Things I Wish I Knew Before I Had My Baby

14 May

On March 15, 2014, Nathan and I welcomed the most beautiful baby girl into the world. Sadie Elizabeth Poolman was born at 7pm on the dot via C-section, weighing in at 6 pounds 15 ounces, and measuring 20 inches.

First Sadie pic

The labor….ah the labor. Yes, I had a C-section, and no, I do not feel disappointed about it. On the 14th I was having contractions but they were not regular. I cancelled plans with a friend since they were painful. Luckily I had quit working a few days before due to lack of sleep. I think my body knew what was coming.

At about 11pm that night I just knew something was up. The contractions did not feel like descriptions I read in books or learned about in our birth class. I can’t even really describe it–it’s like my whole body from neck to hips just got really tight and hurt. We went into the hospital, and of course got stuck behind a train. By the time we got there I was in so much pain I threw up in the garbage can in the lobby. After bringing me back to triage, I got the most thrilling news–only about 1cm dilated. REALLY?! The nurse offered something for pain and told me I could walk around, or they could give me pain meds and I could go home and try to sleep. Since I knew I had a long journey ahead of me if I progressed, I chose sleep.

The pain meds only really worked between contractions. Luckily Nathan got some sleep and I dozed off between contractions. At about 3am I took a bath, as the nurse said that would help–no such luck. At 5am I woke Nathan up and told him I didn’t care how dilated I was, we had to go in. He said, “Why don’t you take a shower?” Apparently men can sleep through anything since the bathroom is literally right next to his side of the bed.

When we got to the hospital my water started leaking and I was about 3cm, so they admitted me. I asked for an epidural immediately and had to wait a couple of hours. Poor Nathan tried to talk to me but apparently I snapped at him. All of that time is really a blur. After I got the epidural, I felt much better and slept. I did have to get Pitocin to speed things up though. I wasn’t ready to push until 5pm. I pushed for about an hour and a half with no progress. After about 45 minutes the doctor got the ultrasound to see what was going on–Sadie was head down but what they call “sunny-side up.” This means her head is down but facing my abdomen causing her head to keep hitting my pelvis. The doctor tried to turn her for the another 45 minutes with no success. He finally gave me the option of trying to push for another hour or two and possibly still wind up getting a C-section or just getting a C-section. At this point, my heart beat was much higher than normal and I had a fever. We opted for a C-section.

Sadie came out with a conehead from all the pushing and her poor little head hitting my pelvis. She also had a fever and elevated heartbeat when she was born. Our baby was in the NICU for two days as a precaution in case she had an infection. Mom, Dad, and Sadie all left the hospital safely four days later.

The first two weeks Sadie was home were the hardest weeks of my life. I’ve learned so much and come so far since then. Below are the things I wish I knew before I had her.

1) When you get home you could feel like, “Can I please take my baby back to the hospital?” even though you love them, and wanted them so badly. Sadie was so wanted and so loved, but those first two weeks are so overwhelming. But each day gets better and better, and like Nathan and I kept telling each other, “This won’t last forever.”

2) A lot of women get the baby blues, but few talk about it. My emotions were a roller coaster. I would cry because I was happy, cry because I was sad, cry because I thought people thought I was crazy, cry because I was tired….Your hormones are completely out of whack and are out of control. Be patient with yourself, talk to your spouse, and don’t let other people get to you.

3) While you will want help the first few weeks, it’s hard to have someone stay with you the whole time if you want to establish some sort of routine. I love my parents, and they were so helpful–more than I could even imagine. But I think having them at the house for that long while my hormones were out of control was not a good idea. I couldn’t gain my confidence as a mother, it was hard dealing with the baby blues when you have so many people around you, and you feel like you need to be a hostess. I knew I was being crabby with them and that just made me feel worse. I couldn’t get my footing and I just kept feeling like I was disappointing them.

4) Say yes to help, food, and people visiting but set your boundaries. We had SO many people wanting to visit almost as soon as we got home. While it was helpful since most people brought food with them, it was also very overwhelming. I wasn’t feeling my best, so I didn’t really want people to see me that way. I was also really protective of my daughter, worrying about her getting sick, getting overstimulated, and visits upsetting her schedule. I am the type of person who finds it very hard to say no, but I found that I really had to get over that.

5) Some people will not agree with your parenting decisions and LOTS of people will give you unsolicited advice. My in-laws came for a few days and my mother-in-law would jump every time Sadie cried. I don’t even think Sadie cried for ten seconds before my mother-in-law was like, “Is she hungry? Is she wet? Is she in pain? Are you going to go get her?” People would also ask me how things were and I would say, “Oh good. Sadie had a little trouble sleeping last night, but I’m sure tonight will better.” I would then receive an email of what to do during the day to ensure she slept at night, and how late to keep her up before putting her down for the night, etc. The advice was nice and coming from a good place, but was not what I was looking for. If I need advice, I will ask for it.

6) Breastfeeding is not nearly as easy as it seems. I agree it is the best thing for a baby, but I don’t believe a mother should be made to feel bad or feel pressured into doing it. Due to Sadie being in the NICU, my milk not coming in right away, and her getting supplementation, breastfeeding did not work for us. It got to the point where I was in tears, Sadie was in tears, and poor Nathan didn’t know what to do to help. We saw a lactation consultant, went to a doctor on a Saturday, etc. I’m pumping, so my daughter is receiving all breast milk (and so what if she wasn’t–my kid, my decision), but I still have doctors and people asking me, “Well have you tried again?” Yes, I have and she just cries. It’s not worth the stress, which could cause my milk to dry up, or my daughter not gaining enough weight because the breastfeeding isn’t going well. She’s gained over the amount of weight she should (an ounce a day), and she is healthy. That is all that matters to me.

Photo Courtesy MKDaughters Photography

Photo Courtesy MKDaughters Photography

C-c-changes

5 Jan

I’m not a fan of change. In the past year I’ve become better at dealing with it, but I don’t think there are many things that will change your life more than having a child. Now that I’m in my third trimester, I feel like the crazy pregnancy hormones are kicking in. I’ve always been a more emotional person than the average Jane, but my husband made the comment a few months back, “You’ve done a lot better than I thought you would.”

Well, hello third trimester. I feel like I am a mix of emotions, going from one extreme to another. One moment I’m excited for baby girl to come, the next minute I’m absolutely terrified. It’s not like I’m not prepared. I’ve read the books, watched DVDs, talked to numerous moms, and signed up for a class at the local community college. There are just some things that you can’t be prepared for, no matter how many burp cloths, onesies, and baby items you own.

I’m scared that my relationship with my husband will change in a negative way. I’m afraid I won’t have any “me” time. I’m worried I won’t be able to work out. I’m nervous I won’t have time to make the healthy meals my family needs. I’m concerned about going back to work, pumping at work, and balancing all that goes along with being a working mom.

I was at the library yesterday and happened to see Jessica Alba’s book The Honest Life. I thought I would check it out since we plan to use the Honest Company diapers. I skimmed through the book last night and came across the chapter on parenting. Sometimes you come across the right things at the right time, and there is no explanation. Jessica wrote about my biggest fear, losing the connection with my husband. She talked about how having a child brings you even closer, how there is a new romantic once your baby comes, like when he offers to take the baby for an hour while you get some alone time. It brought me back to the day we found out our first pregnancy had resulted in a missed miscarriage. That day and the weeks to follow brought Nathan and I closer than we have ever been. Parenthood will strengthen us even more. I’m under no illusion that it will be easy, but with each other, I know we can get through it and life will be even more wonderful.

As far as my other concerns, I know it will be a challenge to get in workouts and healthy meals. But if I make them a priority because I know I need them to be a good mom, I’m confident I can fit workouts and prepping meals in. I might not be able to fit in an hour workout but twenty minutes is better than none.

With work, I will just have to take it day by day. If something isn’t working or I’m having difficulties, I will know what to do and who to talk to. If I continue to dwell on something that might not be an issue, it could become an issue.

Part of the reason for my concerns is I try to listen to everything that people tell me as far as advice goes. I think it’s come to the point where I need to respectfully listen, and let things go through one ear and out the other. I’ve had people tell me babies have colic for the first three months, I’ve been told there are times where I will just want to leave, and I’ve been told horror stories of labor. Every parent’s experience in parenthood is different. I can’t predict how I’m going to feel or how my baby will act. If we come across a difficulty such as colic, we have a pediatrician in place, parents who are willing to help, and plenty of access to information on possible solutions.

Bottom line, things will change. Change is uncomfortable, but without change there is no growth. Without change, I would not be the person I am today.

29 weeks

29 weeks

It’s A Girl! Now What?

30 Nov

That’s right; our little bundle of joy is a girl. Nathan wanted the gender to be a surprise, but I used to open my Christmas presents and re-wrap them as a child. Needless to say, I do not have patience. Although I do have to say, pregnancy is helping me work on that.

Since odds are good we’ll only have one child, I think Nathan was a tiny bit thrown. But that quickly went away when we saw her moving around, saw her arms and legs, and saw her strong heart beat. As I told Nathan, our little girl can skateboard with him, play video games with Daddy, practice throwing the football, and play whatever sports she wants.

As a Woman’s Studies minor (few credits shy of a double major!), I am a little concerned about having a girl, especially now. With role models like Miley Cyrus, Disney princesses, and MTV shows like 16 and Pregnant, I want to be prepared and want my daughter to be a strong confident woman.

I went to my go-to source–the library. I checked out a few books, and found a great choice by one of my favorite authors from college, Peggy Orenstein. I first encountered her in my Sociology class via her book Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem, and the Confidence Gap. Her newest book, Cinderella Age My Daughter: Dispatches From Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, is a great resource.

Photo Courtesy Amazon.Com

Photo Courtesy Amazon.Com

Let me talk about my issues with Disney Princesses. In my first Women’s Studies class in college we were assigned a group paper and my group chose to watch the movie Pocahontas. After many viewings of the movie, other Disney movies, and reading many articles, I began to see the princesses in another light. Why didn’t they have mothers? Why were the women role models in their life often mean? Why were they always saved by men? Why did the story often revolve around a relationship with a man?

I wondered how Peggy handled this with her daughter. It’s not like I can (or want to) completely outlaw princesses in my home. I feel banning something only makes the attraction stronger; my daughter will also encounter these princesses outside the home. Peggy allows her daughter to chose the items she likes, but always has a conversation about the subjects with her. This led Peggy’s daughter to chose stronger Disney women characters, like Mulan.

Another strong point in the book is, yes, girls and boys are different. Though I believe in equality for women, I do acknowledge there are differences between the sexes. Orenstein’s book points to a study done in 2002 with primates. Scientists gave male and female vervet monkeys two “masculine” toys (a police car and a ball), two “neutral” toys (a picture book and a stuffed animal), and two “feminine” toys (a cooking pot and a doll). The monkeys had never seen the toys before and obviously didn’t now that each item had gender connotations. Both females and males were drawn to the neutral toys, but the females went for the feminine toys and the males chose the masculine toys. They also performed the test on rhesus monkeys six years later and obtained the same results. So is it all nurture over nature?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not going to give my daughter exclusively girls toys. I think it’s important for each gender to have a variety of toys to help them activate different parts of their brain (also in the book). But my main concern isn’t so much her toys; it’s the teenage years.

When we run errands or go to the mall, I’m always a little appalled by the lack of clothing on some teenage girls. That’s been a huge concern for me in finding out I’m having a daughter. Orenstein’s book and others I’ve read have emphasized COMMUNICATION with your teenage daughter is key. She will see things, and you won’t be able to control that. So instead of ignoring sexualized performances on MTV (hello Miley and Robin Thicke), watch it with your daughter and have a conversation about it. What did you think about her outfit? How do you feel about dancing that way?

I had a conversation with my mom since I feel she did a pretty good job. I never wanted to dress sexy or bare too much skin. In fact, I often felt embarrassed wearing a bikini (that’s a whole other issue!). Again, it boiled down to communication. My mom and dad raised me to be able to talk about whatever was on my mind (probably why sometimes I tend to share too much!). My mother also never really forced her opinions on me. There were times when she would definitely make them known, but she would ask me how I felt.

In a nutshell, I think no matter what gender child you will have, there will always be concerns. How do you raise a male child to be comfortable sharing his emotions and crying if he needs to? What if he wants to wear a pink shirt? What if his friends are pressuring him to have sex with his partner before he is ready because that is the “manly” thing to do? After reading books, and talking to numerous parents, I feel a little more at ease. As long as we talk to our child, remain open to communicating with her, and let her know we are always here for her, she will make the right choices for her.

Reserve Judgment

25 Nov

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This weekend I had incredibly debilitating pain in my chest. It hurt so much, it radiated into my upper back. It felt like someone was sitting on my chest, and it was hard to breathe. Normally I would panic in a situation like this, but since it’s happened before and went away, I just dealt with it. Normally my heart burn has been quite manageable during my pregnancy. Papaya enzyme pills and Tums helped. In the past month, nothing has really helped. It constantly feels like there is bile in my throat, I’m burping a lot (sorry), and often get close to throwing up. Luckily I haven’t lost any weight, as my doctor has told me I don’t have any I can afford to lose.

To make sure everything is normal, I went to my doctor today. We discussed my symptoms, went over remedies (one of which included eating smaller meals throughout the day which I already do). I have literally tried all of them. I made the decision to go on a prescription medication for the heart burn. The drug I will take is graded B for pregnancy (the scale is A-F, with A being the best; pretty much the only thing graded A is water), so that makes me more comfortable.

Throughout my pregnancy I’ve been trying to do everything I can to protect our baby. I try to get in all my veggies and protein. I try to eat as much organic food as possible. I’ve even started to eat more dairy products again (again, organic) for the calcium. I meditate, take walks, and do stretches/yoga when I can. Taking medication during my pregnancy sometimes makes me feel like a bad mother. It’s not even so much how I feel about it, but how I feel others feel about it.

A friend of mine added me to a moms’ group on Facebook recently. It’s nice to have a support network, however, I feel some of the mothers in the group can be quite judgmental. Instead of “Oh, this works for me when my child won’t sleep,” some moms will say, “Well, you should really be co-sleeping with your child until they are such and such age.” Granted, most of the mothers aren’t like that, but when you are a mom, a mom-to-be, or new to the whole mom thing, you can be a little sensitive. My cousin’s wife posted on Facebook that she needed a C-section due to some medical reasons, and some moms went on to tell her some very insensitive things about C-sections. A C-section might not be her first choice, but she is going to do what is right for her and her baby’s health, under the consultation of her doctor who she trusts.

It seems like sometimes women can be so competitive when it comes to “finding” a man, competing for jobs, and in relation to children. I feel like we should all be more supportive of each other. We are all in this together, and are all trying to do the best we can with what we have. Each and every child is different; not every child will respond to something the same way as another. As long as your child is happy, you are not physically or mentally hurting anyone else, you aren’t doing anything illegal, and everyone is healthy, I say do what you need to do. Don’t judge another mom for using formula; you don’t know what is going on with her, her child or her body. You don’t know if she is crying on the inside each and every time she gives her child formula. You don’t know if she is suffering from a medical condition that prohibits her from breastfeeding. You don’t know if her child might have an illness that requires them to be on a special kind of formula. You don’t know if she has been yearning for a child for years and was finally able to adopt. It all boils down to this—you do not know what it’s like to walk in another mom’s shoes. You only have your experiences. Use those to try to help someone, and not lecture them. And don’t judge them if they choose not to use your advice.

Tomorrow, if you see a mom struggling, go give her a hug. That may be all the support she needs.

Our Road to Parenthood

20 Nov

This is something I wrote shortly after our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage….

We were so excited to start trying to get pregnant. I even downloaded a fertility app a few months before to make sure we were on the right track. Five days before my period was due, I knew I was pregnant. I anxiously began taking tests but they came up negative. Three days before my period I spotted one of the pregnancy tests I’d taken in the bottom of my cupboard—it was positive. Turns out you really do need to wait the full three minutes they suggest! Three of the tests I’d taken in the days earlier were actually positive. I told Nathan and we took another test right away. Positive. We made an appointment at the doctor for that day and it was confirmed—we were going to have our first baby.

 

The weeks leading up to our eight week appointment were full of excitement and happiness (and a little crabbiness on my part). I had common pregnancy symptoms—sore chest, a little nausea, tired, bloating, etc. I was concerned about the possibility of a miscarriage, but I was more excited than anything. That led me to tell more people than I should. Nathan’s parents bought a cheap glider at a yard sale, and a picture frame with baby booties. I bought a belly band and some shirts that would allow my tummy to expand. We started taking pictures at every week. We started calling the baby BP.

 

At the eight week appointment we went through all the questions and all the details. An ultrasound wasn’t scheduled but I told the doctor I wanted one as soon as possible since I’m an anxious person. She tried on her old machine but said the yolk sac was clearly visible but she wasn’t finding anything else. She said it was ok though, since my due date might just be earlier than we thought. I knew it wasn’t since I was tracking so closely. I started to get concerned but knew that sometimes they need to do an internal ultrasound in the early stages. She tried to schedule one for us that day, but was only able to squeeze one in the next day. It definitely worried me that she wanted to get us in so soon. After the appointment, Nathan told me to relax and not be too concerned.

 

I wasn’t too stressed at the ultrasound, but after she tried several times to see something and left the room, I knew there was a problem. The doctor called the ultrasound tech on the phone and then came in. She started to tell me about what was happening, but I knew it was bad news. The embryo had implanted but stopped growing—an anembryonic pregnancy or blighted ovum. Essentially, things kept happening as if I was still pregnant but I wasn’t. I’ve never seen Nathan that upset before in my life. I’ve never felt that empty before. All your hopes, dreams, and pictures of the future disappear. No matter what anyone tells you at that point, how it was meant to be, you got pregnant in the first place, you’ll have another one soon, it wasn’t your fault, it happens to a lot of people, etc.—it doesn’t take the pain away.

 

I knew that I could not emotionally go through having a natural miscarriage or take a pill to make it happen quicker. We decided to do a D and C. I was scared, sad, and felt completely alone. Nathan came with me but they take you up to prepare by yourself. Then they wheel you into your room by yourself. They ask you to say your name and birthday. All I could get out was my name before I started crying. They quickly gave me something to help with my anxiety and that’s all I remember until I woke up. I asked for the doctor but they said she was gone. I asked if everything was ok and they said it went fine. I told them to thank everyone for me, because they’d been so kind.

 

Nothing in life can prepare you for the pain or sorrow of a miscarriage. But you can learn from it. I’ve learned how strong Nathan is, how great a father he will be someday. I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I think I am, but that I need to take time to be kind to myself. It’s been reaffirmed that Nathan is the person I was always meant to be with. There is no other person I could’ve went through this with but him. I’ve learned that it’s okay to give up control, it’s okay to lay on the couch all day, and it’s okay to cry. But it’s not okay to let the sadness consume you, to let it take over your life, to let it prevent you from being happy and enjoying life. I’ve learned that where I am is right where I’m supposed to be, and that our baby is coming.

So…I’m Pregnant…And Blogging Again

20 Nov
I woke my husband up at 5:30am on a Sunday to tell him I was pregnant. Needless to say, his reaction really wasn’t what I was hoping for. Pretty sure he mumbled something along the lines of, “YAH!” or “That’s great!” I can’t really remember. I just really have no patience, so there was no way I was waiting until he eventually got up around noon to break the news.
I’m due March 19th, 2014, the same month as the birth of my best friend, my mother, my father, and my husband (expensive month). At the time of this writing I’m 16 weeks along. Here’s what I’ve experienced so far–
Workouts–The first trimester, I won’t lie, the workouts were few and far between. I never threw up, but felt like I was hungover pretty much the whole time. I started to alternate running and walking again around 12 weeks, and continued that until week 16. I’ve also been doing prenatal yoga, and barre3. I’ve stopped running purely because it makes my stomach feel uncomfortable. During my pregnancy I’ve made the decision to really listen to my body. When I started getting lower belly pains while running, I decided to stick to walking. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since getting pregnant–everyone and every pregnancy is different.
Food–The first trimester I could only eat carbs. Everything else made me want to vomit, which is strange because I love veggies, smoothies and juicing. The second trimester I began developing heart burn. It did not matter what I ate, how many TUMS I took, what portions I had, etc. On the advice of a friend and my doctor, I started taking papaya enzymes pills. They’ve worked like a charm.
I’ve also realized there is no waiting when it comes to food. The hubs and I went on an early babymoon in Boston and had trouble finding the restaurant in a museum. We went in a door we weren’t supposed to and a guard told us to leave. I asked him if he could at least direct us to the restaurant, and he told us to go back in the main entrance and ask them. When you are pregnant and starving, you do not like when people are rude or inconsiderate. After turning around I started crying. My hubs said, “Oh my God,” and rolled his eyes. Never do this to your pregnant wife, no matter how ridiculous she’s behaving. Tears and angry words streamed out, and museum programs thrown. Needless to say when we found the restaurant, hubs said, “You can have whatever you want!”
Symptoms–I actually haven’t had anything major, just the nausea and heart burn. I’ve had a few small leg cramps and some tummy growing pains, but all around I am very lucky.
Weight–Since I am 5’1, my belly bump is going to be quite prominent. I’ve been asked if I’m having twins, how big I’ll be by the time I give birth, people thinking I’m farther along than I am, etc. I’m trying to just take it all in stride and am comfortable in the fact I’ve gained the right amount of weight so far.
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I’m a very organized, scheduled, by-the-book person. I’ve tried to let a lot of this go out the window now that I’m pregnant, because I know babies do not really adhere to any of the above. I’m trying to go with the flow, and not have too many expectations of how things “should” be. I’m cleaning my house less, and relaxing more. I’m taking a lot of me time, since I know it will be limited in the future. My husband is already nesting and picking up so much of the housework. He’s already moving things around the house to make room for baby without me asking.
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(Photo Courtesy of MKDaughters Photography)

I just feel so blessed to be on this journey, and I can’t wait to share the rest of our adventure with all of you!

New Year’s Resolution or Goals for 2013

30 Dec

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions or goals at the end of December? I have in the past, at least New Year’s Resolutions, but they never really panned out. There is the ever popular “I will lose weight.”  Or “I will be better”, which what does that even mean?

I’ve always been a little over-ambitious when it comes to goals, from personal life to work. It’s great to have big dreams, but if your goal isn’t attainable, you will find yourself disappointed. When I was younger, I would read about four books at a time, try to do multiple things at the same time, and thought I would grow up to be famous. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned the goals need to be measurable and attainable. Is it possible for me to get everything done that I want to in one day at work? Can I finish all seven books I checked out from the library in three weeks? Can I accomplish everything I plan to do around the house in one weekend?

I think part of the reason that I am continually stressed out is because I put too many expectations on myself and the people around me. I, and they, typically end up falling short. And then I wind up disappointed and frustrated. There is no one that is harder on myself then me.

So instead of concentrating on the negative and setting myself up for failure, I’m going to break my goals down to months, not a year. I will make a vision board for 2013 to help inspire me. I will focus on my health in order to get pregnant and not focus on losing weight. I will not jam pack my schedule with expectations or items that I can’t accomplish. I will take time for myself, and put my health first. I will not strive to be “perfect” but just to be the best me I can be.

 

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