especially because I was told at one point I had gone from 8 to 6 cm.  Well, so much for not talking about it!  But really, I won't elaborate more.  I need time to process it, I think.

Anyway, more on Bennett boy: When our midwife checked his weight yesterday he had gained 2-3 oz!

Weight check. Bennett is hanging out in there, you just can't see him

I am so proud of him and happy we are moving in the right direction.  We see the pediatrician this morning and I am certain she will confirm Bennett is doing well and growing.

Bennett had a few visitors yesterday.  He was wearing a very cute outfit, but managed to pee all over it and himself - even hit his own eye poor dear - before some of his aunts and uncles showed up.

While we were eating lunch he impressed all of us with a laugh, lots of little noises and a few smiles.  He is a little chatterbox, I love the noises he makes.  It feels so good to be home, to have our own space, and to feel like we're really doing well with breast feeding and adjusting to life together. 

Hanging with mama while she blogs


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