Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Unplugged and Unshielded

I am of course referring to my breasts. I know this is not the experience of everyone, but for me, labor pales in comparison to breastfeeding. Things are just now starting to get a little easier (i.e. less painful). Right around the 3 week mark we started feeding without the nipple shield during the day. We were both too tired and frustrated at night to go without it for the first few days, but now we've been feeding unshielded for a little over a week. The good news about that is I no longer have to pump! The bad news is he's destroyed my nipples. Cracked, bleeding, macerated--not a pretty picture. I've consulted with several nurses and midwives over the past week and have some ointment that's helping. I'm also spending as much time as possible au naturale (which MM loves of course). Jonas has a pretty good latch now, but I think I was just so anxious to get him off the shield I didn't pay much attention to his positioning at first. Then by the time I did, it was too late. It seriously felt like a hot knife stabbing me when he latched on. It took my breath away. Then on top of it I got a plugged milk duct. The combination of the pain, fatigue, and postpartum hormones have made me a little crazy, but at least I recognize it for what it is--part of a difficult transition to motherhood.

I don't say this to scare or discourage anyone from breastfeeding--I'm still glad I'm doing it and know it's good for Jonas and for me (even when it hurts). I was just totally unprepared for the challenge that breastfeeding can be. If anyone else is having trouble breastfeeding or isn't having the blissed-out experience you've read about you're not alone, and it does get better.

There's so much more I'd like to say about my transition, but that will have to wait for another post. Most of my time has been full of feeding, baby-care and breast-care lately, with an afternoon walk in the Moby. It hasn't left much time for blogging. This morning though my son is asleep on my chest and is letting me do some catching up. I can't believe he's a month old today!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


MM's mom made this blanket.
She died 4 years ago.
We miss her.
Jonas would make her happy.
She would have been a wonderful grandma.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Home Birth Part II

I thought it was interesting that the two comments about my first home birth post both mentioned the issue of control. One said that home birth felt uncontrolled, the other that the woman seems to be more in control during a home and/or water birth. As someone who likes to plan and control to a certain extent, this was one of my main challenges to overcome. Some of the best advice I got during my pregnancy regarding labor was that it is the ultimate letting go. There's no controlling it, and the sooner you realize that and let your instincts take over, the better off you'll be. Easier said than done, but by the time I was ready to give birth I was in a pretty good space to just let it happen however it needed to.

An OB nurse and friend likes to say that most women spend way too much time preparing for and worrying about something that will likely last less than 24 hours and will happen regardless (the childbirth part). She recommends spending more time preparing for parenting and breastfeeding. Good advice, but back to the home birth stuff...

We came to home birth out of the desire to have a natural and unmedicated birth in a comfortable environment with minimal intervention. Initially I thought that a birthing center would be the way to go, but when I visited ours I realized that a birth center birth is really just a home birth at someone else's house (assuming the home birth is attended by a professional who has all the necessary equipment and training to handle an emergency). If you were at home or in a birthing center and you needed a c-section, you'd still have an ambulance or car-ride to the hospital.

Fear is another big consideration. For me, I felt safer and more comfortable delivering in my own home, with professionals I know and trust who were committed to being there for me through the whole process and shared my goal for the delivery--a safe and healthy mom and baby with minimal intervention. I realize most people probably don't feel this way, and I'm not against hospital births if that is where you feel most comfortable, but I do think women should have a real choice and not be forced into the hospital because someone scared them into it. The outcomes for attended home births in low risk women are as good as or better than hospital births. I think because of my profession and training as a nurse practitioner, I have more first-hand knowledge about the advantages and limitations of the hospital setting. For me, home just felt right. That said, I was completely willing to go to the hospital if I needed to. Thankfully, I had a positive experience and got what I wanted, a healthy baby and mom.

The other great thing about home birth is you never have to go anywhere. It may sound obvious, but staying home and sleeping in our bed with MM and our baby from the beginning was great, and much different than the hospital. Having control over who was there and when they came was also great. It was just the birth experience I wanted.

I can't think of anything I would have done differently, except maybe turn the hot water heater up. It took forever to fill the AquaDoula.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Home Birth

I read a post from a fellow blogger who was on a rant against home birth. It was disappointing to see the misinformation that's out there. Especially after having had such a wonderful home birth experience. It made me wonder if anyone reading my blog had questions about home birth our our decision to birth at home. It's important to distinguish an attended home birth (attended by a licensed professional i.e. MD, CNM, etc.) from an unattended home birth or a birth attended by a lay midwife. I had regular prenatal care and was attended by licensed professionals with years of experience with labor and delivery in a variety of settings. We had all the equipment we needed to monitor the baby and to manage an emergency (oxygen, pitocin for postpartum hemorrhage, etc.). So this is your chance to get your burning home birth questions answered. Fire away.

Due Date and Breastfeeding Boot Camp

Today is my due date--a date I've been repeating for the past 9 months. It's strange that it's here and I'm holding my one week old son. I'm so glad he decided to come when he did. I think 6 lb 12 oz was about all I could handle. The tax break is also a nice bonus.

I have been in breastfeeding boot camp for the past week, hence the lack of posting. I have had great support throughout the process, from the lactation consultant, MM, my parents, and my midwife. It's not as easy as I thought it would be. It took several days for my milk to come in, and even then, he had trouble getting a good latch. I saw the lactation consultant last Tuesday. She recommended a nipple shield, which has made breastfeeding much easier. Unfortunately the nipple shield can make transferring milk a little more difficult for the baby, so in addition to about 40 minutes of breastfeeding every 2-3 hours, I also have to pump 15 minutes and supplement with the expressed breast milk. So that's pretty much been life for the past week. I breastfeed, MM changes Jonas and gives the supplemental milk while I pump. Between feedings I try to get a shower in, feed myself, and nap. We also spend a lot of time just staring at Jonas. It's truly amazing to see him here after so much anticipation.

It's been so fun to share the excitement of our son's arrival with our friends and family. The support from our community has been great. It's really beautiful to experience the love people share during these important transitions in life. My parents arrived on Thursday and left early this morning. The timing was perfect. It gave us a few days to get settled and be alone with Jonas and they were here to help when we really needed it.

I had a little melt down on Friday. Up until then I had been feeling pretty good (other than a painful perineum). The midwife came over to weigh Jonas and check-in on the breast-feeding. He was looking a little jaundice, had lost weight, and only took 1/2 an ounce in a 40 minute feed (we checked his pre and post feeding weight). I felt horrible about not being able to feed my baby and was so tired I was getting irrational. By the next day though I was feeling better and have made peace with the pump. I still don't like it but I'll pretty much do anything for this little guy.

In other exciting news, I shaved my legs for the first time in months! I almost forgot it was possible. As much as I loved being pregnant, it's nice to have him on the outside now and get my body back.