Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Postpartum Journey

The last three weeks have been the hardest I have ever experienced in my life. The most amazing thing to ever happen to me has become the biggest challenge. And not because of my son; I did everything wrong.

When they tell you to rest after your birth, DO IT. They aren't joking and you aren't weak if you take it seriously. I started by running errands as soon as I was discharged. Due to Hudson being a month early, we needed some necessities. The night we came home I made dinner and cleaned. I was on two hours of sleep. Bad idea.

Everything went well and normal the first few days- except that our house is on the market and we had showings. So I had to clean the house and be out with my week old.

We got home on Thursday, and by Tuesday morning I wasn't feeling so well. 2am feeding came and my stomach wasn't feeling so great. The 5am feeding came and I was feeling worse. By 8am I was hugging the toilet and throwing up out of both ends. Food poisoning. I was so weak and thankful that my little angel was sleeping soundly until I was done in the bathroom. I had someone tell me that what ever bad food you ate went into your milk. I just fed him. Hysterical mess. I thought I had just poisoned my baby. Thankfully we called the peds and he was safe.

I was trying to think of anyone that didn't work during the day to help me. My mom had headed back home the day before, and it was my husband's first day back home. Finally, I gave in and asked my husband to come home. When he got there my chills kicked in. I slept until the home care nurse came. I woke in a sweat.

She checked him over- he had gained an ounce in a day! He hadn't gained any weight over the weekend when they checked him on Monday, which was exciting. It was my turn. I had a fever and every excuse in the book as to why I had it. Denied any illness. Lindsay came and helped the rest of the afternoon- Thanks! I just got worse throughout the day and my mom that night drove up from Rochester to be up with Hudson in the night so I could sleep. Godsend. I called the midwife since I had a few questionable symptoms to look out for from my discharge papers. There was talk of a uterine infection and I had to alternate Tylenol and Ibuprofen. I felt all better in the morning to go off to Hudson's circumcision. (Can I not have another boy?! so sad!) I finished the week feeling just fine.

Then the next Tuesday came around. I woke up at 1am with terrible chills. Fever up to 101.3. Thank God for Ibuprofen and everything it helps with. I called the midwife again when it was time to wake up and she had me make an appointment for the next day. I suffered from fever, chills and exhaustion. I went in and had no sign of infection. I had these symptoms continually from Tuesday to Saturday with lots of tears and frustration- and screaming prayers. All I wanted to do was adjust to life with my newborn and only have the normal sleep deprivation. This illness made it so difficult to take care of my baby, but at times couldn't even move. It is so hard to feel so helpless. I know I cried more during that time than I ever have.

I finally stated feeling better and I got a cold sore. Yes, minor, but not even being able to kiss my son was just icing on the cake.

Now for a whole other story. Nursing.

Since they gave him a bottle right away tin the hospital,  and throughout the next day until I could pump enough, it made it next to impossible to have him latch on the real thing. The first time I tried, he latched right away... for a second and then not again. The nurse that was in the NICU was also a lactation consultant and taught me how to properly nurse, but I had to use a shield since he wouldn't work for anything else. At least I was breastfeeding.

I would nurse and pump the entire time in the hospital and my milk supply was wonderful. Abundant! Blessed. Then We came home and I got sick. The first Tuesday I was sick I had two bites of toast and a couple carrots the whole day. I tried to drink water. I hardly pumped and didn't nurse. Thankfully I had a good reserve so Hudson could have bottles. I tried recovering my milk from that for a while. Then the next week when I got sick, I would say my milk went down about 80%. I wasn't even pumping enough at a time for him to be full. I am so thankful I had frozen a lot of what I had pumped.

On top of being so sick, I started having blocked ducts in my left side on Thursday. I tried everything to unclog them and slowly they started to unclog. This past Wednesday I was feeling pretty good from being sick, but woke up with mastitis on my right side with no warning.

I cried more that morning than I ever have. I was so sore I was about to throw in the towel on breastfeeding- not to mention my freezer supply was gone, my nips were raw, and I was barely pumping an ounce and Hudson started eating 3. The idea of formula made me so upset but I felt it was the only option and I was going to throw in the towel. Kyle, being such a great support, tried to set up an appointment with a lactation consultant. She wouldn't see me because of the mastitis. We then called the midwife and I broke down on the phone with her. She wrote me a prescription and immediately got me in touch with another lactation consultant. I told her I was about to give up and she just knew at the bottom of it, I really didn't want to. That day I met with the lactation consultant and she gave me such hope. She reassured me about timing on weaning off the shield and that it was okay that Hudson needed one. That he may be ready in  a month, four months, or be a part of the 5% that just can't. I had thought that a lot of my problems were due to using that shield. She sent me off with some quality "milk-help" vitamins and some great cream. I finally had hope again.

I had cried, no sobbed, that day for 5 hours non-stop. I don't know if I have ever done that before. Call it overtired, call it hormones, I am just glad it is over. I finally feel human now, My illness is gone, my antibiotics are kicking in, my supply is on the mend, and night times are getting easier.

Being a mom is finally everything I had hoped it would be. I can care for my son. It just took 3 and a half weeks. I now feel like "been there, done that" and can easily empathize or sympathize. Being a new mom is hard with everything that is going on in your body. Always remember you are not alone and there is someone out there that has or is going through what your are. Ask questions. Get help. Don't feel embarrassed. Don't give up.

I have some amazing mother friends that have supported, encouraged, gave me hope, prayed for me, and helped me through this time. I couldn't have done it without you- Thank you. It may not seem like much written down, but the hours and days I have in this valley have made it the most difficult time in my life. I am so thankful it's uphill from here and I can handle what comes my way.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Hudson's Story

Today is my son's due date. He is almost a month old. 

I read this out loud the day before I went into labor with great emotion to my unborn son. I find comfort in it every time I read it.

"Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are Your thoughts God! How vast is the sum of them" Psalm 139:7-17

After giving birth, I thought that was the worst part of my hospital stay. I thought, that was so painful I am not ever doing that again. Nothing prepared me for what came next.

I was holding him after he was born and I wanted to nurse, it was always my intent to nurse within the first hour. I had heard there is a better success rate with nursing and it's of course great for the baby. The nursing staff was busy running around. I kept asking "Can I nurse him now?" I remember asking a few times. I finally got a response and I continued to ask "Can I have help?" As a new mom I had no idea what I was doing. I was confused since I had to talked to my midwife from the beginning about doing this and they said that there would be a lactation consultant available. I had no help.

They took him for his initial vitals and such. He had excellent Apgar results, but his temperature was low and so were his glucose levels. They then preceded to give him formula to help with his glucose. I didn't want him to have formula, but I just wanted him healthy.

They kept him under the heaters while we were still in the delivery room. They wrapped him up in a few layers and a hat, and we were off to the post-delivery room.

I was so exhausted I can't remember every detail of that day. I remember trying to continually nurse him with no luck. I kept mentioning it to the nurse that he wouldn't eat as we transferred rooms and when we were in the new room. He hadn't eaten in probably 5 hours. The nurse came in at that point to check his glucose. Of course it was low- he hadn't eaten. They called lab to come up since his numbers were below 40.

They then tried formula feeding him again. His blood sugar was so low he didn't have the energy to do anything. He wouldn't take it. The nurse said she had to go get a feeding tube. And comes the first heartbreak of being a mom. I watched her shove that feeding tube down his throat while he choked and coughed and then choked and coughed as she injected formula through it. All I wanted to do was cry but I just tried comforting him with my voice. 

I was so exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open, but all I wanted to do was hold him because I knew he was cold. I called my mom and asked her to come back to the hospital and I needed to sleep since I hadn't slept since Saturday night. Kyle was already asleep right next to me. I dozed off.

I woke up and looked around the room. My mom was sitting quiet in the room's rocking chair rocking Hudson. For a moment I felt better. Then the nurse walked in again with a mobile crib.

"Say goodbye we need to take him to the special nursery"

Whoa. Overwhelming emotion for an overtired, scared, new mom. It has taken me a couple weeks to even think about this moment in my life without crying.

My mom stood up with tears and her eyes as she kissed his forehead and walked towards me. I was doing everything I could not to breakdown. I took him in my arms which felt less than a second. Kyle had been sleeping since before the feeding tube and had just woken up. I looked at him and held our son out to him and told him to say goodbye. Then I lost it. Kyle had no idea what was going on. I had no idea that Hudson would be okay. Kyle said goodbye and they took him away. I rolled over and sobbed, blaming them for not feeding him. I fell back to sleep.

I woke up to a room full of family. I felt numb and tried to not let my emotion show. My exhaustion blocks my memory of the rest of the day. They brought in a pump for me. I can't remember if I got to see my son that night or had to wait until the next morning. I think it was the next morning.

I was feeling a little better the next day with some sleep and was so excited to go visit the nursery and see my son. He was in a heating incubator with an IV in his arm wrapped in tape, and machines hooked up all over him. He had scabs all over his little feet from all of the pokes. My son had to be in pain and there was nothing I could do about it.

 My little peanut the first time I saw him in the Nursery. First smile reflex I got to see. I am still amazed at how well he took everything.

I got an opportunity to hold him and feed him. He finally had an appetite. They let us come up every three hours for feeding time. His numbers slowly progressed for the good. I am so thankful for a great nursing staff in there. They made us feel welcome and that our son was in good hands.

Nothing felt better than holding him. It hurt every time we had to put him back down in his crib and leave the nursery. I never wanted to leave him.

They continued to poke him in his feet to check his glucose every time he ate and in-between. He was also borderline jaundice and had to fill a vile of blood every time they checked it. He was such a trooper and would only cry for a second. The tape was so tight around his little arm where his IV was.

He is such an impressive baby. I can't believe how well he did through all his testing. It was a victory moment every time they were able to take another machine off. Everything finally resolved. He was in the NICU from Monday to Thursday and we finally were able to take home a healthy little boy. He was perfect for being 4 weeks early. We are blessed it was only 4 days. There was a lot of very sick babies and that nursery. One being a 3 pound baby of a cancer patient. I loved being able to tell that mom how beautiful her daughter was.

There was a more detail in-between but you have the basics. It would have been nice to have that be the end of the trauma. But stay tuned, I will be posting my postpartum journey.

I am just so thankful for a healthy, strong, little guy. He is so amazing and I can't wait to watch him grow and see his personality come through.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Birth Story

I love birth stories. Each one so unique. I love every gory detail- the scary and the beautiful. Here is my story.

April Fool's day. Kyle and I are at church and I use the restroom. Spotting. Normally something to worry about- but knowing that it runs in my family to have babies early- I couldn't wipe the silly smile off of my face. I went up to Kyle and told him. "What does that mean?"

"An early sign of labor" Could be a day, could be a week.

We had planned on going to Hudson, Wisconsin that day to take pictures. We had decided on the name Hudson just the week before. We had a strange experience at a local coffee shop- quite funny. We ate, we walked around, and we headed home.

I started having cramps that were irregular. I called my midwife and let her know about my cramping and spotting. She told me to contact her again if my "cramps" became consistent. I got off the phone with her about 8pm and immediately started recording my "cramps". I noticed right away they started out as a cramp, then the top of my stomach tightened, and then it wrapped around my back. 14 minutes apart. I recorded them for an hour and they stayed consistent. I called the midwife again- she was not too convinced I was in labor yet. She told me to get some rest and she would call back later on to check on me. I was to call her if they got close together. I was in my 36th week.

I tried to rest and relax, but excitement took over. about 12:30am we all decided it was time to go to the hospital. I was surprised- I thought contractions would be more painful than they were. We arrived at the hospital and had a difficult time getting in. Doors locked all over and we finally got in by going through the emergency room. They got me settled into my room and checked me. 3cm dilated and it was about 1:30am.

We hung out for a little while, we had some snacks, and waited. Around 3:30am my midwife checked me again and I was still at a 3. She gave me the option of morphine to sleep, or to go home. I asked for the morphine since I was in too much pain to sleep. I think I had that injected about 4am. Kyle and I turned off the lights and tried to sleep. I remember the medicine kicking in and then having a contraction. I was thinking, Why does this still hurt? I thought this was supposed to help with the  pain. Mid-thought my water broke and I immediately had a very strong contraction. "Kyle.. Kyle.. Kyle.. KYLE" I heard a huh? out of his deep slumber and let him know he needed to get the nurse and my water broke. The nurse came in and asked me what happened. "I had a contraction and felt and explosion" She checked to confirm. It was really great sitting in that for the next couple hours. Then the fun began.

My contractions were odd. 3 in a row and a little break. They really started to hurt and I was rethinking the whole natural birth thing. The morphine was in full force. At one point, I was sitting up in the bed with my head spinning and almost fell backwards. My cloudy head made everything blur together. A cloudy head and feeling everything.

I frequented the bathroom with the baby pressing so close on my bladder. After a while I decided it was the most comfortable place for me to be. I couldn't believe how I lost all dignity. Screaming and yelling. I thought I would be the quiet type. Wrong! After groveling for some drugs to help with the pain, I was led back to the bed to be checked for my progress. 8cm. Back for another bathroom trip. I asked for drugs again. My midwife was going over a couple options to take the edge off and checked me again. 10cm, time to push. So much for my water birth. Everything progressed too quickly! I did, however, get the natural birth I wanted.

After phrases like, "I am going to die", "this will be my only child", and "I can't do this, give me something!" I started to push. I had an urge 3 times in a row and had a nice break. I remember feeling frustrated because I didn't feel like anything was moving along. In between pushing I would fall asleep.

I remember the most my conversation with the midwife. Push, push, push, sleep, ask question. My questions included "Do you have kids?" After a no response I said, "Does this scare you?" Got to love drugs that mess with your head.

I finally made progress and pushed the little guy out. Didn't even break a sweat. And oh yea- I gave birth on the toilet. I stood up as he came out and my midwife reached out and grabbed him before I did have an actual water birth. That would have been awful.

I always thought I would cry the moment I saw my child for the first time. I didn't. I just stared at him in shock and awe.

I had him in my arms as I waddled back to the bed. I continued to just stare at him until the umbilical cord was finished pulsating and Kyle cut the cord. I delivered the placenta with ease and got stitched up. Only 8 stitches thankfully!

Hudson Elek Curran
5lb 13oz
Born at 7:05am
(Thankful for a quick labor and delivery!)

I was extremely reluctant to put this picture up- swollen and exhausted on no sleep... but it's our first family photo!

After all of that, my birth story certainly doesn't end there. Be looking for part 2, Hudson's story.