Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What I wasn't told...

I'm not gonna lie, I've missed blogging. I didn't do it all that often, and my posts were getting further and further apart, but I've been walking around (more like sitting around) thinking about all the things I need to blog about, and how unorganized it will likely be.

Let's see, I guess it's only been about 3 weeks or so since that last post, but it feels like a million years ago. We've had our baby boy, and checked month five off our list in those few weeks. I have my birth story written out, a rough draft at least. I can't decide how I will post it, or if I will, because my writing is usually pretty detailed, and I don't know if the whole world wants or needs to read all about his arrival. The important thing is that he's here, and healthy.

Last night Jason and I were talking about our return to Colorado. He's becoming more anxious to leave here, and feels defeated a lot at therapy because he's letting other peoples comments get to him. I haven't gone with him since he started back off of leave, which has been hard for me because I really feel like I have no purpose here. He comes back and tells me who pissed him off that day because of their comments. He's never usually this sensitive to things like that, so I think he's getting really tired of this place, and just feels so done with it all. People usually are just giving him a hard time, saying things like "Come on man, why are you going so slow?" He tries to explain that he's exhausted, that his baby does not like to sleep at night, and he keeps dropping that weight because he can only hold it with the two good fingers on his left hand. I hate to see him this discouraged, and try to remind him daily how great of a job he's doing in his recovery. His occupational therapist told him that if he really does leave by the end of March, he will have set a record in getting out of here. If he does, I'm going to make them put his picture on the wall :) Anyway, I was telling him that now, after 5 months (only 5 months!), this is starting to feel normal, and I'm worried that I'll feel out of place (again) when we move back. I'm just at such a weird place in my life, a place I never, ever expected to be in to begin with. I'm not working, haven't been working, and don't know if I'll be able to go back to work since I only want to go back part time. He'll go back to work, and might be working full days again, and that will be weird for me, although baby will be older, and hopefully be taking it a little easier on Mommy.

I can't tell you how often I think of how blessed I am to have my husband home with me - literally full time. I wonder if all this was in someones bigger plan - they knew I wouldn't be able to handle the emotions and demands that come with motherhood all by myself, and so they allowed my husband to be here with me 24/7 for the first 3+ months of his life. How blessed am I? Who else can say that? Someone knew I needed to be slowly broken in to this new life!

Which brings me to my next paragraph - Motherhood.

Holy Moly - no one prepared me for this. A few days after we got home, I told Jason we should sue someone for not telling us it was going to be like this. I mean if people can sue McDonald's for making them fat, we should be able to find someone to sue for becoming parents before we knew what it was all about.

All my life I have wanted to be a mommy. I've spent so many years babysitting and helping with other peoples children, all the while making mental notes of what I'd never do when I became a mom. I've already done about half of those things. Now I struggle daily with breastfeeding, the demands of being a mom, whether or not I'm doing things the 'right' way, wondering if I passed my strabismus on to my precious little boy, hoping so hard I did not so that he won't have to wear glasses all his life and possibly have surgery like his Mommy did, hoping that by cosleeping right now, we won't be hurting his ability to sleep in his own bed in the future, wondering if giving him a pacifier or bottle will ruin him, letting his sleep on his tummy almost all the time, using Johnsons & Johnsons baby soap (gasp!), hoping the marks left by the forceps will not scar - a constant reminder that I could not get this baby out on my own, and the trauma I put him through...these are just a few of my daily thoughts.

No one prepares you for this life of constant worry - Jason asked the pediatrician "So are we just going to worry about everything for the next 18 years?" She had a very sad look on her face when she shook her head yes. Like a "You're just now figuring out what parenthood entails?" look. Everyone preaches it when you talk about having baby fever - "Don't do it yet, enjoy your life while you can. Your life won't be your own anymore." And while I took all this in to account, we still went ahead and got pregnant. We often compared parenthood to being dog parents - thinking it couldn't be any worse - you actually have to get up and go downstairs to let the dog out every time - with a baby, at least they sleep upstairs with you! This was really the only comparison we could make of the two. If only I could go back to a life of up and down stairs to let the dog out at night instead of being awake for 2 hours and asleep for one while your husband peacefully sleeps next to you - I might.

Don't get me wrong, I love my baby boy. I can't say that I love being a mother right now, because I don't feel like one yet. I feel like a cow - as a friend of mine once described breastfeeding. The first couple of days home, I think I was in shock of how much had changed in such a short amount of time. My whole day revolves around feeding and changing this little one. To think about going out somewhere is just that - a thought. We did go to Target one day after I couldn't stand sitting in this apartment any longer. As soon as we got there, we sat in the parking lot and I breastfeed for about 45 minutes. We loaded up and went in, only to find that he was still hungry. The one time in the day he decided he wanted to eat from both sides was the precise time Mommy wanted to wander the aisles of Target. Those days are gone. I can't tell you how unsatisfied I feel when I go in to Target and can't walk through every single aisle there. You just don't know what you're missing if you go in and only get what you need. Who does that!? (My husband.) Such is life as a mommy - a harsh reality for this only child. So we sped through the grocery aisles and got only the things on our list, and went back to the car for another 45 minutes of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is not easy. And it hurts. No matter what those lactation people tell you - it freaking hurts. I used to tell my patients that all the time anyway - I couldn't imagine how it wasn't supposed to hurt. Those things aren't used to being sucked on every 2 hours for at least 30 minutes at a time, it's going to hurt in the beginning. After my labor/delivery/postpartum experience, I feel like I was such an un-empathetic (I don't know if that's a word) nurse to those poor ladies. Now I know why they had to be reminded or encouraged to feed their babies - that sounds bad - but when you are so sore you cringe at the thought of feeding your little one, you put it off as long as you can. The first few days were fine for us, he fed great right from the start despite his rough entry. Then of course, the day we went home, he decided to stop feeding well. That was also the day I decided to give him a pacifier - something I will not encourage my patients to do if I ever go back to work. I think it really messed him up, plus my milk hadn't come in. We put the paci away after that, and only recently reintroduced it. In the mean time he was so angry with me, and getting hungry. He couldn't be sitting alone without screaming, and I was convinced I was starving my baby. He lost too much weight, and I came so close to supplementing with formula, but I'm so glad I held out. I used to get so upset with patients when they refused to supplement their babies "It's just a little formula, it's not going to hurt them" I would think. And here I was, doing the same damn thing. In the weeks since, he's regained his weight, and went from 7-11 at birth, to 6-11 four days later, and then to 8-10 at two weeks. I am pleased with his weight gain, but still struggle with the pain. It's not as bad as it was, and I think it might be on its way out, but my toes still curl every time he latches on.

And let me make a point to tell you that my husband has been absolutely divine in helping me care for this baby. He has been so comfortable and natural with him since day one. Changing diapers like it's his job. Even the poopie ones. Our child has inherited his fathers flatulence, and he thinks it's hilarious every time. It's hard for me not to laugh when he laughs at his son pooting all the time, because it is rather funny. For now. He loves to give the baths, and he always offers to burp him after I'm done feeding. I usually take over the night time changes, only because of his leg situation. It's just silly for me to sit there and wait for him to put his leg on, get up, change the diaper, and then he gives him back to me so I can feed him. I might as well just do it myself. I say this, but it's still hard to be okay with it at 3am while he looks so warm and cozy under the covers!

So far, Motherhood seems to be me figuring out all these things that people do not tell you! Everything that goes wrong with him I feel personally responsible for. And then I look at him sleeping (on his belly!) next to me (in bed!) so peacefully I have to stop and make sure he's still breathing. So, I figure I can't be doing everything wrong.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


It's a two post kind of day...that's how uneventful our lives the moment.

I feel like I need to write another one because the last one left so many people way too excited! That was certainly not my intention, although we are both still really excited :) The doctor did mention that my membranes would likely rupture soon. Jason proceeded to look at his imaginary watch and say "Uh, like can you give me a time frame?"

I am not in active labor. I may be having a little back labor, and every now and then I feel a few contractions in my uterus, though neither are painful to say the least. Just slightly uncomfortable. I didn't realize that by telling people I was 3cm dilated and effaced, it would cause such a stir! I forget that this isn't normal for everyone, and just the word 'dilated' equals hospitalization to some.

Jason wore jeans today for the first time in a long time. He hasn't been able to because he usually has to add or take off a sock from his prosthetic. He can't access his leg when wearing jeans because they don't pull up high enough. We need to get them all altered. The pair he had altered are too small at the moment. He was wishfully thinking when sending them off...we bought two more pairs that will fit him so hopefully we can get them altered soon. Anyway, this is a big deal. He was starting to get stares in public, maybe because of the leg, or maybe because it's 30 degrees outside and he's wearing shorts and boat shoe sandals. All the layers that come with his prosthetic make him really hot too. But, since he's finally off all his medications, some of the sweating has subsided. It was nice to see him in pants. He looked handsome :) I mention this because the doctor had to ask at my appointment which one of us was military. Because he looked normal. Although now that I think about it, it could've been because my husband has grown quite the beard while being on con leave...either way...he looked normal. His fingers look a little mangled, but no one notices that anymore really.

All my nursing school friends came to visit tonight, equipped with dinner. I just hope I don't wake up in the middle of the night and throw any of it up. I really hate throwing up. I'm so lucky to have so many friends close by, even in our situation. At this point, I can't imagine being back in Colorado. If we were living in an ideal world, Jason would've been home on leave by now, and we'd still be sitting and waiting for baby. Mom and Dad probably would have flown out to be with me for a while too. Of course I'd have all my Colorado friends, but I wouldn't have all my wonderful Nursing School, "First Degree", and High School friends anywhere near me. It's truly amazing the silver lining that comes out of some situations. We got to spend another Christmas together, and at home with both of our families. We're going to get to spend some quality time with our families after the baby comes which will be wonderful. When you're in a military family, you feel like you always have to go visit everyone else, because you're the exception for living so far away. Now that we're here, it's actually feasible that people can come visit us!

Anyway, I wanted to write again because I want to remind myself of all the things we have to be grateful for. I remember a time, way back when Jason came to an appointment with me (while he was still inpatient) and they were worried about my cervix shortening too much too fast. We thought for certain I would deliver early, and I was convinced they'd put me on bed rest. I missed the GDM diagnosis by one point. Not necessarily a good thing, but considering my diet, I'm very, very lucky. I've only gained ~35lbs to date, and again, considering my diet, I'm very, very lucky. Now here I am, two days from my due date, already dilated to 3 when they told me it may be a very long labor for me, and I may not dilate for a long time. Jason has been out of the hospital for about three months, and is already off every single medication except the blood pressure one which was what he was on when he left. He's already got a prescription for a running leg, and will get a carbon fiber socket and every leg you can imagine when he comes off leave. He's signed up for the Tough Mudder in June in Colorado with all his battle buddies, and I'm very confident he'll do great. We just have to figure out which leg he'll use, and he'll probably need to splint the one finger.

I mean, really? You go from stepping on a land mine almost five months ago, and now we're thinking about the Tough Mudder (a 10 mile long obstacle course with 25 obstacles), a new baby, and going back home. Our lives were turned upside down, and we still think about the fact that they will never be the same, but we're so used to it now. We're used to the shower chair in the bathroom, and the crutches he'll always need to get in and out of the shower. The random nerve pains are still normal at night, and when he stretches the normal morning stretch, his right leg shakes uncontrollably because there's no real way to stretch that muscle anymore. I'm trying to make cocoa butter a part of his normal routine for all his scars, although I feel too much like a mother when I do that, but hell if I let these skin grafts get ruined. When he plays video games he takes his leg off, and has to prop it up on another chair because if he leaves it dangling off the chair too much, it starts hurting.

He is the exception. He is the one who brought us this far. His motivation is amazing, and he gets so tired sometimes, and so overwhelmed, but he always pushes through.

There is talk about cutting the military. Talk about scary. He always says he'd be one of the first to get cut if they do decide that. That scares me. I guess I can't worry about that now. And, if worse comes to worse, I should be thankful that I can always, always go back to work. I am just so grateful for him, and for us. We've grown so much closer through all of this. I know that even by writing these for everyone to read and follow, no one will truly understand what we've been through unless they've been through it themselves. But maybe there will be a few extra things those who read this will think about that they otherwise wouldn't have. To think about all those fights I put up about getting PCS'd here, and making sure our stuff got out here. How silly was I! So many things I was trying to control in this situation where we could have none. I just hope I can look forward more in the future, so that I won't be so uptight when dealing with uncontrollable situations. (I get this from my mother.)

And back to the baby, my wonderful friend wrote up a birth plan for us (we told her what to write, she loves writing lists :)) but we called it our birth 'wish list' as I do agree, birth plans are bad luck. And not to mention, they always piss the nurses off. "Oh great, she has a birth plan. Ugh, she's one of them." I'm guilty. I hated when parents wanted to follow me with their baby while I took him or her at midnight to do their assessment and night time stuff. I will likely do the same thing. Ha. In our case, we are not ignorant, and so therefore, I guess we cannot be blissful! I don't intend on waving it around for all to see, but if there's ever a point when I cannot speak, and Jason doesn't know what to tell them, he can at least show them that.

One last cute dad-to-be saying...while walking to the grocery store, I'm explaining that when we finally do decided to go to the hospital, we only need the bags, we don't need to bring the stroller/car seat right away. (Yes, we're bringing the stroller because we're literally walking to the hospital, and will walk back here to our 'apartment' upon discharge.) So I tell him that he probably doesn't need to get that until they move me to my postpartum room and then if he wants he can come back and shower and get it then.
Him: "But, where will the baby be if I leave to come back here?"
Me: "Probably in the room with me."
Him: "What if it's the middle of the night? What if you're sleeping?"
Me: "So?"
Him: "Who will watch the baby?"
Me: "Well he'll be in the room with me, probably asleep too..."
Him: "Well in the Army they teach us that when you guard something you have to stay awake to do it!"
Me: "You're going to be very tired then!"

I just love new dads. They're so cute. Especially my handsome husband!

Oh, Baby...

Disclaimer: This post is very personal and slightly graphic :)

I'm writing now, because I think this little boy is coming soon. Very soon. I'm not in active labor at the moment, but I did have a doctors appointment today. I am 3cm dilated and 80% effaced. TMI: I think he stirred something up in there, because when I went to the bathroom before preparing to write this blog, I noticed a little ahem something in the toilet.

Even being a nurse that works in this field, I have no idea what to expect. Everyone has such different pregnancies. At this point, I'm not worried since we're two days away from the due date. The tech took my vitals today, and then came back and said "He wants to know if you've scheduled your induction." Uh, no. Why do people think that I want to be induced?! He was convinced we'd have to schedule one, until he checked me and found that I was already 3cm. He then went on to say that I was lucky, that it can take some people days to get as far as I am, in active labor. So, happy about that, but when is he coming?? Do we have time to go to the grocery store? I'm not contracting, and I'm not in any pain. I think the uncomfortableness I've been feeling in my pelivs is his head coming down. I guess I was expecting a different kind of pressure. When I walk it feels like my hips are going to come out of their sockets, and I can't lay with my legs bent like I used to, I think the ligaments are stretching.

I don't want to call anyone because I don't want them to tell me to go in to the hospital. I'm not contracting, and they'd likely want to give me pitocin. My water hasn't broken, and nothing is bright red and gushing, so I think for now I'll just monitor it and play it by ear. Nurses make the worst patients.

Jason on the other hand, is freaking out a tad. He thinks this process is "stupid". "What do we do? Just sit here and..." (he proceeds to sit down and twiddle his thumbs). "Is it going to be 3 hours from now? 3 days from now? Can we still go grocery shopping?!" We googled pictures of bloody show and the mucus plug, he almost puked. I hope that's not an indicator of his role in the delivery room. I'm pretty sure he'll be great, but you just never know. I just can't believe teenagers can do this!

I did have a nightmare last night that I had to have a C-Section, and I was super depressed afterwards. Let's just hope that doesn't have to happen.

Our bags are packed, camera battery is charged, we have a list of who to call when we go, and all his stuff has been set up for a while. I'm contemplating writing a birth plan, although I can't call it that because I think it's bad luck. I just don't know what condition I'll be in when I get to the hospital, so if I can't speak words, I'd want them to know what we want to do. Don't worry, we don't have any crazy requests, but I'm sure we'll still piss someone off for wanting to do it a different way :) It's a good thing we came back up here when we did, though.

So, I will probably not blog for a little while. And when I do, I'll probably put my birth story on here. It will likely be graphic and very personal, so if you don't want to know all the details about birth, I'll warn you now, not to read it!

I think we're off to the grocery store, because if we don't go now, and I go in to labor, I know I'm going to be mad that we didn't go sooner. And maybe it will make me go in to labor :) We'll see...