Saturday, March 30, 2013

All I ever wanted

You guys. I have something important to tell you. Baby Brother is now 8 months old. And I am still nursing him.

To be clear, when I say that I am still nursing him, I mean that I am feeding him actual breastmilk directly from my actual body, with no intervening technology.

I KNOW!!!!!!

When BB was born, as I wrote here, I was very clear that I wanted to do what I could to breastfeed but that I wouldn't go to any crazy lengths. And I was lucky in that he was one of those newborns I previously thought existed only in myth, who, when held on my naked chest, would literally worm his way down to a nipple and latch on hiimself. Hell, he even tried doing it to my (fully clothed) husband.

That's not to say it was easy. I remember about two weeks in I was weeping with exhaustion and frustration and probably pain, too, and saying to my husband that I was so tempted to just quit. And he looked at me and said, "This is all you ever wanted."

OK. Not ALL I ever wanted, certainly--I want lots of things--but breastfeeding my baby was high up on the list. So I stuck with it, and told myself I just had to get to three weeks and then I would let myself quit. Then four weeks. Then six weeks. Then I figured I'd breastfeed until I went back to work, at 14 weeks. Then it was going so well (minus a hiccup when he went a whole day refusing to nurse from the left breast--what the hell???) that I thought I could surely make it to 18 weeks, which is how old Bat Girl was when she had her last drops of breastmilk--because after all, shouldn't the baby who nursed get at least as much breastmilk as the baby who refused?

And here I am. When I started it was a wild fantasy to think I could still be nursing at 6 months, and now I'm seriously considering hanging on until a year. A YEAR!

BB still gets lots of formula, of course. Based on the occasional pumping I've done at home and the pumping I do at work, I probably peaked at around 12 ounces a day, same as the maximum I ever made for BG--but this time with just a baby and some fenugreek (which I stopped taking months ago), no domperidone or insane pumping. He is a huge eater so he actually gets more formula than BG did at the same age.

But he loves nursing. And I surprised myself by how much I love it too. I loved the lazy mornings crashed out on the couch when he was a couple months old, dozing and nursing on and off for hours, his soft small weight curled around me like a comma. I still love the cozy late nights and early mornings snuggled together. I love how his eyes roll back in his head as he latches on, and how he pops off to look up and me and smile.

I said right from the beginning that I didn't care how much or how little breast milk he got, as long as he got it directly from the boob. Maintaining a breastfeeding relationship was more important to me than maximizing breastmilk intake. I'm glad I defined that right from the start (and would highly recommend that anyone embarking on breastfeeding knowing she might have difficulties look into her heart and think about which, if she had to, she would choose). It helped make the decisions clearer every step of the way.

And indeed, although I do pump twice a day at work, when I am home BB gets 100% of his breastmilk directly from me. For a while I was pumping right before bed to help keep my supply up, as well as for my own comfort because BB was sleeping from 8 pm to 5 am most nights. But then the 4-month sleep regression hit and he was waking up a lot, and I got out of the habit of pumping, and now the fancy hospital-grade pump I've been renting since August has been sitting unused for two months and I really should return it and stop paying the $60/month. (My old Pump In Style died a sudden, whimpering death when BB was a couple weeks old and I was too superstitious not to have a pump in the house, so I ran out and got the rental--a Medela Symphony which is AWESOME AND THE BEST PUMP EVER. I was really glad to have it when BB ended up in the hospital for a week with viral meningitis at 3 weeks old--OMG I really have not updated here in forever--and I needed to pump to keep up my supply when I ran home to shower and spend a few hours with BG every day.)


Really, from the perspective of this blog and its raison d'etre, I do have everything I ever wanted. Two beautiful, healthy children. A successful breastfeeding relationship. (Outside my reproductive life, my marriage is actually better than ever and my job...well, okay, my job isn't so great but you can't have it all, right?)

So I've decided it's time to make official what my lack of posting had rendered basically all but said and done. That is, I think this blog's time has come.

I will leave the whole blog up as long as the Google empire allows me the free server space, because I want to leave a trail of breadcrumbs (as Moxie puts it) for those who come after, my sisters of the fucked-up uteri, my fellow PCOSers, my kindred spirits in the world of IF and breastfeeding woes. But I don't think I will be posting here anymore.

I have gotten so much out of this space over the last 7.5 years--a place to vent and cry, the love and support of a community that has followed me into the IRL world--and I only hope that I have given back, in some small way.

If you're reading this and you're at the beginning of your journey, I hope my story gives you some hope. And remember, you're not alone. You're never alone.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Baby Brother is HERE!

Baby brother arrived on Tuesday, some time between 11 am and noon (we didn't really pay attention; I guess I'll find out the exact time when I get his birth certificate), weighing a whopping 7 lb 12 oz. He is healthy and gorgeous and delicious. My OB pulled out one leg first and the first thing she commented on was the chunkiness of his thighs. He also has very delectable cheeks.

My recovery from this c-section has been incredibly easier than the last time. I think it's because (1) I didn't have ANY systemic narcotics--no PCA pump (at my current hospital they don't do that anymore for cesareans--there's a long-acting narcotic in the spinal which just affects your lower half, and then when that wears off you get an NSAID in your IV for a day or so and then only oral meds thereafter), no Percocet, just some Tylenol 3 for the first day or two after surgery and then ibuprofen afterward. Without the heavy-duty narcotics I didn't have any nausea or grogginess, and I felt emotionally more stable too. (2) I got up and moved around as much as possible--last time I barely left my bed for the first 3 days and it really took a toll on my overall mobility and healing. (3) I ate and drank like crazy--I was eating a full meal of solid foods 6 hours after my surgery, where last time I was supposed to be on clear fluids only for the first 24 hours and I barely touched those because I was so nauseated and emotionally wrung out. I forced myself to eat the terrible hospital food and I downed food from home and takeout on top of that, and I drank pitchers and pitchers of water. (4) I went home a day earlier--it makes such a difference to sleep in your own bed.

I got to go home after 3 days because we made the decision to be proactive about supplementing Baby Brother with formula. He was nursing great--latched on in the recovery room like a pro, sucked like a champ--but on his second day he stopped pooping and the pediatrician agreed that given the family history of severe jaundice, it made sense to proactively supplement. They also tested his bili level earlier than normal, and while it did get a bit high, it never reached the levels that Bat Girl's did, so we were able to get away without treating him as long as we promised to keep supplementing at home so that he would keep pooping out the bilirubin.

I did shed some tears over the supplementing at first, and over my breast pump when I decided to break it out at home. But my milk came in a full day earlier than it did with Bat Girl (again, I think because of everything I did above), and stronger. It's still clearly very scanty, based on the output of the few pumping sessions I've put in, but I get engorged and Baby Brother latches and sucks well at every feeding. We give him a bottle of formula afterward and he's fine with both.

And I made a decision: No herbs, no meds, and most of all no crazy pumping. I don't care how little breast milk Baby Brother gets as long as he's getting it mostly from the breast. I've pumped once every evening before bed (and gotten just a few CCs each time) just so I can get away with sleeping through one nighttime feeding (though I've been waking up painfully engorged so that luxury might have to stop), but I will NOT pump just to build supply. The baby takes what he takes from the breast and that's fine with me. I hate that pump and I won't be chained to it again. This time I have a baby who DOES actually nurse and I'm going to enjoy that as much as I can.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go nibble on some baby cheeks.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012


I'm now not just more pregnant than I've ever been in my life, I'm a whole week more pregnant than I've ever been. At this point with Bat Girl, gestationally speaking, we were already home from the hospital. So I figured I should probably update one more time before the big day.

We're still on for Tuesday, and at my last OB appointment on Wednesday, my doctor was pretty confident that I'd make it until then. I've been having tons of contractions, as is my tendency--long and hard ones too--but they're still erratic and the baby is still high and my cervix still long, though I'm fingertip dilated. I had thought I would work all the way up until the end, but the week before last I threw up my hands and just couldn't do the commute anymore (and frankly, couldn't muster up the energy to give a shit about work anymore), so I started my maternity leave a week early and was glad to be hiding out in the air conditioning during last week's heat wave instead of dragging myself on the subway.

And it turned out I needed the week to do a bunch of nesting. So now the crib is made up with cute new sheets, onesies are folded in the dresser, stash of baby carriers is organized, bottles are washed and formula stocked (and pump parts sterilized and nursing pillow covers washed too, I've got all my bases covered), diapers and wipes all set. I've even packed my hospital bag and stocked up on oatmeal. I did NOT realize my ambition to finally finish Bat Girl's baby book (really just a photo album of her first year; I'm so not a baby book person) before this baby is born, but oh well.

I feel fairly crappy physically but am doing OK mentally, other than being rather more irritable than usual. I'm ready to meet this baby and become a family of four, though I tried to spend this last weekend really concentrating on Bat Girl and enjoying our time together, hard as it was yesterday when she was being a real asshole, frankly. When she's not being an asshole I'm just constantly marveling at what an amazing kid she is, and I hope we're half as lucky with Baby Brother.

I am feeling a sort of vague freeform dread about the c-section. You'd think that I'd be less scared of it knowing exactly what to expect, but it's just the opposite. I keep going to these terrifying worst-case scenarios in my head, and I have to remind myself that the odds of any of those things happening are incredibly low, and that I'm going to be getting top-notch medical care in one of the best hospitals in the world.

Wish me luck. I can't promise I'll post right after the delivery but you will hear from me on the other side.

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Sunday, July 08, 2012


That's right--full term, baby! And somehow still going, despite 100+ degree heat and a move AND the fact that I'm still working full-time. Most of the living room is still in boxes and I don't know where half my stuff is, but yesterday my husband painted the baby's room (zero-VOC paint, come on people, you know me) and set up the crib. I sorted through the glass baby bottles I saved and ordered new nipples and collars. We have a car seat, though I haven't taken it out of the box yet. I bought some gigantic maxi pads for the aftermath of the birth. I just have to wash the crib bedding and a bunch of little onesies and buy diapers and wipes and formula, and we're pretty much set.

I feel like total hell but I only have two more weeks to go. July 24 is the official date, unless of course I go into labor before then.

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Monday, June 04, 2012

32 weeks

Not much new to report on the pregnancy front, thank goodness. After much agonizing, I realized that the fact that I was hoping Baby Brother would remain breech, thus taking the to-VBAC-or-not-to-VBAC decision out of my hands, was telling in and of itself. So at my 30-week appointment, I told my OB that I wanted an elective c-section...and she said that given the baby's still-breech position, chances are it would have been out of my hands anyway. We can't actually schedule the surgery yet, since the hospital doesn't open up the OR schedule until 6 weeks in advance, but it's looking like July 24 is the day. (My doctor does scheduled surgeries on Tuesdays, and wants to get me to 39 weeks but not past 40.)

Sometime in the last week, I hit a wall. Between the sudden heat here in Big City, and my increasing size (I'm already at the weight I was when Bat Girl was born, and based on photographic evidence have a much bigger belly), I'm suddenly exhausted, achy, short of breath, slow-moving, waddling...just physically spent. I remember feeling DONE in the last month or two of pregnancy with BG, but the one advantage of being on bed rest was that I didn't have to haul my ass to work, or try to bathe a 5-year-old, or ever stand up for more than a minute. Luckily the contractions are still erratic, though I do have a lot of pelvic pressure, so I'm trying to hydrate and stay off my feet as much as possible.

The big news is that we are moving! A larger (3-bedroom) apartment opened up in our building, and with a little cash passed to the building super to grease the wheels, it looks like it's ours. The only hitch is that we won't be able to move in until June 30...3 weeks before this baby comes. My husband is basically handling the entire move solo, since I will be next to useless. The good thing about moving one floor down is that we don't even really need to pack--just pile things into carts and dollies and wheel them into the elevator, though we'll have to get some help with the larger pieces of furniture. We're using part of our tax refund to buy a sofabed--the first new couch I've ever owned in my adult life. I slipped down the rabbit hole for a little while researching flame retardants etc. but since I don't have $7000 to spend I'm just throwing up my hands and buying something from a chain store and will maybe throw an organic cotton slipcover on it to make myself feel better (and to protect the couch from baby fluids, in case you were wondering about the wisdom of acquiring a new couch and a new baby at the same time).

Last week I took my old breast pump in to be inspected at the local embarrassingly-named everything-lactation store. (Side note: Why must all things breastfeeding-related be so terribly named?) For $10, they examine all the parts, tell you what needs to be replaced, and even use a little pressure gauge to make sure your pump is still sucking adequately. Despite its history of hard use, my pump was deemed to be in excellent working condition, and all the parts ready for action, down to the little teensy membranes. I had some PTBD(TM) flashbacks when I heard the wheeze of the motor, I must admit. The milk lady recommended that if I needed help establishing supply, I should rent a hospital-grade pump to start with...not sure if I will, but I'll consider it.

I'm going into the whole breastfeeding thing with no expectations, basically. I'd like to give Baby Brother some breastmilk, but I'm not willing to kill myself over it. No domperidone, probably no herbs, and definitely no pumping around the clock. I'll pump to help establish supply, but if baby won't take it straight from the tap I really don't want to be attached to the pump all day long. So I'm pricing out formula too, and we'll have it on hand before we even head to the hospital. No torturing myself, that's my vow.

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Monday, May 07, 2012

28 weeks

I used to get so annoyed when IF bloggers would get pregnant and then drop off the face of the planet. And here I am doing the same thing. The truth is, this whole "normal pregnancy" thing is almost a little boring even to me, so I'm having a hard time finding anything interesting to say about it.

But to bring you all up to the end of March I had another ultrasound to double check the baby's spine (they couldn't get a good view of it at the anatomy scan), and all looked good. Growth was on track and the tech double checked the sex for me (definitely a boy). Bonus cootercam u/s to check cervical length, which was something like 4.9 cm, so still looking great. I got a mild warning about weight gain (I had gained 6 lbs instead of the recommended 4 in 4 weeks) but everything looked good.

With the confirmation that this baby is, indeed, a boy (and I have the picture to prove it), I've been sorting through and giving away all of Bat Girl's girly clothes from the last 5 years. It's been hard--I now understand why my mom still has some of my Florence Eisemann dresses from the '70s tucked away in the attic. Even a little flimsy cheap Old Navy outfit brings back memories of BG wearing it, and I have to admit that I still cling to a vision of that second little girl that I thought I would have. Honestly, if I could guarantee another girl I would almost go for a third child--but I can say that another kid is 99% not going to happen for us, especially given our ages and financial situation AND the fact that I never want to go through fertility treatment again.

Anyway, luckily we have several little girls in our lives ranging in age from 6 weeks to 4 years old, so I know all the hand-me-downs are going to people who appreciate them. And we're getting boatloads of boy hand-me-downs in return, sweet little onesies with sailboats and dinosaurs on them and striped rompers that almost make up for the lack of little flowered dresses.

A week and a half ago (27 weeks) I had my 1-hour glucose test, which I passed, but it was discovered that I'm mildly anemic, so I'm taking iron supplements and eating hamburgers. That was also my first-ever OB appointment with NO ultrasound whatsoever--so bizarre! Never fear, next week I'm getting another scan to check growth (with the unicornuate uterus, we need to make sure there's no IUGR or other growth issues) and one more cervical measurement.

I'm firmly convinced that Baby Brother (as we've been calling him; turns out we are having a lot of trouble coming up with a boy's name) is and has consistently been breech, based on the movement I've been feeling. But my OB says it's still too early to tell, and she won't make the official call as to whether a repeat c-section is required until 33 or 34 weeks.

I'm torn about whether or not I actually want to attempt a VBAC, if that ends up being an option. The planner in me likes the idea of just having it all scheduled. And although the recovery from a vaginal birth is probably a lot easier, a c-section is a known quantity for me at this point. I'm not particularly wedded to the idea of having a "natural" birth experience--I made my peace with that long ago and I don't feel like I've missed out on something magical and important by not having had a vaginal birth.

And I don't want to try a VBAC and then end up with a c-section anyway, which is of course a significant possibility. If I'm really truly honest, deep down, I also don't want to fail at this. I've had enough breeding-related failures already. I feel vaguely guilty about not wanting a VBAC, or being chicken, or whatever this is. But I bet I'll get over it.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pros and cons

Negatives to NOT being on bedrest while pregnant:
• Taking the subway with the masses every day to and from work, and sometimes even (gasp!) having to stand.
• Spending money on new maternity clothes, despite the fact that this is my second and most likely final pregnancy. I was so smug last time around about how I "didn't get very big" and "barely bought any maternity clothes." Well, it turns out that when you actually leave the house and interact with other human beings every day instead of lying on the couch in yoga pants and a hoodie, you do need to purchase tops that cover your belly so you can look professional (on weekdays) or at least presentable (on weekends).

Positives to not being on bedrest:
• Pretty much everything else.

It's hard to believe that I'm almost 21 weeks pregnant. At this point with Bat Girl, I was already on severe activity restrictions and just a couple weeks away from being grounded for good. I was seeing my OB every 2 weeks, getting cervical measurements every time, and I just looked back at my entries from October 2006 and saw she started doing fetal fibronectin swabs around this time too. I was counting contractions every hour of every day.

Now, I'm just going about my days. I work, I take care of BG, I run errands. I walk places. I take stairs, unless I'm feeling out of breath. I feel the baby move every day. Sometimes I notice a contraction--they happen pretty much every day--but often they barely even register. I've even attempted to have sex with my husband, though the logistics of pregnant sex have proved very confounding. (We weren't allowed last time around, so this is all new.)

It is so new, so miraculous to me, this interacting with the world while gestating another human being. I can go to Target and the farmer's market! I can walk up hills and go out to dinner! When someone says, "Do you want to sit?" I sometimes say, "No, that's okay, I'm fine standing"! (Not always; come on, I'm lazy and sitting is nice.) I'm planning an IKEA trip to get a new bed and dresser for Bat Girl, and decided that the best time for us to make the trip and do all the furniture shuffling would be early June. June! Less than 2 months before my due date!

Eventually I'll get tired of writing these posts about how great it is to be normal, but that sure hasn't happened yet.

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