Tuesday, September 18, 2007


The Shrimp, 3 days old

The Shrimp has been breastfeeding shield-free for a few days now. Yippee! We'll find out on Thursday how much weight she's gained, but we know she was only 1 oz below birth weight at 1 week old. Her cheeks are starting to fill out, which is super cute, and Peter HAS been taking lots of pictures, so we'll put them up soon.

Friday, September 14, 2007

How We're Doing

Lest you all sit at home biting your fingernails with worry that things are not going well over here, I thought I'd let you know that things are going GREAT! They could be better, a little, but all in all it's great. My midwife gave me a nipple shield to use with The Shrimp, since she has such a tiny mouth, and now, even though we still use that for almost every feeding, and for the whole time, most of the time, she is at the breast for every feeding which makes me very happy. Now if I could consistently get her to stay awake while she's eating, we could transition off of this thing! (It's a miracle, by the way. I think it really would have helped with Little Chub.)

Aside from that, Shrimp's bilirubin level went down, so we don't have to take her back to the pediatrician anymore, and thank goodness for that because we think she already caught a cold there. She only had 5 heel pricks and 1 shot total in her first week of life. Welcome to the world Shrimpy! It actually got harder and harder to watch them prick her and squeeze blood drops from her heel. I would have thought it would have gotten easier, but by the last time, I was pretty much crawling in my skin. Shrimp has almost no jaundice left, and she's really cute.

Little Chub is doing great. She sometimes gets a little jealous of The Shrimp and tries to throw her off of my lap, so I try to make special time to read stories with her on my lap, because that's her favorite thing in the whole world. She is trying to learn how to be soft ("sof") and gentle ("jettow"). She is having a blast playing with her Aunt Chicki who is here visiting with us. She also has really big feet all of a sudden. They grew through 2 sizes in a matter of weeks, and now I have to go to the store and buy her more, when I just bought her two new pairs about 4 weeks ago. And one of them was actually not on clearance. Go figure. At least now The Shrimp will inherit a really nice barely worn pair of shoes in a year and a half or so.

Little Chub also is a little bit jealous of the fact that The Shrimp gets to nurse. I let her try every time she wants to (we even tried tandem nursing once), but she has no idea how to do it anymore. I wish she did. I feel sad that she was weaned so early. The big change in Little Chub's life is the hardest part for me in the transition to having two kids. Sometimes she's sad now and there's nothing I can do about it, and it makes me feel like I've abandoned her. But we're trying to get into a rhythm, and eventually, Little Chub will get used to having her little sister ("sissi").

As for me, I wouldn't mind if every postpartum period was just like this one, because I'm not sure if it's possible for it to be any better! I had to force myself to sit around for the first few days, on the command of my midwife. I feel great! The only physical complaint was those durned afterpains. And those are a distant memory for me now.

Hooray for having babies! I even had them both, all by myself while they both needed me...for about 30 minutes...

The real fun begins next Wednesday.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

My Birth Story...

Is two posts down.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Breastfeeding The Shrimp

Sorry Real, and everyone else, for the lack of a birth story so far. Hopefully this issue will be resolved and we can move on to more exciting things.

A few minutes after Shrimp was born, we got to nurse for the first time. It was great! She latched right on and has a powerful suck! I was so excited after the nightmarish first several weeks of my breastfeeding relationship with Little Chub. My midwife reminded us that in the first 24 hours or so, newborns are often more interested in sleeping than anything else, so it was okay if she didn't nurse quite as often as would be the norm after that. Still, she woke up every few hours (not quite as often as 2-3), and she latched on pretty well still. I noticed that there were a few minor things we would need to work on to alleviate some soreness for me, but aside from that, things were great. Day number 2 came around--Thursday. Shrimp's latch was the same as the day before, but I had to aggressively wake her up a lot of the time. Still, once she latched on, it was mostly perfect. Day 3--Friday. The Shrimp is nearly impossible to wake up. But, I still manage to do it, and she eats. My excitement about her nursing abilities compared to Little Chub's and the fact that she was tormented at the pediatrician's and very much needed to nurse after the visit kept me from really realizing that things were going downhill (already had, really). Incidentally, we went across the hall from the pediatrician to the lab where they stuck her heel and took a million drops of blood for the bilirubin test. Also incidentally, my milk was starting to come in that morning, and continued to do so all day, until Friday night, I was engorged. I hadn't realized with Little Chub when it was coming in, probably because of so many stinking sore areas I had, until I was engorged, so as the milk was fully coming in this time, I was optimistically (still! and I didn't really think I was an optimist...) thinking The Shrimp was eating enough to keep us from a repeat performance of engorgement. Unfortunately, The Shrimp was unable to latch on-to my engorgedness, so I had to pump some off the top. By the time I had one side ready for her, she had given up. She refused to try to latch on, and I was getting frustrated. We decided that with all that we learned last time, we might as well feed her what we had pumped, so we bottle fed her the pumped breastmilk. It was breastmilk, but I was not happy about it. She became much more alert after drinking 2 ounces of breastmilk, and even woke up twice in the night to eat (each time after about 3 hours). I had to pump some off the top each time, but after that, with some hard work, we managed to get a successful latch. Now we were thinking that if we could manage to un-engorge me that everything would be a-okay. Sadly, one breast will not un-engorge, with any amount of pumping. The other one is HUGE, but the engorged one in comparison is like Alaska compared to Rhode Island or something (yes, that's an exaggeration...). The Shrimp has been sleeping ALL day, so we've stuffed a bottle into her sleeping mouth to feed her (after trying in vain to breastfeed repeatedly). Then we got a call telling us that her bilirubin is high. They wanted us to go to the ER tomorrow to repeat the bilirubin test, and make sure she's okay. We get to go to a lab instead. We're trying to stuff her full of milk before then, and we're putting her by windows all the time.

So, here I sit, with edema that makes me look worse than when I was pregnant, and causes me to weigh only 3 pounds less than when The Shrimp was born, with a boob the size of Alaska (but as hard as the Grand Canyon), and with a baby who won't wake up (unless it's nighttime and I'm trying to have her NOT sleep on the bed), and therefore, cannot eat without a bottle. It's kind of depressing.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Shrimp's Birth Story

Tuesday, September 4th:

I was taking a nap while Little Chub took hers, and I noticed that I was having crampy feelings come and go, but not necessarily in a pattern. I took Little Chub outside to play after she woke up, and this continued. When Peter got home from work and joined us in the courtyard, I told him, "I wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be early labor. But then, I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't either..." He was surprised that I thought it could turn into the real thing though. The crampy feeling continued to come and go through dinner. After dinner, Peter left to go tutor, so I went for a walk around the apartments with Little Chub. After the walk, I sat down to read, and felt some undeniable contractions, but they were mild, like the ones I had felt every once in a while at night during the previous week and a half. Even though they were mild, I was pretty certain by the time Peter came home (around 8:15pm) that this would develop into true active labor eventually.

We started timing the contractions after we put Little Chub to bed, around 9pm. At this point they were anywhere from 6 to 11 minutes apart--not really predictable. I was reading (Slaughterhouse-Five) during the contractions, as they still weren't all that strong. Peter called our friends that would be watching Little Chub to let them know there was a possibility we'd be calling them in the middle of the night, and I went around the house collecting the bags I'd packed already and getting together everything else we wanted with us. We had dessert, and shortly after eating I felt my mysterious abdominal pain come on, around 10:30pm. At this point, I was freaking out (internally) because my worst fear of this labor was that this pain would happen at the same time, and I wasn't sure I could handle that. I decided to go up to bed to put myself into my weird position that alleviates a small fraction of the abdominal pain, to wait things out there, and see if I could eventually fall asleep. While the abdominal pain was happening, the contractions almost disappeared. I could still feel one every half hour or so, but barely.

Wednesday, September 5:

After a little over two hours, the abdominal pain was gone and I fell asleep for a few minutes to be woken up by a contraction slightly stronger than the strongest I had felt before the abdominal pain came. It was now about 1am. I was excited! Peter had come to bed earlier and we had both decided that as much as it stunk to have the abdominal pain, it would still be nice if labor were really happening, and we were hoping it would resume after the pain went away. I waited a few more minutes, through two more contractions that felt like they were getting a little bit stronger, then woke Peter up to tell him that it definitely seemed like labor was here for real, and asked him what time it was. We timed three more, and they were about 6-7 minutes apart, so we decided to get out of bed and time the contractions (charting them in Excel) and get ready to leave for the birth center, so we could make sure not to leave anything important behind. I was really tired, so I laid down on the floor with a couple of pillows, which was really comfortable, but it felt like I was keeping labor from progressing, so I got up and moved around, collecting even more last minute things to take to the birth center. The contractions started to become strong enough now that my preferred method of dealing with them was to lean against the couch or anything nearby until it was over, but I could still handle them in any position, and I was completely normal inbetween them.

Around 2:30am, we called our midwife and Peter explained to her where I was at in labor. She let us decide if we wanted to come in yet or not, and since the birth center was in San Francisco, about 45 minutes away, we decided to go sooner rather than later, to avoid driving during very strong contractions. So, we called our friends (Brittney and Chris), and dropped Little Chub off. She went back down to sleep like a champ! And we were on our way to have a baby!

The contractions in the car were quite painful, but breathing slowly and trying to relax as completely as possible really helped. Peter drove with one hand and held my hand with the other, and made sure I completely relaxed for each contraction. I also had our dumb cell phone jingle in my head, and my brain slowed down a small part of the melody and repeated it really slowly for each contraction. It was weird, but it really seemed to help. I also found myself chanting in my head, "Open up for the baby," over and over again, which also helped a lot.

When we got to the birth center, shortly after 4am, I'm not sure the midwife was convinced I was really in labor because I think she thought I was acting too normal, but she took a pee sample and checked the baby's heartbeat through three contractions. As soon as we arrived, the contractions spaced out a little bit. They had been about 4 1/2 minutes apart for the whole drive over. So, the midwife checked me to make sure things were really happening enough to call it labor, and we found out I was 5 centimeters and completely effaced. She said that we didn't know where I started from, but usually this point was what took the longest, and things were usually much quicker after 5 centimeters and full effacement. I was happy because with the contractions I was already having, I was hoping to be at least 5 centimeters along.

We walked over to our birth room, and at about the same time the contractions really started to get serious. The midwife told me to make sure to relax my shoulders while I was standing and leaning against things, and I didn't think I could relax any more than I was already in that position, so I laid down (on my right side) on a comfy little pad they had laid out on the floor for me in case I didn't feel like climbing onto the tall bed, with my head on Peter's lap. All along he had been rubbing my back or stroking my hair or doing anything he could to help me through contractions. It turned out that what I wanted the most was for him to not actively do anything, but just to make sure he had some physical contact with me during a contraction, like to rest his hand on the small of my back. The contractions on the floor were a turning point in the labor--I was no longer able to come fully back to reality and my normal self between contractions, and didn't move between them. I kept my eyes closed. Peter reminded me often to breathe and to relax. With each contraction, I relaxed, breathed, and closed my eyes, trying to feel with each contraction when the peak was and when it was tapering down, and really concentrating on the "shape" of the contractions. After each contraction, and sometimes during, I was shocked by how incredibly painful and intense they were. My mind knew that labor was strong and knew it would be painful, but somehow, as is true for most people, I was able to forget over a year and a half just how strong and intense contractions really are. In all honesty with myself, though, I think these contractions were stronger than the ones I had with Little Chub.

Shortly after lying down on the pad, I was already feeling pressure in my butt with each contraction, which was really surprising to me. After a few of those, I decided to get up and go to the bathroom. They were starting to fill the tub now too, and I was eager to get in there, which was a good sign that I needed it. I hadn't really felt like it when she had mentioned before that she didn't want to get it ready just yet to make sure not to slow the labor down. I had three or four close together contractions while I was sitting on the toilet, and another one leaning against the edge of the tub right after coming out of the bathroom. The midwife rubbed my back during this contraction, while Peter was changing into his swimsuit in the bathroom. Then they helped me into the tub, which, just like last time, felt like a bit of heaven to enter into. Ahhhhhhhh. How nice. But then another contraction came and I felt the same as before, except that I really really love water, and being in a warm tub, and a very slight edge was taken off of the contractions. For each contraction in the tub I was leaning against the edge of the tub with my back and butt in the air. At one point I commented that the shower water that was still filling the tub was going up my butt.

I changed angles a few times, and after a few contractions in the tub, I felt my body make a little push and I grunted involuntarily. At the same time, Peter could feel the baby move down, through my lower back where his hand was rested. That urge was a surprise, and I told the midwife so after Peter called her back into the room. She reminded me of the desire I had expressed to her not to push the baby out too fast and told me to breathe through the contractions instead of pushing. I asked her if she thought my body might be cueing me to push a little before it was ready, and she told me what that would feel like, with pain still pretty intense, like the way contractions were before pushing started. I felt like that was the case, and so made sure not to push yet. Once the pushing urge started, I started to groan as low as I could for each contraction, and often decided to just keep groaning inbetween them a little bit too because it felt kind of nice to groan! Before this, I had been silent for every contraction, not for any particular reason, but because that's what felt natural to me. I had a few more pushing but not pushing contractions, and before I knew it, I felt like the baby was near the end of the birth canal, and the midwife was instructing me on how I could help guide the baby out myself with my hands, which I feel was very intuitive of her because it really helped me a lot knowing where I was in that process and actually feeling the baby's head coming out. Finally, once I had this feeling of the baby being near the end of the birth canal, I started pushing with each contraction, but not too fast. I could feel her head coming most of the way out in the next contraction but then recede again, so in the next one, I pushed it most of the way out, and in the next one, out came her head and then the rest of the body, and I felt the whole thing! It was so amazingly cool to feel her coming out, both with my hands and in the birth canal. Peter was sitting on the edge of the tub while I leaned against him and talking to me excitedly about how we were so close to having a baby, and the midwife and I caught the baby and pulled her up to my stomach. Her cord was very short, so we couldn't pull her up any higher, not even to my chest, so we decided to clamp and cut the cord a little sooner than we otherwise would have so we could pull her up to my chest and blanket her. She was born at 6:03am, and the placenta was delivered five minutes later. The Shrimp entered the world after 5 hours of active labor, covered in a thick coat of vernix, 6 lbs 3 oz, 18 inches, and ready to eat!

The Shrimp

You've seen these already, but they need to be here, so here they are again!

Weight: 6lbs 3 oz

Length: 18in

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

This is how much I love you guys...

We're going to the birth center right now. Thought you might like to know!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bloody Show!

Yep, that's right. Not really surprising though... Now I can just go ahead and wait some more I guess.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

False Labor!

Argh! If I'm going to be waking up at night with contractions, couldn't it at least be the real thing?

Last night I woke up feeling like I had horrible cramps, but it just so happened to fade away after a minute or so. Then it happened again a few minutes later, and faded away. And happened again. And then I got a whole bunch of Braxton-Hicksy contractions one right after the other for a really long time. Then I went to sleep.

Those were the most frequent contractions I've ever had, including Little Chub's labor, but as I was lying in bed trying to sleep instead of pay attention to contractions that were obviously not at least active labor, I kept repeating in my head "longer, stronger, and closer together" and it just didn't fit. *sigh* Oh well. One good thing that came of it is that I realized that I should at least pack a bag for Little Chub with clothes and diapers to drop off with her at our friends if labor happens before my sister gets here. So that's done now, as well as the bag to bring to the birth center with us. And the video camera is charging. Now the only things left to do are to find a place for the 5,000 hangers sitting in our hallway that I took out of the girls' closet, and install Little Chub's convertible car seat in the rear facing position (she got a new Stage 2! oooooh!).

Wow. That's crazy. When did I get so on top of things?

Today is 38 weeks, by the way.