Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Emotional Recovery After an Unexpected C-Section

It's been over a year since I went through having an unexpected C-Section with my son. I have known that I wanted to write this post for a long time, but just haven't gotten around to it. Since I have hit that year mark I wanted to be sure to sit down and write it while everything is still fresh in my mind.

Having a C-Section isn't the worst or the most scary thing that could happen. It's not exactly wanted by the majority of women, but it really isn't a bad experience. There is a lot of emotion and recovery that comes with a C-Section that many women who birthed their child vaginally have not experienced though. I wanted to preface by saying, this isn't to scare women who are getting ready to have their first child and praying they don't experience a C-Section. This is for those women who have experienced a C-Section, and may experience one in the future, so that they may know that the emotions they feel and the things they have to process afterwards are completely normal.

There are a lot of unknowns as you prepare to bring your first child into the world. You've never experienced bringing a baby into the world, so you don't know what to expect when it comes to contractions, when labor is going to start, how the process is going to go, etc. You cannot exactly predict how the process is going to go.

When I was in the hospital with Jase, the day was pretty eventful. His heart rate didn't respond to labor very well and would drop at every contraction. My body also did not want to progress at all. You can read the full birth story here. When the Doctor made the decision to perform a C-Section I was relieved. I just wanted my baby out and I wanted him safe and healthy. I didn't want to risk things worsening, or being rushed into an emergency surgery. I was exhausted and didn't know how I would make it another hour. All I cared about was holding my little baby boy.

When they wheeled me into the Operating Room it hit me that this was a surgery. I was wheeled into a bright, white, sterile room with doctors everywhere. One by one they introduced themselves to me and told me what they would be doing. There was at least a dozen doctors. It was overwhelming and I was shaking uncontrollably. My doctor walks in and comes over to me and grabs my hand and apologizes for the stressful day. I was immediately comforted at the sound of his familiar voice, knowing the doctor who carried us through these ten months was the one going to bring our little man into the world. My husband walks in and grabs my hand and they perform the surgery. Before I know it my little man is out and crying and I am overwhelmed with joy seeing my healthy baby boy.

I wanted to hold him so bad, but my arms were tied down to a table and I wasn't sure what I could do and what I couldn't. So I laid there trying to see him as best as I could while my husband held him and showed me his beautiful little face. Then they have my husband take our son to the recovery room so they can stitch me up. It felt like forever before they finally wheeled me into the recovery room. I saw my husband in a rocking chair holding our son and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, I don't think I will ever forget that moment. I went to sit up so I could hold my little man, but the room was spinning from all the drugs so I had to wait. When I finally got to hold him, I fell in love all over again. It didn't matter how he came into this world, I was just so happy to meet him.

I was exhausted and the night seemed long, but I never once thought anything of the C-Section after that. When I woke up the next morning, and the nurses asked me to walk to the bathroom, I was quickly reminded of the fact that I had a surgery the night before. I couldn't sit up, I couldn't stand, my stomach muscles had forgotten how to work and trying to make them remember hurt more than anything. That's when it hit me, this recovery was going to be pretty difficult.

When I was sent home from the hospital I was told I couldn't go up and down stairs, I couldn't lift the baby out of his crib, I couldn't do laundry, I couldn't hold anything heavier than him, including him in his car seat. I was told to walk every day at least ten minutes, and a long laundry list of things you have to keep in mind after an abdominal surgery on top of the no-no list of birthing a baby. I quickly realized I wasn't going to be able to be super mom, and because of that I felt like a failure. My husband, mom, and sister changed every diaper those first few days to keep me from lifting, putting down, bending over and all the other things I was supposed to stay clear of. My husband had to bring the baby to me when he woke to nurse every night, because it took me long enough to get myself to sit up in bed, yet alone I wasn't supposed to bend over in his crib to grab him. I felt like a failure.

All the feelings of failure sweeped over me. I couldn't give birth to my baby the way I was supposed to. I didn't push out a child the way I was supposed to. I couldn't change my son's diapers like his mom was supposed to. I couldn't even get up to nurse throughout the night like a mom was supposed to. I could barely sit down and stand back up on my own, so forget about trying to do that with a baby in my arms. I felt like less of a woman. What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I do what my body was supposed to do?

I found myself apologizing to my husband for the lack of woman I was. I am sorry I couldn't bring our baby into the world in a less stressful way. I am sorry I need your help so much. I am sorry I cannot do this on my own. I was fully expectant to be sore and hurt after giving birth. But in no way was I prepared for the way my body would need to recover after having a baby through surgery.

Over the course of the year, I found myself wondering if my friend's would have a C-Section when they went into labor. I wasn't wishing it upon them in any way, but I wanted to know I wasn't alone. I wanted to have someone to identify with, to relate to, to say I know what that's like. When my friend's had near perfect experiences I found myself wondering why I couldn't have experienced that myself, why did it have to go all wrong for me? These were thoughts I felt ashamed of having, thoughts I wish I never had. But any time someone else went through it, my heart was equally broken for them as it was uplifted that I wasn't alone and I could understand what they were going through. When they told me they felt like they failed, I could say I had been there to. I could say I knew what it felt like to feel the sting of hurt when someone did what you couldn't. I could identify with them immediately, and it reminded me I wasn't alone.

Then at the same time I felt ridiculous. My child is healthy! My child is alive! I was able to have a child! I shouldn't feel this way at all. But the truth is I did, and I can't stop the way I felt. Even more truth is that many women who have a C-Section feel the same things and feel just as alone as I did because we are all afraid to admit this is how we feel.

But over the course of the year here is what I have found to be true. It's normal to feel cheated or like you've failed...but it isn't true. You carried a child for forty weeks, your body provided the nutrients that baby needed to survive and grow. It doesn't matter how that baby came out of you, whether you pushed that baby out, or you offered your body to be cut open baring that forever scar, you birthed that baby. You went through labor for that child. You aren't less of a woman. You aren't less of a mother. Even more, you aren't alone. When it stings because you didn't have the perfect birth story, it stings for others too. You don't have to feel bad for feeling that way. You don't have to feel guilty for how you decide to bring your future children into the world now that you have a choice. Giving birth, no matter how it happens, is the most beautiful, super woman, powerful thing that you can do. You are one incredible mama.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Baby's First Year: Weaning from Breastfeeding


I was extremely nervous about the weaning process with Jase. I asked questions months before I even planned to wean, because I didn't know what I needed to do to lead up to that moment. I was nervous about how the transition was going to go, and I thought it was going to be so hard. It makes me laugh thinking back to it now because it was so much easier than I thought it would be. 

I knew that I would want to have Jase weaned around his first birthday. I knew this would be the easiest time to do so, before he developed an understanding and the ability to ask to nurse. I also thought it would be good to have a break before we began planning for baby number two. 

I began the weaning process at ten months by removing the dream feed from his schedule. Instead of nursing at 10:30 and putting him to bed, I moved his bedtime up to 8:30 and nursed him then for the last time. When he stopped taking his evening nap, he was ready to go to bed earlier. I decided to give it a try one night, laid him down earlier, and he didn't wake to eat at 10:30, he just slept right on through until morning. I kept it simple with just this one step that entire month.

When he hit 11 months I decided to begin encouraging him to get his nutrients from table foods vs breast milk. So, when he woke in the morning I nursed him and then fed him breakfast. Instead of nursing again at noon, I fed him his lunch first and stretched him until 2pm before nursing him again. Then when he woke I gave him a snack instead of nursing to hold him off until dinner, then he ate dinner, and I nursed him before bed. This stretched out to six hours between nursing sessions (8am, 2pm, 8pm). He made that transition with no problem. 

We continued that schedule for two weeks. This gave time for my milk supply to adjust to the changes with no pain. Then I decided to take away the 2pm nursing session completely, and I replaced it with a cup of milk. I started offering Jase cow's milk in a cup once or twice throughout the day around ten months. I didn't force him to drink it, I just left it out as an option. He didn't drink a lot of it, but he wasn't opposed to it. I figured he wouldn't take much interest in it until he was nursing less anyways. When I took this nursing session away, he would drink quite a bit of milk before laying down to nap. This transition also happened pretty smoothly, and he didn't seem to miss nursing at this time at all. (If your child seems opposed to cow's milk, you can try to mix half cow's milk and half breast milk gradually decreasing the breast milk in the mixture to transition). 

We continued this schedule for two weeks as well. Next I decided to eliminate the morning nursing session. When he woke up, I didn't offer to nurse him. I brought him straight to the kitchen, gave him a cup of milk, and fed him his breakfast. After he ate, he wasn't even hungry for nursing. I just kept his attention distracted and fed his belly in another way. I gave him his cup of milk in the afternoon before his nap, and I continued to nurse him at bedtime.

This may have been where he started to notice a little. If I sat in the rocking chair with him, or held him in a way that reminded him of nursing, he would point and cry wanting to nurse. So I had to stay away from positions that caused him to want to nurse. He usually was very easily distracted by something else if he had a moment. He was a little bit more clingy around this time, but nothing unbearable or too frustrating. 

We continued that schedule for two weeks. When I hit the two week mark, I wasn't exactly sure if I was going to go ahead and drop the bedtime nursing session or not. Jase had been clingy with dropping the others and I wasn't sure if he was ready. I happened to go out for the night and asked Chad to try and give him a cup of milk to lay him down for bed. Jase handled it perfectly and slept all night. The following day he didn't even seem to notice he hadn't nursed. So that night, we gave him some milk, then laid him down for bed and he went to sleep fine. It was like he hadn't missed a thing. My nursing days with little man were done. 

Weaning wasn't half as stressful as I thought it was going to be, or near as hard as I made it out to be. We took it slow, which I think helped my milk supply decrease on it's own. I didn't have to pump for pain except for maybe once or twice. Taking it slow also helped Jase to easily transition forgetting about it, rather than taking it all away at one time. Having daddy put him in bed when I dropped the bedtime nursing session was also a huge help since that is usually the hardest session to drop. 

It was crazy to me how emotional the process actually was for me. When I first began nursing, I couldn't stand it. It was so hard and I didn't know how I was going to make it a year. Then as I began to inch towards weaning, it broke my heart to not nurse my little man anymore. I knew that it was the first step in letting go, in letting my little boy grow up. We took that step just as we have taken others and will continue to take many more. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's A….




We are so excited to be welcoming a sweet baby girl into our family. Since we found out early I just had to wait until the next ultrasound to make sure it was the real deal. I keep having crazy dreams that it ended up being a boy after all. Gotta love pregnancy dreams! And all the people that tell you how they have heard that happening before. 

So, Elyse Ann will be joining our family at the end of March. I will be doing a repeat c-section, so as long as baby girl doesn't decide to make her entrance early, she already most likely has a birthday: March 31, 2015.  I am already enjoying filling my house with little girly things and am so looking forward to decorating the nursery! I am glad we get to experience the best of both worlds, a sweet little man and a sweet little miss. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bump-date Update

I am incredibly behind on bump-dates, so I am going to compile a few pictures all into one post and then start with the details from this point on. It almost seems silly to be starting so late, but I really want to have these posts to look back on like I did with Jase. I definitely would have started sooner if I have not been without a computer.

Anyhow, let's get on with the baby bump shots. Can I just say, I feel like I have been showing so much quicker than I did with Jase, and am already so much bigger. I know it's not like a massive difference, but I definitely feel bigger. We planned to wait until 12 weeks along to announce and there was no way I could make it that long without people suspecting!






Now for the details:

Gender:

Well, our ultrasound to find out the gender is schedule for November 17 at my 20 week appointment. But my Doctor must really love me and asked if I wanted to pop into ultrasound for a quick peek to see if we could see what baby number two was at my 16 Week appointment. If you follow me on social media, you probably already know, but I am going to save this announcement on here for another post.

Name:

Well, you have to know the gender before you know that one, now don't ya?

Due Date:

My due date is April 5, 2015 but we will most likely be doing a repeat C-Section. It looks like the C-Section will be schedule for the Tuesday before my due date which makes our little April baby a March baby. We are supposed to set the date and time for sure at my 20 week appointment, so we will see what it ends up being.

Weight Gain:

My starting weight was about 128 and at my last appointment I was at 135. I am definitely gaining quicker than I did with Jase, but hopefully it won't mean I will gain a ton or have a hard time shedding those pounds. Trying not to worry about that part too much.

Movement:

I started feeling movements for the first time right around that 13 week mark. It was only little things here and there, within the last week or two I have started to feel them more constant. Especially when I go to lay down at night, baby starts dancing like crazy. I love when I get to feel those movements, it's definitely my favorite part. The added reassurance that little one is doing well is always great.

Craving:

I am obsessed with Chex Mix. I had it once when we went to the Women's Conference in October, and now I have to keep it on hand for those random cravings. If only it was a bit healthier. Actually, these cravings have not been the best for me so I have tried to stay away from them, or at least limit myself. I started off craving lemon loafs from Starbuck's like a mad woman. Currently my new favorites are black olives and pickles. Seriously, I did not have this many cravings with Jase at all.

Yucky:

Meat. Meat. Meat. And Meat. My biggest aversion to food has been meat. The entire first trimester meat was a HUGE turn off. Especially chicken. Now I am doing a lot better with it, except there can be one night where I start to eat meat and a couple bites in I cannot finish it. It's so hard to get sufficient protein when I struggle eating meat.

Feeling:

Really I can't complain about anything. I made it through my first trimester with little throwing up, quite a bit of nausea here and there, but I know women who have it so much worse it makes me thankful I am not throwing up every day. My back pain started right away this pregnancy and I can't really afford the chiropractor right now, so that's a bummer. That was a huge help with Jase, but I just can't find one since we moved that is affordable. I went through a period of time where I had so many headaches, and so bad, but those are somewhat tempering off. My biggest symptom is the heartburn, indigestion, and just this constant feeling of acid boiling in my stomach. They prescribed me a stronger antacid at my last appointment because Tums were not helping at all. This has been a huge help, and as long as I remember to take it every day I do pretty well.

Differences:

This pregnancy has been different than with Jase in the area of food cravings and aversions. I didn't really have constant cravings with him, and the only thing I couldn't stomach with him was mexican food. It just always made me sick. But otherwise, it was pretty simple. This time, not so much. It's so hard to find what to eat. The acid issues have been a major difference as they are way more extreme now, but otherwise the way I felt through the first trimester was pretty similar. I am definitely showing way earlier!

Looking Forward to:

I was looking forward to my ultrasound next week, but now that I know the gender, I am not as eager for it. I am still anxious for the whole anatomy scan and just believing for a good and healthy baby at the end of that. Still looking forward to seeing my little one during the ultrasound, that is always so much fun. I also cannot wait to start on the nursery!

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Adventurous 12 Weeks


You probably remember me making this exciting announcement back in September. If you happened to miss it, I will catch you up to speed. We are expecting baby number two and have been so excited!

I intended to update the blog a lot more with fun little weekly bump dates and all those little details, but when my computer broke in the beginning of October that kind of changed things. I still want to remember all these little moments and have them to look back on like I do with Jase, so hopefully I will be able to start from this point on.

If you remember in my announcement post, I mentioned the first twelve weeks had been extremely adventurous. I promised more on that and I am finally getting around to that post.

My cycles had been all over the place, so we weren't exactly sure how far along I was. The Doctor brought me in for an ultrasound to discover just how far along I was so we would know how to schedule my future appointments. I was nervous for this appointment, just like I was for my first appointment with Jase. It doesn't matter how many times I read that I am pregnant on a home pregnancy test, I still feel like I can't believe it until I hear it from the Doctor. Please tell me I am not the only one who is like that?! Any how, during the ultrasound we got to see our itty bitty baby and he/she's little flickering heart still too small to pick up the sound. Then our ultrasound technician says, "It looks like this could have been a twin pregnancy." I kind of like froze, I wasn't exactly sure what to say next so I laughed. The thought of twins, although double the blessing, overwhelm me just a tad. But she went on to say she didn't think it was viable if it was a twin, but I would need to come in for a follow up. So we made an appointment for the following week.

I went back the following week and the second area was still there, but was not growing. They determined that I would need to continue coming back until it dissolved. Both of these appointments I didn't see my doctor, just the ultrasound technician. At the first ultrasound we discovered I was 5 weeks and 5 days along. So when I went back the second time, I was 6 weeks and 5 days along and I was able to hear the little heartbeat this time. Always such an amazing moment. I came back again the following week, and again the following week finally being able to see my doctor at this appointment. He told me that they were just following up on the area thinking either it was a blood clot or a separation, if it was something serious he would bring me back in the office after the ultrasound and we would talk. So I went off to ultrasound just praying it would be gone, but it wasn't. She went to talk to my doctor about it, who wasn't concerned, so just sent me on my way. So, I continued to set up the weekly appointments and went back again. By this time I was pretty freaked out. I hadn't really gotten to talk to my doctor about the situation, so I wasn't really sure if this was serious. I had been wanting to get excited about this pregnancy, but at the same time had no idea if it was going to end up in a miscarriage. It was really hard. So when I went in at 9w5d for my ultrasound I asked the technician if I could talk to someone because I was really worried about it. My doctor wasn't in, but she had someone call me that afternoon.

I found out they were watching a blood clot, which is actually more common in pregnancy than we think. An area that the placenta tends to bruise, so to speak, and not fully attach. So I had been put on light activity rest. The area usually resolves itself and the pregnancy continues on healthy and normal. The nurse was so sweet and so reassuring which was just what I needed. Still a little nervous about it all, I was able to relax some more and just really began asking for prayer about the situation. I tried to look on the bright side of things, from five weeks on I had the opportunity to have an ultrasound weekly and watch this baby grow. It was so cool to see the change week to week.




I went back for my 11w5d ultrasound to find that the area had completely dissolved and healed! It was such a relief to receive that news. I am so thankful for everyone who was praying for us during that time and for God keeping this precious little baby safe. It was definitely an adventurous first trimester, but I love that I have all the little pictures to look back on.