Two weeks

My high school and Scramble with Friends buddy the Crafty Pumpkin had a baby 10 days before I did, at the same hospital, and we’ve been talking about the experience. She did up a nice post (the above link) about enjoying the first few weeks of her new baby because they go by so quickly. I’ve been dreading/complaining about the first few weeks since, well, before I got pregnant, because my primary memories of Elena’s first few weeks were complete misery. After reading her post I vowed to try a little harder….

I have tried harder. It’s still not my favorite time. But the first few weeks of Zoe’s life have not been a complete misery. So, success?

My brain has already made a solid effort at blocking out the past couple weeks. Yay, brain! But here are a few things that I remember, before I forget them.

I can only speak to the nursing experience because that’s what we did both times. And speaking to the nursing experience, all that you think about in the first 1-2 weeks of the baby’s life is the nursing experience. This blog is intended for general consumption so I don’t want to go into a lot of details about the nursing experience, but suffice it to say that when your child is eating every 2-3 hours and your body has to learn this new trick of feeding a child who needs to eat every 2-3 hours, and your baby has to learn this new trick of eating, it takes up a lot of time/energy/effort/random Google searches. In my experience, everyone has some sort of issue with nursing, it’s just a matter of what.

For those of you interested in details: Zoe’s issues included being tongue tied and having a fast let-down, which contributed to latching issues. (Elena had supply issues that required use of the supplemental nursing system.)

Ben was off the first two weeks. (He’s back to work today for the first time.) We tried a variety of things to allow us both to get some large uninterrupted chunks of sleep. After a good bit of trial and error with timing a supplemental bottle feeding that generally resulted in us both being awake for large chunks of time, we learned on Friday that the best solution for securing large chunks of uninterrupted sleep is for us to both go to sleep at 9PM. So if you need to reach us after 9PM, well, we’ll be awake again at like midnight. Also, is there any way to increase the capacity of our DVR, because we are going to get really behind on our shows.

Physically I feel much better having the baby on the outside, almost immediately. I say “almost” because I *thought* I was doing really really well, and then we went to Ben’s parents’ house the day after we got out of the hospital and as soon as we got there I realized why people don’t usually leave their houses for a while. Clearly I’m not very good at resting in the best of times. I’ve managed to get some decent rest in this time.

A lot of the past two weeks has been coordinating Elena’s schedule and it’s worked out well. Thanks to some awesome friends, she’s been able to go out and have a good time with her little buddies, have sleepovers, etc. People have asked how she likes being a big sister. Generally she does like it, she is concerned about how her sister is doing and checks on her frequently. The hit it’s taking to the amount of attention she’s used to is by far her biggest adjustment. We’re working on that, and I think she is too.

Ending on that note, and to avoid a words-only post, here is a picture of Elena and Zoe.

Sisters

Sisters

Up next: a post that will involve something other than the new baby.

Birth part 2: Hospital

When we got home from the hospital, Stacey asked me how my stay at West Penn for Zoe compared with my stay at Wheeling Hospital, where Elena was born. There were two major differences: the food was far better at Wheeling Hospital, but the lactation support was far better at West Penn. I felt the overall care was comparable. In neither case did my own OB/GYN deliver me. My OB/GYN for Zoe was part of a practice, so I had a doctor whose philosophy I was familiar with, whereas I only had the attending for Elena, which I did not care for because I didn’t like her style. But that’s not to do with the hospital and not really something that can be planned for (other than to say I’d always go with a practice over a solo practitioner for this sort of thing, but that’s kind of moot now).

So having gotten that out of the way, here are some highlights of our hospital stay.

  • Some people have strong feelings about keeping the baby in the room with them overnight versus sending the baby to the nursery. I am very much in favor of sending the baby to the nursery, particularly on a day that begins at 1:22AM. As I mentioned, West Penn nurses were very supportive of nursing, so they’d bring Zoe in to nurse every 2-3 hours, whether she was “hungry” or not. I was happy she was being looked after in the nursery and grateful I could sleep.
  • I had a breakdown the first morning there that made me very sad at the time but is fairly humorous in retrospect. I was still pretty tired so after feeding Zoe around 6:30AM I asked the nurse to take her back to the nursery so I could sleep some more. It’s been a week and a half, but this is my memory of what happened next:
    • The night nurse came in to check my vitals one last time
      Two CCAC nursing students came in to check my vitals again and talk to me, very slowly, about how I was feeling (despite the fact that I told them the only thing I was feeling was “tired”)
      The day nurse came to check on me
      The OB/GYN from my practice came to check on me
      The nursing students came back with their teacher to take out my IV line and check on me again, very slowly; queries included whether I felt depressed because that was normal, whether we had a crib in our house, how nursing was going, etc.
      I finally decided, F it, I’m up, I’m going to get a shower
      While I was in the shower, the nursing students came back AGAIN to change my sheets. There was a sign on my door that I was a fall risk (?) so the nursing students told me they had to stay until I was done in the shower
      The baby came back, along with the nursing students who had to bring me another ice pack or something
      I had a breakdown
      The AWESOME baby nurse told everyone to get lost
      Everyone got lost
  • I had a similar breakdown that night when the person doing night vitals came to check on me exactly an hour between Zoe visits and after she couldn’t get my blood pressure the first time I asked her if she could come back later and she told me it would only take a minute. The AWESOME night nurse (who was like seven months pregnant with her third child, how?) took care of that issue.
  • The food situation was kind of dumb. I was told I would be contacted for what I wanted but that only happened one meal. The rest of the time they just brought a tray. Apparently if you don’t like what they bring you can then contact them to bring something different. Why don’t they just give you a menu if that’s an option? Anyway I didn’t really eat much of their food but fortunately people brought food.
  • One of Ben’s good friends had a bay the day we were checking out. We were a little sad we couldn’t visit them while we were there.
  • Overall it was a good experience. One which I will probably only vaguely remember a year from now due to whatever it is that makes you forget how tough having a new baby is (I’ve actually already forgotten a lot of it).

    Up next: how tough the first two weeks are (even though I’ve already blocked out everything before yesterday).

    Newbaby

    It’s been almost a week since the baby was born. Here’s how it went down.

    I had an idea labor was coming last Wednesday for several reasons I won’t get into. I’d been kind of going back and forth for a few days not really sure, and I didn’t want to go to the hospital too early, so I was just waiting and paying attention. Last Thursday was our anniversary and Ben had been saying he wanted the baby to be born that day so he could remember it easily (and also because Elena’s birthday is also on the 12th of a month) so I thought, hey, maybe the baby had been listening, that would be cool. So before bed I told Ben to be mentally prepared and maybe go to sleep early, and I texted my dad to be sure his phone was charged so we could get in touch with him, and went to bed.

    I woke up at 1:22 (have been telling people one thirty or one twenty but it was exactly 1:22) and my water was breaking. Hooray! Easy way to know its time to go to the hospital! We called my dad to come over and sit here for Elena and got ready to go. (Ben did not go to sleep early, btw.)

    We got to the hospital and checked in. They asked some questions to be sure I was in labor so they wouldn’t have to waste a room on me if I wasn’t. Legit. But I was, so we got a room.

    I enjoyed going to the hospital overnight. It was quiet -only one other patient – and I felt like we got good attention. I was 3cm when we got there and having irregular contractions. Got hooked up to an IV and settled in for a bit. I wanted an epidural but didn’t feel like I needed one right away. The other patient had hers done and then they came for me.

    Epidurals are interesting – they are fairly routine but also kind of scary. A resident came in to do mine. Normally I’m like, yeah, student doctors, learn your stuff, but I did think about whether I wanted to ask for a more experienced doctor due to the nature of the event. I decided I was fine – I liked the resident and the attending was there with us the whole time, so I figured he would jump in if needed. They had to try it twice, but they talked in code the whole time so I didn’t really understand what was happening or why, so it worked out just fine.

    Anyway. Got the epidural, snoozed for a bit, shift change happened and new people came to check me out. I was only 4cm at 7am but since I was progressing they were happy. I was starting to think I was going to be there for a while. Elena’s labor was only about 6-7 hours. But I knew the baby would have to come that day, so at least there was an end point, and no talk of pitocin yet, so things were going well.

    Snoozed again, but then around 9 I started to feel some of the contractions again. It wasn’t too bad but I mentioned it to the nurse and she asked the resident to check me again. The resident wanted to wait because they didn’t want to check me too often. I didn’t really understand why but I wasn’t in terrible pain so I said fine. Then my OBGYN came in and checked me and said it was time to go. Pushed for 10 minutes and the baby came, so clearly she was right! Baby Zoë was born at 9:44, weighed 7 lbs 10 oz, 20 inches long. We decided on her name about two hours later.

    Pictures are obviously required. I have absolutely no idea how Ben and I look so awesome in the picture of the three of us after the birth of a child but it is one of the best pictures of us I’ve seen in a while.

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    A separate post about my hospital stay is probably warranted but I’ve gone on long enough and of course it’s feeding time for the baby.

    Zoë

    Baby Zoë born on Thursday! I’m going to try to do a full post in the near future. Meanwhile here is what Ben calls the “money shot.”

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    Plus this other one.

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    Teeth

    When I was growing up, I had this Play-Doh head that you could make teeth for. Here, I found a picture of it on teh interwebz.

    Open wide!

    Open wide!

    Despite my fond memories of making Play-Doh teeth for this gentleman, my trips to the dentist were not full of joy and wonder. Probably due to my intense fondness for juice.

    This party's going to be off the hook*

    This party’s going to be off the hook*

    I had a fair number of cavities. I also had an overbite, not to the extent that I needed braces, but I did need…The Appliance.

    The Appliance

    The Appliance

    I can practically still taste it in my mouth. And I was really horrible about wearing it too. I’m not entirely sure how I don’t still have an overbite.

    There are two incidents that are tied for first (last?) in my History of Teeth.

    1. Sophomore year of college, for some unknown reason, I stored my toothbrush upside down in my cup all year. COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE DIRTY, YO. I came home that summer with FIVE cavities, one of which required a root canal. I vowed to take better care of my teeth, and for the most part I have, except for the time…

    2. About 8 years ago I was playing flag football without a mouth guard and ran my mouth into someone’s shoulder playing D on a 4th and 1 (and didn’t even get the damn flag) and knocked one of my front teeth off the root. It required two root canals and ultimately I had to get a veneer.

    Because I am became a crazy teeth person as a result of #1, I have a really fantastic dentist, who fixed my #2 issue such that you can’t even tell it’s not a real tooth. (You didn’t know, did you?)

    Elena’s started to go to the dentist, which is what made me write about it. We’re trying to switch her from the starter toothpaste to the fluoride toothpaste and she doesn’t like the taste. We’ve tried a couple of different flavors and I think it’s just, I don’t know, maybe too strong for her or something? I mean, it’s bubble gum flavor and is also pink and has princesses on it. Come on. Obviously she’s going to have to cave sooner or later, but we would all prefer keeping the screaming to a minimum.

    Do any parents have any tips on incorporating a new toothpaste?

    _______________________
    *OK, I just got that “hook” double reference. I feel shame.

    SmrtGrls

    Today I read this article, The Trouble with Bright Girls. It is interesting to me. In relevant part:

    At the 5th grade level, girls routinely outperform boys in every subject, including math and science. So there were no differences between these boys and girls in ability, nor in past history of success. The only difference was how bright boys and girls interpreted difficulty–what it meant to them when material seemed hard to learn. Bright girls were much quicker to doubt their ability, to lose confidence, and to become less effective learners as a result.

    Researchers have uncovered the reason for this difference in how difficulty is interpreted, and it is simply this: more often than not, bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.

    How do girls and boys develop these different views? Most likely, it has to do with the kinds of feedback we get from parents and teachers as young children. Girls, who develop self-control earlier and are better able to follow instructions, are often praised for their “goodness.” When we do well in school, we are told that we are “so smart,” “so clever,” or “such a good student.” This kind of praise implies that traits like smartness, cleverness, and goodness are qualities you either have or you don’t.

    Boys, on the other hand, are a handful. Just trying to get boys to sit still and pay attention is a real challenge for any parent or teacher. As a result, boys are given a lot more feedback that emphasizes effort (e.g., “If you would just pay attention you could learn this,” “If you would just try a little harder you could get it right.”) The net result: When learning something new is truly difficult, girls take it as sign that they aren’t “good” and “smart”, and boys take it as a sign to pay attention and try harder.

     

    As the mother of one girl, soon to be two, information on how people talk to girls and how it affects how they learn is so interesting and important to me. I’m not sure I necessarily agree with this application (I was probably praised similarly growing up, but I did not unilaterally shy away from things that were too difficult) but there’s definitely some benefit to considering your words, and your praise, with kids, regardless of gender.

    I love to see Elena do something that she really enjoys and is naturally good at, like playing soccer (or at least pretending to play soccer – we’ll see how she is when she gets into the big leagues of Little Kickers) or picking out an outfit to wear (she’s got a pretty decent eye for a three year old). But it’s so much more gratifying to me when she accomplishes something that she’s been struggling with (like drawing the letter B, which has given her some major issues). The proud little look she gets when she’s done something that she’s worked on so hard – that deserves extra praise.

    It’s my hope that the potential reward of this extra praise will help her work through tough problems in the future and not just get frustrated and give up. Like the day that she’ll start putting on her shirt by herself. I can’t wait for that day!

    Not Labor Day

    Doesn’t seem like I’m going to be having a baby today (although I guess technically it is still early and I could be taking this back). Possibly because I’m an only child, I have enjoying comparing pregnancy experiences so far.

    Elena: born 3 weeks early (technically at week 36, day 6)
    This new baby: still not born yet (I am at week 37, day 3, so the baby is not late, but she is later than Elena was)

    Elena: going into labor was a complete surprise
    This new baby: I’ve been convinced on at least three occasions that it will be happening today, we will be heading to the hospital in the next 3-6 hours – and I’ve clearly been wrong each time. I am able to recognize a contraction this time, but my water broke before I had any real contractions last time so I am inexperienced in the whole “timing contractions” thing, and I think I’ve only had the false labor ones (I think)

    Elena: we did not have the carseat in the car (sort of the first thing you need!)
    This new baby: carseat is ready to go, AND we know how to install it and everything!

    Elena: moved around some
    This new baby: goes jogging daily

    Elena: I was so convinced I would be having a giant baby that we had NO newborn outfits for her, and then she was small, and she looked like a hobo for her first six weeks
    This new baby: plenty of newborn clothes washed and ready to go; baby will probably be 11 pounds at birth

    Elena: I had to share a room at the hospital the first night
    This new baby: I will CUT SOMEONE if that happens
    (I’m sure the contrast of birth and hospital experiences will be worthy of a completely separate post.)

    We’re at about the same place with picking out a name as we were with Elena (as in, we have our list and will decide after the baby is born). I think the nursery was pretty well ready when Elena was born, and new baby’s nursery is ready. I wouldn’t say the pregnancies have been completely different since I’ve felt more or less OK through both of them and have had the same attitude toward them.