No Sleep 'Til...?

Friday, June 30, 2017

If you're in my approximate age bracket, your social feeds are probably flooded with babies. It's cute and it's annoying. I'm right there with you, and now I'm one of them. 

With the new ones, captions usually say something along the lines of "#oneweek! We are so in love!" and the like. Probably true. What these posts aren't saying is how extremely rough the first few weeks are. So, so rough. That's not to say it isn't worth it. It is. But after pushing out a baby, your body still isn't your own. It's even more at service to your little one. If you choose to breastfeed, as I did (which I felt very weird about but knew I would do, if I could, for the benefits it would provide Oliver and me), you're even more at the mercy of your infant. There are days that Raz wakes up and asks me how many times Oliver and I were up in the night. Sometimes I think must be nice. Usually, I don't get too miffed, though, because we need him to be able to really show up at work, whereas Oliver and I can nap during the day if we need to. It's not perfect, but it works, and it's really the only option right now. 


So, what am I saying? I'm saying that we've done this lack of sleep thing before, but it was on our terms: we were out partying, I was opening Nordstrom Rack stores around the country and giving interviews at 4 a.m. Having to wake up when I don't want to (or go to bed past my bedtime) isn't news. What is, though, is that it's my body that has to wake up and provide, too, and that adds a whole other layer to it all. It's exhausting, but it's also really, really special.  

He's passed out and I'm about to join him. 
I used to feel weird about women saying the breastfeeding bond is really special because I didn't want to think about boobs and babies on them and clogged ducts and biting and etc. etc. But now that I'm there, I get it. I love hanging out with this human I created and giving him everything he needs to survive and thrive. It's our time and it is as special as they say it is. 

If you're wondering if I'm going to go all Kourtney Kardashian on you and go crazy organic, yes, I'm on my way. I'm researching super natural skincare because I don't want my biggest organ absorbing chemicals and transferring them to my child. If you have great products to recommend, let me know. But I'm still eating Twizzlers and I can't say that will ever change. We all have our limits and I know I can't be all goat milk and twice daily meditation. Not yet at least. 

A couple things that have helped a little with the sleep are good nursing bras (I tried sleeping without one and it wasn't comfortable, unfortunately) and glow in the dark binkies. Those things are seriously a Godsend. I've linked my favorites below--note: I've tried A LOT of nursing bras and tanks and they're pretty outlandishly priced. Apparently Nordstrom can convert any bra to a nursing bra, which is AMAZE, but I've recently found some great ones at Target. And any excuse to go to Target, well, shoooot. 

And don't forget, we love our #oneweekold, but it's okay if we feel like damn, baby, this is the biggest challenge I ever signed up for. Because it is, and if we all started owning it, we could really start to help each other do better and be better for our babies.

Now I'm off to research organic lotions and prep for the kid's first road trip. Happy almost-4th!





Chinese Foot Massage Works: ODP's Birth Story

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I never thought I'd get to that place in life where I'm sitting on the couch eating KFC with a newborn hanging off my boob, but here we are. I have a four week old! Life has been weird! I figured I better write down how he got here before I forgot the details. As always, my goal is to open my life to you in small ways so you can feel less alone. If you have any questions, I'm always down to try to answer them. Just email me: whitneytbnd@gmail.com.

Without further ado...

The Days Before: If I were allowed to drink and could take a shot for every person who walked by my office and said some version of "YOU'RE STILL HERE?", I'd be drunk by 9 a.m. For me, that was the worst part. I hated talking to people about my still-there belly and answering well-intentioned coworkers' questions. It was clear I had a full term bump and anyone with a belly that big probably isn't particularly comfortable, so just leave them alone. Open the door for them. Bring them candy they like. Don't ask questions.

I wasn't sleeping particularly well, and I was feeling more tightness in my belly. I had the occasional Braxton Hicks contractions, but there was nothing telling. It was more of a feeling I had of things starting to feel different, but not in any way I could really explain or predict.

In order to try to find some zen, I took baths (with bath bombs and candles and mood music--very important to note those things) pretty much every night. Raz would sit with me and put his feet in and we'd chat about everything from our work days to what the kid in my belly was going to be like. At this point, I was focused on trying to stay somewhat comfortable and stress free.


Labor: Our neighbor directly across the street is four weeks behind me with her second baby. Weeks prior to meeting Oliver, her husband came over and casually mentioned to Raz that Chinese foot massage had helped her during her first pregnancy. So I texted her and we went. Acupressure and reflexology was on a list of natural remedies my midwives had given me to start trying at 36 weeks, so I was way down to give it a go. I love Eastern medicine (remember, acupuncture was part of my "let's make a baby" toolkit), so this was definitely my favorite thing on the list. Eating six dates a day was my least.

I was technically two days overdue when we went in for my third foot massage. At that point, I wasn't putting much stake in any one thing inducing labor, and I wanted to be a hippie about waiting on him unless it became medically necessary to do something else.

After the massage, I came home and watched The Challenge on MTV (as one does), and started to feel more than just tightness in my belly. One of my pregnancy apps had served me a notification a week or so earlier about offering a contraction timer, so I started timing what felt like pretty normal period cramps at that point.

Raz was working in our little home office so I timed things and waited to tell him until he came to check on me. An hour or so after the tightening started, I drew myself a bath and waited to see if what I thought might be contractions would get more intense and closer together. A lot of women have several hours of pre-labor, so I figured I might be able to go to bed and wake up to more intensity. WRONG.

By about 11 p.m. things felt like they were progressing pretty quickly, so I called Raz and his laptop in to help me time the contractions. As I suspected, they were moving along pretty quickly. That's when I decided I better shower so I at least looked presentable if this was actually happening.

Raz came with me to our master bath (only our guest bathroom has a tub) and timed my contractions while I was in the shower. Longer and closer together. Longer and closer together. And way more intense. Like I had to close my eyes and lean against the wall intense. They started in my back and radiated around to my pelvis. Same went for when I got out of the shower and started putting my face on. I didn't get to dry my hair before we called the doctor. They were pretty quick to tell us to come in. Our bags had been in the car for a few days, so I grabbed my purse and we headed out the door.

By then it was about 2 a.m. I had gone from casual tightening to crazy contractions in a matter of four hours. I'm no expert, but that felt fast. As it turns out, it was.

It was nice to get to the hospital in the middle of the night because the parking garage was totally empty and people weren't really staring at me. The guy at the security desk looked at me and pointed to the bank of elevators we needed to take to triage (Funny aside: I was wearing a Delta Gamma crewneck I designed for our chapter's 100th anniversary. When my mom arrived about a half hour later, that same security guy asked her if she was with the girl wearing the Delta Gamma sweatshirt. She got to say she was.).

At triage, I had to lean on the counter and breathe through a few contractions before I could even sign the paperwork they gave us. For all I know, I sold them our house but, hey, the Seattle squatters' rights protect me, so there's that.

One of our midwives showed up soon after they got me in the bed and she checked to see how dilated I was: Nine. Centimeters.

I'm pretty sure I looked at Raz like "Told you." I was pretty proud of myself for getting that far on my own, but I wanted my epidural and I wanted it an hour ago.


Delivery: Around 4 a.m., our midwife broke my water and said I shouldn't have to push long, especially based on how quickly my labor had progressed. One hour turned into two, into three, into four...at one point they added Petocin into my IV to try to get my contractions closer together. Our midwife also had to leave to catch a plane home for a family reunion and the whole nursing staff changed over. It was definitely not what we had expected in terms of how long I'd be pushing. There were a few times I cried silently between contractions, not because they hurt or because I was frustrated, but because of the sheer enormity of it all. I knew our lives were about to change forever and that felt really big.

Around 9 a.m. our second midwife recommended we bring in the doctor on call to use the vacuum. I'd been working hard pushing for so many hours and his head was stuck under my pelvic bone. Every push would get him to crown, but then he'd just get sucked back in. It wouldn't be long before he would get too stressed and I'd get too tired for anything positive to happen. That's when I lost it. I cried and cried because I felt like I'd done so much work and had nothing to show for it. Why couldn't I do this myself? The doctor was really nice to me in spite of my breakdown and assured me that if using the vacuum worked, it would still be mostly me doing all the work. That made me feel a little better.

Another thing that scared me about the vacuum was they told me I'd get five tries with it. If none of those tries were successful, they'd have to take him c-section. After such a quick labor and all that pushing, I was terrified of having to be cut open to get him out. I asked what the success rate was for the vacuum: "90%" the doctor told me.

"Okay, let's do it," I said. "Sounds like I don't have a better option anyway." I was feeling a little bratty at this point.

"You were sucked out with a vacuum," my mom offered. Raz and I looked at each other like of course I was. That also made me feel a little better. Our son wanted to be just like me ;).

After that, it seemed like the doctor snapped her fingers and a whole huge army assembled around us. As a precaution, they bring the NICU team in for vacuum procedures, so it felt like there were about 20 people in the room all of a sudden. She got set up, I felt a contraction coming on and asked if it was go time, she said sure thing, and the whole party started cheering for me. I'm not someone who usually wants the cheerleading crew, but at that point I was down for anything. A few "YOU CAN DO IT"s and pushes later, he was out, screaming and pooping to make his presence known. Everyone was crying and I just stared at him like whoa. That's who was in there this whole time? I think I was in a bit of shock.

They put him on my chest and the angle was hard to see all of him, but I did see Raz's nose and the cutest little face. Someone asked, "So who is this?" and through tears Raz said, "This is Oliver." We all started crying again.


Moving to Post Partum: I was supposed to move to post partum a few hours later, but the nurse forgot to turn off my epidural (I wasn't complaining, ha!), so we got to hang out in our huge suite until I was able to stand up. By then, everything was a blur. Nurses came in and out to get both of our vitals, but didn't bother us too much. They took us to a new floor and a smaller room that had views of the Sound. For the next 24 hours or so, we hung out as a family of three and mostly stared at the tiny human we created and ate like we'd never been fed before. I don't think I've ever been so hungry.

A few people came in to run tests on Oliver--hearing, blood, etc.--but for the most part, we were alone, which was really nice. We spent the night there and ordered a few free milkshakes and continued to stare at Oliver.


Going Home: It was mid-afternoon the next day when they let us go home. I put on the dress I packed and noticed my little gut poking out under it. I hadn't showered again yet. The nurse checked our car seat and we didn't even have to sign anything. They just let us walk out. It was all very bizarre.

When we got to the car, I turned to Raz and said to him: "It feels like we just got here." I couldn't believe we were already going home, and with a new ball and chain in tow.

Once we drove out of the hospital, we were smack in rush hour traffic. Oliver slept through most of it, but it was a good reminder that life goes on. I'm at the hospital having a baby and people are still sitting on the 5 honking at each other and merging without blinking. On that day, Oliver learned his first swear word from his daddy. Might as well start 'em young, amirite?

We pulled up to the house with an "IT'S A BOY" balloon twirling on one of our front sconces. Bouquets of flowers greeted us at the entryway, as did our fluffy children. Harrison sniffed the baby, hissed and ran away. Prima sniffed and stayed. Stared like we did. Followed us everywhere. She was ready to protect her new brother.


The Things (and People!) I Can't Live Without: I could go on and on about the things that have worked for us so far, but for now I've included a little roundup of products. Every baby is different, but a lot of my friends have had success with the same things included below. If you have questions about other things--like which breast pump I'm using, which bottles we like, binkies, etc., I'd be happy to send suggestions. We're learning and changing every day over here, so it's all ever-evolving.




Honestly, if it weren't for my friends who are all going through this thing at the same time (conveniently for us) and my mom helping a ton during the first few weeks, I'm not sure we'd have survived as well as we have so far. Raz has been a total pro with diaper changes and giving me breaks, but I'd be lying if I said it hasn't been rough. One month into this thing, though, I can say I've never loved another little being more, or felt so frustrated sometimes to be bound to it...but still loved it so much that it all feels worth it.

I'm going to try to write more about how it all feels and the little things we're learning as we go. If you have any requests, please let me know. Kudos to all the women who have done this well, and done it with more than one baby. Birth was nothing compared to hanging with the kid!

Photos courtesy of Meg Newton Photography

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