Sunday, October 31, 2010

The one where things get personal

This will probably be one of the hardest posts I'll ever have to write, but I feel it needs to be written.

Today is Hallowe'en 2010. Today Charlotte is 17 days old. Today is the day that I made the decision to give up breastfeeding.

The tears are falling as I type. I hate that I had to make this decision. I'm angry. I'm devastated. I feel horrible, guilty, like a failure. This is not what I wanted at all. Not at all.

Breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your baby, they say. There's nothing in the world like a breastfeeding relationship, they say. You are giving your baby the best start in life, they say. I know all of this. Breastfeeding was always the plan. Always. I never even thought about having to bottle feed my baby. I wanted to breastfeed. I was going to breastfeed.

I knew it might not come easy. I knew it might take some learning. I was prepared for that. I was not prepared for the reality of what our breastfeeding relationship became. We had issues in the hospital. Charlotte's latch wasn't what it should be. Lines of blisters began forming on my lipstick-shaped nipples. No, her latch wasn't what it should be at all. The nurses came in to help me. Pull her in this way, hold her head that way, push her body in this way, pull her chin down, pull her lip out, her tongue needs to be over her gums, hold her body that way. It was always something and it was always something different from different nurses. She wasn't latching right but I just couldn't fix it.

We were released from the hospital regardless because I guess our issues weren't enough to keep us longer to get help. Sore nipples are common, they'll heal, her diapers were wet, she was pooping, so I guess all was fine. We came home and it just got worse. The blisters turned into bleeding wounds that turned into black scabs. I called Public Health for help and had a nurse come in to see us. She was helpful and gave me some hope that we could keep going with breastfeeding despite the bumps we were having. But, days later, her latch still wasn't improving and the pain I felt from feeding her was absolutely excruciating. I called the nurse again to come and help. She came again and showed me the same things she had shown me before. Things still weren't improving. Whenever I thought I'd have her latched properly, Charlotte would shift and pull her bottom lip in. I'd pull her chin and lip down, attempting to correct it. It didn't work. Unlatching her and trying to relatch hurt more than leaving her on poorly latched. Her diapers were still showing that she was getting enough milk and her weight gain was on track so I knew it wasn't a supply problem. She just wasn't positioned properly. I visited the websites. I watched the videos. I read the booklets. I knew how to get to her latch properly, but I couldn't get her to do it. We had our 10 day doctor's appointment and my doctor was not happy with the condition of my nipples. He told me to try a nipple shield and said that I'd have to do something if I wanted to continue with breastfeeding. We went that night to pick up a shield. I put it on and Charlotte's little tongue bent the plastic.

I sobbed. I cried for the first week and a half of her life. Every little noise she made made my heart race. Please don't need to be fed. I dreaded feeding her. The thought of having to deal with the pain again made me hysterical. I wiped my own tears off my newborn daughter's face as I fed her. I didn't feel that life-changing connection that breastfeeding is supposed to offer. I felt searing pain and growing resentment. I felt angry that other people get to enjoy their babies and all I could think was please hurry up and finish eating so I can take you off me. It was getting in the way of me bonding with her. Her being awake and with me meant pain. I love her so much, but I wanted little to do with her. Admitting that absolutely breaks my heart.

We made the decision to take her off the breast to let me heal. I pumped as much as I could and supplemented with formula for four days. I held her close and bottle fed her. I looked into her eyes and talked to her while she looked up at me. I started to feel happier about feedings. Yet, at the same time, it was horrible. She became constipated. She barfed constantly. She smelled like throw up and she was miserable because of her tummy issues. I hated what it was doing to our once-happy baby. So once the black scabs fell off and my nipples looked normal again, I put her back on the breast. For a couple of days, everything seemed to be going great. It hardly hurt anymore. She had a nice big poop and wasn't spitting up as much. Things were looking up.

Then it started again. The blisters came back. The misshapen nipples came back. The horrible horrible pain came back. The feelings of dread came back. The guilt came back. The tears came back. I sobbed over her as she fed. I was determined to stick it out, though. It hurts but it'll get better. Everyone says it gets better. The first few weeks are the worst. Stick it out.

This morning, my daughter ripped a blister off my nipple with her tongue. It was pain like I had never felt in my life. Words can't even describe it. I swore. I sobbed. I took her off me immediately, gave her a bottle of expressed breast milk, and knew that I just couldn't do it anymore. Nothing made me sicker than burping my daughter and seeing a bloody piece of my body come up with her spit-up.

Now I have to deal with the guilt. I have to deal with the judgments. I have to deal with the fact that I'm a quitter. People will look at me and say that I chose not to give my baby the best in life. Breastfeeding is infinitely superior to formula feeding and how dare I make that choice. Now my baby will be sick all the time, or stupid, or just somehow inferior to what she could have been had she been breastfed. Now I'm a bad mother because I couldn't make the sacrifice for her. I'm a bad mother because I can produce milk but I'm not breastfeeding.

This is so unfair.

I want to do it. I so want to. But I want to enjoy my baby. I want to bond with her like I'm supposed to. I want to hold her close. I want to look forward to her waking up. I want to be happy to be a mother. Breastfeeding didn't allow any of that. So what's more important?

I will continue pumping and feeding her expressed breast milk as long as I can get enough out. We will feed her the rest of the time with formula. I will hold her in my arms, stare down at her, talk to her, kiss her head, and feed her from a bottle. I will not soak her hair with my tears anymore. I will not dread her waking up anymore. If that makes me selfish, a bad person, a bad mother, a quitter, then so be it. In the long run, I hope Charlotte appreciates having a strong bond with her mommy over the fact that I had to feed her with a bottle.

To me, that's the most important.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The one where Charlotte is two weeks old

We missed her one week milestone because life a week after giving birth is ridiculously hectic and I had a hard enough time trying to find time to pee, let alone update the blog.

However, here we are at two weeks (yesterday, anyway)! Things are going okay. We're all still adjusting to our new life and new roles. I won't lie, it's been pretty rough but everyone says the first few weeks are the worst and I believe them. Hopefully soon things will begin to slow down and we'll start seeing a bit of pattern or routine emerging.

Charlotte seems to be doing very well. She's getting bigger and bigger right before my eyes! She left the hospital weighing 6lbs 7oz and was up to 6lbs 13oz just six days later so she's definitely growing well! I imagine she's probably back up to her birth weight now, if not really close to it.

"So my diapers are still a little big on me, so what? Wanna make somethin' of it?"

She sleeps for good stretches throughout the day and (usually) at night. Last night she slept from 11:30pm until 7am when I finally decided enough was enough and roused her to eat. Her naps during the day are usually a good couple of hours. We are able to put her down when she's sleeping which is very helpful - she's happy sleeping in her swing, her bouncy seat, and laying on her play mat. Sleeping in her cradle at night takes a little longer for her to settle into for some reason, but we always manage to (finally) get there even if it takes what seems like forever.

Eating is not going as smoothly as sleeping. We've been having lots of breastfeeding issues that we're trying hard to work through. Right now I'm having a really hard time with it and I'm looking forward to the day that it stops feeling like a horrible chore and starts becoming that enjoyable experience that everyone says it is.

She's generally a pretty content baby. She gets gassy and then gets really upset about it, but aside from that, she's pretty happy. She still gets the hiccups all the time and I'm happy that they're now happening outside my body. She loves her play mat and likes watching the lights and listening to the music. She likes when we sing to her and is starting to focus her eyes more and more. She grasps our fingers and even grabbed and held onto a toy the other day. She's very strong and will hold her head up for short periods of time, especially if we're holding her upright on our chests. She loves to look over our shoulders to see what is going on. She doesn't protest much to tummy time at all. She usually just ends up turning her head sideways so she can lay on her tummy and still see what's going on.

As for me, I'm doing okay. Adjusting has been really hard and I still have moments where I wonder what on earth I've gotten myself into. It's also overwhelming to have Boyd away during this time. I've been so lucky to have both my mom and Boyd's mom here to help me, but it's still hard because there's no real sense of routine yet and we all know how I feel about routine. I know it'll all come in time, but it's hard to remember that in the moment when you're exhausted and the baby is screaming to eat when she just ate twenty minutes ago and you don't want her attached to your boob for another hour because you just want to go soak your stitched up bottom in a hot bath. But anyway... like I said, I know it'll all come in time.
Physically, I'm feeling much better this week. I'm not taking any more pain medication on a daily basis and I can walk around for longer periods of time without getting sore. I think my episiotomy is healing well but I certainly don't have the courage to look. I'm not bleeding as much anymore and getting up and down isn't difficult. I've lost almost all my pregnancy weight - down from 145 to 119 - and the belly is quickly disappearing. It's really weird to see myself skinny again! It feels like it's been forever. It almost doesn't look natural because I'm just so used to seeing myself with a thick middle for so long.

We have our 3 week check-up on November 2nd so we'll see what news we have then!

"I love my turtle because we look alike!"

Monday, October 18, 2010

The one with the baby!

Thank you all for the good vibes that you sent out! About an hour or so after I posted last time, Boyd and I decided to go for a walk around the mall to try to get labour going and to go buy a puzzle so I'd have something to do while on all fours (which the midwife also recommended to get things moving).

We walked about halfway down the mall, headed to the Bargain Shop, browsed around, found a puzzle, and were just about to check out when - GUSH!!

"Um. We need to go home, Boyd"
"Huh? Why"
"We need to go home!!"

Yep, that's right. My water broke in the mall. That thing that everyone says never happens ("Oh, it's not like in the movies, it's not likely that your water will break in a big gush in a public place") happened. Luckily I had put a pad on before we left the house so that plus my clothes absorbed it and there was no clean up in aisle six. Boyd ran out, pulled the car around, and we headed home to get the bags and go to the hospital.

We got to the hospital around 4ish in the afternoon and they hooked me up to the monitors. I got a little button to push whenever I felt the baby move. At one point, I could hear movement on the monitor and the nurse asked me if I could feel that. I said no, I could only feel her stretching and pushing her butt out and the nurse told me that was actually a contraction and that it was the second one I'd had since they hooked me up. Nice! I was about 2-3cm dilated at that point and not feeling the contractions, so I sent Boyd and Mom home to get some sleep since it would likely be a long night. I tried to sleep myself, but I couldn't - too much adrenaline, excitement, and the lady giving birth in the room next door must have been getting ripped in half because she was screaming her head off. Not ideal for sleep. I did listen to my iPod and got a bit of rest, anyhow.

The remainder of the evening went pretty well. We walked around to get contractions coming along stronger. At 10:00 we made sure to head to the waiting room and watch Modern Family (because labour won't stop me!) and after that, contractions started coming on sooner and stronger. They still weren't bad, though. They felt like bad gas pains. I'd just close my eyes, put my head down, focus, slowly breathe through it, and that was that.

Around midnight, things started to get harder. I got the shakes really badly, I was feeling the contractions in my thighs as well (weird), and I felt a lot of pressure to push. All those things combined with the contractions made it really hard to focus and breathe through them. We had the nurse check me and I was 4cm dilated. She said the pressure was just that I needed to go to the bathroom and that it was okay for me to do so. As I was heading to the bathroom, she asked if I wanted anything else for the pain. I told her I hadn't had anything yet, so she went to get me something. After I went to the bathroom, she was back with a shot of morphine for me. The shakes went away, the pain in my thighs went away, and it took the edge off. It all felt like bad gas pains again and I was able to get back and focus.

Sometime around or after the 4:30am mark, I was feeling pressure again. I asked for the nurse to check me because I just wanted to know whether or not it was time to deliver or if it was just bathroom issues again. I also asked her, mostly out of curiosity, how long the morphine lasts and how much I was allowed to have. She checked me, said I was pretty much fully dilated, and it was time to head to the delivery room! Then she told me that I wouldn't be able to get anything for the pain at that point. That was no problem - the shot I had had earlier was still helping and I didn't think I'd need anything else.

So we headed to the delivery room, all excited, cracking jokes, and trying to figure out what time the baby would come. I had a teeny lip of cervix to get out of the way, so I worked through some contractions in the delivery room. They were starting to bother me in my back, so Boyd rubbed my lower back through each one. He was absolutely amazing throughout the entire experience. All I'd have to do is sort of nod my head at him and he knew just what I needed him to do to get through the contraction. I know I never would have been able to do it without him. I can't even express how grateful I am to him. Love love love.

I started pushing around 5:25am. I guessed that she would be born around 6-something and the nurse said that she thought she'd be born before 6am. All that positivity soon went out the window...

I pushed and pushed and pushed. I pushed on my back. I pushed on all fours. I pushed squatting. I pushed on the birthing stool. Nothing. She just did NOT want to come out. I was getting exhausted at this point and feeling really discouraged. I cried. I was so exhausted that I couldn't even really tell when I was getting contractions anymore. I just pushed when I felt pressure. I just wanted it to be done and done now. Minutes turned into hours. Finally, I was checked and the baby's head was transverse. My OB decided that we'd need to use the vacuum to get her out. Once that was inserted and things started to get moving, everything turns into a big blur. I just closed my eyes and pushed and pushed while the doctor pulled. I heard all the commotion around me. I felt her coming down. This was the only point in the labour and delivery that I actually got loud and I remember just crying for them to get her out of me. Everyone's voices got louder and more excited and at 9:49am, October 14 2010, Charlotte Anne Chapman entered the world at 7lbs 2oz and 21.3 inches long.

Proudest daddy ever! He definitely deserves that coffee mug :)

Hanging out together at Grammie and Grampie's house before heading home

We were released from the hospital on October 16, spent that night at my mom's house, and came home to our house the next day. We're slowly getting settled here at home. She's a very content baby and sleeps a lot (HA!). We had some breastfeeding issues that are slowly getting resolved and I think once that all falls into place, things will be just fabulous.

It's still crazy to think she's here! Remember when she was a lemon?!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The one where the due date comes ... and the due date goes

40 weeks and 2 days today.
No, no Ladybird yet.

I have been scheduled for an induction on Wednesday, the 21st. I'm not happy about it. I'll go in at 6:30pm, they'll put in the Cervidil to get my cervix going, I'll stay the night, and then I'll get the drip the next day. Great. An IV, constant monitoring, and most likely an epidural since induction contractions are supposed to be absolutely hellish. Sounds just like the birth experience I wanted. (End sarcasm here).

Did I mention I'm not happy about it?

Please send out vibes that she comes on her own before then. I do not want to be induced. It's very frustrating, disappointing, and heartbreaking to think that your body is doing what it's supposed to be doing only to find out that there is NO progress at all. Way to make me feel like a failure, body. We're not friends right now.

No baby update this week either. All the websites are congratulating me on my newborn. Ergh.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The one where it's finally October and nothing is new...

No, for reals. 39 weeks on Monday and nothing is new.
And, contrary to popular belief, no news is not good news right now. I'm ready for this little lady to come on out of me! I've been having lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions and lots of crampiness, but that doesn't seem to matter at all. She is still head down and very low, but my cervix is still very high and I have no clue whether or not anything is progressing. However, I've done enough reading during this pregnancy to know that that's not very reliable anyway. I could walk around 3cm dilated for weeks or I could go from zero to labour in an instant. Regardless, Ladybird is still living in my body .................................for NOW.

*dun dun duuuuuuuun*

And see, the funny thing is that I'm not all impatient for her to come out because of normal pregnancy woes like "I'm exhausted", "I'm too sore to move", or "I want to go out binge drinking" ... no, no. I'm impatient for her to come out because I'm bored. Now that I've parked myself in Antigonish to ensure that I'm close to the hospital in the event of labour, I have nothing to busy myself with. So I wake up, sit around, and evaluate every little twinge and cramp that I have, wondering "oooh, will that become a painful pattern?"
Seriously. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again - pregnancy does WEIRD things to you. I never thought I'd sit around waiting desperately for diarrhea, bloody mucus, fluid-soaked pants, or severe abdominal pain and actually be disappointed when none of those things occur. Come on, body! I want to be in pain for hours and hours! Let's get this show on the road, would ya?!

So, the answer to the question that is on everyone's mind is no. No baby yet. She's still in there and probably will be until we nail the eviction notice to my stomach and induce at 41 weeks. I will be pleasantly surprised if she comes sooner than that.
Hey Ladybird - please surprise your mom.

As far as the baby update goes, not a lot is new on the inside either! The amniotic fluid is starting to become pale and milky from Ladybird shedding her vernix (haha my kid is shedding ... she must get that from Maggie's side of the family) and her outer layers of skin are sloughing off as new layers form underneath. Her toenails have reached the ends of her toes at this point. Better get the clippers ready! Aside from that, she's mostly just hanging out, maturing, and waiting until my uterus decides its had enough too and starts pushing her on out of there!