Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mom Jeans

No, I didn't buy "mom jeans."  But I did suck it up and buy new jeans that actually fit me.  The new me with mom hips and a tummy.  I was not one of the lucky ones whose weight melted off while breastfeeding.

So far I've been wearing my maternity jeans with a tank top to help keep them up or a variety of leggings.  I did not expect to lose the weight quickly and have not done anything specific to try to.  Breastfeeding...well, milk production...definitely requires a lot of fuel, so I've tried to not deprive myself.  Although, I am trying to cut down on sweets.

I haven't gotten back to a work out routine because I've been kind of waiting for Dylan to get home.  I don't want to start a new routine right before it will change.  But the longer I'm in the NICU and the longer I'm stuck at an extra 10 or so pounds and unable to fit in my jeans, the more frustrated I'm getting.  I have been taking my dog on walks and I try to take the stairs at the hospital (3 flights) and last night, I even played soccer!

That deserves it's own little aside:

I put out the word a few weeks ago that I'd be willing to sub for one of my friends' soccer teams.  Last night was the first game that fit my schedule, so I took it.  I strapped on my XL sports bra (used to be a medium) and went to play.  I was extremely nervous because soccer is not nice to the out of shape.  It was my first game in 9 months.

We got down early and the team was not very good (sorry A!) which took a lot of the pressure off, but I felt pretty comfortable and was playing fairly well even though my lungs were on fire.  Then I got fouled.  Hard.  His name was Maximilian I believe (not that it matters).  I can't really remember how it happened, but I was blind-sided, had my feet taken out from under me, and landed hard on my hip?  I got up and kept playing for a few minutes, but as I stood during half-time, I realized my ankle was getting more and more sore.  I put on my ankle brace, planning to keep playing, but the pain continued to increase and I reminded myself that this is my first game back, that this is not my team, and that I need to be able to walk to take care of Dylan.  So I left so I could ice my ankle and get some elevation.

I drove home with my left foot, an art I began perfecting with my first major sprain when I was 16 years old and have practiced through periodic sprains over the years.

It was extremely painful last night.  And walking was a bitch today, but it's not the worst sprain I've ever had.

Anyway.  The one soccer game did not magically melt my hips, so I decided to get some jeans that fit.

Macy's had Levi's 535 skinny jeans at a great price so I got 2 pairs, in size 11.  I used to be a 5.  Oh well.  I checked the jeans on my waist before trying them on so I didn't have the misfortune of not being able to get any on.  I highly recommend doing this first!

Hopefully I'll be able to get a more regular routine going after Dylan is home, but I'm content to get the weight off slowly...hopefully by summer.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Update: One day later

I just had to update real quick because although all the feelings and emotions of yesterday are still there and nothing major has changed, I have had such a GOOD day today!

Most of it has nothing to do with Dylan.  I've decided to let other people help me out a bit more with his feedings so I feel less pressure to be there all day, so right now, Dad is feeding him.  Hopefully it went well!  On Thursday, Grandma is going to feed him while I go get the massage that Mr. GG got me for Christmas.

So instead of going to the hospital tonight, as soon as I got home and finished pumping (around 4:30), I got things done.  Lots of things!

I cancelled our cleaning lady a few days ago because she wasn't very good, but I know how happy it makes Mr. GG when the house is clean, so I CLEANED! Not everything, but the kitchen and living room.  I also put away a ton of the stuff that has accumulated in the past month or so since emptying our office.  (We still have all of the office furniture in the family room.)

Then I did even more stuff.

I organized baby clothes.

I postponed my jury duty.

I paid my first hospital bill.  (I owe $20.  The total is $58,000.  And that is just physician fees.  Thank goodness for my excellent benefits!!!!!!!!!!  This probably deserves it's own post.)

I registered my car.  On time!

I put stamps on baby shower thank you notes.  (Now I need to add addresses.)

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I haven't been able to properly "nest" because of obvious reasons, but the nursery is shaping up and we're getting there.

It feels amazing to be productive.  I am not a very organized nor domestic person, but I feel so good when I'm able to act like one!

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And as far as Dylan goes, last night (10:00) and today were better.  I bought Dr. Brown's bottles to try with him and last night he took 40mls which made me very happy.  Today he took 10 and then 22 which is basically how the middle of the night went too.  We are also starting to thicken his feeds with rice cereal which I think will help him not to brady (when his heart rate drops).  It usually happens because of choking.

Here's a pick of Dylan rocking a mohawk :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Starting to Crack

Feeding is still not going well.  All of the other preemie babies I've met online are about to go home (not that that really matters, but it does increase the pressure).

Dylan is supposed to take 60mls every 3 hours or 78 every 4 hours.  His best is 48 and he's been in the 40s about 6 times.

But at his last feeding for me today, he took 4.  And that's pretty much how the last few days have been going.  I feel like we are moving backwards!  For the past couple of days, he has brady'd just about every time he's taken a sip of milk.  It's driving me nuts.  I can't help him. I can only keep doing what I'm doing.

We've tried a bunch of different things to help him: moving his feeds from 3 to 4 hours to increase his appetite, switching from Prilosec to Prevacid to control his reflux, changing feeding position, changing nipple flow.

Nothing will make me feel better except for him improving.  I feel like I'm starting to lose it.  Sure, he's come so far, but that doesn't really make me feel any better because we are stuck right now.  Stuck at the hospital.

Every day, I wake up and go to the hospital and my mood is determined by our feeding.  I stay pretty calm although at times I plead with him to eat, or make up songs to get him to eat.  But if it's really bad, I give up and just hold him which is much nicer than forcing a nipple into his mouth.

There's nothing to do about it.  Am I going to just stay in bed all day like I'd kind of like to do?  No.  Just keep going to the hospital and keep trying and just wait.  The constant tension in my shoulders is just here to stay.

I kind of feel like I want to cry, but haven't.  I just feel exhausted, irritable and kind of desperate.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Forty Weeks

Today is Dylan's due date. I've got just about the oldest 40-weeker around!

As the due date has approached and my day to day worry about Dylan's health has lessened, I've begun to process some of what I've been through.

I have flashbacks to the night I went to the hospital. I know now the hospital so well, but that night I was bleeding and crying and I had no idea where to go. L&D is on the 4th floor of the north side of the hospital. But I had never been there before. Luckily a pregnant lady bumped into me and led me to the right place.

Throughout this journey my circles keep getting smaller and smaller. First, I was excluded from all of the "normal" people who get pregnant when they want to. But it was okay because I found an amazing online community of infertiles and I belonged. Then, as many of these same women got pregnant, so did I, but with multiples. As my pregnancy became traumatic, I joined a smaller circle of women who have undergone reduction. But even many of them still get to experience normal birth. Now my circle consists of me and one other blogger who is in my exact same shoes.

I'm bitter. I'm human. I compare myself to others and I don't think it's fair that I haven't had one aspect of this experience happen the way it is supposed to.

And I want everyone to understand. When the next wave of pregnant bloggers hit 23 and 25 weeks, I wanted to say, "Can you imagine going to the hospital today or having your baby today?!" I don't want anyone else to experience what I have, I just want them to get it.

Dylan was born during the SECOND trimester! I don't even know when the third trimester starts because I was never there. I've heard that the best part of pregnancy is feeling your baby move and bonding with them in the womb. I was only feeling flutters by the time I was hospitalized and when I did feel movement there was always a bit of fear. I will never get to experience those feelings and sensations. I didn't get to have fun planning his nursery. After he was born I completely avoided it for over a month because I truly didn't know whether he would make it. My shower had a somber overtone...people cried.

And I want there to be a reason for all of make it have a purpose. The only thing I can come up with to make it feel more worthwhile is to try to help others. I know I've done that a bit through this blog. I got an email last week saying, "I was just reading about your NICU experience and now I'm here." And I'm glad to help. But even more I feel the need to connect with real people. I've tried to reach out in my hospital, but it's hard. I talked with the dad of a 27 weeker the other night and it was so nice to tell him that I had been here for 3 months and that we are okay. And that the first month is by far the hardest. I want to show Dylan to these people to show them where they will be.

A 25 weeker was born last week and it makes me almost choke up to walk past her room. With Dylan I was in the moment and just made it through, but looking at that other baby brings out all of the emotions I was holding at the time.

I will never get to experience what I missed out on and I'm sad and angry about it.

But today, I am happy. I honestly love my life - even while we are still in the NICU. Dylan looks into my eyes and I kiss his forehead and his chubby cheeks. (I can't get enough kisses these days.). I would totally change how all of this happened, but my baby is here and I love him so much it makes me cry a little to write it.

It will never be "ok" that this happened. I will always be upset about what I missed out on and why it had to be me to go through all of this.

But this guy makes it better.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Must Have Items for the NICU

I was inspired to write this post by a thread on HelloBee listing your top 5 items for a newborn.  Many things are the same for a preemie in the NICU, but there are a few unique items that warrant their own list.

1. Boppy Pillow
I know that people are divided on whether they like their Boppy, but in the NICU, it's awesome!  I started working on feeding with Dylan when he was about 3 pounds.  I would fold a pillow double under him to get him higher.  It worked, but wasn't very easy.  The Boppy rests on the arms of the rocker/glider at the perfect height to allow Dylan to breastfeed or bottle feed.  It soft for me and for him...great for after feeding naps!

2. A Lovey

We got this one from Pottery Barn for Christmas-time.  (Dylan has 3.)  In the beginning, when baby is in the isolette, it's very comforting to see something that's not hospital gear.  I'm sure he didn't even notice, but it made me happy!

Here is Dylan with his: (at 4 weeks old, 29 weeks adjusted)

3. Clothes that Snap

NICU babies have lots of cords attached to them, so zippers just won't work.  Also, while babies are on Oxygen, over the head clothing requires a nurse's help.  So sleepers with snaps are the best.  Cute, cuddly, and hospital friendly.

4. Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets

Hospital blankets are rough!  And not too pretty either.  I feel more like a normal mom when I'm holding Dylan with an A&A Swaddle Blanket.  They are so soft and cute!  The light, large fabric with a little bit of stretch is so much easier to swaddle with!

5. Soothies

I know people talk about nipple confusion with pacifiers, but in the NICU, these are physical therapy!  (And the hospital supplies them.)  Dylan has been given pacifiers long before he was allowed to try a bottle.  They help strengthen his suck reflex as well as calm him.  He gets a mixture of breast, bottle, and paci and does just fine.

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If you have a near-term baby or are going to be in the NICU awhile, your LO could use some developmental toys.

6. Mirror

I got this Fisher Price mirror yesterday at Target for $3.97!  It was a total clearance score.  Dylan's only had it for one day, but he loves it.  Babies love looking at faces.  As much time as I spend at the NICU, he's alone a lot too.  Most of the time he's sleeping, but if he's awake, I like that he has something fun to look at.  He also loves staring at a little stuffed monkey one of his nurses got him for Christmas. : )

7. Mobile

I haven't taken it in yet, but this is the mobile we got for Dylan.  Another thing for him to look at when he's awake.

8. Bathtub

Dylan gets baths a couple of times a week.  He used to fit in the little yellow hospital tub, but he's getting too big!  I keep forgetting to take his tub in, but when I do it will definitely make bath time more enjoyable!

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And here are a couple of preemie-specific items.

9. Bean Bag

These are all home-made bean bags.  I was lucky to have one that was made by a nurse.  They are essential to keeping a micro preemie comfortable.  The bean bag is placed over the baby's lower body to help keep them in a good position (legs together, tucked) and to add some weight to keep them more comfortable.  The womb is much cozier!

10. Preemie Baby Book

There are so many things that make preemie moms feel alienated from the "regular" moms.  Baby books are just one small thing.  This book was written by NICU nurses and includes space for things like daily weight updates, the day baby graduated to an open crib...there's even a spot to paste the "sunglasses" baby wore under bili lights to prevent jaundice!  It's really cool and I love having it.

These items, along with a few personalized touches around the room, have really helped make the NICU feel more like home.  If you have any further hints for NICU moms, post below!