Came Through Drippin’

No one tells you shit about breastfeeding.  It’s all “natural” and you’ll just figure it out, except you just don’t.

You picture this:

feeding

But instead you get this:

IMG_8576 (2)
(I laughed so hard at this gif I cried.  I probably was also just crying at the accuracy. But it’s so damn funny).

I always pictured myself breastfeeding my baby.  Maybe because I was breastfed, not sure really, but it was just what I pictured.  I had this vision that the baby would be born, they’d put them on my chest and voila the baby eats.  I’m sure a tad naiive, but you don’t really hear about people’s trials and tribulations until you’re in the trenches having them yourself.

I also had the added challenge of having a preemie and one that was in the NICU, so that does throw a monkey wrench in things. I am sure I would have learned some of what to expect had I taken a lactation class.  Oh wait, I signed up for one but it ended up being was AFTER the baby was born while we were still in NY.  Not exactly helpful.

Still.  Aside from knowing I needed to get a breast pump through my insurance (which I thought I would only use when I went back to work-HA). That was basically all I knew. I had what they called “meet and greets” in the NICU where Liam would test out breastfeeding for about 5 minutes or so a couple times a day just to kind of get the hang of it.  You had a specialist there helping you position and giving you tips.  But it was more important that he ate so he mostly had expressed breastmilk from a bottle.

When we got home though, I was supposed to work our way up to breastfeeding by adding duration and frequency each day. Well, instead of that, we had mostly episodes of us both sobbing-him in starvation and me in failure and disappointment.  We just couldn’t get it no matter how hard we tried.  But, I didn’t want to give up, I felt that for us, breastmilk would be the best nutrition for him if we could make it work.  Some choose not to breastfeed at all, and luckily there are some great formula alternatives out there.  But I can see why some who do want to breastfeed end up stopping for so many reasons.  It has not been easy for me.  It has not been fun.  It’s not some warm and fuzzy bonding experience for us. It just isnt. Some people do have this magically easy breastfeeding journey.  Baby gets right on there, knows what to do, supply is good and they’re off and running. But, nay, not I.

For those of us who didn’t/don’t have that, here are some of the things I experienced so we know we’re not alone.

  • Supply and Demand
    • After I gave birth, the NICU sent a lactation specialist to my room to explain the pump they were lending me.  They ran through the parts, how to use it, how to clean and sanitize, how often to pump (every 1-3 hours) to get your supply up since I didn’t have the baby with me to creat the supply. When you start breastfeeding with a full term baby or one not in NICU, every time they eat your body makes more milk.  But if you don’t have the baby with you, you have to fake that by using the pump very often.  I was “allowed” one 4 hour break at night (YAAAAY) but otherwise 1-3 hours and I needed to get hooked up to the machine and watch as after 30 minutes only tiny droplets came out. But I still filled out the labels and brought them down the hall because something is better than nothing.  But 30 minutes, 8 times a day for DAYS on end to get drops into a tiny bottle was brutal and felt fruitless.
  • Manual Expression
    • This is when you give yourself a handcramp “massaging” the milk out of your breasts.  In the hospital I had more luck with this than I did with the ginormous pump machine.  When you’re only getting drops, every drop matters, so watching as they painstakingly drip into a mini bottle was exhausting and satisfying at the same time. Plus, bonus, my hands are ripped now.
  • Hospital Grade Pumps
    • Because I was going to have a delay on actual breastfeeding the nurses recommended I get a hospital grade pump so that I could have a stronger machine to get the supply up. But you have to rent them weekly or monthly, they legit are not for sale, it’s so strange.  Felt strange paying $80 a month to rent a pump when I already got one for free.  But, when I returned my NY rental and drove home with my own small pump and had to wait several days to get a MA rental, I learned why.  My supply dipped significantly and it was so frustrating. Pumping the same amount of time for the same number of times a day and getting half as much was so maddening that I actually lost my mind on the phone with a durable medical equipment company who was the 5th from the list I received FROM MY INSURANCE company to tell me they don’t rent those. After many phone calls we finally found one nearby and I (thanks to my mom’s quick thinking) called my cousin who lived around the corner begging her to run over there before they closed at 4:30.  Life. Saver. This thing is a beast but I kind of don’t want to return it so I’m still paying the monthly rental fee. I’m afraid, if I am being honest, that the other one just won’t do the trick.
  • Fenuwhattttt?
    • When you’re trying to breastfeed directly, and your supply isn’t enough to feed your baby, your baby gets very frustrated. On top of any mechanical issues that might be present, a supply problem will leave the baby hungry and frustrated.  The only way to get it up, feed more and pump more.  But sometimes that just doesn’t cut it.  In comes Lactation “treats”: Cookies, bites, smoothies, tea, supplements.  And I’ve tried them all.  The teat tastes like garbage, FYI. Turns out the magic trio is oatmeal, flaxseed and brewer’s yeast.  All of these lactation snacks have the three of these ingredients camouflaged by other things to make them taste good. You can also take herbal supplements like Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle.  What are they you might ask?  I have no freaking idea.  But I am taking 3 of each 3 times a day like a champ anyway. If you want a good cookie recipe tho, hit me up.
  • Lactation Consultants are Angels
    • They are weird experts in breastfeeding that totally deserve the $300+ a pop per visit (most are covered by insurance thank GOD).  I went to three appointments in an office in the first couple weeks we were home.  Problem is, apparently Liam is a performer.  Every time we went he would somehow eat a full feed with basically no issues whatsoever.  The consultant was like, boom, you’re good to go.  Send me home with confidence only to have him snap his jaw down on my nipple like a crocodile or just root around like a weirdo while crying but definitely not eating.  Then I got one to come to my house and thank goodness for her.  Her expectations were realistic and she focused on my comfort first, because if you’re miserable you’re likely not going to want to keep doing it.
  • Nipple Shields
    • These things.  Thank goodness for them.  Some people are anti.  And I can say it is difficult to transition off of them.  But when my in home consultant came over she gave me absolution for trying them and they worked wonders. Especially when you’re in so much pain!
  • PAIN
    • Everything you see or read says breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt if you’re doing it right.  Cool.  But what if it does hurt?  What if you get excited he finally latches, but it hurts so bad you cry, but also don’t want to stop because it took so long to get there. What if you cry in the shower when the water hits you or if you accidentally graze your boob with your elbow.  When I went to my 6 week appointment I pointed out the cracked redness and she said “yeah it kind of just comes with the territory”. GREAT. Highly recommend coconut oil before pumping btw.
  • APNO
    • Luckily the same day as my 6 week appt the lactation consultant came to the house, took one look at my milk devices and said those are infected, you need APNO (All Purpose Nipple Ointment).  I was so annoyed my doctor didn’t pay attention to me, but so grateful she did. You have to get it done at a compounding pharmarcy.  Won’t get into the annoying-ness that is my insurance trying to tell me I had to get it done at a send away pharmacy only to find it wouldn’t be covered regardless.  Luckily I could swing the $44 because it saved me.  Within a few days I learned I could actually not want to chop my nips clear off.  What a novel concept!  APNO 4 LYFE.
  • Flanges
    • What the eff is a flange you ask?  The cone-like things that act as a funnel for your milk and simultaneously make you look like 80s Madonna.  There are different sizes and a super vague description of how to tell if they fit properly. Even if it hurts you do kind of get numb to it, so it was weeks of using the wrong size before I was corrected and given the right ones. Amazing.  If you’re interested, check out Pumpin Pals, they’ve worked much better for me than the ones that come with the pump.
  • Let Down
    • The feeling you get when you try to breastfeed again and it doesn’t work.  Or…when the milk comes down from your glands and gets ready to come out.  I use the former definition more often, but you know, to each their own.
  • Latch
    • Before this when I heard the word latch, I thought of a good jam feat. Sam Smith.  But now the word latch was the bane of my existence.  The consultants have you form your nipple/areola area into a “sandwich” and then super quickly push the baby towards it all while holding the baby horizontally with knee, hip and shoulder in alignment, making sure your hand isn’t too close to their mouth, that their nostrils are exposed (cuz, you know, breathing), that their tongue is down and the nipple is facing towards the roof of their mouth.  And while you’re doing this you should be relaxed and enjoy this 1 on 1 time with your baby.  Wait, where in this itinerary is the relaxation supposed to be?  Picture this line up of tasks for 45 minutes while never latching.  That was the first few weeks of our breastfeeding attempts
  • Leakage
    • You will drip milk all over things.  Also, breastmilk is very fatty aka oily aka it stains things.  Also things that stain, Lanolin (the cream you can put on for comfort post feeding). You should just know this, exhibit A:
    • IMG_8402
  •  Storage
    • Two months into pumping I found out there are storage bags you can pump directly into.  Legit life changing.  I had been washing and sanitizing 16 bottles a day NOT including the ones I was using to feed the baby. Pumping directly into storage bags has honestly improved my quality of life. 10/10 Highly recommend.

This list is kind of all over the place, but it boils down to this: Breastfeeding is nothing like what I pictured.  The nurses in the hospital kept complimenting me for being dedicated to it, but I never felt like I had a choice. If you don’t get your supply up right away, you kind of can’t. So, I guess I was dedicated?

We’re still working very hard at this.  There is nothing that feels natural or relaxed about it, even though we’ve gotten much more of the hang of things, especially as Liam’s gotten older and his muscles are developing.  I envy the women and babies for whom this comes naturally. And I completely understand the women who decide not to keep doing it.  It is a whole damn thing. And people need to know it is not all gumdrops and rainbows.  For me, it was mostly tears and, well, tears.

Also, if you don’t get the title of this blog post, please look up Cardi B.

 

Groundhog Day

Bill Murray

Over the first week or two of being home with the baby all I could think of was the movie Groundhog Day.  Funny enough, several friends later on used the same term to describe the days after bringing baby home.  I’d say it is a pretty on point term, except for the fact that in the movie he sleeps in between reliving the same day over and over.  And in this sequel, sleep is not in the cast. LOL.  Except it’s not funny because you’re too tired to laugh.

I’m not sure anyone can really prepare you for what this is like. I’d want to be mad at my friends for not really prepping me, but I don’t think they could have. Obviously all of these things are specific to baby.  I’m sure some of them sleep more (JEALOUS), plus there are feeding factors (breast, formula, pumping).  But I think many can relate to this groundhog day feeling.

The days just merge and blend together when your baby is eating about every 3 hours.  There is no day or night.  There is no usual “wake up” routine because that would require actually sleeping.  The big question is…if there is no bedtime or morning time, and no meal times but you’re constantly starving then…when do I brush my teeth???  This is a serious question. This has really been stressing me out.

So, my weird blurred days included breastmilk (a post specifically about the wild rollercoaster of breastfeeding is coming next). But, since Liam was a NICU baby, he was a little immature to really take to breastfeeding directly which means I was primarily pumping and then feeding it to him via bottle. But, they also wanted me to do some breastfeeding trials at most feedings so he could get “used to it”.  So, this added an additional factor vs those who are exclusively formula feeding or breastfeeding.  But still.  Here is a sample of what a day in the life looked like (slash mostly still looks like now):

5am

  • 5 minute diaper change paying close attention to avoid getting peed on or allowing him to pee on his own face. Only 50% successful on either end of that goal regardless of speed.
  • 10 minutes of attempted breastfeeding which is basically just him crying in frustration and starvation while I cry from feeling bad that it didn’t work.
  • 25 minutes of infant led bottle feeding (aka holding him sideways on my knee and feeding him with the bottle horizontally.  Totally not what I was used to). Meanwhile he aggressively resists burping by screaming like I am throwing him out the window. Don’t you know this will make you feel better, bro!
  • 5 minute diaper change because inevitably he decides to take a giant poop whilst he is eating even though I just changed his diaper. Gotta make room, you know.
  • 30 Minutes of holding him upright because he has reflux and we are trying to avoid choking in combination with milk shooting out of his nose which is VERY unpleasant for all involved.
  • 5 Minutes of swaddling him and putting him down to sleep. This part is actually pretty easy…most of the time.
  • 30 Minutes of pumping since he isn’t breastfeeding successfully I need to make sure I get out as much as possible to stash in the fridge.
  • 15 minutes of cleaning and sanitizing bottles and pump parts to get ready for the next time.
  • 15 minutes collecting diapers, burp cloths, poopy clothes and setting up laundry.
  • 15 minutes of staring at him sleeping in disbelief of his extistence and also putting my hand under his nose to make sure he is still breathing
  • And that leaves 25 minutes to sleep OR shower.

8am

SAME

11am

SAME but also give him his vitamins and iron because #preemielife

2pm

SAME

5pm

SAME

8pm

SAME

11pm

SAME

2am 

SAME

Annnnnnnnnnnnd it’s the next day. My friend and former student who had a baby a few weeks after me posted a collage that pretty accurately depicts the line up I just described and she gave me permission to post it here:

groundhog kelly

How cute is her little nugget?!?! When I saw this on IG I laughed so hard because of the relatability and this post was almost complete so I had to throw it in there.

So, this is not a complaint post, believe it or not.  How can I complain when I’ve been waiting to be in this zombie fog for years?  But this is a level of walking coma I could have never imagined. I don’t know what day it is. I can’t remember whether I changed my clothes today or yesterday. Taking care of this little miracle is the most amazing, insane, exhausting thing I could ever think of. I’m sure many of my mom/parent/caregiver friends can relate to this and replace some of my things with whatever their own cyclical tasks are.

Thank goodness for getting through those first few weeks where it is 97% trial and error.  What is that noise? What does this mean?  Should we try this contraption where we suck snot out of his nose using our mouths? The answer is yes, it is so gross in theory but works wonders. And for me I was starting at week two given his NICU stay delayed our “start time” a bit. We also have made some strides in feedings and streamlined the cleaning process which has helped immensely. But, we didn’t even attempt to get the hang of things until about a month in.  And by get the hang I mean just being cool with being dirty, tired and confused 80% of the time.

sleeping-parenthood-mom-meme

All about milk post coming next!

Adventures in the NICU

I feel weird writing this one, but for anyone who hasn’t had a child in the NICU or a family member, it is really hard to understand that experience. I should also preface that in the general scheme of things we were EXTREMELY lucky.  There were babies in the NICU that were very sick and required a lot more care and intervention than Liam did.  But all the families and parents in there can relate to the overall experience. I think the biggest feeling I experienced in there was that this was just not what I pictured.  I pictured going to the hospital with my hospital bag packed.  I pictured the baby being born and put on my chest for bonding time and having him sleep in my room.  And having visitors to the hospital to meet him bringing balloons or flowers. And leaving the hospital two days later totally not ready to take this show on the road.

I did not picture driving feverishly to the hospital with nothing that I needed, or having him be born only to have the nurse hold him up in front of me and then wisk him away or sleeping (somewhat soundly) in the hospital room with only the sounds of other people’s babies down the hallway to wake me up. Or leaving the hospital in a wheelchair with an “It’s a Boy Balloon” but with no baby in my arms and random people asking me where the baby is…

It’s just not what you imagine and it is so emotionally taxing. Even for those of us lucky enough to have a relatively short stay and relatively few complications.  My friend who had a daughter born with a health condition called CDH and had surgery at just a couple days old, posted this video on Facebook from Motherly Media that shows a little about what it is like to have your babe in the NICU.

I sort of compiled a list of some of the craziness related to having your little one in the NICU.  I’m sure it doesn’t include everything, and I wish I took more pictures, but this was the general gist of our experience for the first 10 days of Li’l LJ’s life.

  • What is That Noise?
    • It is incredibly scary to see your baby hooked up to a million wires.  And like I said, we had a relatively “unplugged” baby compared to a lot of others.  But there are beeps and bells and things going off all the time and his leads kept falling off so all of a sudden it would be like RED ALERT no pulse, no heartbeat and I would panic and then a nurse would come over nonchalantly and just reattach them.  It would happen a couple times per hour at least.  The best is when it would happen when you’re feeding or burping him and you think you blocked the airway or something.  Mildly Terrifying.
First Pic
So many cords.  But look at that little butt chin!
  • Your Phone Is Disgusting
    • The NICU unit was like Fort Knox.  For good reason, but you’d have to buzz yourself in and then sign in and ask if you could see your baby.  You go into a super intense handwashing station, which, not gonna lie, I kind of wanted to buy to have at my house.  And there are signs everywhere telling you that your phone is dirtier than a public toilet-not surprised, but still.  Wipe that Shit Off ( literally).  They’re gross.  When you’re in the hospital you kind of just stroll down the hallway whenever you want, but once you get released you have to get a visitors pass and go through this whole process.  Glad it was secure but also felt like a whole thing to see your own child.  After a few days visiting , they start to recognize you.  You still feel like you’re trying to get into the hottest club and hoping they’ll let you past the velvet rope.HottestClub
  • No, You Can’t Come See the Baby
    • One of the hardest things is being so excited about your new arrival and not being able to share it with people.  The more visitors you have, the higher likelihood of infection so you have to keep it pretty tight.  You want to share this exciting moment with family and friends but you really can’t.  It definitely feels a little lonely and isolating.  You feel like you’re missing out on part of the new baby experience.
  • Bili-What?
    • When Liam was born, he didn’t need CPAP or a feeding tube which was great news.  I expected him to be in an incubator when we went to see him for the first time but he was just out in the open.  It was so exciting.  My mom and brother came down so we were excited to introduce him, but when we got back to the NICU he was in a NICU with a tiny eye mask under these bright blue lights.  It was kind of shocking because he wasn’t originally like that.  We were told his biliruben levels were high and he needed to be “under the lights” to keep the numbers low and prevent liver damage and worse. I was thrown off since he was out and we could hold him and then all of a sudden he’s in this tiny tanning bed sort of locked away from us.  I never even heard of biliruben but a lot of babies need this treatment, even when they’re not early. It was very scary to go from having full access to the baby to having them in glass.
Lights
I just needed a little tan!
  • Tiny Diapers
    • Do you know how small a preemie diaper is?  About the size of a maxi pad.  About half the size of the pad they give you after birth, lol. When the first nurse asked if I wanted to change the diaper, I was like umm sure. Then she just handed it to me.  Now, I’ve changed lots of diapers but none this small and not through two tiny holes in an incubator.  Needless to say, I failed miserably at this task.  I kind of thought she’d give me a lesson, but nay. She did not.  She was like sink or swim mama.  I sank.  But I got the hang of it eventually. Also, yes, boy babies will pee all over an incubator if you don’t go fast enough. Fun fact.
Incubator
Very challengin to change a diaper through this hole!
  • Pump Station
    • When you have a preemie, if you plan to or want to breasfteed, they give you a hospital grade pump while you’re there.  If you have an on time baby, your milk supply is usually created by the demand of the baby itself.  But when the baby is in the NICU, there is no demand to be created so you need to essentially fake it and a regular pump you get through insurance just won’t cut it.  They had a lactation team that would come give you a lesson and it is brutal.  When you first start you are legit getting droplets.  Spending half an hour doing manual compression (yes it’s exactly as fun as you think) then strapping yourself up to the cones and getting hardly anything.  But the nurses want you to deliver it anyway because it’s full of antibodies and good stuff so they feed it to your baby in a syringe until you start making enough for a bottle.  It is emotionally and physically exhausting.  Kenny was doing late night deliveries from labor and delivery of thimble size milk drops.  Luckily the supply came in eventually and we were driving our little cooler of “the goods” to and from the hospital for the next week. The NICU even has a pumping room with little stations since most of the moms there need to pump every 1-3 hours. You’d walk by and hear a symphony of suction every hour of the day.
  • No Food Allowed
    • There was a tiny waiting room for family.  It was surprisingly small to me, but then again we weren’t supposed to have visitors.  But for us who weren’t from there, we basically treated it like a job, it was sort of our home away from home…away from home.  We were there from about 9am until 6pm every day.  That way we could participate in the feedings every three hours, change him, do skin to skin, soak in all the bonding time possible within the rigid schedule they were all on. You weren’t allowed to eat in there.  I was like wait, we are here all day and we can’t even have snacks?  Seemed outrageous to me.  There was a cafeteria and Au Bon Pain in the hospital on a different floor.  But when you’re pumping and cleaning parts and feeding and changing the baby by the time you’re done all that you have like 15 minutes to eat.  We broke the rules a few times.  I know, this is shocking.
  • NICU Nurses are Superheroes
    • Legit.  These nurses are amazing.  They had so many tiny nuggets to take care of with all kinds of issues, tubing, cords, specific needs.  They were throwing around these tiny beings so calmly and confidently, and providing emotional support and coaching to the parents.  They honestly got us through this ordeal. High five a NICU nurse if you know one.  They are the shit.
  • Infant CPR
    • In the waiting room, there were signs for support groups and classes and all kinds of resources.  They offered, sort of required, you to take an infant CPR class before discharge.  I’ve taken CPR a bunch of times for teaching fitness classes, but never with the intent to use on my own child.  I know a lot of people will take this class on their own before they have a baby. But the fact that it was kind of required was a scary wake up call to me.  As was the mom in the waiting room, awaiting discharge of her baby, who told us she took her little one home and then she stopped breathing due to infection and had to be readmitted.  “Good thing I took the class” she said.  Ok, lemme go sign up right now…
  • PUPP
    • The day or two after I got discharged I had this little rash around my waistline.  I thought it was just an irritation from the sexy mesh underwear the hospital gives you but over the next few hours the rash covered my whole body from shoulders down to my knee caps.  It was unbelievably itchy.  We thought it was an allergic reaction maybe but to what?  Everything I’m using is not my normal stuff so who knows.  It was AWFUL.  Sitting in the hospital for 9 hours a day wanting to rip my skin off.  Finally had to go to the doctor and was givin steroids, took 5 days but eventually went away.  I thought it might not ever go away.  Thanks to Kenny’s sleuthing online we ended up figuring out it was this thing called PUPP, a rash that often develops in pregnant women in the third trimester and can last until birth.  But sometimes it develops after birth, lucky me. Picture skin to skin or pumping on top of a full body rash. Hot.  Literally. If you’re feeling brave, look PUPP up on Google Image.
  • Just give it to me straight
    • I like information. I know that medical things change, and not everything can be predicted to the T, but we got all sorts of crazy info in Labor and Delivery and then different information in the NICU.  And then different information every time we got an update.  When you’re more than 4 hours from home, don’t have any of your stuff, dealing with hormones and fear and confusion, you just want to know what you’re in for.  Am I here for a few days? Weeks? Longer?  We were told on Friday, if he passes the carseat test you can probably leave Monday, then we were told mid week, then end of week, then we’ll have to see.  All based on whether or not he was eating enough, what his biliruben levels were, etc.  I know those things can change but the pushing back process was rough for my mental state.  I just wished they told me the longest time possible and then anything sooner would have been great.  I walked in one morning thinking we were leaving in a day or two and the nurse nonchalantly says maybe this weekend and I lost my shit.  Kenny was parking the car so I was alone.  It just through me over the edge to have it pushed back again.  We didn’t have clothes, we had to buy underwear at Target, like what the hell.  Then the nurse told me he can sense that I’m upset.  OK LADY, That is not helping me feel better either! Ugh.  All the staff was great, but I was like don’t tell me a date until it is a HIGH likelihood that is happening.  For the love of God.

Overall, like I said, we were incredibly lucky.  There were moms who went back to work because their babies were in the NICU for so long.  They would come in as we were leaving with their cooler of milk dressed in their work clothes.  There was another baby in our nursery who coded while taking his vitamins. After a couple of minutes of chaos, we hear the nurse say “Well, welcome back sir.”  Terrifying.  Can’t imagine what that mom was going through.  Another baby was readmitted after her and her twin were released, and the parents didn’t listen to the no visitors rule, ended up being treated for meningitis.  All in all our NICU experience was positive and on the low scale of risky.

But for first time parents, especially after everything we had been through to get to this point, that shit was scary as hell anyway.  As was taking him out of the hospital right into a 4+ hour drive back to Massachusetts.  NOT the chillest road trip I’ve ever been on.  But an amazing feeling to be wheeled out of the hospital 10 days later with baby in the baby carrier and headed home.  Who knew when we picked the name Liam, that the meaning Strong Willed Warrior would be so on point!

Up next on the blog, the first few weeks home, or as I like to call it Groundhog Day.

Strong-Willed Warrior Part II: “Practice Push”

Alright, so life with a newborn is, well, a whole thing.  It has taken me a while to have a hot second to write part II of this post. And, truth be told, I am hoping Little Liam decides to not make any weird noises while I am writing this so I can get through it!

So, where did we leave off…clear liquid diet.  So after hours of taking meds, not being able to eat or get up, and no food.  They finally let me have chicken broth, jello and gingerale. It tasted like the best thing I have ever eaten in my life.

I got admitted into the hospital around 7:30am on Sunday, it was now Tuesday around 12:30pm.  24 hours of cytotek every two hours, no dilation.  I was going a little stir crazy.  Everyone there was super helpful and nice except this one POS Doctor.  We’ll call him Dr. Shhmerens.  He decides its a good idea to come into the room and say “Betcha wish you knew before now it was a bad idea to drive down here for your shower, huh?” amongst other annoying comments including telling me I might be sitting here for several more DAYS.

BRO.  Definitely joking with a lady having her baby 6 weeks early in a hospital she’s never been to 4 hours away from home see.  You should certainly joke about how she shouldn’t have come.  That ought to elicit a great response. After he made me sob, the nurse felt bad, went to tell him, he comes back in to “apologize” aka patronize me for another 10 minutes. “Some patients like to lighten the mood with humor, I can see you’re not one of them.  I don’t want to set unrealisic expectations, so how about we just don’t tell you any timeframes at all from now on.” Then he starts talking about intelligence and some people have some kind of intelligence and others have “medical intelligence”.  AKA you’re stupid and didn’t understand what the doctors told you which is why you’re upset now. A-HOLE.

Luckily his shift was almost over so I didn’t have to deal with him again.  But, I was able to write a nice little note in my hospital evaluation form explaining my lack of satisfaction with his bedide manner. 🙂

When my doses of oral cytotek were complete, they decided to use the suppository version aka they put the medicine directly on your cervix…PLEASANT. Now I would have this joy every two hours until something, hopefully, happened.

My mom and brother drove down thinking we would have our little bundle by now, but instead they are in my room playing rummy and watching me sip broth whilst hiding eating delicious treats. About 3:30 the contractions finally started happening.  I had felt tiny glimpses while on the other meds, but now things felt like they were kicking into gear.  I got nervous and excited.  Over the next few hours they got more intense and quicker…Yay this means stuff, right?

NOPE.  They kept checking me and still NOTHING.  How do you break a window to get out of a place and then hide in a corner for days not leaving.  What the heck.  So, now I am in a ton of pain, but not dilated and just miserable. And, I’ve had two episodes where I’ve had a big contraction and every medical professional on the floor come running in.  Baby’s heart rate dropped on the monitor and it’s panic mode.  They lie me down, put me on oxygen, move me to my side and hope they get things going again.  Luckily they did and they were somewhat false alarms.  But they left me feeling TOTALLY CALM and Chill.  WAIT.

I started thinking I might need a C section.  I just felt like with no movement, two days of drugs plus these episodes, can’t be good.  I was ok with that, I had no “birth plan” because…as we found out…you can’t really plan for something outside of your control. But, if we could avoid surgery that would be ideal.

After about 3-4 hours of intense pain, my mom and brother left, I told them obviously nothing was happening until tomorrow so they should at least get some rest. Meanwhile, I think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so people tell me anyway.  But, this ish was crazy.  In my head, before all this craziness, I would get an epidural if I needed one. And, let me tell you, I needed it. I was asking the doctors, but they didn’t want to give it to me too early and around 7 I still wasn’t dilated so they said no dice.  I was trying to tough it out, listening to meditations, whatever I could, but it got to a point where I asked for the doctor and said I needed it.  If this wasn’t happening until tomorrow, I at least needed to sleep.

They finally okayed it and the Mr. Magic Sandman arrived shortly thereafter.  Since you can’t get up, they give you a catheter (YIKES).  But I finally felt some relief and decided to try and get some rest.

A couple hours later, I woke up and asked Kenny for some ice chips.  But something felt funky.  The epidural was feeling like it was wearing off and I felt a ton of pressure, it was the weirdest sensation.  It was around midnight, and we called the nurse in to check.  All of a sudden shit got real.  I told the nurse I felt like I had to pee which made no sense since–the catheter.  And then I was like I need to push and she was like “NOOOOOOOOOOOO.  Don’t do that. I’ll call the doctor.”

The doctor came in, checks me out and says “8cm and 90% effaced. Wow that went fast. Call in the team”. Meanwhile I was like I legit have to push.  All the doctors in the world came in, counting tools, changing the bed around, it was all a blur.  The nurse said ok let’s do a “practice push”. Inhale and when you get a contraction bear down. Well I did and well, it was not practice.  Three contractions later this little bugger came flying out. They said “It’s a boy!” and I was like wait what happened. That was fast.

The whole thing was just wait, rush, wait, rush, wait, rush.  But there he was. 3 contractions and about 8 pushes he was (finally) here.  What an insane experience, the whole damn thing. Since he was a preemie, they let me give him a little smooch and then swept him off to NICU to be checked out.

The doctors checked me out (and gave me a few stitches even though he was tiny-ugh!) and then quickly wheeled me to recovery.  Where they got to press incredibly hard down on my uterus (FUN) but they also gave me honey nut cheerios which was the first thing I got to chew in days, so I’d say we were even.

Kenny got to go to NICU and see the little guy.  We had already decided on names, years ago, so we knew it would be Liam.  But we had decided to make one small change, John as the middle name, in honor of his Papa, The Big Cat. So, after all this, we have our little guy: Liam John Lubin aka LJ aka LL aka Li’l Cat.

The next chapter will be about adventures in the NICU including this fun task called Manual Expression, learning what the heck biliruben is, and how to change a tiny diaper through incubator holes!

 

Strong-Willed Warrior Part I: Ice Chips and Your Imagination

Ok. So, here we go.  I’m splitting this story up into two parts because basically ish is bananas (B-A-N-A-N-A-S). As I tend to do from time to time, I’ll start at the end.

Liam John Lubin aka LJ aka LL Cool J aka Li’l Cat aka “El” aka bug (that’s what Kenny calls him) was born at 12:46am weighing in at 4lbs 9oz on Wednesday, August 15th. A casual 6 weeks before he was supposed to arrive.

Liam

Welcome to the World!

Now, let’s go back to how we got here. If you’re a reader of my blog you know that we have had quite the bumpy road to get here. I, honestly, really didn’t know if we’d ever get here. So, not surprisingly, the people in our lives were super excited for us but everyone was also quite cautious, as was I.  This caution led to baby shower and/or non-shower like celebrations to be planned a little later than is typical. And, as much as I like to plan and set things up. I was ok with that. Because having a shower made me a little nervous too.  It’s hard to picture yourself being showered with gifts for a baby you weren’t sure you could ever have.

We were slated to have a NY celebration with Kenny’s family and our NY area friends one weekend and then an official non-shower part in MA the following weekend with our people up here.  I got some super cute bump accentuating dresses for the occasion, because having been someone who has always struggled with weight/body image issues, I was kind of loving the chance to celebrate having a belly!

We were invited to a good friend’s wedding in MA on Saturday and then the shower in NY was Sunday so our original plan was to drive down early Sunday morning, get ready down there and then come back to MA on Monday. Earlier that week Kenny through out the idea of having the car packed up at the wedding and deciding if we wanted to get a head start and drive down that night.  That way I could sleep most of the way, and we wouldn’t have to worry about traffic the next day.  I thought it was a great idea, as long as he was awake enough, since I wasn’t the one driving.

I went to the doctor the Tuesday before for my every 2 week check up. My doctor was on vacation so I saw someone else in the practice.  He was fine, the appointment was quick and I had an ultrasound scheduled for the Monday after the MA shower. *Truth be told, I actually called and had the ultrasound moved up to the Thursday before the MA shower because I just wanted that visual reassurance that everything was fine before enjoying the celebration. Everything at the appointment looked good, but I was about 2 weeks earlier than they usually check you out physically.And then fate laughed at me in my face.  LOL

Saturday I went and got my nails done at my regular place, went with a nice neutral color to go with things for the wedding that night and both showers. Irony continued.  We packed up and got ready for the wedding.  It was a lot of fun, although I was super tired and just large, so I wasn’t busting a move the way I typically would at such festivities.  Around 10:30 we decided we would hit the road so we took off, stopped at a rest stop close by to change into driving clothes and I snuggled up with my big @$$ pregnancy pillow and passed out for most of it.

We got to Long Island around 2:30am, made great time, moved into Kenny’s sisters guest room for the night and went to sleep.  This is where things started to get interesting.  Mind you, I am the doom and gloom, panic dramatic to the extreme one, and Kenny is the so calm he doesn’t event things that are an actual thing are a thing one.  We would be better off with one of us as a middle person.  Anyway, around 5am I woke up to (sorry for the description) a little squirting that felt like I had to pee really bad and didn’t make it in time.  It was pretty minimal but still felt very weird.  I had been for weeks having very urgent pee feelings so having to rush wasn’t that crazy.  And I was having a weird water based dream, so I thought that was definitely strange, but maybe it was just a 8+ month pee incident.  I woke up Kenny anyway, knowing he was just going to say you’re paranoid it was nothing.  Which he did. And he is level headed so I changed and went back to sleep.

~I did have in my head the story of a friend’s water breaking very early with her twins in bed and her trying to convince her husband that is what it was that kept lingering~

About 2 hours later I was awoken again, this time it was pretty clear it was not just a not getting up in time to go to the bathroom incident. The wetness was extreme and I waddled quickly to the bathroom to see my whole pant leg wet and also blood.  CUE EXTREME PANIC MODE.

I waddled back into the bedroom somewhat huffing and puffing woke up Kenny pointed to my pants to which he definitely realized this was not nothing and he ran into his sister’s room.  Luckily we were staying with a Nurse Practitioner and a Radiologist, so of all places to be that weren’t home, this was a good one.  His sister comes in takes a look and calmly says “Ok Colleen your water broke, Matthew is going to drive you to the hospital now.”

I then proceeded to lose my ever loving shit:  This is too early. Why is this happening.  I am supposed to have my shower today.  We are so far from home.  I am 33 weeks and 6 days.  What if the baby is not ok.  After all we’ve been through, and then a smooth pregnancy, why why why. How far is the hospital.  Will my insurance pay for this.  How long will we be here.  What if the baby isn’t ok. I don’t have anymore underwear.  I don’t have any of my stuff with me. How far is the hospital.  What do I bring. Oh my god. I want my mom.

We hopped in the car, Kenny’s sister called her friend who is an ER Doctor and her husband called his brother who is also an ER Doctor.  Doctors are so calm, duh, but it is funny when you are in a full blown panic to have someone on the phone say in the calmest tone ever “So, Colleen, it looks like you’re going to have this baby. Congratulations”.

We were then accidentally driven us to the wrong hospital. I did NOT handle this well.  Apparently almost every medical facility in Long Island has the same name, sooooo.  Luckily we were only about 10 minutes from the right one.  We were sent to the hospital where my nieces were born because it had the best NICU in the area.  Assuming we were going to have a 34 week preterm baby, we wanted to go there.  Once we got in they made me stand there LEAKING FLUID EVERYWHERE while they created me as a patient because I obviously didn’t exist.  Then wheeled me up to Labor and Delivery triage where everyone proceeded to be in no rush whatsoever.  This is a theme.

I just wanted a medical professional to hook me up to some things and tell me everything was OK.  The finally brought me in to triage and did that and once I heard the baby’s heart beat I felt a slight bit of relief. I wasn’t in any pain, no contractions, but just emotionally a disaster.  The doctor came in and checked me out and confirmed I did in fact rupture my membrane.  Then she said, “you’re going to be admitted.  We are going to put you on steroids for 24 hours to promote lung maturity and the tomorrow once you’re 34 weeks we will induce you.  Because you’re far enough along, it’s actually riskier to leave the baby in for longer and potentially get an infection than to take the baby out.”

Alright, WELP.  Guess we’re not going to the shower?  Guess we should call my mom?  So, Kenny called her and started with “Everything is ok, but you might want to come to NY.  Also, can you stop by our house and pick up a carseat?” WHAT.

The nurses and doctors thought this story was HILARIOUS.  You came down to NY for 24 hours for your baby shower and you’re going to have your baby instead.  Can they bring the gifts here?  We love food, have them bring some here.  LOL  They did not seem worried about the baby’s health or wellbeing which calmed me down significantly, given the circumstances.

Eventually I was moved to a hallway for people who weren’t delivering yet.  It was a low key floor, not a lot of hooking up to machines (a blessing and a curse since I liked to hear things).  My mom came down after a million hour drive and a friend brought us a pizza which tasted like magic after all this.  I was able to shower and rest a little while taking antibiotics to prevent infecitons and the steroids to help baby’s lungs develop.

On Monday around noon they moved me over to labor and delivery.  Mind you, I knew an induction would take a while.  They had said it could be 24 hours depending on how my body responded to the meds.  But, I was not prepared for the torture that was to come. When I got over there I asked to pee and the nurse said I don’t  have orders to let you go to the bathroom, I will give you a bed pan and I was like oh hell naw, I’ll wait.  Luckily the doc came in soon after and gave orders to pee.  But, they also didn’t tell me that once I got over there I would be NPO aka Nothing by Mouth (but in Latin).  Excuse me, what?  I am going to be here for 24 hours at least and I can’t eat and no one warned me.

Kenny told me afterwards that this was his only concern about me.  I handle pain pretty well but I don’t handle hunger well.  So the nurse said you get “ice chips and your imagination“.  I was now put on Cytotek orally every two hours at increased doses to help soften the cervix.  It doesn’t cause contractions per se, but the softened cervix can eventually help you contract.  It works slowly and it is less aggressive than Pitocin which was the only induction drug I had ever heard of.  Since I was early and the baby was showing no signs of distress, or of labor, they didn’t want to use Pitocin unless necessary.  So here I was NPO, ice chips, imagination, and swigging cytotek every two hours.

And LITERALLY NOTHING WAS HAPPENING.  FOR HOURS.  A MILLION OF THEM.  It was the most extreme version of hurry up and wait I’ve ever experienced.

Just when I thought I was going to lose my mind and pass out from starvation they decided to let me have a clear diet.  That gingerale, broth and jello was arguably the best food I’ve ever had.

Part II coming soon.

How Are You Feeling? And Other Dumb Sh*t People Say to Pregnant People.

For some reason, I think being pregnant makes people feel like they have free license to do or say whatever they want.  It’s rather fascinating to be honest.  I experienced it to a certain degree while we were trying to conceive or being open about our trials and tribulations.  But there is something about a tiny alien life form taking over your midsection that makes people say “Hey, it’s the Wild West out here now. Let it rip!”

So, I thought I’d make a list of things people have said or done to me, or to some of my close friends, that are just weird, strange, off-putting, unique, or just plain rude. But, mostly funny.

  1. How Are You Feeeeeeeeling?
  • This one is actually not a weird question.  It totally makes sense that people would ask how you are feeling.  The funny part to me is that this is the ONLY question you get.  As soon as I announced I was expecting, this replaced any other pleasantry-type question I would normally get.  And now it was only this one.  It just struck me funny.  Especially because most people don’t actually want to know.  It’s just the pregnant version of How Are You?  Your close people might want to know the real answer, but most just want you to say “Pretty good, thanks for asking.” They don’t typically want you to describe your constipation, weird sleeping habits or the fact that you can’t bend over or move your ankles anymore due to swelling.  But, sometimes I tell them anyway.  My standard answer for this has been “Hot and swollen, but overall pretty good!”  Which is half honest, half polite, and a smidge sassy.

2.    What are you having?

  • Welp. I’d say it is likely a baby!  There are many variations of this.  Are you finding out what you’re having? Do you know what you’re having? You AREN’T finding out what you’re HAVING! How? The funny part to me is not the question per se, it’s the assumption from most that you obviously would find out of the sex of the baby in advance and they couldn’t comprehend why or how you wouldn’t. My typical joking answer has really been “Yes!  A Baby.” But that’s only when I’m in the mood to be a twit, because I clearly know what they mean. The best is when the question is asked “Are you finding out the gender?” and I say “No we aren’t finding out the sex of the baby.” (Because biological sex and gender aren’t the same thing). And then they say “Wow. I don’t know how you can do that, you’re such a planner!” And, not trying to be a jerk here, I get it.  The science is there, why not use it. I understand why people would want to find out and be curious if we are too. If you are someone who would want to theme out a nursery specifically based on the sex or have a mostly pink or blue wardrobe, then yes it would actually effect your planning.  But, that’s just not our vibe.  We’d go grey, white and mint with a splash of chevron and elephants regardless anyway (I know SO CUTE, right? lol) So how does it change the plan? And, to be honest, if you want to get me a tutu or a pair of suspenders, go for it! I’ll totally put them to use! Luckily I know about 5 other couples expecting right now who also aren’t finding out so we have a little posse of outliers.

3.    I KNOW what you’re having.

  • Basically the opposite of the previous one.  Because you don’t know, other people think they do know.  I actually quite enjoy it because the various reasons are so funny.  You’re carrying low. Your skin is nice. I had a dream.  I had a premonition. It’s just a vibe I have. Your butt is or is not poking out (but why you looking my butt tho?). Our friends and family are weighing very heavily in one direction, for different reasons, which I do find interesting.  But, the odds are pretty high it is one of two major options.  So, I’d take those odds.

4. I know what you’re having based on your current ugliness level.

  • This is the one that throws me for a loop more than the rest.  Why would you comment on a pregnant person’s beauty (or WORSE lack thereof)? We already feel like big swollen cows, even if we are THRILLED to be pregnant.  Luckily, I guess, the version of this I have gotten is something like “I think you’re having a boy because you still look pretty” or as blunt as “You’re having a boy because you aren’t ugly”. Yes…I heard this in real life. But all I am thinking when I get these is what would you say to me if you thought I was having a girl?  Which means you think that IS making me ugly?  Well, I happen to know the answer because someone said the statement to my mom when she was pregnant with me: “You must be having a girl because she is stealing all your beauty.” WHO SAYS THAT HONESTLY.  And I am 2 weeks shy of 36 and my mom remembers this vividly. Also, some of my already beautiful friends were equally as beautiful while carrying girls so potench that theory is flawed? So, maybe give the person your biological sex guess if you feel inclined, but perhaps leave out how that is related to how ugly or how beautiful you think they are at the moment.  That would be cool.

5. WOW. You look like you’re about to POP!

  • Let me tell you about how many people like to hear this statement…0.  Approximately 0 people want to hear this.  Whether or not you think it.  Whether or not it is true.  No one wants to hear that.  The translation in a pregnant woman’s head when she hears this is “LAWD JESUS YOU ARE HUMONGOUS. That baby must be falling out of you any damn second now”.  This is another one that is just, why? What compels you to say this out loud to someone?  I know this happens because it happened to me last week, while I was 30 weeks.  So, needless to say my response was snarky…”Nope. About 10 weeks left, but thanks.” Because I have decided I am not just going to hold onto the discomfort your comments make me feel, I’m going to send just a little bit back to you. It’s not open season on body commentary.

6. Can I rub your belly?  (Or worse, not asking).

  • Can you imagine, in 2018, walking up to a woman who you do not know or think is pregnant and just rubbing her? Or asking to rub her? Hopefully your answer is no of course not that would be CRAZY, So, what the EFF. For some reason, when you are growing a tiny human, the rules just don’t apply?  There is exactly one person at work who I let rub my belly, and she knows who she is and that doesn’t bother me at all.  But, in general, just go ahead and don’t do that.  It’s so weird. People told me that would happen and I kind of didn’t believe them.  I am also not a big “random touch” fan in general. I like hugging people I am actually close with but not randos. If we are actually tight, and the baby is moving, and I ask you if you want to feel it, that is a totally different story.  That is an invitation, and a rare one at that.  I’m just referencing the random compulsion or even entitlement people seem to feel to have free range body touching because you’re pregnant. It’s weird AF, cut it out.

7. You are glowing.

  • You might wonder, what is wrong with this?  It’s a compliment, right? Yes. Definitely.  You have an energy, aura, or whatever about you as a pregnant person that people can sense or feel. To me, glowing feels like someone is saying you look Shiny and Round.  LOL.  Because that is how I actually feel.   It’s the summer and I am currently 31 weeks pregnant so I am literally shiny from sweat most of the time.  And I feel like a ginormous swollen orb.  It is very nice for people to compliment you and mean that your skin is nice, which, is sometimes a pleasant side effect of the pregnancy hormones and/or vitamins.  But I think it is one of those funny things that is almost always only said to pregnant people.  Like, does anyone else ever have a glow to them?  I’m just wondering.

8. Just one piece of unsolicited advice…

  • The way it is phrased, you know the people saying it already know it is kind of annoying.  LOL.  Like, I know you didn’t ask but I am just going to tell you this one thing. Don’t get me wrong, there have been a few gems in there that I’ve stored for later use. But most things are very specific to that family or that child and I’ve learned to just smile and nod.  I’m sure I will reach out to some specific people with specific questions at one time or another.  But it’s as if once someone thinks or knows you are pregnant, they feel compelled to tell you some piece of advice.  Something that worked for them. Anything. There’s like a word vomit thing that happens that I find very intriguing.

These are just a few I’ve thought of or collected over the past almost 8 months. This is not a hater post, either.  I have done or said some of these things myself.  It’s habit, or culture, or societal norms in some cases.  And I know most of it comes from either a good place or a place of not knowing what to say and people just fill the void with something weird. But next time you come across a pregnant lady, just consider, would I say or do this to someone who wasn’t pregnant?  And if the answer is no, you should probz just skip it…

business

Preggo in Paris

The long-awaited blog, which will surely not live up to any expectations because I am not even sure I can remember anything that happened in April anymore. LOL

eiffel

Hopefully I can go back in time and remember all the feelings I had while on our big French excursion. We originally planned the trip back in October or November.  I won an award at work that came with a little money and we decided we could always use it towards house things, but after our last loss in the fall we figured we could probably use a change of scenery and something fun to look forward to.  We debated where to go, but everywhere tropical was out because Zika.  Just not worth the risk <——this will be a theme. But, Kenny had always wanted to go to Paris, and had only been to Europe once for our Honeymoon.  Plus I really like wine, cheese and bread. So, it was a win win.

We had a lot of recommendations of places to stay and things to do which was awesome. My only requirement was that we didn’t spend the entire week in Paris, and that I wanted a little seaside portion which is how we ended up spending the last few days in Nice.

Plans went well, everything was booked.  We did buy the expensive *any excuse* vacation insurance, which I have always skipped because why would I ever not go on my trip?  LOL If we’ve learned everything in our few years of marriage it has been, buy the goddamn insurance because you just don’t know.

Turns out, we came close to needing it.  January comes around and my dad passes away, the next day we get a positive pregnancy test. Whilst literally trying not to get pregnant (apparently badly).  But now all of a sudden our purposefully planned trip to make us wait and look forward to something in order to “make decisions later” has become an accidental baby-moon slash dad-sad distraction trip.  It just took on a whole other meaning.

*In the meantime I also figured the pregnancy would end, like all the others had.  And that the trip would sort of go back to the original reason it was planned.* Just being totally honest here.  But, then, LUCKILY everything went totally normal. So, then I had to have all these “So I am traveling to another country while pregnant what the eff do I do” convos with my doctor. And I was incredibly unprepared for that.  They were so nonchalant about everything.  Which I am grateful for, but I was like I can’t be nonchalant about any of this.  More or less they told me the second trimester was the best time to travel, to relax and enjoy it. But, then there were some guidelines. This scenario was one I could have never actually pictured, so I couldn’t really fathom.

I’ve got a few general topics below that I sort of gathered my thoughts into.  But a few things you should know about me first.  One, I am very type A and typically pretty high strung, and not chill. (I know, I know, people who actually know me are reading this and yelling DUH at their devices).  But, when I am on vacation I am not like that.  I actually prefer underplanned trips vs. over-scheduled/prepped.  I think because I am on vacation relatively infrequently, I like to save up all my relaxation for there.  I save my money, so I can spend foolishly for a short time (so fun by the way, wonder what that is like for people who can do that all the time?).  I like to roll with things, eat whenever, go wherever, try things and places. So, keep in mind my preferred vacation style-as compared to my normal self lol-while reading these things.

Flying

  • I like flying, I know that’s weird.  Long flights don’t really bother me. I can kind of sleep anywhere, so I was ready.  But, I was given a bunch of rules.  And despite my carefree vacation mind, I am still a rule follower at the core.  The only thing they were worried about for the long flight was blood clots.  I guess you are more susceptible to them while pregnant because of the increased blood flow.  So, when you are at that elevation and typically not moving much, you are at a high risk.  So, I got to were these HOT compression socks.  And was told to get up a move around every 45 minutes.  On a 7+ hour flight, that is a lot of getting up.  The key was over-hydrate so you just have to keep peeing and that will make you get up.  ANNNNNNND we had originally selected our seats as window and middle because Kenny is a nice guy and I like to sleep on the window.  When we boarded the long flight over there I basically had a miniature breakdown thinking about how annoying I was going to be for the poor guy on the end.  And then Kalm-Kenny just told the guy I had to get up all the time because I was pregnant and we could either bother him the whole time or he could switch with me.  He smartly switched, although begrudgingly.  I watched a million movies to keep myself up and drank and peed about 2 gallons of water and then it went pretty much fine.

Other Travel

  • Whoever said Paris was super easy to navigate was a bold faced liar or wasn’t there during a rail strike.  The Metro itself was actually very easy.  But you needed to take the rail from the airport.  Also, note to self, when you have two carry-ons, two checked bags, and two personal items, and one pregnant lady…just pay the goddamn overpriced Uber fee from the airport and don’t try to be super-cool-practial traveler and try to take the train.

Our trip started with me having a minor mental breakdown in the train station. After figuring out at the airport how to get the tickets, where to go, lugging all of our crap, we get on a train.  Then, it says this will be the last stop, or some pretty sounding version of that in French.  And we get dumped out at some random stop trying to figure out with all our luggage how to get to our stop. Also, I have to PEE SO BAD and there is no bathroom in sight.  We finally get to our stop and proceed to try and use a bathroom at several places with no luck and I think I might actually wet myself and just go home. Luckily Burger King for the win.  But we still couldn’t find out street and all the phone apps were failing us.  We ended up taking a taxi like less than a half a mile because we knew we were close, but couldn’t freaking find it.  Arriving at the hotel was so relieving I was close to tears.  Luckily it was a completely adorable place and they were super nice! Thank God, I thought I was going to lose my shit and we hadn’t even done anything yet.

Food

One of the reasons I was most excited to visit France was the food. DUH. But, as the trip got closer, I was thinking about what I could actually have or not have.  What was “allowed” or frowned upon.  Basically all the food rules related to pregnancy are up for debate and mostly recommendations.  Most of the information I got was that most of the guidelines are based on protecting you and baby from food borne illness because your immune system is compromised when pregnant. So, they recommend you avoid certain things in order to avoid the risk of getting illnesses like salmonella, e coli, etc.  BUT, the likelihood of you getting those things is still low.  It’s just that your body can’t handle it like normal and the baby could suffer. These things to avoid change from doctor to doctor, or website to website.  Some are more strict than others, mine was kind of middle of the road.  But the general gist was avoid dairy that isn’t pasteurized (unless it is cooked), avoid undercooked meat and watch caffeine intake.  Also, deli meat is often a no no because of how it is cooked, and how it is likely to contain bacteria (unless you heat it to a high temperature).

jemeleAlso, at the traditional French restaurant where I ordered a steak well done and they almost threw me out, we got to meet Jemele Hill and her mom and they were awesome and super nice.  She even took a pic with us despite trying to hang there on the DL.

For the record many pregnant women eat these things, even at home, and have no issues.  But, me and my rule following self, and knowing my history, it just wasn’t worth the risk.

capuccino

Things you should know about France: they undercook literally everything, serve tons of cured meat, and don’t pasteurize 90% of their dairy.  So, you can imagine I had a lot of interesting food situations to navigate. I learned how to ask for everything bien cuit (well done) and then point to my belly when they gave me a dirty look.  We ended up eating a lot of Italian food, which was not the plan, but it was everywhere.  Not that they are that far apart, but I was surprised.  Luckily everyone was pretty accommodating, but I felt annoying to have to be annoying at every restaurant.  Trying to focus on the menu and make sure I wasn’t missing anything that I should have said no to. Even ordering Gelato was nerve-wracking because was this milk pasteurized?  And how do I even ask that question? AHHH.

Ultimately I ended eating my weight in bread.  Bread is safe.  I did indulge in some gelato, mostly the dairy free ones though, just to be safe.  And ate a TON of French fries which luckily were basically everywhere and delicious.  I would love to say I feel like I got the true French cuisine experience, but I don’t think I did.  I was just too nervous to enjoy it, so I stuck with the basics.  Will definitely be eating a lot more fun things if we ever go back.

Drinks

Don’t have to say too much about drinks.  Even though I love myself a festive bevvie, I haven’t really found myself wanting one or being jealous of those around me. But….Paris is a whole other animal.  The entire city is sitting outside sipping delicious wine in cafes and I was like I will have sparkling water si vous plait.  I did find myself wishing we could do a wine tour or champagne flights or something. But it wasn’t too bad. My best friend was also in Paris with her friend, so we got to do a few things with her including seeing a risqué cabaret show that was actually awesome.  And what is a cabaret show without a bottle of bubbly?  They graciously gave me an extra glass and some nice sprite and I enjoyed my pretending.  I had never been on a vacation where drinking wasn’t a central part of it (maybe that is a problem?  LOL).  So, it was just weird to be on a trip where this was not a thing at all. Otherwise, I missed it less than I expected.  Although, if I am to go back, bubbles All.Damn.Day.

cabaret
*Also, this outfit tho…

Sightseeing

 

One thing I didn’t really think about before we went at all was what kind of physical activity I should be expecting during all the sightseeing.  I guess, that was dumb of me?  I was just like churches, parks, old buildings, museums, what could be so bad?  I just underestimated the fatigue and how the jet lag would hit me differently given my current sitch.  It was very cool to see the Louvre and Versailles and Notre Damn and the Eiffel Tower.  But I was freaking exhausted.  Luckily my feet hadn’t turned into swollen bricks yet, but the amount of mileage I put on my sneakers was atrocious.

Also, ALL THOSE FREAKING STAIRS.  I was sorely underprepared for the stair situation at a lot of these places.  I did a lot of heaved over, waiving people passed me to take a breather.  It was a struggle I was not used to.  But tried to pace myself.  Still got to see almost everything we wanted to, tired AF, but still there.

Also, bathrooms.  There weren’t any.  I had just started the time period (which hasn’t ended yet) where as soon as I pee, and walk away, I have to pee again.  So I would plan accordingly and then still be in a panic moments later.  I developed a keen eye for scoping bathrooms from a far, but it was still a little stressful.

KennyThis is just a cute picture of Kenny 🙂

Overall

The trip was fun.  There were some good sights, good treats and a nice amount of relaxing.  But I’d be lying if I said it was the most relaxing trip I’ve ever been on.  I felt bad the whole time that I was reducing the amount of fun that Kenny was having because I was less fun. He would never say that, but I was not my “chill vacation self”. Not sure I would purposely plan a trip whilst pregnant again in the future.  Don’t know if it is really for me. But Nice, is dope AF and I would love to go back there.  Hit me up if you want to plan something for circa 5 years from now.

Nice

Trauma is some real sh*t

I’ve been trying to write the Preggo in Paris blog post for like 2+ weeks.  I just couldn’t do it. Sure I’ve been busy with work and all kinds of other things, but that wasn’t it.  I just, literally, couldn’t do it.  I’ve been reflecting on why that is and it all stems back to trauma. While I am trying to enjoy the pregnancy, and have been, that trauma never really goes away.  It just sort of lingers in the back of my mind an pops in, at sometimes the most inopportune times.

Examples:

  • I still look at the toilet paper every time I pee.  Every. Single. Time.  Not doing this on purpose, it just happens automatically.
    • One day I was wearing a red drapey shirt, when I stood up from the toilet I went into immediate terror because the reflection of the color of my shirt made the toilet look red.  This is my life people, on the daily.
  • I feel like I am wearing a costume.  Like it is just going to go away at some point and stop being real.  Even though I am feeling tons of kicks and punches and some full body rolls, there is still this doubt that hangs out that just won’t go away.
  • My mom is anti shower.  She has been my whole life, didn’t even have a shower herself.  Has always been a “don’t buy the bassinet before the baby arrives type of gal”. And, for a million obvious reasons, I totally get that. But, since we’ve been through so much, I also feel the desire to celebrate this exciting time with family and friends. However, there is a little piece of me that feels like if I am presumptuous enough or greedy/selfish with wanting some type of celebration, that it will all just disappear suddenly.  My practical self knows this is not how things work, but my emotional self has 100% taken over practicality these days.
  • If I wake up on my back, and don’t immediately feel the baby move…doom.  I’m supposed to sleep on my side, and have constructed some type of insane pillow fort to keep me that way. But, no matter what, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I’ve somehow wriggled to my back. (Which is particularly weird since I didn’t ever really sleep on my back before.)  But I automatically go to “oh no how long have I been like this? Has the blood flow been diminished?” It’s a curse.
  • We went to a baby shower a couple weeks ago.  There were four of us there in the crew who were pregnant.  Of course, we anticipated people would want to take pictures because the odds of that are so rare.  So, I was ready for it.  But when it actually came time for it, all the while knowing is should be in the photo, I was still standing up there like “I am not sure why I am here right now”. It is a weird in and out of body experience at the same time.  But the pic is really cute tho. 🙂

PreggoLadies

These are just some examples of my weird ass brain.  Now of course there have also been fun moments that I have certainly been enjoying.  Picking out cute things for the registry and nursery has been cool, albeit slightly overwhelming.  But, more fun than not.  We also did a “Meet the Doctors” event at the hospital where you get to hear from the panel of on call doctors who might deliver you, because let’s be honest, the likelihood of you getting your actual doctor are pretty slim.  And I would much prefer meeting you in a conference room for the first time versus when I am spread eagle.  Then we got to take a tour and they gave us the rundown about where to go and what to do when It Is Time. It was actually pretty fun and informative.  They even offer this stork dinner (for an extra charge) where you can order a fancy dinner with tablecloth and candles to have on the night before you go home.  Which I think is an adorable rip off scheme to eat crappy hospital food, but I wouldn’t do it anyway in because all I want is a turkey sub from Dags.  But, nevertheless, cute.

Other things I love. Maternity shorts.  Everyone should wear these, they are magical.  Nursing bras. Not sure I will ever want to wear any other type of bra, #sorrykenny. Not sucking in for photos, because you just can’t.  Haha.  It is quite liberating, not gonna lie. Needing to sit down and put my feet up, and not allowing myself to feel guilty for it. Bomb. Kenny feeling the baby move for the first time.  That was dope AF.

And, whether it is my grateful mindset or just pure luck (lol that seems ironic in this post), but I have really felt pretty good.  I know some people have really uncomfortable and sometimes painful pregnancies.  Aside from retiring my wedding rings and gladiator sandals due to some cute swelling, I can’t really complain much. I also think I probs wouldn’t complain anyway, given everything, but, that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, Preggo in Paris will come eventch.  Once I get my head right. And by right I mean distract myself from trauma brain long enough to write it.

A Brief Reflection on Mother’s Day

I had a lot of feelings yesterday, and I realized my feelings about Mother’s Day have shifted quite a bit for mostly obvious reasons.

First, let’s acknowledge not everyone was raised by a mom, has a mom in their life currently, or gets along with their mom. So, there is a whole heap of feelings associated with those things. But, in my case we are discussing the “has a pretty dope mom in their life” scenario.

Growing up, it was always fun figuring out with my dad what we were going to do or get for my mom.  She spends no time, money, or energy on herself because she spends all of those things on other people, like I said, dope. Although, she has gotten slightly better at this in her later years! So, it was nice to do a little cooking, cleaning, cards, gift certificates, or basically anything like that.  But no brunch.  Brunch buffet food is mediocre, and usually cold and that doesn’t fly with mumz.

MothersDayBrunch.png

But, nevertheless I’ve always thought of my mom, maybe grandmothers, godmothers, and eventually some other family and friends who became moms on this particular day.  I’ve never really thought about myself. Even as I reflect back I can’t really remember a time thinking this will be fun when I am a mom.

But, the last two years were a little tough, 2016 having had one chemical pregnancy and losing another right before Mother’s Day and then last year preparing for my first cycle of IVF.  There was this whole range of emotions, mostly longing, that I felt in addition to wanting to celebrate my own mom.  You see all these adorable FB posts (there goes social media stabbing you in the eye again) and then the memes about all the people the family would need to hire in order to cover the work of ONE MOM.  Not saying that is not legit by the way, but I’m sitting here on my laptop being like please give me all the laundry, bottle cleaning and whatever other chores you’re excited to give up for one day. I’m begging for it. Get at me later when I post that exact, or similar meme, in a few years LOL.  But, I’m just saying.

This year is a whole different animal.  This is the first Mother’s Day without my dad which feels ultra strange.  It was always a whole family affair. But we planned a pizza tour in Boston, so you can miss me with your bougie, expensive, stuffy brunches. 🙂

pizza

But, then, this weird thing started happening.  I was getting texts from friends and family wishing me a happy Mother’s Day, and I proceeded to ignore just about all of them mostly for lack of knowing a response.  I was like ??????  I am not yet a mother. I am lucky to be in a position where I will hopefully be a mother by next Mother’s Day, but I am MOS DEF not celebrating today.  Not begrudging any expectant moms who did celebrate, you do your thang girl.  I just couldn’t imagine it.

I think for those of us who have been pregnant, but do not have children, there is this an extra weight of concern and tempered emotion.  For me personally, you can call me mom when I am holding my screaming baby, and not before.  I appreciated all of the nice notes and sentiments, don’t get me wrong, but it made me realize that I really don’t put myself in that category yet.  Despite any registering, or day care inquiries (*insert panic*), or nursery color schemes picked out.  I feel like I haven’t crossed that mom threshold yet.  And, while I am excited to do so, I just can’t accept any well wishes on Mother’s Day any other way than super awkward and avoid-ish.

I hope all the mommas out there had an amazing day doing whatever it is you hoped to be doing.  I hope all the expectant mothers handled it however heezy they wanted to. And sending all the love, peace and strength to all of those out there who can now only wish to be celebrating that day someday.

#TalkAboutTrying

This will be a short-ish post.  Longer, more fun ones like Preggo in Paris will be coming up soon!  But, my friend pointed out to me that this was Infertility Awareness Week, April 22-28th.  So, I thought I would be remiss not to share a little about it here.

Resolve is the National Infertility Association which does education, support, research and more.  They also were the organization that coordinated the support group I went to for pregnancy loss.  They have had lots going on this week to raise awareness and “flip the script” on the infertility conversation…or lack thereof.

They have been using the hashtag #talkabouttrying to encourage people to be more open about their efforts, and maybe challenges, to conceive.  There is so much shame, guilt, stigma around not being able to get pregnant, or carry a child to term, that so many women (and men) are afraid or embarrassed, or a variety of other feelings, to share it.  And with so many people around us “seeming” like they are getting babies magical stork style, that is even more reinforcement not to talk about it.

I read this article on Today.com that really spoke to this message.

If this journey and this blog has taught me anything, it is that there are A LOT of women who are going through this silently, and often feeling very alone.  I’ve gotten endless emails, messages, comments, texts, or even visits to my office to say I’m going through this right now, or I’ve been there, etc.  And, some, even thanking me for being so open about my struggles because they’ve found comfort or at least camaraderie in going through this mess.  But, I don’t think I should get credit for this. I think I just wrote what I wish I had to read myself.  I want any woman going through this struggle, which is…NOT HER FAULT, to feel like she can be honest about it without shame or guilt.

I think part of the shame comes from well-meaning individuals who just say things they think are nice and helpful, but can make people hesitate in speaking up because they imply responsibility.  Like “if you just relax, it will happen”, “just give it time”, “if you can reduce your stress”, “have you tried eating_______?”, “If you just pray”, “have you tried *insert any other unrequested advice*. While I know these suggestions and comments come from a good place (mostly) they also put the onus and responsibility on the woman to DO something or NOT DO something to fix her fertility problems.  Which, just by nature, implies blame for the problems existing in the first place. When, in actuality, there are very healthy, fit, un-stressed people who have fertility issues all the time, and there are incredibly un-well folks who have babies all.the.damn.time. *Please see most of the shows on tv currently*

If you are having trouble getting pregnant both womanhood and manhood can be questioned.  You even pick this up when someone does get pregnant with small comments to men like “Good job”, “You did it”, “high five bro”, “you successfully put dna into a vagina where it connected with an egg at the exact right time and implanted into a uterus”, etc.  Think about what kind of message that sends to men and couples who are struggling.  Is that guy doing a bad job?  Is he not a real man?  These small comments can leave a lasting impact inadvertently.

The hardest thing for me, and I think other women who deal with this, to come to terms with is that it is not our fault.  It is not because of something we did or did not do.  We are not dealing with this as some form of punishment for some past indiscretion. So comments that relate to our behavior and choices feel very blame-y, or imply it is within our control which feels awful.  Cut it out. Please.

I think if women, in particular, but everyone in general was less judgmental in conversations, took more time to listen than plan responses, and avoid making comparisons when they don’t exist (i.e. my catsitter’s sister once…), women dealing with these struggles might be more willing to come forward.  It’s hard to admit that the one thing your body is supposedly made to do is not working.  It makes you question everything about your womanhood.  And people’s responses really do make an impact on how you feel about it.

Also, no shade to the folks who get pregnant without issue and have uncomplicated pregnancies.  That’s amazing.  But, for something that has happened since the beginning of time (procreating), there is a vicious cycle of acting like everything is hunky dory.  Pregnancy happens quickly and whenever you want it to, you’re nauseous and then everything else is great, you give birth and walk out hours later looking like Kate Middleton, acting like you’re not wearing a diaper filled with ice…I mean, seriously, did you see that?  When that is seen as the gold standard, and anything else is less-than, it’s hard to feel brave enough to be honest.  But, more women have some type of issues that arise, than not.  In this social media world we live in, the lives we share online and in public are often the curated versions we’d like to share and not reality. And then that is how others compare themselves.

So, to all my sisters in the struggle, only share what you’re comfortable sharing, but know from experience that you’d be surprised how much of a supportive and understanding community you have out there.  Your womanhood is not in question. So, if you’re feeling ballsy (pun intended) #talkabouttrying.  It feels pretty good. ❤