Friday, November 29, 2013

The Hospital Bag

Recently some friends have been posting “What to pack for the hospital” posts on pinterest.  I decided to click on a few to see if I did it “right”.  I guess not.  I couldn’t believe what some of the “experienced” moms were telling people to pack!  So here is my list – take it or leave it J

What to pack for baby:

-Going home outfit.  Something comfy more than cutsey.  With Clara we packed 2 outfits, one boy and one girl, since we didn’t know what we were having.  With Hazel, we didn’t pack anything.  I put my sister in charge of purchasing an outfit and bringing it to us in the hospital.  Make sure your outfit is washed.  Bring socks.
-Carseat.  They won’t let you leave without one :)

Things I skipped:
  -diapers and wipes – they provide you with all that you will need 
  -additional clothing – again, everything you will need will be provided
  -nasal aspirator – they blue one they give you is way better than anything you can get at Target.
  -nail clippers – I was way to freaked out to go after long nails on my baby with a clipper.   Hazel had crazy long nails and they rubbed off on their own in a day.
  -pacifier – if your baby needs one, the hospital can provide you with one.
  -mittens – I’ve read some interesting studies on how detrimental the use of the baby mittens really are.  Both of my girls were hand suckers – so the mittens would have just been in the way… and soggy.
  -hat – again, they will provide you with one. Our girls rarely wore hats beyond those first few moments immediately following delivery.  I love to smell my baby’s head.

What to pack for you:

-Going home clothes.  Something comfy.  I wore yoga pants and a zip-up hoodie home both times.
-Clothes to wear after the birth.  I preferred to wear my own clothes after the delivery instead of the very fashionable hospital gowns.  With Clara, I was changed a few hours after she was born.  With Hazel, it was more than a day because of some complications I had.  Neither time were my stitches or anything checked, so having easy access to “down there” wasn’t necessary.  I would suggest dark pants, like black or dark brown.  (I had to laugh when one blog I read, where the mom has 5 children, had pictured some light yellow, flowery PJ pants to wear.  Umm, it’s like a scene from chainsaw massacre “down there”… light colors are not recommended!)  You will want a top that is easy to nurse in.  I suggest something that zips up the front.

-Nursing bras
-Socks, slippers, and flip flops
-Your own pillows
-Hairbands or a headband.  Annoying hair in your face will not be tolerated.
-Usual toiletries.  Shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, etc.
-Phone, laptop, ipad, etc and chargers
-A camera your husband can operate.  It's highly unlikely that you will be the one taking those post birth photos - you'll be busy. 
-Change for the vending machine and/or snacks for your husband.  I was in labor for 22 and 12 hours.  Even though YOU won’t be able to eat during that time, he will need to.
-I brought a large tote to take home all the extra “stuff” you accumulate - paperwork and gifts.  I also received some additional pumping equipment each time.  It’s nice to have something to get all that stuff home in.
-Phone numbers for your employers HR dept and your insurance company.  I needed to notify HR of the start of my maternity leave, and needed to add baby to our insurance.  It was nice having those numbers handy.
-If your husband is staying with you:  a change of clothes for him and his toothbrush, etc.  Paul also brought his own pillow and blanket.

Things I skipped:

- Boppy pillow.  Just seemed like 1 more thing to haul along.  The nurses will give you all the pillows you need to help with nursing.
- My medications.  I have a few medications that I take daily.  These were provided to me daily during my stay.
- Breast pump.  If you need to use one, they will have one you can use.

- I preferred to just use the pads and mesh underwear the hospital provided.  If you want to bring your own, just be warned that it’s going to get gross… so bring big undies that you are willing to toss.
-Nursing pads – it’s highly unlikely that your milk will come in while you are still in the hospital, but if it does, the lactation consultants can hook you up.
-Hand sanitizer.  The rooms have sinks.  And soap.  And probably even purell mounted on the wall.  It is after all – a HOSPITAL room.

Be sure to pack all your stuff in a girly bag.  My husband got numerous compliments while carrying my Vera Bradley bag :)

What were your must-haves?  Any OB nurses want to weigh-in?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Breastfeeding - Take Two

Some of you may remember that my breastfeeding experience with Clara did not go as I had planned.  She never latched decent, we used a nipple shield for awhile, I didn't respond well to the pump, and we basically had to supplement with formula the entire time.  After 6 weeks or so... I gave up.  You can read about it here.

Because of that experience, I wasn't all that optimistic about breastfeeding this time around, but was determined to give it another shot.  Breast milk really is the best thing for baby, and if you can give that to your baby, why wouldn't you?

A little on that...  I know some people spend hours researching the best carseats, strollers, and other gear for their babies.  They buy the brand name diapers.  Then choose to formula feed without even trying to breastfeed.  No, formula isn't poison, but if you can put the best possible thing in your baby's tummy - why wouldn't you?

OK - off my soapbox.

I know some people simply don't produce enough.  But did you know that less than 3% of moms actually have that problem?  That means that 97% of moms CAN produce enough if they have the right knowledge, support, and determination. 

I know, I know... I thought I was one of those 3%.  I wasn't.  I just didn't have the right knowledge, support, or determination.  I didn't ask the right questions.  I didn't prepare myself.  I didn't trudge through when the going got tough.

The second time seems to be the charm for us!  Hazel has had a great latch from the get-go.  We had some issues in the hospital with her only being interested in one side, but thanks to the amazing lactation consultants and nurses at our hospital, we figured out what the problem was and were able to get her to latch equally on both sides.  Hazel hasn't had one ounce of formula, and I have more than 300oz frozen in the freezer.  It feels great to be successful this time around.  My first goal is 3 months and we are only 10 days away from meeting that!  Yeah!

It hasn't been all unicorns and rainbows though, we've had our share of challenges.  2 bouts with thrush, bruised nipples, cluster feeding, and my array of health issues have given me pause on more than one occasion.  But she continues to get what she needs from me, I'm putting milk in the freezer, and that makes me very proud of our progress!

I'm a firm believer that when you know better, you do better.  So here are some of the things I learned this time around that have helped me to be successful.  I hope they will help someone else!

1.  Build up support for your efforts.  Whether it's family, friends, or an online community, gather a group that you can ask questions to, celebrate those small victories with, and who can support you when times are tough.  Mandy, Linnea, my mom, and the girls on the facebook page Breast Friends have been this for me. 

2.  Remember - your breasts are never truly empty.  If you pump at 2:20, you can feed baby at 2:30 - there will be milk there.

3.  Pumping is not a true measure of what you are producing.  A pump can only transfer 30% of the milk that a baby can transfer.  The best way to know how much baby is receiving is to do a weigh, feed, weigh.  But if baby is having adequate wet and poopy diapers... they are getting enough.

4.  In the beginning, it will seem like baby is feeding constantly.  That's great!  They are helping you build your supply.  Breastmilk eventually becomes supply and demand... by nursing a lot, the baby is signaling to the body to make more milk.

5.  Find a lactation consultant that can help you.  Sometimes you just need an expert.  Like I said earlier, the LC's at our hospital are pretty amazing and really gave me some great suggestions when I hit a slump.  I still don't respond amazingly to the pump, but have learned some tricks that help me. 

6.  In the beginning, breast feeding will hurt.  This is new territory for those nipples of yours!  But a good latch, some hydrogels, and warm water soaks will help.  After a while, it won't hurt anymore, you just have to power through to that point. 

7.  There are some things you can do to increase your supply if you need to.  Drink lots of water, almond milk, eat almonds, brewer's yeast, flaxseed, oatmeal, drink Gatorade.  There are also supplements you can take, but I found that the ones that contain fenugreek cause Hazel to be gassy. 

8.  Breast pumps are expensive - no question about it - but thankfully more and more insurance companies are covering them.  I now have 2, so I will be able to keep one set-up at work and one set-up at home.

9.  If you have a smartphone, find an app to help you.  Those first few weeks it was very helpful to record which side I had nursed on last, how long we nursed, track dirty and wet diapers, etc.  You wouldn't think those things are that hard to just remember... but you will be a hormonal, exhausted mess.  Trust me on this one.

10.   Remember why you are doing this.  Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. 

Some moms can't breastfeed, some choose not to.  I'm glad that I gave this another shot and am able to provide for Hazel in this way.  We'll keep going as long as we can! 

I also wanted to add that I don't condemn moms that formula feed.  Clara ended up being formula fed and she's amazing!  But on more occasions than I care to admit, I had boob envy when talking with friends about nursing.  Formula has its place, but I hope that it is always "Plan B".

Feel free to share your breastfeeding story in the comments below!  Is there anything you would share with a new mom?

Milk Coma

Monday, November 18, 2013

Me. Lately.

My life has been a bit of a roller coaster since Hazel's arrival.  Health-wise.

Beyond the normal hormone awesomeness that occurs post-partum (I'm amazed Paul doesn't have me committed during those first few weeks!), all seemed well until I went in for my 6 week post-partum check-up (October 11).

I remembered this appointment from my pregnancy with Clara, and actually was a little sad that it would signal the end of this pregnancy.  I expected to be in and out in a half hour and then do a little shopping.

Boy, was I wrong.

During routine questioning, my doctor learned I was still bleeding, which apparently is not normal.  After an ultrasound, it was determined that I still had a golf ball sized piece of placenta hanging out in my uterus. 


Not really.

So off to surgery I went for a D&C.  (more on this later)

During the week that followed, I felt pretty good.  Barely any pain and the bleeding tapered off considerably.

Then a week later (October 18), I woke up gushing blood.  When I called in, they told me to come in immediately.  Another ultrasound showed there were still fragments present.  My doctor did not want to attempt another D&C as to avoid Asherman's Syndrome, so he decided to put me on an estrogen therapy to kick start my cycle and flush out the fragments.

I was a little worried about the effects of estrogen on breastfeeding, but trust my doctor, so started taking the estrogen pills.

Then a week later (October 24) I experienced another syncope event, similar to what I had experienced after Hazel's delivery.  I mentioned it at my post-op appointment the following day.  My doctor explained that there are some rare heart conditions that women can develop during pregnancy, so he wanted to run a few tests.  Off I went for a chest x-ray and EKG.

The following Wednesday (October 30), I went shopping for a few hours solo when I started experiencing chest pains that radiated to my back.  When I got home, I called the triage nurse at my hospital and explained what I was experiencing.  She told me to hang up and dial 911 immediately.  So I got an ambulance ride to the hospital.  After a CT scan, it was determined I had a peripheral pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung).  A few more hours in the ER and some good meds, they sent me home.  Turns out this can be a side-effect of the estrogen therapy.


Not really.

Other than that, things have been great!  :)  Like I said, a bit of a roller coaster.  This is uncharted territory for me - I've been healthy as a horse my entire life.  A bit scary, but overall things have been good the last few weeks.

I'm thankful that none of these things became more serious.  I'm not lucky, I'm blessed. 

Will you take me back?

I realized today I've been on maternity leave for almost 3 months and during that time, I have posted once.

I'm really sucking it up in the blogging department.

With Clara I had weekly pregnancy updates and monthly updates on her growth.   I haven't managed either of those things this time around.  Poor Hazel.

Let's be honest - there just isn't time with 2 of them around.

But I'm gonna give it another shot.  I enjoy this blogging thing and I need to make time for it.  I've apologized before, and I probably will again, but I'm going to make an attempt.

Will you take me back? :)