Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Big Boy, Little Boy

It's no secret that we've had our share of difficulties with Jacob.  He's an intelligent but very challenging kid, yet despite having some extreme moments with him over the past few months, I'd say that overall he's easier now than he was a while ago.  He at least has some really great moments to get us through the hard stuff, moments where you can see the awesome side of his personality.

Obviously the last couple weeks have been on the tougher side, particularly for me.  Yes, Craig has had to deal with Jacob's near-constant demands to play, but at least they're spending quality time together and getting to bond.  Jacob pretty much doesn't want to deal with me at all.  It's been very hard to connect with him.  Even when we're having a decent moment, he tends to sabotage it by acting up.  As frustrated as I've been in some moments with him over the years, it always seemed that a good hug or snuggle could fix everything.  It hasn't felt as much like that lately, and it makes me sad.

The crazy thing is that up until two weeks ago, Jacob was all I knew of parenting.  He was my only child, the one who taught me everything I knew about being a parent.  My parenting abilities grew and changed with him.  And then Carter arrived.  He started another chapter of my parenting story, and while my experience with Jacob has served me well so far, Carter will inevitably enhance it in his own way. 

I'm actually surprised how quickly I acclimated back to caring for a newborn.  I guess it's sort of like riding a bicycle.  But despite Carter's neediness, I suppose his needs are easier to care for than Jacob's.  Less complicated, at the very least.  He just needs to be fed, changed, and loved.  Jacob needs everything right at this moment, and everything comes with an argument attached.  It becomes infinitely harder to deal with that when there's another child's needs to attend to.  Even still, that assumes that he'll allow me to attend to his needs, which isn't really happening much right now. 

The hard thing is that the disconnect seems to be getting bigger by the day, and I'm not sure what to do to fix it.  All of a sudden, parenting Jacob feels almost unnatural.  And like I said, that comes as a surprise since up until two weeks ago, he was all I knew of parenting.  Maybe it's just that newborns bring out every crazy little maternal instinct, so caring for Carter is something that comes directly from my gut and seems to override everything else.  Suddenly his baby soft skin, smooth hair, and delicate little body parts feel more natural than Jacob's gangly limbs, dry skin, and scruffy hair. 

I don't know how to help Jacob get through this.  He knows that I have to spend a lot of time with Carter (and he's right--the kid eats nearly every two hours during the day right now--though he does usually give me a break overnight), so it's hard to find a good spot to really focus on Jacob when he's not running off determined to do something else.  And even when we do have alone time, like we try to get some nights at bedtime, he ends up acting up and I leave.  Maybe I need to push through it and stay so he knows I won't abandon him even if he's being naughty, but it's a fine line.   

It's amazing to me what a contrast the two boys are to each other right now.  I know that four years and eight months is a lot of time between two kids, but I don't think I realized how complicated it is to parent both at the same time, because each needs such different elements of my parenting arsenal and it's hard to shift from one to the other at a moment's notice.  I value both roles so much, but I'm not sure how to balance them right now.  Carter has needs that only I can meet right now, but Jacob's needs are more immediate and potentially more damaging if not attended to appropriately.  I've always heard everyone talk about the challenges of having two or more kids, but I guess I didn't realize they went so far beyond just the time constraints. 

I know we're not even two weeks into this journey and we will figure it out at some point, but it is definitely a challenge at this point.  A challenge worth taking on, though, no doubt.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

One-A-Day

Last time I was on maternity leave, I had very low expectations for myself.  My goal was to get one productive thing done per day.  It could be to clean something, do a load of laundry, call the cable company, or whatever.  It may not seem like much, but it turns out that taking care of a baby is a lot of work.  Still, the office job mentality is tough to leave behind, where you have a to do list and your self-worth is often based on what you can get done from it. 

This time around I feel a little more like an old pro, but even now I'm not quite sure where the day goes.  At this point Carter is still sleeping a lot, but I still feel like it's a challenge to get things done.  This time around I probably have more to keep me occupied, since there's Jacob's laundry and other pre-existing mom things to attend to beyond the needs of a new baby.  I try to set aside one nap for getting things done, and one nap for napping myself, but it doesn't always happen.  I'm trying to appreciate my time with Carter while I have it, so I don't hesitate to sit and hold him for a bit when he's sleeping or when he's wide awake.  I feel like my last maternity leave was a little regimented--I was so concerned with doing everything well--and I wanted to make sure I enjoyed this one more.  Last time I pushed myself to get things done when Jacob napped, to not spoil him by holding him too much, and to try to take real naps myself, but I think at some point Jacob's napping decreased greatly (it may have been some sort of colicky issues, or looking back on it it may have been his reflux, which we didn't know about until later) and I got frustrated.  That may still be ahead of us this time, too, for all I know, but I'm trying to keep things simple and casual for now.  I am trying to nap and I am trying to get things done, but I'm trying to stop and smell the roses, too. 

I do want to be a better homemaker while I can, so I'm trying to plan out better dinners, if nothing else.  I'm enjoying making my lunches--ahhh, the return of cold cuts!--and I'm doing what I can to sort through piles of stuff where I can.  It doesn't always happen as soon as I'd like, but I'll get there.  I still have to finish up a couple things in Carter's room, and I have curtains to hang in my room, but I still have a few weeks to manage that. 

The one frustration I have is that I don't really want to take Carter out into the germy world yet, but there are things I'd like to do.  I miss being able to go to Wegmans, Walmart, or Target without a big plan to make sure Carter won't be hungry and Jacob will be taken care of.  I want to help Craig out by picking up Jacob from daycare, but I'm hesitant to go there with Carter because inevitably there will be a lot of germy people wanting to get a look at him.  I'd love to stop into my office and grab a couple things I left there in the rush to leave, and Craig's office finally wants to give us the shower that had to be postponed, in the form of a lunch, but I'm admittedly nervous.  I'd like to get out in the world and feel productive.  Last time I was so nervous about taking Jacob out that I didn't even really want to be out very much, but this time I know I can do it (though I need some practice!) so perhaps I'm less hesitant. 

It's just funny how productivity changes once you have a baby.  I know that my job right now is to take care of Carter, and it's the most important position I can have.  Of course, my part time job in the evenings is to make dinner and take care of Jacob, too.  There's definitely a lot to juggle, and it will only get worse once I go back to work.  So for now I'm trying to enjoy the slower pace and maximize the time I have, while still being as productive as I can be.  But if I only get one other thing done each day, so be it.  I have something much better to occupy my time right now...


Monday, February 25, 2013

A Picture of Motherhood

The other day we had a couple FaceTime sessions on my iPod, first with my parents and then with my brother's family.  Technology is amazing that they could see Carter from across the country, and I could see my niece and nephew, who are getting so big!  The program has a window to show you what your camera is capturing, and I noticed that my hair was behaving and the lighting coming in through the window was good.  I snapped an Instagram shot and posted  it with the caption "Happy mama..."  I was feeling very peaceful at that moment, with a sleeping baby on my chest.

The picture got a ton of likes on Facebook, which was really sweet.  I actually think it captures motherhood pretty well...sleeping baby, half happy, half tired, no makeup.  But it did turn out nice.  Yay for good lighting :)

Things are going okay these days.  Carter is adorable, of course.  He's sleeping well, maybe too well since we've had some long stretches and he probably should be eating more for his size.  However, he's making up for it by cluster feeding.  He's eating every couple hours and even kept me up until after 1:30 last night wanting to eat constantly, which was so frustrating.  But then he slept until 6am!

We bribed Jacob to hold his brother last night.  It was brief, though.  I'll post the picture soon.  He's continued to be difficult and wants to monopolize Craig's time whenever he's home.  He plays lacrosse or basketball in his room most of the time, but does take breaks to play Craig's table hockey or to play with his Legos or Playmobil guys.  We survived Saturday without Craig, with a little assist from Lori in the evening.  This weekend is his first roadtrip, and my parents will be joining us for a day, fresh off my mom's retirement! Two kids is a challenge, for sure!

Carter's umbilical cord stump fell off Saturday morning, but I think it may have been a bit premature, because it's still been bleeding a little bit.  Nothing crazy, but just a little bloody crust to clean whenever I change him.  I'm thinking he might also have a minor umbilical hernia because of the way it bulges out, but I could be wrong.  Still waiting for his circumcision to finish healing, though, before we can do regular baths.  I did an awkward sponge bath last night, though.  We'll check things out Friday, if nothing else.

Today I tried on a pair of my old stretched out jeans, ones that I wore prior to my pregnancy with Jacob and decided post-pregnancy that they needed replacing, and they fit!  I haven't dug much into non-maternity clothes yet, but my stomach has gone down a lot so I probably should.  I'm glad to have gotten my ring back on the other day, and it's nice to see the weight dropping off.  At this point I'm not sure if it's just water weight or if nursing is doing its magic, but I'll take it.

Maternity leave has been nice so far.  I truly think that our rough start last time really threw me off a lot.  This time I feel a lot more at peace and a lot more content most of the time.  Admittedly, a night like last night (where I was so tired and he just wanted to keep nursing) was hard and makes me question my abilities a bit, but for the most part I feel so much better than last time.  I'm trying to appreciate this experience more because it should be our last, and I know now how quickly it goes.  He's such a precious little gift and I love the faces, the noises, the squirms, and every little body part.  And I look forward to seeing the little boy he's going to become...even though I'm well aware that he could be as much of a challenge as his brother one day.  But I love being home with him right now and having a little time to relax and not freak out completely if I'm up with him at night.  I'm still not great at napping because I feel like there's always something to do--getting myself together, laundry, blogging, cleaning up, reading the paper--but I'm working on it.

Anyway, I guess that's the update for now...





Saturday, February 23, 2013

To the Big Brother

Dear Jacob,

I wish that I could write this letter and tell you what a fantastic big brother you've been in the past week.  I wish I could tell you that you took to the role immediately, that you jumped in to help, that you loved your brother from the get-go...but no, I can't say any of that because it hasn't happened.  As I'd feared, this transition has been a challenge for you. 

I was hopeful when you walked into my hospital room last Saturday with a shy smile on your face, appearing pleasantly curious about the little baby in my arms and remarking about how he wasn't in my belly anymore.  You were never really into my pregnancy, but there were times that it seemed like you thought the big brother role would be cool.  There was no way to really prepare you for what we're going through now, because I wasn't even sure how it would be having two kids to care for, let alone how you'd respond.  I knew that your patience (or lack thereof) would be a major challenge, since I knew that I'd often be chained to the couch nursing and wouldn't be able to jump to attention every time you asked for something.  You've ruled the roost for nearly five years, so I'm not surprised that we're having issues now.  We were stuck between wanting to be honest with you about the changes to come and not wanting to make you jaded from the beginning.  This is definitely a huge transition, but I was hoping that when you saw that we were bringing home a real live baby, that maybe you'd embrace the role and be okay with it.

Unfortunately, it's been a trying week.  I admit that I'm probably not at my most patient when I'm tired, but at the same time, you're making things so hard on yourself.  You don't need to argue with us about well-known factual things (you know that the football team in San Francisco is the 49ers, not the Giants, and yet we argued about that today).  You don't need to keep doing things after we've asked you to stop, and you really don't need to do them with a knowing smile on your face.  Telling us no, refusing to obey, and telling me that you want me to live in a different house is not really appreciated.  I know you're only four, but you're making things worse for yourself by being so defiant.  You could be getting spoiled left and right because everyone is really concerned about how you're transitioning, but at this point I'm not wanting to do you any extra favors because your attitude has been horrific at times.  I know you need attention, but the negative behavior does not encourage me to shower you with the good kind because you don't need rewards right now. 

I'm trying to spend time with you where I can--books at bedtime, looking at your Legos, and playing table hockey--but inevitably you start pulling out the smart remarks and argumentative attitude so I don't stick around for long.  I spend a lot of time nursing your brother, so I know it's hard.  I'm sorry that I can't do more for you, but I'm learning how to do this, too.  I want to help you through this, but you won't talk to me about what's bothering you.  I'm just not sure how to help you at this point.

You still haven't held him or fed him.  We don't want to push, but you definitely need some prodding so hopefully we can work on that this week.  I want pictures of my two boys together, and so far there's not much along those lines.  I know you can't teach him how to play sports yet, and I know he's doesn't do much of interest, but it wouldn't kill you to try to be a little interested in something more than just his poop.  Grandpa is convinced he can push you along, too, but I'm pretty sure we need to take some baby steps (no pun intended) and move you along a little at a time.  Years down the road when your brother is your best friend, we'll look back on this and laugh about how ridiculous you're being now.  It will probably seem impossible that there was ever a time that you weren't inseparable. 

But right now, it's not so funny.  I miss hanging out with my first little boy. You were my baby once, too, and even though someone else is filling that role now, that doesn't mean you can't hold an extra special role now as the awesome big brother we can be proud of. I know you never asked for any of this, but I promise, the effort you put in now will be worth it later when you have the awesome brotherly love relationship that we so badly wanted for you when we found out this baby was a boy. He'll look up to you so much and you have so much to share with him...but none of it can happen if you don't give it shot. 

I hope you realize soon that we can have a lot more fun if you just listen and learn to deal.  Easier said than done, but trust me--you'll be a whole lot cuter and a lot easier to spoil if you look like you're putting in a solid effort to adjust to this.  Ignoring your brother and complaining about his presence isn't really making life easier for any of us, so please feel free to talk to us and help us understand what we can do for you.  Your sleepy mommy needs the confidence boost and your overworked daddy needs to not play sports the entire time he's home with you.  I can't guarantee we can always make it work the way you want, but we'll try.  We're not asking much, but we need some effort on your end.  Please.  Hang in there and help us out a bit.  We love you, buddy, and we hope someday you will love your brother, too. Just wait until the first time he laughs at you.  It'll be worth it, I promise.

Love,
Mommy

Friday, February 22, 2013

Have I Mentioned...? Part 2

- Carter's doctor's appointment Wednesday went well. It turned out that his doctor had a med student with her, so it was a very interesting appointment. She had to explain everything she was doing, everything she was checking, and give him a chance to do some of it, too. Despite the fact that he hates being naked, Carter was very good. He was awake, patient, and did a great job. He'd lost another ounce since leaving the hospital, but the doctor said that babies usually bottom out around the fifth day, so now that my milk was in, he'd probably move up nicely. She sent us for bloodwork to check on the jaundice, and while his level was up, she said that bilirubin usually peaks around day 5 as well, so that shouldn't get any higher either, especially since he's been peeing and pooping like a champ. Otherwise, the doctor was very pleased with what she was seeing and hearing, so it appears we have a healthy little guy. We go back in a week, so if anything comes up in the meantime, we don't have to wait long.

- Carter came out posterior, a.k.a., sunny side up, just like we think Jacob did.  They were telling us during my delivery with Jacob that it was probably why he took so long to come out, but I never heard for sure that he did.  But Carter definitely did!  They think there's just something about the structure of my anatomy that makes them turn that way.  It makes for more uncomfortable labor and more pushing because the position doesn't make them "flow" through the birth canal as smoothly as they could.  Lucky me to possibly have had two!  The pediatrician made me sound like a hero when she was explaining it to her student!

- Technology has made this experience quite different than last time.  Yes, I blogged last time, too, but this time we had Facebook!  It's been fun to post news and photos and come back to an avalanche of "likes" and comments.  It's also sort of cool to have my iPod next to me most of the time so I can take quick pictures when I can't reach my camera.  Why is my iPod next to me all the time?  Well, I've been using an app to track nursing.  It is nice to have something that helps me time nursing sessions and remember which side I've last nursed on.  It also keeps a record of all sessions, which is pretty handy to have too.  Not to mention that it passes the time during those night feedings to sneak in a game of Candy Crush or Bejeweled Blitz!

- For those wondering about the origins of Carter's name...well, Carter was just a name we liked and could agree on.  I don't want to say it was process of elimination, but it wasn't far from it.  There were a lot of names we liked, but that didn't work with our last name or just didn't seem right for our kid.  For whatever reason, Carter stuck.  As for the middle name, we debated this right up until he was born.  At some point a while back I suggested Garrett as a twist on my dad's name, Gary.  Jacob's middle name is a family name--Craig's dad and grandfather, as well as Craig's middle name--so it made sense to give Carter a middle name that was a family name on my side.  However, my family doesn't have a lot to work with.  We have some odd names (one of my grandfathers was Eldred, for example), and while there was one name that spanned both sides (Frederick), it seemed too long and too old.  Also, some of our choices seemed funny with Carter because of celebrities or characters with the last name.  For example, Craig had wanted to use the name Aaron (because of Hank Aaron), but there's a boy band singer named Aaron Carter.  John would have honored a couple people on my side of the family as well as Craig's great uncle who passed away while I was pregnant, but John Carter is a movie character as well as the doctor on ER (who, honestly, might have made us like the name more), but it seemed weird.  Even the attempt at honoring my dad would have been odd, since there was a baseball player named Gary Carter.  Anyway, the night before Carter was born (given some of the signs that things might be happening), I brought up Garrett again.  It seemed a random choice, but at least we could assign some meaning to it, which was more than we could say for any of the other names we could agree on.  We still debated right up until I was in the delivery room.  The big joke was also that Garrett is the first name of a lacrosse player for the Toronto Rock who kills the Knighthawks every time he plays against them, and Craig said it would be a sign to go with the name if he scored the first goal in the game he was playing in that night.  He didn't get the first goal, but he did assist on it and ended up with 10 points that night, so we took that as sign enough, and Garrett it was.  We've gotten good reviews on the name, so I guess we made a good choice :)

- Our schedules have been all over the place.  We had that one great night, followed by two rough nights and one rough day, and then another good night last night.  The rough nights are mostly him wanting to be awake and not go back to sleep after feedings.  Yesterday's rough day was a combination of him being sleepy all day and not wanting to feed normally.  He's so skinny already that I don't like it when he doesn't eat.  A lot of times he'll seem hungry and eat well, but only for a few minutes.  I try to keep him awake, burp him, change him, and do what I can to keep him feeding, but it's not easy.  He'll figure it out eventually, I'm sure. 

- Hard to believe that it's been a full week since this whole thing really got started!  Right about now last week I was working away at my desk, and when I got up to go to the bathroom, everything got moving!  And tonight at 10:32pm, Carter will officially be a week old!  What a week it has been. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Way We Were

Carter is now five days old.  Hard to believe we're just a couple days shy of a week!  Looking back in the blog, I see that the five day mark for Jacob was the day of my big breakdown.  I had been spending a ton of time at the hospital and struggled through healing, engorgement, pumping, and the general stress of having a baby in the hospital.  I was stuck in a little room adjacent to the special care nursery, and I wasn't able to be comfortable or take regular naps or anything that I probably should have been doing.  I was worried about not being able to pump enough, and spending enough time at the hospital to nurse as much as possible.  I didn't want to have to supplement with formula.  And in the late afternoon of day five, all of it broke me down.  I couldn't handle it anymore.  I broke down sobbing, and pretty much didn't stop for three hours.  We were supposed to go out to a nice dinner with my parents, but I was in no shape for that.  Craig drove me home and I holed up in our room to cry it out.  Eventually I emerged to do some internet research on formula supplementation, then came out to eat some Wendy's, including a giant Frosty.  We watched the first episode of "Wipeout", which actually got me laughing on one of the worst days of my life.

In retrospect, I know that it was a combination of hormones, exhaustion, and stress that drove me to that moment.  It may have seemed irrational at the time, but it was a very real problem for me at the time, and it was the first time I realized how important sleep was.  I had to take care of myself in order to properly take care of my baby, and without sleep that was so much harder, mentally and physically. 

Fast-forward to today, five days into our time with Carter, and it's a vastly different picture.  He came home on time, and we've had plenty of ability to hang out at home, stay well-rested, and get to know him.  At this point with Jacob we were still pretty clueless to his rhythms because our experiences with him were only in the nursery.  We've had all this extra time to get used to Carter, and while we're still a little clueless most of the time, this time has been such a bonus.  I don't feel like I've had to battle hormones, and my outlook has been mostly positive.  Nursing issues in the last day or so (engorgement along with shorter feeding sessions--sometimes one right after the other) have left me a little more worried and frustrated than I had been up until this point, but the difference between the two experiences has been nearly night and day. 

Last time around I wondered how new moms functioned at home with a newborn while still having so much healing to do, but it turns out that it was easier to spend that time at home with a baby than doing it in the hospital or in the special care nursery.  Maybe my healing was easier this time so it would have been easier regardless of where, but it's been so nice to be at home.  Comfortable chairs, my own TV and bed, and easy access to food makes things so much easier. 

In a little while we're heading out to the doctor's office for Carter's first appointment.  I'm a little nervous about his jaundice.  He's been pooping and peeing like a champ, but I've never been very good at seeing the yellow so it's hard to tell how much it is still affecting him.  I'm sure he's fine, but you always second-guess yourself with a new baby.  He's also been a little congested--lots of sneezes and snorts and squeaks--so I'll ask about that, too.  I'm interested to see his weight and get the little confidence boost that we're doing okay.  That said, I'm a little nervous about taking him out for the first time, particularly with his errratic nursing schedule. 

Still, compared to where we were at this point with Jacob, it blows my mind how much different our experience has been.  I feel like this has healed some of the lasting frustration I had from our first go-around, which was one of the things I really wanted from this experience.  Having a healthy baby was number one, but having a "normal" experience was really important to me.  And considering how crazy the labor experience was (again...though in a different way), it's been nice to have one thing go according to plan.  Not much does when it comes to new babies, so for that I am grateful.  We are truly blessed.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Have I Mentioned...?

- After a series of not-so-great nights, last night was perfect.  Carter nursed around 1:45 and 4:15 and went right back down without fussing after both.  And I got to sleep until around 8am!  I did send Craig in before the 4:15 feeding because I wanted to see if he'd settle for a little longer without having the temptation of milk (they can smell it, you know), but he was having NONE of it so I was in there pretty quickly.  But the feedings went smoothly and I may have come up with a decent formula for when to burp and change him, so we'll see.  I know how these things go and tonight may be a disaster, but I'll take the good nights when I can get them.

- I still can't get my wedding ring back on.  I was hoping that after a few days and peeing out a lot of water weight, it would go back on rather quickly, but it's still getting stuck at my knuckle.  If it hadn't fit right up until the end, I'd be more worried that I had gained more fat while pregnant.  But I only took it off the other day so I'm less concerned.  My stomach is slowly but surely going down.  I'm not planning on getting out of maternity pants anytime soon, but that's ok for now because they're more comfortable and I have enough long-ish shirts to make them work for now.

- My milk is officially in.  Ouch.  It started last night and I had to pump a bit.  Today I was a little sore, but it got worse later in the day as Carter decided he was more into brief snacks.  I pumped again before dinner and one side before bed, and we'll just have to see how Carter does with the rest.  I know there's always an awkward painful phase of engorgement, but I can't remember how long it lasts.  I haven't called the lactation consultant yet.  We'll see how tomorrow's pediatrician appointment goes, and hopefully they'll have good news about his weight so we'll know something is working, at least.  He's been pooping up a storm and has now started spitting up a little bit here and there, so obviously that's a good start.

- Carter is so tiny.  He was half a pound and one inch smaller than Jacob, not to mention that Jacob didn't wear real clothes until he was a full week old and came home from the hospital.  In addition, our house was so hot when Jacob came home that he really only wore onesies for weeks.  Well, Carter obviously needs to wear real clothes because the house is quite cooler.  And since he is so much smaller, he's swimming in the 0-3 month clothes we have!  He's only got a couple newborn outfits, and we'll make it work until I can run out and grab a couple extra outfits, but it's shocking how small he seems.  Everything is so skinny and even his torso seems tiny because there's hardly any space for the diaper under his belly button.  I can't get over how small everything is, even for a baby!  Heck, he's so tiny that he still seems to have lots of lanugo left, which is the soft protective hair that babies usually shed in utero.  When he was born he looked Italian or something because he had such dark hair, and so much hair left everywhere--his arms and forehead, most notably.  He's so sweet, though. 

- Jacob is still generally unimpressed and refusing to hold his brother.  He is totally monopolizing Craig's time when they're home together, and I feel bad because I'm usually stuck feeding Carter, who seemed to want to eat all day and did not take kindly to being left with someone who couldn't provide that service.  It's definitely a delicate balance finding time and energy for both of them.  Jacob went back to daycare today so we could spend our day focusing on Carter and getting some rest, and he was not happy about it. 

- I'm feeling pretty decent these days, but still not nearly 100%.  I have stopped taking ibuprofen, so maybe some of that is my fault.  I'm dealing with a small tear and the return of the dreaded hemorrhoids (a "souvenir" from Jacob's birth), along with some minor discomfort from my epidural (sore back when I bend over too much) and really minor belly discomfort (not sure if it's still just things getting back to where they belong, or what).  My mobility is better, but now that the engorgement has taken over a bit, I'm feeling a bit more worn down in general.  Perhaps the high is wearing off a bit, too. 

My thoughts are still a bit scattered, but I know I have more reflection to do on the birth and everything that has happened in the past few days...so we'll see if I can ever get it all typed out before it leaves my head...

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Hardest Night

Our second night in the hospital turned out to be quite a challenge.  The day actually went pretty well considering we were on our own after my parents left with Jacob and Craig headed off to work.  I captured this adorable picture--totally not posed, by the way...

And this one showing his loooong fingers and raggedy newborn nails...

And this one where he came back from his circumcision and bath looking like a perfect little burrito...

Carter and I hung out while we watched Craig's 200th straight broadcast on the internet, and turned in for the night at a reasonable time.  Suddenly, he decided he wanted to eat.  Repeatedly.  I think I tried feeding him three times in a couple hours and he still wanted more.  He kept crying and would not be comforted.  Not only did I think there was nothing left in there for him, but I was sore and beyond tired after not sleeping much the night before...to the point that I was afraid I'd fall asleep trying to feed him.  I tried so hard, but it was becoming apparent that I couldn't do what I needed to do for him.  Craig didn't sleep there that night since he had to go home and grab some stuff anyway, so I was lacking an extra pair of arms as well, which would have given me a little while to get some sleep.  So, I did the only thing I could do--I called the nurse and asked her to take him to the nursery.  I explained my predicament, and she understood.  She asked if I wanted them to supplement with some formula while he was there.  I told her that while I preferred they not do it, I fully understood if they had to if he wouldn't calm down.  We went through that mess with Jacob and I could not make myself crazy like that again.  My sanity was more important than breast milk vs. formula.  So, she whisked him off sometime after 2am, and I teared up at the time because I felt like I had failed.  But I couldn't let myself get caught up in that feeling because I had to focus on actually getting some sleep.  That was the one thing that could make me a better mommy.  The nurse brought him back around 6am.  I was totally discombobulated when I woke up--I guess I was really tired--and it took a bit to gather myself and get ready to feed him again.  But I did feel way better, and apparently he calmed down in the nursery and they didn't have to supplement.  It all worked out in the end, but it made for a rough night.  

Most nights since have been pretty similar.  Carter appears to have his days and nights mixed up.  I tried in vain to keep him awake today, but barely saw his eyeballs until around dinnertime when he first got to meet his Bacie and Dziadziu (Craig's parents).  He got drowsy again after that, and just as we finished his final feeding and diaper change before bedtime, now he's laying here next to me, eyes wide open, while I pump.  My milk appears to have come in, but it's a bad combo with the fact that he's so tired all the time and doesn't really want to finish a feeding. I am thinking I want to go back and chat with the lactation consultant at the hospital, who never got to see him latch thanks to two instances of crappy timing. He's definitely getting something, but I don't think his latch is very good for me, at least.  He just doesn't want to open wide enough, so it makes things a little sorer than I'd like.  I know it hurts at the beginning regardless, but I'd rather work out any bad habits now.  The drowsiness may be a side effect of jaundice, which was a minor concern when we were discharged yesterday.  His first pediatrician appointment isn't until Wednesday, but I need to keep an eye on his coloring and make sure it doesn't travel too far down his torso.  He's pooping like a champ so I'd have to think he'll be fine, but it all makes me a little nervous and I'm eager to get answers or suggestions from anyone who can help with either issue--nursing or reversing his schedule.  I'd like to see his eyeballs during the day instead of being up all night with him.  Last night he was up through two straight feedings, and I had to call in Craig, who worked part of the day today, to help out.  I hate doing that when I'm on maternity leave, but I was losing my patience.  Tonight will probably be more of the same based on what I'm seeing at the moment, but I'm hoping that the "real" milk will keep him more satisfied.  

Time to head to bed.  Wish us luck!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Whirlwind

We came home today!  It's such a strange feeling (though quite natural) to bring home a baby on time after our experience last time around.  I'm hoping to delve into that more later, but to think that we're already home two days later, and would have still had so many days of angst ahead of us last time, just boggles the mind a bit.  But coming home today sort of brought closure to some things and made me realize what a crazy few days it has been.  Even though part of me thought this could happen this weekend, obviously you never know for sure, and the way it happened left things a bit frozen in time.  I went to work on Friday thinking everything was status quo, and ended up spending an impropmtu 2-1/2 days away!  In the meantime, Lori was here trying to pack up our stuff and my parents stayed here overnight.  The house is a bit of a mess, considering cleanliness wasn't high on my list late in pregnancy.  We'll have Craig's whole family here tomorrow, too, but I'm sure no one's going to judge.  After all, not only do we have a new baby, but it was a bit of a surprise.  Not like we planned to have people over like this a few days ago!

I still have a lot to do, but today was a lot of picking up the pieces from Friday--emptying out my briefcase of Friday's morning cereal bowl, sorting through Jacob's daycare papers, putting away the shoes I wore on Friday that came home ahead of me, and taking stock of the dishes and laundry my mom did while she was here.  I switched around my bra storage to put my nursing bras in prime position, and finally put the diapers in the diaper stacker.  This house is full of little projects I was too exhausted to do while pregnant in the time I had, and while I'm not exactly feeling fantastic at the moment, it'll be nice to be mobile again and not feel like every activity is a chore of massive proportions. 

I still just can't get over the weirdness of how suddenly everything happened.  As much as I'd been saying how I had plenty of time to prepare given how terrible I was feeling, when it actually all happened, it was so quick that it still shocks me.  Fron the beginning of the fluid to Carter's birth, it was just under 12 hours.  That's crazy fast compared to last time, where it was somewhere around 27 hours for that same process!  Last time it took a week to get us all home.  This time?  About 48 hours.  So, it's no wonder that /i'm periodically shocked when I realize I was pregnant last time I did something, and now I'm not...and we have this new little person here to throw a wrench into our normal schedule! 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Welcome Surprise...

So as I mentioned in my last post, yesterday was quite the day!  It all started simply enough.  After my rough day on Valentine's Day, I woke up feeling pretty decent.  Much better than the day before, anyway.  And since labor didn't start overnight, I figured it all may have been a false alarm.  I went to work, though Craig did take Jacob to daycare instead of me, so I had a little less stress on my system.  I got into the office and worked away at anything that needed finishing, and was all proud of myself for making really good progress.  At one point I got up from my desk, and the usual gush of mucus plug seemed a little bigger than usual.  I went to the bathroom and cleaned up a bit, hoping it was just a freak thing.  But the next time I stood up, it happened again.  And then it got worse.  At that point I called Craig and my doctor and warned my boss that this was probably it.  I made a 1pm appointment at the doctor's office because they wanted to check that it was fluid and see if I was dilating further.  The fear is that if there are no contractions and nothing's happening, the hospital would just send us home anyway.  Well, by the time Craig came to pick me up, I couldn't even get up from my desk without fluid just cascading out.  It was horrible.  I couldn't even walk, because my instinct was to double over to stop it.  My boss got a wheelchair and that got me down to Craig's car.  On the way to the doctor's office, the fluid was flowing so freely that I panicked a little bit and decided we should just go to the hospital instead.  The thought of having to walk into the office with this issue was just too much. 

Much to my disappointment, the hospital didn't have the pre-registration paperwork I sent, and as I was trying to fill new ones out, I got some minor contractions.  We did some calling around while we were waiting, and eventually made it into triage. I got to take off my soaked clothes, and got hooked up to the monitor.  The baby was fine.  My contractions weren't too strong, but they ended up about five minutes apart.  During that time, Lori went to our house to grab our stuff--including my half-packed bag and, most importantly, my laptop!  My parents got on their way so they could pick up Jacob, and we ended up roaming the halls to get things progressing.  It didn't really work, so I had to get started on pitocin, along with the IV fluids you need prior to an epidural.  Lori hung out with us and eventually my contractions started to ramp up.  My parents stopped in with Jacob, but he couldn't come back to see me, unfortunately. 

I was lucky I asked for the epidural when I did, because by the time I got it, I was in a lot of pain.  It was a lot worse than I remember my last one being.  It took a bit to kick in, but eventually it did.  My comfort was considerably shorter lived than last time.  Last time I think they tried to get me to rest, but this time I was at 8-9 cm shortly after the epidural and the pressure started up pretty quickly.  And before I knew it, I was 10 cm and ready to push! 

Pushing took three hours last time, and that was miserable.  However, things seemed to be progressing faster, and everyone was telling me that would not happen the second time around since everything had been primed the first time around.  That said, pushing was very hard.  The contractions brought on a lot of pressure, and figuring out where to push when you can't feel everything is a little hard.  It felt like I was pushing him down forever, only to be "rewarded" with more pressure when his head got further down.  I spent most of the hour half-crying and just trying to summon the strength to keep going.  Everyone was very supportive, but it's hard to believe the "Good job!" comments when you got those last time and still ended up pushing forever.  Eventually the pressure was so intense that I could tell where I had to push, but it took everything I had to get him out.  And finally...we welcomed Carter Garrett Rybczynski at 10:32 pm on February 15th.
His head was a little misshapen and his nose is still trying to get back into place, but he's perfect!
He was 6 lbs., 3.7 oz., and 20 inches long.  He's quite furry at the moment, which may be lanugo that never had a chance to disappear, but it's everywhere and it is very dark!  He's still very much in fetal mode, always wanting to be warm and snuggly, with his legs tucked up as high as they can go.

We did have a chance to nurse last night and he picked up the sucking well, even if I'm not sure he was getting anything.  He was up a good chunk of the night, but he's been sleepy most of the day.
Perfectly sweet, no?
My parents came this morning with Jacob, who was very suspicious of this little baby.  He was happy to see me initially, but was sort of amazed to see a real baby in my arms and not in my belly.  He was hesitant to pose for pictures or touch him, but we'll have time to work on that.  This was the best we got...  

I probably have a million more things to say about this experience, but I will get there since this post has plenty going on.  I will say that I never thought I'd be happy to have a baby arrive three weeks early, but he is so perfect and apparently perfectly healthy.  And considering how uncomfortable I was, I am quite relieved to have that part of things behind us and move on to healing from the delivery and enjoying our new little addition.  He's amazing.  Oh, and he also came at a perfect time to allow his daddy to broadcast his 200th straight game, which we're listening to right now.  I can hardly believe he's here, but at the moment I couldn't be more content.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Let's get this party started...

So...all the pressure I was feeling the last couple days?  Turns out it wasn't just normal discomfort.  It's been an eventful day, to say the least!  It started out normal enough, but we've been at the hospital for about five hours now, and I'm all hooked up to everything--the monitor, the fluids, the pitocin--and waiting for the contractions to get stronger.  Everyone's telling me that this should go quicker than last time, so we'll see how quick this little man decides to make his appearance.  Just getting to this point has been a bit of an adventure, which I'll get into later, but despite the fact I'm facing down labor at the moment, I'm strangely relieved that I don't have to go through three more weeks of the discomfort I was feeling.  It will be replaced by exhaustion, hormones, and whatever else, but that is surprisingly helpful at this point.  And we'll have an adorable little baby to hang out with, so that will be cool, too.  It all came on pretty suddenly, so luckily Lori was able to grab our stuff from the house and my parents are already here and hanging out with Jacob.  I managed to finish 99% of the work I wanted to get done, too.  So, by all accounts things are going okay and it's just a matter of getting through the next few hours.  I'll check in as soon as I can!  Prayers for a quick, healthy delivery and a perfect, healthy baby gladly accepted!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Anticipation and the End

As I've been saying over and over again, these last few weeks of this pregnancy have been a far cry from my last one.  The physical challenges have been so difficult, today being nearly as bad as they've been so far.  Lots of pressure, bad sciatica, and not much sleep...and yet per my doctor's appointment today, I'm really no further along.  She estimated I'm still 3-1/2 to 4 cm, but she did remark that I must be very uncomfortable sitting (umm, yeah) because of where my sternum is, and that the baby's head is way down and I have a good, full amniotic sac.  Okay then.  But this discomfort is really interfering with my functionality.  It's hard to sleep, hard to get up, hard to get through the morning routine, hard to sit at my desk, hard to run errands, hard to make dinner, and even hard to lay on the couch at night.  Pretty much everything is uncomfortable at this point, in some way.  While I'm sure I had moments like that last time around, I know for a fact they were not sustained like they are right now.  I know I would have blogged about it, but I didn't.  Other than the early summer heat, I pretty much just sailed along and enjoyed my blissful last days of pregnancy, without even realizing they were my last days.

This time around, at least for the past month, I've been swearing that every day is among my last.  I can barely believe I've made it to 37 weeks.  Last time it was a shock to go as early as I did but the big difference is that this time, I'm prepared.  Last time I was looking forward to savoring our last couple weeks of life before parenthood, and enjoying those last few kicks.  This time I can't really enjoy much of anything because I'm too busy being uncomfortable and just getting through the day.  I'm trying to make sure Jacob is taken care of and any last baby plans are as finished up as they can be.  I'm trying to maximize my time at work, but I won't lie--it's hard to focus with serious sciatica-induced back pain forcing me to get up every few minutes.  It definitely hasn't been the blissful experience I was hoping for.

As nervous as I was about going into labor last time, I really didn't have a lot of time where I realistically thought about it happening.  This time I've had a lot of time to consider it.  And now that I've been through it once and know what it's like, it's actually scarier than the unknown of last time.  I know how hard and painful it can be, and I know how disorienting the whole experience is, from the time it starts right through the first few weeks and months with a baby.  Knowingly jumping into that is pretty scary. 

Overall, feeling so close to the end for so much longer than last time has given me more time to think about the scary stuff, and less time to enjoy the good parts of this amazing process that I'll probably never experience again.  That's a bit of a bummer, but there's not much I can do.  I never thought this pregnancy would be so much different than the last.  Now that we're so close to the end and I'm feeling so many different signs and symptoms, it's hard not knowing when this show is going to get on the road.  The emotions involved with not knowing and merely being left to wonder what's real and what's not is so draining.  Even tonight I had another little something new happen, but I have no idea if there's any significance so I'm left wondering.  It's exhausting.  It could make for a long night.  Even last night when I was just feeling a lot of pressure, I spent half the night dreaming that I was crampy, and I'm still not sure if I really was or if it was all just a dream.  What kind of tricks will my mind and body play on me tonight? 

Regardless, I have a feeling something will be happening soon, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Making Room

Here is a picture of the view at my desk...

From left to right and top to bottom, the pictures are as follows:

1) Craig and Jacob on the baseball field in Batavia when Jacob was two...one of my favorite pictures ever!
2) Jacob's most recent school picture...such a big boy!
3)  Jacob from two summers ago, baseball glove in hand
4) The three of us on a hayride at the pumpkin patch in October 2011
5) Jacob when he was just a couple weeks old, the same pic I used in his birth announcement
6) My entire family from this past summer's trip to Massachusetts
7) Craig's entire family from the day his parents renewed their vows for their 40th anniversary this summer
8) Craig and me on the turf after the Knighthawks' championship last May

As you can see, there's a prevailing theme--Jacob is in all but one of those pictures.  But it struck me today that I need to make room for a new face on that wall.  A new baby involves making room in a lot of ways--in our house, in our schedules, in our arms, in our hearts, and in our picture frames.  We've done pretty well so far with the house, and are looking forward to making room in our arms.  The hearts and schedules will come as soon as he arrives, no doubt.  The picture frames are easy, but I think they're representative of the larger challenge of adding another child to the mix.  How do you pick which pictures stay and which ones get replaced?  How do you pick how much time you spend with each child?  How do you have enough room in your heart for both?  It seems impossible at times.

When I think about how tiring life is on a daily basis with one child, I can't imagine how it will be with two.  I was thinking today about the timeless debate about what's harder--going from no kids to one, or one to two.  Everyone has their own opinion, and I assume the results differ depending on the age of the older child.  We're obviously out of the baby stage, so on one hand we've got a more independent child and won't have two completely dependent kids, but on the other hand we're out of the baby stage enough that going back is going to be a challenge.  The best I could figure in my head today is that going from no kids to one is like going from zero to 50, and having a second kid at this point is like going from 25 to 65.  Having a new baby for the first time is a complete life change, hence the zero to 50.  But we've had plenty of time to adjust, and having an independent child allowed us to dial it back a bit, hence the new starting point of 25.  But adding a new baby takes us back up to 65...maybe not as much of a jump as the first baby, but having two kids ups the ante overall.  Maybe not as huge of a life shift as the first time, but harder overall because two kids is a ton of work.  Finding the time, energy, and love for two is one of my biggest fears about this whole experience.

The wall space in my office may be limited, but we have lots of walls at home...so it's definitely time to get creative and find new ways to make room in our lives for two amazing little boys.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hurry Up and Wait

Today marked the beginning of another week of work, a week that I half expected I wouldn't get.  Given how uncomfortable I was on Friday, even more so than usual, I was very concerned that something was happening and I wouldn't make it through the weekend without going into labor.  But no, here I am.  And here I've been, uncomfortable for a good month or so, expecting to go early all this time...and yet it hasn't happened.  Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to have made it this far.  I'm over 36 weeks, heading closer to 37, and the baby would most likely be fine if he was born now.  Every additional day is a good thing, but every additional day is also a challenge for me.  I'm finding myself stuck in a weird little world where part of me is ready, and part of me is not.  And considering last time I never felt ready, being at this point is an entirely new experience for me.

Even though I still have a ton of stuff to do at work, today was the first day that I felt a bit like I was ready to not be there.  I was running into a lot of frustrating projects that I felt like I didn't have the time or patience to do, and I felt myself getting pulled into new projects that could take me away from the other stuff I need to get done in the limited time I have.  I'd love to get as much done as possible, but the longer I stick around, the less likely they are to believe my departure is imminent...which is how I'm going to get pulled into projects that prevent me from finishing what I'd like to.  And the longer I'm there, the more apparent it becomes that my to do list was too optimistic.  Not only that, but being at work all day is becoming increasingly difficult--belly pressure, swollen feet and ankles, back pain, sore hips, sciatica, and just an overall general feeling of discomfort.  It makes it hard to function once I get home, if nothing else.  I don't want to leave them hanging either, but I'm starting to see that no matter what I do, I'm not going to finish everything and no one is ever going to be ready for me to go...so perhaps no time like the present, right?  If I was comfortable it would be a different story...but I'm not.  The longer I stick around, the harder it's going to get, in more ways than one.

With all of the signs and symptoms I've been dealing with, I feel like I've been hitting the fast-forward button, then getting stuck on pause.  I rush through things to get ready while I can, only to find myself with a little bonus time...which is good, but it's a bit of a roller coaster.  I get myself psyched up, only to find myself still waiting and trying to figure out what should be next on my list.  The anticipation is difficult to manage, and the longer it goes, the more anxious I get.  I worry about what new things I won't finish, and find myself obsessing further about labor and all the craziness that awaits.  I try to plan ahead, but the longer this goes on, the less confident I am that I can plan effectively. 

I don't know.  I feel like I've been doing nothing but obsessing and complaining for the last month about how uncomfortable I am, but I'm also trying to capture the essence of these last days of pregnancy because I'll probably never be here again.  I'm shocked that my body has held out this long considering how difficult the last month has been.  If I'd have known it would go on this long, perhaps I'd have been less diligent about documenting it all the time.  It's hard when we panic and rush to prepare, then find ourselves back on hold when nothing happens.  It just leaves a lot of wondering and anticipation in its wake.  As much as I am scared of going through labor, this back-and-forth thing has been tough, too.  And it's made all the more difficult by the physical limitations that make it hard to function normally.  I could be a little more patient if I wasn't feeling so crappy, or manage the physical challenges if I knew what to expect.

This has been such a challenge, and while I know it will be worth it, I certainly find myself curious about how all of this is going to play out... 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Different

I know I've said it a million times during this pregnancy, but it is definitely the pregnancy of, "Hey, that didn't happen last time!"  It all started with the extra month of nausea, followed by a yeast infection and a UTI (both firsts ever for me).  I managed to skip the leg cramps and the severe round ligament pain I had last time (only one instance of each this time), but traded them for a couple months of discomfort I didn't have last time.  I couldn't work out as long and have been paranoid about an early delivery for a while.  I'm dilating more quickly, and I've been dealing with swelling in my hands and feet that never bothered me last time, despite the fact that last time there was 90 degree weather at this point in my pregnancy.  I took off my wedding ring the other day, which I don't think I ever had to do last time.  It was just getting too tight and I was worried it was going to cause problems come delivery time.  I've replaced it with a ring that used to be my grandma's.  It's a little bigger, has a row of CZ stones, and a goldtone band.  Wearing it makes me feel a little less "naked".  I was looking through pictures yesterday from right after Jacob was born, and I noticed I had my wedding ring on later in the day he was born, despite the fact I was pumped full of fluids at that point.  Not a chance this time, let me tell you.  And as for my feet and ankles...by the end of a work day they just look like chubby little sausages with no definition.  Lovely.  All in all, it's been such a different experience physically this time around.  I guess I'm feeling lucky I didn't get stuck with gestational diabetes, varicose veins, stretch marks, or true morning sickness either time.  It could always be worse, right? 

But the physical stuff aside, this pregnancy has been such a different experience in other ways.  Obviously there are many different worries and emotions this time around.  We know the gender, which we didn't last time.  Ironically, I'm not sure it improved my ability to bond with this baby ahead of time.  I'd hoped it would, and maybe if it would have been a girl I'd feel a little different, but so far I don't feel considerably more connected to this baby than I did last time.  I am more excited this time, I think, because the pure fear I dealt with last time definitely overshadowed things a bit.  But knowing the gender did help us focus our name search and plan ahead better.  Instead of focusing on how this baby is going to impact us, I think we're more concerned with the impact of this baby on Jacob.  I think we're well aware the baby is going to make things doubly exhausting, and that's a concern, but we're definitely most cautious when it comes to Jacob.  We're doing what we can to prepare him, but I'm not sure anything we say is going to communicate to him the extent of the life change he's about to go through.  Perhaps that's a good thing, but it's definitely one of the bigger wildcards this time around.  Jacob was also the recipient of the majority of the pre-baby prep early on, since we had to get his room ready before we could start on the baby stuff, and much of what I've blogged about during this pregnancy has had as much to do with Jacob as with the pregnancy itself.  He's certainly been a central figure to this entire process.

Even on a practical level I feel like things have been so much different.  Something as simple as painting the baby's room was a big change of pace for us, since we never did anything like that last time.  Last time we went through a very deliberate process to get ready for a baby.  We took two sets of baby classes--baby care and childbirth--and I read up on everything as much as possible, from the internet to "What to Expect When You're Expecting".  I haven't touched much of that stuff this time around.  I get my weekly pregnancy emails and read things in passing on blogs, but that's been about it.  I actually feel a little ill-prepared at the moment, almost like I'm going to forget some key element of baby care because I've blocked it out from last time and just haven't been reading enough to trigger my memory.  I'm hoping instinct will kick in.

We went through the whole crazy process of baby registries last time, along with three showers to collect all of those baby goods.  Well, I did a very small registry this time, just for simple stuff I knew we could use again or that needed replacing.  There are probably holes that I'm not even thinking about, but for some reason I'm less panicky about trying to figure those out.  Gathering up most of the baby stuff this time has been a little haphazard.  I pulled stuff out of the crawl space and have barely organized things.  The clothes obviously took a bit of work to remove those nasty stains, but I've basically just grouped them into sizes and thrown them into any old spot in the baby's drawers and closet.  Last time I was crazy about finding the exact right spot for everything.  I have pulled out the bottles and just yesterday made a spot in the kitchen cupboards for them.  Tonight I got new nipples and inserts for them, so that's one less thing to worry about at the moment.  There's still a giant bag of bibs in the basement, but I have no idea if I even need them right now so I'm leaving that task as one to tackle during maternity leave.  The baby bathtub, toys, and my beloved breast pump have also been pulled out of the crawl space, but I haven't really done anything with any of them.  We finally took a trip to Babies 'R' Us tonight to fill in some holes, like the fact that we only had ONE diaper in the house.  The way I've been feeling lately had been a bit of a holdup to that one.  I just find it funny that last time I was extra concerned with having everything just so last time (though ironically, much of this stuff has been done far earlier this time, perhaps because I've been more concerned about going early), but this time I'm pretty content with the here-and-there preparations I've done so far.  I guess it's just the beginning of the second-time parent/second-kid syndrome.  I don't know if we're just going to be more laid back, or we realize how important it is to plan since managing two kids is such a different animal, but it's just been a totally different vibe this time around.  We'll have to wait and see if that trend continues once this little boy makes his appearance...

In other news, I started feeling a little better last night after dealing with a couple days of pressure and discomfort.  I actually felt pretty good this morning when Jacob and I headed to church.  We spent a little extra time there today because they had transformed the gym into Bethlehem.  Jacob planted some sunflower seeds and made a spice packet at a couple of the crafty tents they had set up, and we sampled some foods popular in that time (nothing too funky, though Jacob did enjoy apricots).  They had some little skits, but I don't think we stayed long enough to catch Mary, Joseph, and Jesus post-birth.  While we were there, one person gave me a, "Whoa, you must be close!", which was the first time I think I've ever gotten that.  Admittedly, my belly is starting to look like a feat of engineering, but it's still not that big compared to some people's, I'm sure.  Someone else asked me if my name was Mary.  Haha.  Funny.  But we had fun anyway. 

I was a little extra tired this afternoon, but after a nap I worked on getting the car seats worked out.  I moved Jacob's from the center to the side in both cars, and added the baby seat bases to the other side in each car.  It didn't take long but it was a little tiring, and ever since I've been back to feeling a little iffy.  Lots of pressure, a little sore and fatigued, and just generally uncomfortable.  I really can't help but feel that something is going to happen this week, if only because I was nearly 4 cm as of Thursday and that's where I was when my fluid leaked and I went into the doctor the morning before Jacob was born.  How long can I possibly last like this?  Any sort of activity leaves me feeling a lot of pressure--from shopping to laundry to organizing.  But laying around isn't all that comfortable either, yet mentally it makes me feel a little "safer".

It's definitely going to be an interesting week--from how I'm feeling, to Jacob's last week of soccer, to Valentine's Day, to more final preparations--we have plenty going on! 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Fighting Nemo

Yesterday was interesting.  Winter Storm Nemo (yes, they started naming them this year) came through town.  And the rest of the northeast, for that matter.  It started snowing pretty good around 11am, and by 1pm my office closed.  I opted to try to finish up some work to let Jacob finish up his nap at daycare, not to mention that leaving my office on weekends is a little stressful considering I don't know if I'll be back by Monday.  Yesterday in particular I was feeling a lot of belly pressure, and it was making me extra nervous.  I headed out by 2pm and actually made good time even though the roads were terrible.  I was so happy to get home and see that our neighbor had at least put a dent in the snow in our driveway.  Though it only seemed like there were a couple inches in the city, we had at least six at our house! 

I spent most of the rest of the day as horizontal as possible.  The belly pressure was difficult to manage and my mucus plug issue was still messing with my head a bit.  With Craig on the road, I didn't want to take any chances.  He was on his way back, but it was a long trip even without the snow.  He didn't think he'd make it back last night, so I went to bed and was surprised to wake up to the sound of activity just outside--he made it home at 3am after a stop at his office and some late-night shoveling to get in the driveway.  It was nice to have him back, just in case. 

This morning we woke up to over a foot of snow.  The neighbor has been helping with our driveway, which is huge.  I feel bad I can't do anything.  It looks amazingly beautiful outside, but there is a lot of snow.  Last night when I went to bed I noticed a small tree in our yard--usually probably about seven feet tall--was bent over and touching the ground!
I have never seen it do anything like this, so I have no idea if it will be able to bounce back...
Our yard is just a winter wonderland.  Not sure this really does it justice, but I couldn't really get out the back door and all of our back windows have screens.
You can see the wires drooping on the right, and the swing set is impressively covered.  Snow is piled up everywhere.

Everything is covered to the point of being nearly unidentifiable.  Of course, we got off easy.  Connecticut and Massachusetts got 2-3 feet of snow.  Yuck.  I'm just happy that it has stopped and the roads are less daunting now, if nothing else.

Unfortunately, Craig is now back on the road, in Buffalo this time.  There's a game there tonight and he'll be back sometime tomorrow.  Then the roadtrips are over until the first weekend of March, and if this baby is still in my belly by then, I will be shocked...and Craig won't be going.  But at this point I'm still nervous enough about not going into labor this weekend.  I'm still very uncomfortable--lots of pressure every time I get up, too many mucus plug episodes (sorry, I should probably have a code word for those or something)--and I'm doing my best to stay on the couch and drink water.  If I can get a couple things done here and there, great...but no sense pushing it when Craig isn't here.  Jacob and I addressed his valentines this morning, and I really should do a load of laundry at some point and clean up a couple things.  I also want to get to Babies 'R' Us this weekend for a diaper deal they have, but the thought of going out makes me nervous.  I'm not sure how I feel about church tomorrow, but they're doing something special--they recreated Bethlehem in the gym--so I'd like to be able to make it at least one more week.  I can't help but wonder how I'm going to manage work days if this keeps up, but I don't want to start disability early, and I still have so much I'd like to do.

Everything will feel a little less scary when Craig is back.  Still, I can tell I'm absolutely petrified about going into labor.  Even with knowing the baby would probably be fine at this point, I still feel a sense of panic and loss of control.  I don't think I'll ever feel comfortable with the amount of work I'd like to get done, but at least I feel considerably better about getting the baby stuff at home a little more settled.  I worry about Jacob and making sure everything's covered.  I worry about the pain and the exhaustion, and going through the same stressful post-birth stuff we dealt with with Jacob.  Heck, I worry about everyone hating the name we've picked.  I worry about not sleeping, forgetting how to take care of a baby, and making time for Jacob.

But I'm also excited.  We have a new little person to meet.  He seems awfully eager, so we'll just have to see how much longer we can make him wait...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

36 Weeks

Well, the beginning of my 36th week is starting with one heck of a bang.  Last night at bedtime Jacob was complaining that his belly hurt.  He insisted he didn't feel sick--it just hurt.  He woke up a couple times before we even went to bed because of it, but he never seemed to be in serious pain.  In fact, both times he pretty much shooed us back out of the room and fell back to sleep.  But at 1:30am, I heard a cry from his room and probably moved as fast as I have during this pregnancy to get to his room, just in time to grab a strategically placed bucket (we had brought in a bucket and moved some animals out of his bed, just in case) and catch most of what he was puking up.  UGH.  We let him get the first round out of his system, cleaned him up a bit, and then Craig and Jacob headed down to the bathroom to hang out and wait for more.  I cleaned up Jacob's bed--a few animals needed some wiping down, and I had to strip off some of his bedding.  I started a load of laundry and headed back up to check on the boys.  Jacob was better for the moment, but we got the boys comfy enough to camp out in the bathroom.  I've discovered that an old comforter and some towels work wonders with a puking child.  I would have taken a shift in the bathroom overnight, but I can't get comfortable in my own bed, let alone on a bathroom floor.  Not to mention that it's a little scarier for me to get sick at this point than Craig.  Of course, he was facing down a roadtrip so it wasn't ideal for him to get sick either, but in the end he and Jacob slept in the bathroom all night.  They did get some sleep after a second round of puking for Jacob--mostly water after we gave that a try--and I tried to sleep in my bedroom.  I didn't actually sleep much.  I was worried about Jacob, worried about us getting sick, worried about Craig going on the road, and I was getting kicked by the baby quite a bit as well.  I'm not sure I got more than a few hours of sleep.

First thing this morning I called daycare, and apparently a few other kids had called in from his room.  I had seen the notice that there had been a stomach bug floating through the room earlier last week, so perhaps this was its incubation period.  Ugh.  My next call was to work, and then I called my doctor.  I had an appointment for 2pm today, but because Craig had to leave for his roadtrip, I wanted to change my appointment to earlier so Jacob was still covered.  I got a 10:15am appointment, but that meant I had no shot at getting in even a half day of work.  Oh, well.  Inevitably there's always one weird week each year like this where I end up missing random days of work due to illness or other weird reasons.  Anyway, we took it slow with Jacob this morning, starting with water and eventually moving on to a piece of toast.  He kept that down, and I was going to give him more at lunch when I got back from the doctor, but he fell asleep.  I took the opportunity to sleep, too, until he woke up, took up half the couch, and then proceeded to sleep longer.  He probably slept for nearly four hours. 

He was fine the rest of the day, thankfully.  Craig and I each had our share of iffy stomach issues--nothing real, just a bit of unsettledness.  In fact, tonight at dinner I wasn't really hungry at all, which worried me.  I ended up having a couple pieces of toast.  I had been drinking water all day, so whether my stomach was off due to lack of general nutrition today or there's still something brewing, I'm not sure.  I've been trying to eat a little more tonight to make sure I'm not hungry.  We'll see how this goes. 

Like I said, I also had a doctor's appointment today.  Everything was fine, but as I expected, I have dilated further.  I'm at least at 3 cm, possibly more.  That is scary, because I think that's where I was last time at my final appointment before my fluid started leaking.  Could we have this baby within a week?  Possibly.  Inspired by that, I worked on getting the baby's room put back together.  I hung most of the decorations back up, put the blinds back in the windows, brought back all of the stuff that I threw in a box when I had to clear it out, and finally raised the crib mattress, put the side back on, and put on the bedding.  Other than having to organize the clothes and put them away, the room is ready (enough).  I still have to figure out the fancy baby monitor we got as a gift (video!), but we can use Jacob's in a pinch.  The one thing we're lacking is diapers, but those are easy enough!

On top of all that, we have the added complications of Craig's roadtrip and this crazy winter storm that's coming.  Craig was supposed to fly to Philly from Buffalo this afternoon, but opted to skip his flight, drive to Syracuse, and ride with his photographer instead.  It gave him more time at home today, and in theory gets him home sooner tomorrow after the oddball school day game tomorrow morning.  However...there's supposed to be a crazy winter storm hitting much of the state tomorrow, so I'm concerned about him getting back to Syracuse, then back to Rochester safely.  Not that his flight would have been any less of a concern, and he'd be in Buffalo that way, but the whole thing is far from ideal.  Once he's back he still has to go to Buffalo on Saturday, but the worst of the snow should be over by then.  Beyond Craig's safety I'm worried about myself tomorrow--driving to and from work in the snow, not being able to shovel, managing the stress of the whole thing--assuming I stay healthy and can leave the house.  I'm really just hoping my whole office shuts down, but I need to consider how to handle it if that's not the case. 

So...anyway....it's been quite a 24 hour span.  And it could be quite a crazy 48 hours coming up.  Let's just hope this baby stays put, the stomach bug leaves us all alone, and we all stay safe amidst the snow.  Lots of prayers tonight...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What's Making Me Cranky

I have had some rather cranky, impatient moments lately.  When I thought about it a little more in-depth, I realized that a lot of my crankiness can be boiled down to a couple main issues.  I'm worried about letting people down.  I'm also worried about losing control.

Every fiber of my being is screaming that my body has had enough and this baby can't possibly stay in there for much longer.  Something on my body is pretty much always uncomfortable.  If I lay down, it's hard to support my belly comfortably.  If I'm sitting up, my sciatica acts up or I feel like my belly is in the way.  When I get up from any sort of resting position, my body is sore.  My muscles feel like they've atrophied, and the underside of my belly is sore.  My belly often feels tight--either it's a muscular tightness (Braxton-Hicks?) or the skin feels stretched to the max.  My back hurts, either from the sciatica or carting around all this extra weight.  Some nights my feet and ankles are swelled up and tight, and even my hands are starting to feel a little tight.  I wasn't like this last time, yet I still delivered nearly two weeks early.  What does that mean for this time? 

Despite all that, I find myself holding out and hoping that I have more time.  Obviously the baby's health is first and foremost, and the longer he hangs out in there, the better.  But beyond that, I have a ton of other reasons why I need to keep putting up with this complete physical discomfort for as long as humanly possible.  I need time to get the baby's stuff ready, and I need time to get things at work ready.  None of that should matter in comparison to the baby himself, but it does.  And it's all making me a little nuts. 

I fear going into labor because it means that I lose control.  I don't really have control of anything right now, because at any moment my water could break or contractions could start, and from that moment on, I have no choice but to hold on for the ride.  As it is right now, I have little control over my comfort, zero control over Jacob's frustrating behavior, and no control over the fact that Craig has a roadtrip this weekend.  I can't control when labor is going to begin, and the mere fact that it can begin at any moment, as evidenced by my experience last time (normal night watching TV with no symptoms to leaking amniotic fluid in about five minutes flat), makes me crazy.  I wish I could predict things, but I can't.  And that loss of control makes me nuts.  Whenever I feel another recurrence of my thinning mucus plug, I panic for a couple minutes while waiting for it to happen again, because there's always a chance that's the first of many.  And during those few minutes, I get agitated and worry that it's just the beginning.  If something's happening, my sense of control is gone, and I'm about to go through a ridiculously painful experience, like it or not.  That's just a little scary, eh? 

If I go into labor too early, my fear is that I'm going to let a lot of people down.  I have so much to still communicate at work, and I worry about what happens if I run out of time and leave them hanging.  I worry that this baby won't come home to a comfortable room and a calm mommy because I didn't have enough time to get things properly prepared.  I worry that I'll go into labor at an inconvenient time for Craig's schedule, because he's nearing 200 straight games that he's broadcasted and I'd hate for him to have to break the streak or risk missing his child's birth.  And, of course, I worry about what this whole experience is going to do to Jacob, from a few days without his mommy around to a lifetime of having to share his parents with someone else. 

The double whammy of losing control and fearing that I'm going to let people down is very stressful.  And that stress is making me cranky.  I know I shouldn't let it, but it's a hard feeling to fight at this point.  There's so much going on, so much at stake, and so much that's coming.  It's hard to not get overwhelmed.  But I'm just taking things one day at a time.  It's all I can do.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Paint!

Today was a big day...paint day!  I hired a painter to come in and paint the baby's room.  Back in our old house, Jacob's room was white...all white.  It was plain and simple, but it worked.  I felt a little bad that we didn't do anything cool for his room, but neither of us are that handy and there just wasn't much we felt like doing (read: spending money on).  But it was a simple, cute room and it got the job done.  I liked hanging out in there.  As a reminder, here are a couple pictures...

I only included this one because it includes my crafty solution of hanging the original crib bumper on the wall like a border/chair rail.
When we moved, the natural "baby's room" was the one painted purple.  The bigger bedroom fit two guest beds better, and the purple in the smaller bedroom matched the baby stuff.  It made sense to put Jacob in there for now, and move him out once I was pregnant again.  I figured we could do a fun room for him then, and if we had a girl, we could leave the room purple.  In the meantime, the purple matched the baby stuff and we chalked it up to being a Knighthawks color.  Here's how the room looked right after we moved in...
We took down the border pretty quickly (stick-on, thank goodness), and put the bumper back up to the left of the closet door.  I put up the blue curtains back in our old house too, once daylight started waking Jacob up far too early.
Of course, it took me longer than we'd hoped to get pregnant.  For most of that time it never occurred to me to move Jacob into the other room.  I didn't really want to get ahead of ourselves or lose our guest room, and I had this terrible fear I'd end up pregnant with twins and we'd need to move the baby stuff in there instead.  So, he stayed in a babyish, purple room much longer than anticipated.  And once we found out this baby was a boy, we knew we'd finally have to paint it.  Today was that day.

The thought of painting over that purple trim made me crazy, particularly while pregnant, so it made sense to hire someone.  I got a good recommendation via Facebook, and the guy was great.  I'm not going to say it was cheap--between zero-VOC, low odor paint and the labor--but it was worth every penny considering our situation.  And now, it's like a whole new room.

I'll post pictures of both the baby's room and Jacob's new room soon, but for now, here's a sneak peek.  In this picture there was still purple on the door, but that's now blue, too.  The white trim alone made a huge difference!

It looks so nice in there now, and I finished it off with cleaning the carpet tonight.  I hadn't done it at all since I got the carpet cleaner, mostly because Jacob slept on the floor and it was too hard to coordinate.  But with the room mostly empty, this was my chance.  I can't say it's an ideal activity for a nearly eight-month-pregnant woman, but it's done.  I can't wait to start moving things back in and start getting things settled!  

Because of the painter I was home all day today.  I tried to find a good balance between productivity and relaxation, mostly because my body won't let me do too much without expressing its displeasure, but my brain brain really wanted me to get things done, too.  I brought up two laundry baskets worth of clean baby stuff to fold and organize a bit, plus Jacob's weekly laundry.  I put the pack-n-play back together in the living room, and brought a couple more things out of the crawl space.  I put away most of the winter decor and brought out the handful of Valentine's Day decorations I have.  I took lots of breaks and watched mindless TV.  I saw a handful of episodes of "A Baby Story" and simultaneously freaked myself out watching labor and got extra excited about meeting this little baby who currently enjoys nudging my arm off my belly when it's resting there.  

I finished off the day with Jacob's parent-teacher conference.  It was about what I expected--he's extra smart but he doesn't follow directions and can be a little aggressive around his friends.  That pretty much sums up how he is at home, too, and reflects what we see on his daily sheets.  Even his teachers chalked it up (at least in part) to the fact that he's in a room with mostly boys, and they tend to play differently.  Everything's a gun, everything's confrontational, everything's a battle.  Other than continuing what we've been doing, I'm not sure what else we can do.  I don't think he's too much different than average, but I know it would behoove him to learn to listen and chill out a bit before he heads off to Kindergarten.  Incidentally, while we know we will be sending him in the fall, we're still trying to figure out our options--public vs. private vs. possibly a public school of choice.  That's a whole other discussion/blog post.

Anyway, it was a productive day despite copious amounts of couch time.  Now if I can just be productive this week and make it through Craig's double roadtrip this weekend, I'll be much more ready for this baby to make his appearance.  If you can ever be ready for labor, anyway.  I had a couple rapid fire spurts tonight (still the mucus plug issue) and freaked out a little that it might be the beginning of something...but obviously that doesn't appear to be case yet, thank goodness.  So, as much as every little bit of progress makes me feel that much more ready, reality bears out a little differently. :)

Still, I am so happy to have blue paint on the walls and excited to give this baby a proper nursery.  Let's hope he gives me enough time to pull it off!  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pictures and the Countdown to the End...

I finally got myself together enough to take another picture of my belly, so here we are at 35 weeks!



I'm definitely a lot bigger, particularly to the point of running out of material at the bottom of my (maternity) tank top.  The last picture was more of a cute belly, and this one is just getting big.  It's fine, though, really.  I know it's not big compared to what it could be, but I'm definitely feeling the weight of it and it's hard to bend or sit comfortably to eat at a table because it's simply getting in the way.  When I was at the doctor's on Thursday, they did say that the baby is down in the pelvis, and I can definitely believe it on the inside, even if it doesn't look like it on the outside.

I also wanted to take some pictures of my bare belly, which I didn't do at all last time.  I find this one really amazing, to be honest, because it is so defined on the sides.  I figured that doing them in black and white makes them a little less freaky.  Maybe less real?  I don't know.  Here are three different angles...



The definition on the sides conforms to some sort of body parts...butt? shoulders?  You can just see the very beginnings of the linea nigra down the center.  It's barely visible and I hope it stays that way!  No idea when it cropped up last time, but it took forever to go away so I wouldn't mind if it just stayed faint this time.  In the first picture you can just see my belly button ring scar above my belly button.  It's more scar tissue from it not healing right, but I think it looks a lot better this time than last time.  Anyway, they're not exactly artistic shots, but at least I have some like this this time.  

The past few days have been interesting in the wake of all the craziness I blogged about Thursday.  I'm still feeling like a ticking time bomb, but at least I don't feel like what's happening is a danger to the baby.  My body is just having a hard time coping with things--though I don't know if it's the weight, the baby's position, the body preparing itself, or what.  I'm just not up for a lot of movement, though.  We will be going to the Knighthawks game tonight, though I will have some help and I figure this might be our last chance for a while, so I need to get Jacob his fix while I can.  I'm still dealing with the thinning mucus plug issue.  It seems to come in waves, to the point that I got a little nervous again last night, but it's been quieter today so I assume things are fine for now.  Still, it tells me that things are happening.  There's still no telling how soon, but I can just tell that my body is reaching its limits, even if I don't entirely understand why.

I feel a little better mentally after doing a ton of laundry the last couple days.  Thursday night I had picked up a tub of OxiClean to soak all of the yellowed baby clothes in.  I soaked them overnight and threw the first batch in the washing machine yesterday morning.  To my delight, much of the yellow staining came out!  Not every piece was perfect, but if nothing else most of the stains faded to the point where the clothes will be salvageable, even if they're just backups or fine for daycare or something to use for layering.  I'm not giving up hope even on the ones that weren't perfect.  I'll wash them more to see if I can get them to fade a bit more, and hanging them to dry gives me a little more of a chance before heat sets things any more.  But most of them are looking really good, thank goodness!  The clothes definitely bring back memories, too.  Part of me can't believe it's been five years since we got most of them, but another part feels like it's been an eternity since we were dealing with tiny socks and hats and swaddle sacks.

I did another batch of clothes last night into this morning, and now I think I have most of the 0-6 month clothes cleaned.  I can start sorting and folding things over the next couple days so they're ready to be stored in the baby's room once the paint is dry, hopefully as soon as Tuesday.  I'll get the pack-n-play set up Monday while I'm home with the painter, and maybe pull out the baby seat and swing, wash the new clothes we have (five outfits that cost me a grand total of $15), and strategize about what we might need if we can manage a trip to Babies 'R' Us.  We definitely need some diapers, and I'd like some sterilization bags for bottles and breast pump parts.  Guessing we should probably buy a couple new bottle nipples, too, since the old ones might not be in very good shape after all this time.  Not that I'm thinking he'll be bottle feeding much early on, but we'll need to do some to get him adjusted for daycare and maybe give Jacob and Craig a chance to participate (and maybe let me sleep?).  

It's going to be quite the month, no doubt.  It's hard not knowing when things are going to happen, but it's also probably better that I don't because the stress leading up to it would probably kill me!  At least I'm getting things done and giving the little man a little more time to get fully cooked.  We want strong lungs and a little chub before he comes out so he has the best chance of coming home on time with us.  I'm definitely feeling the pressure of this final countdown, but it's exciting, too.  We can't wait to meet the little guy, but I will gladly be patient in the meantime...