Monday, November 21, 2011

Deck the Halls!

We decorated for Christmas this weekend.  Every year it is something I look forward to and this year with a baby my excitement is multiplied.  Kurt worked hard for me this weekend getting the decorations from the attic, putting the tree together, putting on the lights (we have an old-fashioned tree), putting together our outside decorations, and even running to the store for extension cords.  He even had to slide our tree from one side of the room to the other, after it was all decorated, because we I decided it didn't look right where it was first located.  He's a good sport! 

To set the mood Oliver and I put on some Christmas pj's.  His were Gymboree reindeer pj's and wore a shirt that said, "Meet me under the mistletoe".  We started up our Glee Christmas station on pandora, made hot chocolate on the stove, topped with real, home-made whipped cream.  Plus the aroma of a baking pumpkin pie!  I love decorating before Thanksgiving because we always travel for the holiday and I LOVE coming home to a decorated house for Christmas! 

Kurt and I with our 1st Christmas ornament from him parents in 2008
The 3 of us with our +1 ornament from Kurt's parents last year
Friday evening Oliver and I did some shopping and I found his first Christmas ornament at Hallmark.  When I first saw it I knew I had to buy it.  I actually teared up when I wrote on the back of it before decorating the tree.  Thinking how he'll change each year, what life will bring us, and thinking of him one day putting it on his own tree with his own children, was enough to make me emotional.  I got this picture of him looking at his ornament after we found the perfect spot for it on the tree.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

World Prematurity Day

Today is World Prematurity Day.  I didn't know such a day existed until it came up on my facebook feed from Mothering Magazine.  1 is 8 babies is born premature.  During my pregnancy prematurity was something I didn't even think twice about.  Here's our story.

I guess if I'm going to deal with a premature baby I had the best case scenario possible.  Oliver decided to make his arrival at exactly 36 weeks.  He was considered a late-term premie.  When my water broke, at 3 in the morning, I did not react the way I had expected to react to labor.  I was extremely scared.  It was too early.  Why was he coming a month early?  I expected to react by going about my day until I couldn't ignore labor anymore, then laboring at home until I was late first stage.  Because of the fact we were doing this a month before we were supposed to, we decided to call the hospital.  We didn't take their advice to come right away because we wanted to make sure to see our Doctor and not whoever was on call.  I had no idea what to expect with an early baby, and especially a boy.  White, males are said to need the longest time to cook.  Dr. Brabson did a great job of reassuring me everything was going to be alright and really acted like he wasn't concerned at all by it.  Fast forward to our delivery.  We had a NICU Dr. present at Oliver's birth so she could check him out and whisk him away if need be.  Oliver came out screaming which was wonderful since the lungs are a huge concern with premies.  The Doctor checked him on my chest and gave him an apgar score of 8 and then 9.  Wow, isn't that great for a premie!?  I truly think that my labor and birth is part of why Oliver did so well when he was born.  Partially, he had the chance of clearing his lungs by emerging through the birth canal.  He also was not medicated with narcotics, pain killers, or epidurals.  He was alert and perfect.

Fast-forward to our breastfeeding experience.  NO ONE WARNED ME ABOUT NURSING A PREMIE.  WHY NOT!!??  I saw the lactation consultant at St. Mary's.  She came to our room every day a couple times a day during our stay at the hospital.  She was mostly concerned with me filling out her chart saying when he was pooping and peeing.  WHY didn't she talk to me about nursing a 36 weeker?  Why!?  I was as educated on breastfeeding as I could have been.  I read LLL's book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.  I took a breastfeeding class.  I have been exposed to breastfeeding my whole life.  I never even had to consider how I would feed my baby, I knew I'd be a weirdo who'd nurse until he was 3!

From the beginning Oliver latched well.  We had to help him latch on because you can imagine how tiny his mouth was, he weighed 5 pounds even the day we left the hospital.  Kurt would sit behind me and pinch my breast while I would lead Oliver to the nipple.  He would finally latch and nurse.  I was so engorged and swollen, it HURT.  To everyone who watched, Oliver was nursing great and doing wonderfully.  He nursed often and on demand.  At our first appointment 4 days after leaving the hospital he was already up to 5 pounds 2 oz.  At our 2 week appointment he was 5 pounds 7 oz which was great, he was 1 oz. over his birth weight.  We continued to do exactly what we had been doing and didn't see our Doctor again until 4 weeks.

 --The details from there are very emotional for me to discuss and to share.--  Oliver was not gaining weight.  We did everything we could to continue to exclusively breastfeed but that was not an option for us.  Oliver started formula after being labeled "failure to thrive".  Those 3 little words, tore my world apart.  I had done absolutely everything right.  I birthed the best way I could, I was educated about breastfeeding and did everything I was supposed to.  I didn't even give him a pacifier to avoid missing a time to nurse.  I nursed on demand even when it hurt and I was exhausted.  Those words "failure to thrive" broke my heart in two.  I had to give my baby formula.  Formula?  I know, I sound like a total snob, but it's true.  I thought of formula as almost poison before this point.  I did my research and knew I was going to do everything in my motherly power to still nurse my child.  I told the pediatrician I wanted to use the Medela Supplemental Nursing System instead of a bottle.  He was fine with that.  We went straight to UT Medical center to rent and hospital grade pump and to purchase the SNS.  The LC there wanted us to wait to see her before taking our pump, so we waited in the postpartum hall of the hospital.  A cafeteria worker walked past and saw us with Oliver and congratulated us on our new baby.  She thought he was just being discharged--he was actually 6 weeks old. I wanted to cry.  It took all I had to stand there and wait for the LC.  The LC finally showed up and offered to show us how to use the pump and the SNS in a postpartum room.  I'm glad she did.  She taught us how to put together all the finicky parts of the starter SNS and gave us formula.  She said something that I will never forget.  I was crying and she looked at me and said, "Oh honey, I am so sorry. The system has failed you."  Great, the system may have cost us our breastfeeding relationship.  My sweet Kurt took a sick day the following day to teach me how to use the SNS.  We were up for every feeding that literally took an hour and a half, EACH TIME.  We nursed for 20-30 minutes first, then got the SNS with .5 oz. of formula in it and fed again, then I pumped for 15 minutes.  By the time it was all said and done all those steps took an hour and a half.  We did this for 5 weeks.  By the end of 5 weeks I was still only pumping about 10ml and was seriously close to depression.  I contacted Dr. Jack Newman in Canada to find out about taking some prescription drugs to help my supply.  Dr. Newman told me he wasn't a fan of pumping like I had been because of how discouraging it is to see such a tiny amount of milk.  I took that as my permission to stop the crazy schedule I'd been keeping.  I couldn't do it anymore.  There was one thing I could continue to do though, and that was nurse with the SNS.

I chose to continue using the SNS because it allowed me to still nurse which was a closeness I yearned for with my precious babe.  I continued the supplements and the prescription but I stopped pumping for every feeding.  Oliver and I still nurse with the SNS.  He is still breastfeeding and I estimate he gets about 10 oz. of breast milk from me every day.

My premie is now close to 10 months old.  He is strong, happy, growing, and full of love and curiosity.  He is doing well and has given my life meaning.  I still do not know why he was born early.  I pray that Oliver's brothers and sisters will be full term babies, but I am so thankful for my sweet, content Oliver.  There's our premie story.  I hope you enjoyed reading about the defeats and victories that have brought us to where we are today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Free Zoo Day!!

We headed to the zoo on Sunday for a perfect fall afternoon.  The weather was mid 60's and gorgeous!  And of course it was great that what would have cost us $40 was absolutely free thanks to Kroger and the Humane Society.  We had never been to the Knoxville zoo and we enjoyed it enough.  We could have done without the literally, 13,000 other Knoxvillians, but it was still worth our money, time.

Oliver spent most of his time snuggled up to one or the other of us in the Moby wrap.  We did our usual hold and moved him over to our hip and it was a very comfortable hold.  We have gotten used to our Ergo and mostly use that these days but the Moby worked great.  At first I was really regretting our decision due to the massive amounts of people but as we kept going throughout the zoo it got a little better.  We really enjoyed the African section which was where we got to see elephants!  Oliver did a lot of staring at the ground but occasionally would look at the animals.  Kurt was narrating what Oliver was thinking and said, "Yea, I know we have one of those at home."  I wonder if that's what he was thinking?

Towards the end we came upon the gorilla then the chimpanzees.  We saw something rather interesting and kind of sad.  The baby chimp was eating an apple and sitting on the rocks near the glass.  There were lots of people pushed up to the glass to watch him.  He starting coming towards us little by little then got up and threw a stick at the glass; then went back to eating his apple.  The mama chimp sees this and comes out from hiding behind the stone wall and gets her babe.  He doesn't want to go but he does listen and mama chimp walks behind him as if patting his bottom to keep him going.  When he's far enough away from the scads of people she lets him go back to playing and she goes back to hide behind the stone wall.  It kind of broke my heart.  It was like the mama chimp was protecting her baby and made me feel like they were unhappy being locked up and stared at every day.  Here's the baby.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Trick or Treat

I know it's a little late to post Halloween pictures but I want you all to be able to see my little one as Curious George for Halloween.  He was so cute and I think the costume got to him because he definitely acted a little crazy when he was sporting it!  
Our parade in DE got rained out so we ended up letting Oliver wear his costume out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse.  Our waitress wasn't very friendly and didn't even mention how cute he was in his costume!  He tried to get her attention any way he could through kisses, waving, noises, smiles, etc. with no such luck. 
Here we are Trick or Treating in VA!
I swear it was almost impossible to get a decent picture of him in his costume, he was too busy!
My beautiful sister with my precious new niece, Eden Grey!
I hope to blog about her beautiful homebirth sometime soon! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ode to co-sleeping.

Every time I go to Ikea, which is far less often than I'd like, I gaze at this painting of a woman and her babe co-sleeping.  I love it.  Co-sleeping has meant so much to Kurt and I and has a lot to do with the way we parent Oliver.  I absolutely love cuddling with both of my boys at night.  I love that Kurt gets the chance to sleep with Oliver after having to be away from him during the day.  I love the time of nursing that Oliver and I get because of co-sleeping.  The morning snuggles are one of the best parts of my day and I am so happy to have the time with my sweet boy to start our day.  When we wake up we sing a good morning song, we kiss and hug,  we laugh and play until we decide we're ready to get up for the day.  It's bliss.