Thursday, May 28, 2009

Good news and bad news

We went back to the GI today... always a fun experience. Let's split it up into the good news and the bad news.

Good news: We only had to wait about 5 minutes before the nurse called us in. Last time we waited over an hour and a half.

Bad news: Some lady in the waiting room asked if I was there for me, or for Caroline. It's a children's hospital. BURN!!!

Good news: Caroline is almost two pounds up from when we first were referred to the GI! The doctor said she had even exceeded their expectations for her weight gain.

Bad news: I still have to keep waking her to feed and forcing as many ounces as I can into her poor little belly. I am freaking exhausted and haven't slept more than a couple hours at a time in weeks. Also, I am permanently bruised from my pump. You're welcome for that mental image if you know me in real life.

Good news: The nutritionist gave me new, higher-calorie recipes for her bottles so that I can skip a nighttime feeding.

Bad news: I'm not allowed to add more nursing sessions in place of pumping sessions. I asked if I could, and the doctor told me that she considered my nursing sessions to be "comfort only", since Caroline's reflux is so severe that literally everything comes back up unless it's pumped, thickened with rice cereal, and bottle-fed to her.

Seriously? It sucked a lot to hear that. I worked insanely hard at breastfeeding for many weeks because I thought it was best for her. Turns out it doesn't even count towards her nutrition in the doctor's eyes.

So I guess that's pretty much it for nursing. I'm sad about it, but I'm trying to look at it this way: at this point, my desire to nurse is really just selfish. It's easier and more convenient than pumping, and I enjoy that closeness with her. But it's obviously NOT what is best for her. So, I just have to pump for as long as I can to give her as much breastmilk as I can... and beyond that, it'll be formula. I definitely want to reach at least six months (just two more), and then I'll reevaluate after I meet that goal.

And honestly, I am just happy that her issues are this easily solved, and that she's doing so well. So I guess that's the best news of all. [:)]

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Putting on the pounds!

It's been awhile since I last posted! But in my defense, I had a bazillion people visiting this week for Caroline's baptism, and they kept me pretty busy.

First of all, Caroline's weight gain has been awesome since I switched to pumping to thicken her feeds and started waking her up to eat. At her last weight check (almost a week ago), she was 10 lbs 1 oz! So she gained over a pound in just one week. I was so incredibly relieved. I think I might have lost it in front of the pediatrician (again) if she hadn't gained anything after working so hard at it all week long.

This has been pretty hard on me, I'm not going to lie. I worry so much about her, and Tyler has been gone for most of this month (he's gone again as of yesterday, but will be back tomorrow). I was pumping every 3 hours around the clock for awhile, which is exhausting. I used everyone's tips on how to increase my supply (thank you all so much!)... I did end up bringing my supply up enough that I've reduced the amount of formula she needs by about half. I'm hoping that the GI will let us add more nursing sessions (right now we're at 2 per day) if her weight gain still looks good when we go for our follow-up this week. It's definitely nice not to have to change both of our outfits every time she eats!

Then, in the middle of all this, we had Caroline's baptism. Tyler's parents, brother, sister-in-law, and their two little girls came out for it. Everyone except his parents stayed with us in our tiny apartment... it was very chaotic. They left yesterday, and I am still tired. It's just kind of stressful to have to do all that pumping while trying to be a good host/wife/mom to 6 adults, a toddler, and two babies-- all in a very small space. Especially when the toddler keeps busting in on you while you're pumping and then runs away, leaving the door wide open for your father-in-law to walk by and check out the dairy-farm action. Sweet.

Well, that's about all I have to report for now. It's a relief to have things seem to be looking up for my little one. I'll leave you with a picture of her after her baptism, on her great-grandma's lap:

Check out that (newly) chubby arm!! [:)]

Friday, May 15, 2009

UGH!! x 10000

Caroline went for a weight check yesterday, which revealed that she only gained 5 oz in the past month. UGH. That puts her somewhere awfully far below her growth curve. I literally felt sick when I saw the scale. Her pediatrician was concerned about this, to which I say, hello?!? Did I not tell you that there was a problem like a month ago?? And also:

He asked me to switch to pumping so that I can add cereal to her bottles to thicken them (so that they'll stay down better), and to start waking her every 3-4 hours at night to feed her. UGH. She usually sleeps at least 10 hours straight at night.

He sent us to the hospital to get bloodwork done, which thankfully turned out mostly normal. He also called the GI specialist to get us in right away, and warned me that they might ask me to wean her completely to put her on a very expensive hypoallergenic formula (UGH). He suspected that there might be something wrong in addition to her reflux (UGH UGH UGH).

Honestly, hearing him say "wean her completely" was like a punch to the gut. I hadn't realized how attached I'd gotten to nursing her, now that it's become so easy for us. (In fact, I cried in front of him after he said it. UGH.) The feeling reminded me vaguely of her birth day, when I went to the NICU and the nurses told me I couldn't hold her.

So today we visited the GI, after many frustrating hours of trying to pump enough to feed her while she howled in her bouncy seat, and trying to bottlefeed her while she swatted the bottle aside and lunged at my boob for a mouthful of shirt. The doctor and nutritionist thought it was just severe reflux, but recommended we put formula powder and cereal in my breastmilk to increase its caloric value and keep waking her to feed, at least until she reaches a more normal weight.

Side note: by "we", I mean "me", because Tyler is gone yet again on a dinosaur job. He always happens to be gone when Caroline's reflux blows up in my face. Sigh. I don't know which one of them is planning this. Maybe they are conspiring against me.

Anyway. I am relieved that nothing other than the reflux is probably wrong. But I am sad about two things:

  1. Losing my full night of sleep. I'm worried that even once she gets up to a good weight, she will still want to wake several times a night to eat.
  2. I will definitely have to supplement with formula, because there's no way I can pump enough for her to eat 4 oz every 3 hours around the clock.
I know that's whiny. I know I have to do what's best for her. But her reflux is so difficult to deal with all day alone that I need the sleep at night. And I worked so hard to exclusively breastfeed. It's so hard to do that for a NICU baby who was unable to nurse and had tons of bottles right after birth. I beat myself into the ground for over six weeks to be able to do that for her. And after all that, she still isn't growing, so I'm not allowed to do that anymore. I know that supplementing is going to damage my supply, probably to the point where I won't ever be able to exclusively breastfeed her again.

And, I just don't want to give her formula. I hope that's not offensive to those who formula-feed. But I made that decision early on and stuck to it through a whole lot of obstacles, and I really believe in the benefits of breastfeeding, especially for a preemie who is disadvantaged from the start. I was so excited the night I finally pumped enough to replace all of her formula that I went back to bed after feeding her and couldn't sleep.

So, life isn't fair. We all know that. I don't want to give her formula, but then again I didn't want her to be born prematurely, and I didn't want her to spend weeks in the NICU, and if you want to be really technical and cruel about it, I didn't initially want to have a baby at all. Things just happen and it's not always fair, and you just have to get over the parts you don't like as best you can.

So that's the latest. If anyone has tips on how to increase milk supply aside from the obvious fenugreek, lots of water, and frequent pumping, please post in comments below.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Baby product reviews

I know a lot of moms, moms-to-be, and future moms read my blog, so I thought I'd write a post on our favorite (and not-so-favorite) baby items. If you recall, when I first got pregnant I had absolutely no idea what to do with a child... even looking at those "suggested registry" lists made me break out in a cold sweat, because I didn't even know what half of the things on the list WERE. So I researched every single thing we bought to death! And here's the product of my experience so far.


1. Boppy pillow. This has been absolutely critical to me every time I nurse. I have zero arm strength and no motivation to get any, so I NEED this to prop her up to my boob. It saves my back, too... and you spend a zillion hours a day nursing if you end up exclusively breastfeeding. You can also put the baby on it for playtime and tummy time. I used it to bottle feed in the beginning when I was pumping a lot, so formula feeders can get use out of it too.

2. Dr. Brown's bottles. Everyone has a different opinion on bottles, but I love these. They have extra parts which are kind of a pain to clean, but it's worth it for the reduction in gas and spit-up. I have a reflux baby. I would know.

3. Lansinoh double electric pump. Half the price of the Medela pumps, but I actually got better output with this pump than with my Medela hospital rental. Probably because I wasn't howling in pain the entire time I was hooked up to the thing.

4. Boppy bouncy seat. Half the time I just use it when I need to put her down. Even more important, we've had the same batteries in it since she was born (and we turn it on many times a day) and they are still going strong! Plus, it has catchy music.

5. As far as diapers go, we liked Pampers for disposables. We are currently in the process of switching to cloth, and for those we use BumGenius organic one-size (with the snaps). I'll be discussing my unlikely transformation into crunchy-hippie mama in a future post. Stay tuned.

6. Baby Bjorn or some other front carrier. 90% of the time I use this rather than a stroller. Also great for around the house when they are fussy in the evenings!

7. Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium. We've attached this to her cradle and she cannot fall asleep without it. She will even put herself to sleep without crying while she stares at it... enough said, right?

8. AngelCare movement monitor. We received this as a gift, but even if we hadn't, it would still absolutely have been worth the $100 or whatever it costs. We were so anxious about her breathing when we left the NICU that this literally saved our sanity. Even if your baby isn't in the NICU, you will probably waste a lot of YOUR sleep time constantly checking on their breathing. This gives you the peace of mind that everything is okay... and if it isn't, you'll know about it right away. And we've never had a single false alarm (although it does go off if we lift her out of the cradle and forget to turn it off, so I feel confident it would go off if she stopped breathing).

9. Halo sleepsacks and Kiddopotamus SwaddleMes. Swaddling is key to sleeping long stretches... otherwise, baby whacks him/herself in the face and wakes up. Receiving blankets don't work for very long-- baby busts out of them pretty easily, and the SwaddleMes have velcro tabs to hold the swaddle tight all night long. The sleepsacks are key if you worry about the SIDS risk of having loose blankets in baby's bed.


1. Nursing glider. I rarely sit in it, but it's a nice luxury. Sometimes it will calm her when I rock in it, but not always. If you have a recliner or rocking chair already, I'd say skip the expense.

2. Swing. It seems to me that everyone else's baby loves to sleep in it, but Caroline will only sit in it for a couple minutes with a pouty look on her face before she starts screaming. Not all babies like them, so I'd recommend waiting until you actually have your baby and then go test one out at Babies R Us to see if you have a swing baby.

3. Snuggle Nest. Even if you don't want to cosleep, chances are you will at one time or another in the beginning, just so you can get a little sleep! The snuggle nest lets the baby be close to you (some even have a little night light and an incline for reflux/congestion) but keeps him or her away from covers and pillows, which is much safer and gives you peace of mind. Not totally necessary, but nice to have. Also useful for transitioning to the crib from a bassinet or cradle (baby still feels secure in a smaller space within the bigger crib).


1. Huggies diapers: blowout central. (Although I have heard this depends on the baby.) Unless you have stock in stain remover, in which case hey, go for it.

2. Dreft laundry detergent. You don't need it, and the fragrance ingredients can actually irritate some babies' skin. Just use a "free and clear" detergent-- Caroline has super sensitive skin, and this has worked fine for us so far.

3. Travel system. ALERT! DO NOT get this. I ignored lots of advice and got one because I didn't want to buy the Snap 'n Go frame for the carseat and then have to buy another stroller later on... but they are HEAVY and awful and I just don't use mine because it's too much of a struggle. Get the infant carseat, Snap 'n Go, and later on get a lightweight stroller like a Maclaren.

So, there you go! I hope it's somewhat helpful to someone out there. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments, I will try to remember to answer them!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


3 months ago today... before all the tubes and wires...

One of only two pictures I have of me holding her on her birth day. I didn't know my dad had taken it until he showed it to me just last week... it makes me tear up every time I look at it.

I was so lucky to get to hold her right after she was born, even for just a few minutes. So many NICU mommies don't get that chance. I'll always be grateful that I did.

Happy 3 month birthday, Caroline!

Friday, May 1, 2009

My body, postpartum (dun dun dunnn)

You knew this was coming from me eventually!

I expected having a baby to totally trash my body. I mean, it sounds horrible, right? Growing a 7ish-pound person in there and then pushing it out your vag, or having it pulled out through a cut in your belly? (Some days I still can't believe I actually did that and lived to tell about it. It's all very Alien.) I've never been good about weight gain. I tend to get very upset, so this was one of the things I was really worried about.

But I came through it pretty much unscathed, in the long run. I obsessed over my weight gain the entire pregnancy, but from the day I found out I was pregnant to the day I delivered, I gained an unexciting 28 pounds. (Keep in mind, though, that I delivered at exactly 8 months pregnant.) I somehow didn't get any stretch marks, even though I have some from puberty so I know I'm predisposed to them. I'm still kind of chubby-looking, but most of the weight has come off without doing anything more than breastfeeding, eating reasonably, and halfheartedly jogging from time to time. (I'm about 5 pounds up from my pre-pregnancy weight, although I've lost a lot of muscle tone so that number sounds a lot better than it looks.)

A lot of the weight comes off directly after giving birth, and then it kind of stalls. I swear, at least 10 pounds of my weight must have been water, because about a week after giving birth I looked at my ankles in the shower and they were THERE again. I almost fell over in shock. They looked like sticks to me. I hadn't seen them in so long.

Even with weight loss, though, your body ends up being shaped totally differently. Your hips spread, at least if you deliver vaginally (I can't speak for the C-section mommas). Weight seems to be distributed differently. Your old jeans don't have a prayer of fitting. I've also still got that sweet linea nigra running down my belly, along with an attractive little kangaroo pouch due to stretching of skin and muscle. Probably nothing that about a thousand situps couldn't fix, if I ever had the motivation or energy to do them (I do not), although my belly button will probably always look slightly weird.

Overall, it wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined it to be. Which is good, because I am very vain and selfish like that. I'm hoping that by summertime I should be able to fit into my old clothes, because I really don't want to have to buy a new wardrobe! (Well, okay, I do, but not because I'm too large for my old stuff.)

Still-- it doesn't help when "friends" say things like "Oh look! You have a butt now! You never used to have a butt." (Insert Death Stare here. I'm getting a lot of use out of that thing lately.)

I'd post a "belly" picture, but Caroline is sleeping in the room that has the full-length mirror, and I don't want to wake the beast. I can tell you, though, that it looks absolutely nothing like this... (Quit sucking it in, you bitch.)