Saturday, April 30, 2011

In case you missed it

Yesterday was Arbor Day. In honor of the day, the S.O. and I had trees planted for Milo.

You probably can't read the above certificate that came with the trees. Part of it says, "The trees planted for you is an act of optimism and kindness, a labor of love and a commitment to stewardship."

I like to believe that having and raising a child is a bit like planting trees: We must be optimistic and kind, love him through thick and thin, and take care of him until he can care for himself.

Today, he is two weeks old. I can't say the past two weeks have been easy. But I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

10 Things I Learned from Pregnancy and Child Birth

1. I love and trust my body. As someone who has had body issues her entire life, I was happy to discover I loved my body during pregnancy. I may have felt huge toward the end, but I never felt fat. I knew my body was doing what it needed to do to help grow my baby.

2. The best advice comes from friends not "experts" on the Web or in magazines. Magazines and Web sites have their usefulness, but nothing compared to the advice my good friends gave me. The best piece of advice: Don't believe everything you read.

3. My family and friends are the absolute best. From presents to food to a baby shower with an awesome cake, my friends and family have gone above and beyond what I thought possible. I never believed myself deserving of such attention and affection.

4. Bonding really does begin in utero. The minute I saw Milo, I knew him. We had so many conversations before he was born -- some just me telling him to stop with all the wiggling, some deep and full of emotion -- I didn't have any trouble feeling connected to him after his birth.

5. The best laid plans of mice and men often go askew. It was great to have an idea of how I wanted my baby's birth to go, but Milo had his own idea of how to enter the world. And as I said before, it didn't matter how he got here, he got here.

6. I am no less a mother or woman for having a C-Section. One woman I talked to before Milo was born told me she had a scheduled C-Section and never truly felt she was a mother because of it. I feel for her and wish she didn't believe that. I think any woman who has carried a child and/or given birth in any manner should truly feel like a mother. And any woman who has taken in someone else's child for whatever reason should truly feel like a mother. And any woman who hasn't had or raised a child shouldn't feel any less like a woman because of that. I think the Mommy Club attitude should be abolished.

7. The sleepless nights of pregnancy prepared me for the sleepless nights of new motherhood. Milo is a good baby most nights and lets the S.O. and me sleep for two to three hour stretches between feedings. I'm actually sleeping better now than during my third trimester. (Don't tell Milo I said that!)

8. The S.O. is my biggest supporter. While that doesn't come as a surprise to me, I want to say that he has been a bigger help than I thought possible -- from anyone. Not because he's ever been unwilling to help me with things but because I had no idea how hard a C-Section would be. He does most of the diaper duty (heh, doody) and gets up with me in the middle of the night when I feed Milo. He even gave him a bottle the other night so I could sleep a little longer. He has also fallen completely head over heels in love with his son. He is the epitome of the doting father.

9. Pregnancy is the easy part. For all the morning sickness, restless nights, achy joints, etc., pregnancy is still a hundred time easier than actually having and raising a baby. Still, looking back, I enjoyed pregnancy. That said, I don't think I'll be doing it again.

10. I can love another person with an intensity that borders on scary. I love this little man so much it's impossible to describe. I love pizza. I love the S.O. I love my dog. But nothing compares to the love I feel for my child. Even with the highs and lows of my post-partum hormones, even with the frustrations of every-hour-on-the-hour feedings and diaper blow-outs, I love him so much. I never knew I could love someone like this. But take a look at that picture above and tell me how it would be possible for me not to love him like mad.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Do babies dream of baby sheep?

Whatever he was dreaming about must have been nice.
I promise to post things other than ridiculously cute pictures of my baby. Give me a few weeks to recover from my C-section and get used to the odd sleeping hours.

Extra points for getting today's post title.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

First bath

Milo got his first bath last night.

It started out well.

Daddy was doing a great job.

Unfortunately, you just never know how a one-week-old is going to react to being naked and wet.

Don't worry. He survived the ordeal. He was napping quietly shortly after.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's been one week

One week ago today, I was laying in a hospital room, recovering from -- and reveling in -- the birth of my son.
He is perfect.
A million different emotions bubbled through my brain as I lay, mostly immobile, in my bed. I have been asked to share my birth story here, so if that kind of thing grosses you out or bores you to tears, please click away. Because this ain't going to be pretty.

*** Last chance to turn back! ***

April 15, I awoke just after midnight feeling crampy and like I needed to move my bowels (if you're still reading, and this bothers you, I implore you to stop, because it will get worse). I got up and did just that, thinking I would tease my friend her cooking made me sick. Except, then I woke again about once an hour the rest of the night, feeling the same way but without the same results.

About 5 a.m., I propped myself up in bed and put in my ear buds to listen to an audio book for a while. The cramps had not let up and had only settled all the deeper into my lower back. I started watching the clock and noticed the "cramps" (as I was now thinking of them) were intensifying about every 10 to 15 minutes.

At 6 a.m., I woke the S.O. and told him I was in labor. Much to my delight, the S.O. reacted in typical sit-com father mode. He jumped out of bed, still mostly asleep, asking, "What do we need to do?!?" I told him he needed to relax, in fact, he could go back to sleep for a while, because it was early but I might need him soon. He did calm down, but he got up and finished some last minute things for work.

By about 7:30 a.m., I was in some pretty serious pain, so we called the OB Triage at the hospital where I would be delivering. The nurse I spoke to was calm and helpful. Because I had my regular weekly appointment with my OB at 10:30 that morning, the nurse told me my goal was to make it to that appointment, so my doc could assess me. The nurse told me to take some Tylenol and a warm bath. She said it wouldn't relieve the pain by any means, but it would relax me and take the edge off. By this point that edge was pretty damn sharp.
Waiting for my doctor's appointment
I took her advice, downed two extra-strength Tylenol and drew a warm bath. The S.O. sat next to me and talked to me about random stuff, and the time of my doctor's appointment came pretty quickly.

My OB confirmed that I was indeed in labor -- dilated to 4 cm -- and could go to the hospital whenever I wanted to. At this point, I still thought I would go home and go for a walk or sit on my stability ball or do some other movements to ease labor. We stopped on the way to get the S.O. some lunch. As he sat at the kitchen table, trying to enjoy said lunch, I sat on the stability ball in the living room. Sitting on the ball felt like someone had stabbed me in the back. People say that all the time, but this pain was so sharp and so strong that I had to go down on my knees whimpering. The S.O. would get two bites of his cheeseburger before I would call him back to me to put counter-pressure on my spine. It helped but I was in real pain now -- all of it concentrated in my lower back and none of it what I had at all expected from contractions.

I made the S.O. finish his lunch and gather any last minute supplies, and we made the 10-minute trip to the hospital. We used the free valet parking and the S.O. sent for a wheelchair. I wanted to walk but gave in because I could barely make it to the bench 5 feet away. I clutched my pillow as the S.O. wheeled me in to the elevator then down the hall to labor and delivery. I got into a gown and waited for the OB Triage nurse to assess me. It was about 12:30 p.m. April 15, and I was 6 cm dilated. My contractions were still about 10 minutes apart, but every other one was followed at two minutes by an aftershock (as we called them). The S.O. was still applying counter-pressure and telling me what a good job I was doing. The pain was awful and still not what I thought it would be. Where were the "menstrual-like cramps" I'd been told I would have. Where was that early labor feeling of euphoria I'd read about. We'd skipped right to the mind-blowing, blinding pain of the stereotypical labor depicted by television and the movies.

All thoughts of walking around to progress labor were gone. I could barely stand let alone walk. The S.O. was already getting a little tired from having to massage my back almost constantly. So, when they asked about pain medications -- despite my earlier desire to avoid them -- I said yes, please and now, please.

I felt a little like a failure and a lot like a wimp and began making excuses for why I needed the drugs. The S.O. admitted to being a bit disappointed that all the skills he'd practiced in our birth class would not be put to use (they still were) but assured me I wasn't a wimp or a failure. And every woman who knew I was in back labor told me it was the absolute worse. The anesthesiologist said it's extremely hard to relieve, too.
Stuck in bed, but where else was I going to go?
But the drugs worked -- for a while. I continued to progress at about 1 cm per hour and the back pain would increase until it was almost as bad as before the drugs. I would get a bolus of the medication and the pains would ease for a while before spiking again an hour or so later.

In the meantime, the doctor came to see me. She's my regular OB's partner and was just as wonderful. She did an exam and broke my water. She told me I was fully dilated. She also told me Baby was "sunny side up," meaning his face was pointed toward my front and his spine was laying along my spine. Which accounted for the back pain. It also meant he wasn't coming out easily. After much pain and struggling, the doctor got Baby to turn to the side. However, after a few contractions, he turned back and I had some swelling and went back to about 8 cm.

I received more drugs, including pitocin to help move labor along and more waiting. The anesthesiologist was finally able to get the pain under control so I sent the S.O. to the couch for a nap, and I dozed, as well, between nurses checking vital signs and administering oxygen.
Childbirth may be beautiful, but my look in the hospital, not so much
When the doctor came back in, she said Baby was still facing up but we could push him out that way. It would just be harder and take longer. She said there was a possibility of a C-section but we would push first

The S.O. and I had a short discussion about a C-section, deciding that we just wanted a healthy baby and it didn't really matter how he got here. Still, there was a part of me that hoped if I got psyched up to have a C-section, the doc would come back in and tell us I'd be able to push him out.

When the doctor came back in, she did say it was time to push. However, she said we'd try pushing for about an hour, then see where Baby was and make a decision. With the S.O. helping me hold up one leg (which, by now, was completely numb and felt like holding up a piece of wood) and the labor nurse helping me hold the other, I pushed and pushed and pushed through each contraction. Thanks to my new best friend, the anesthesiologist, the doctor had to watch the monitor and tell me when a contraction was coming and when I needed to push.

I also had lost track of time so I don't know exactly how long I pushed, but after 30 or 40 minutes or so of pushing the doctor said Baby hadn't moved down to where he needed to be. She gave us the option of trying to push for another 30 minutes to see if Baby would move down then. But her professional opinion was that he would not move because he hadn't yet. Her concerns were that I and Baby would be worn out and would still have to go through a C-section. The S.O. and I decided to go ahead with the C-section.

I signed papers and the S.O. got prepped.
What all the new daddies are wearing this spring
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared. The only surgery I've ever had was when I was 19 and had my wisdom teeth removed. This is nothing like that. Being rolled into the bright, sterile room without the S.O. by my side didn't help matters. Once they had me on the table and prepped, he was allowed in. He sat next to me behind the curtain, but it wasn't long before he asked, "Can I stand up and watch?"

"Do you want to watch?" I asked. Obviously, he did. He stood up and looked over the curtain, fascinated. He started to give me a blow-by-blow account of the surgery, but I asked him not to. Someday, I will be OK with hearing more about having my guts laid out, but right now, I'd rather just believe it was a clean and easy process and voila! Here's Milo!

They took Milo to a warming table where the S.O. trimmed the cord, then they brought him over for me to see. Milo was naked and squirming and crying and beautiful. Once he was cleaned and covered, I got to have a closer look.

I couldn't -- can't -- believe how perfect he is.
After, I lay in the delivery room shivering. Hormones and endorphins and lots of other things contributed to me feeling like I was freezing to death. They covered me with warmed blankets and took me to recovery. Meanwhile, the S.O. went with the nurses to weigh Milo. 
He was 7 pounds, 4 1/2 ounces at birth.
After I could wiggle my toes, I was transferred to my room, where I got to spend time with the S.O. (when I wasn't drifting off to sleep from all the drugs). It was about 5 a.m. -- almost 24 hours after I told the S.O. we were having a baby. My mood was good. Despite my exhaustion, I was able to get up soon after and have my I.V. and catheter removed.

I soon began feeding Milo and bonding with him. Also, I got all the Jello I could eat.
Can you tell how much I love him?
I really didn't want a C-section and I really don't recommend them. I'm still sore. Still taking pain meds and still exhausted from the surgery on top of taking care of a newborn. But it was worth it. No matter how he got here, he's here. It's amazing.

It's been one week, and it's already hard to remember life without him.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Meet Milo

Sorry for the silence here at 40-Something First Timer, but a lot has happened in the last week. In fact, the entire reason for this blog happened: Milo joined our family April 16, 2011 at 1:51 a.m. (My prediction missed by *that* much.) He weighed in at 7 pounds, 4 1/2 ounces and was 20 inches long.

He had to be brought into this world through a C-section due to his stubbornness to not face the right direction and to not drop into position. Any birth plan I had was thrown completely out the window with back labor (I will share my birth story in another post.) Still, it was all worth it when I saw my son for the first time. I am so in love with him.

Stay tuned for more pictures than you can stand and lots of stories about our first week as a family.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Momma's new shoes

I figure I'll be spending a lot of time in loose-fitting clothes this summer as I try to get my pre-pregnancy body back. Because of that, I decided Momma needs a new pair of shoes -- a pair of not-sneakers-or-flip-flops, cute, comfy, will-go-with-practically-anything shoes.

So, thanks to L.L. Bean and their new free-shipping policy, I found such a pair.
I can imagine these with skirts, shorts, capris, jeans, etc.

And they didn't cut into Baby's college fund.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Making memories

Having finished reading "Instinctive Parenting: Trusting Ourselves to Raise Good Kids" by Ada Calhoun," I wanted to share this passage, in which Calhoun quotes psychotherapist Heather Turgeon:
"Without a mature hippocampus, babies and toddlers are mainly creatures of short-term memory. But the unconscious memories that they form right from the start my be the most important ones. These are the emotional patterns that we learn -- that we are safe, that when mom picks us up we feel happy, or that when we knock over a tower of blocks and turn to look at dad, he will be smiling back at us. This is why many people say that the first few years of life are the most important -- because way in the back of our brains is where we learn (unconsciously) that the world is a good place."
This passage illustrates the importance of taking your baby places and doing things with him. I honestly wouldn't have known that. I was of the mindset of "why bother when he's so little; he won't even remember." Yet, he will get something out of trips to the zoo and walks through the park and all the other things the S.O. and I like to do that I thought would need to be put off until Baby was older. But other people manage. If they can do it, I can do it. (I'm a bit competitive that way.)

Calhoun concludes:
"If you let go of some idea of what your life is supposed to be like, of what your life used to be, you can really get into this new life. It's not so hard to feed and clothe and shelter another human being for eighteen years, because love makes you want to do all those things and inspires you to find ways to manage it."
 Bring it on, Baby!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Week 38: T-minus 14 days

My newsletter from Fit Pregnancy doesn't have a whole lot to say this week. It does tell me, "Your pregnancy is considered full-term now, and the lanugo -- the downy hair that covered your baby's body -- is starting to disappear."

It also tells me the average newborn has a length of 21 1/2 inches and weighs 7 1/2 pounds. The weight is consistent with what my doc estimates Baby will be. We haven't talked length, but I'm pretty sure he's about 4 feet tall based on how big I am and how he can put pressure on my bladder and kick me in the ribs at the same time.

I'm also supposed to be patient:
Don't be tempted to try to induce labor with herbs or castor oil. Herbal supplements are unregulated by the FDA and can contain highly variable concentrations and unlisted ingredients that may be dangerous.
Patience isn't exactly my strong suit, but I'm not going to risk my or my baby's health. Besides, with my due date looming, I'm trying to enjoy these last couple of weeks of baby-free life. Although, with that said, life hasn't truly been baby-free for about nine months. He's always on my mind.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Family Album

The S.O.'s aunt sent him some old pictures yesterday. Up until now, I didn't have any baby pictures of him. Now, I have at least a couple. And damn, was he a cutie.

I think this gives us a good idea of what Baby is going to look like.
The S.O. with his grandpa

Look at those cheeks!
The S.O. and his mom

Monday, April 11, 2011

Reading, relaxing and resting up for the big day

Heading into the last two weeks of pregnancy, I have finally hit the point where my body is telling me I really need to slow down more. I got up this morning with a list of things I wanted to accomplish. Instead, after breakfast and checking e-mail, I crawled back into bed. I did manage to read a few chapters of a book I picked up at the library this weekend, though. It's "Instinctive Parenting: Trusting Ourselves to Raise Good Kids" by Ada Calhoun.

I brought it home because of the blurb on the dust jacket:
"Everyone wants to do what's best for his or her child, yet the fact is there is no universal 'best.' Whether you co-sleep or Ferberize, whether Junior's mac'n'cheese is dayglo orange or 100 percent organic matters a lot less than other parenting books -- and other parents -- might have you believe. What does matter is providing the the absolute essentials (love, food, shelter) while teaching your little one how to be a kind responsible human being."
I'm about halfway through the book now and am finding it entertaining -- and useful. It's usefulness is its actual lack of advice. Maybe I should call it non-advice. Calhoun talks about what works for her while acknowledging that it may not work for everyone.

The chapter that has really struck me is the one entitled "How Much Negativity is Helpful?" In it, she recounts announcing her pregnancy at a family dinner. A few minutes of enthusiasm from family members was followed by two hours of horrors stories and negativity. "They thought they were being honest and realistic and not sugarcoating everything. They thought they were doing me a favor."

I have been lucky to not be surrounded by Negative Nancies. I have a wonderful group of very supportive friends. I don't believe any of them have "sugarcoated" what it's like to be a parent. I think they realize that I'm going into this with my eyes wide open and there's no need to remind me -- as one of Calhoun's friends did -- "that it's tough, sometimes grueling."

Which takes me back to something she said in the introduction.
"For my friends who want to have kids but are scared, or who are pregnant and are terrified, I wanted to communicate these things: that they can have children without losing their own identity, or their partners, or their enjoyment of the world ... I think, or at least I hope, it will provide a reality check to all that other stuff, a balance and a soothing counterargument to all the hyped You Musts."
If nothing else, at least this book will make me feel better about the stack of DVDs my child will probably watch. Hey, I grew up with Sesame Street and I turned out OK.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Photo flashback

The S.O. and me, in Scotland 2006
Baby wasn't even a glimmer in our eyes. Soon, he'll be the center of our little world.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

Due date update

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday, and she revised my due date slightly. My original official due date was April 28. (I still believe Baby will come a little early.) Because of my advanced maternal age and the day of the week my doc is on call, if Baby does not come early, I will be induced on April 26.

It's really nice to have a deadline, to know that I will definitely be meeting Baby April 26 -- or sooner. I understand the positives and negatives to being induced. I know, for instance, that inducing labor "may cause your contractions to come on stronger and more often than they would naturally."

But at this point, all I can think about is soon I will no longer be a mom-to-be but an actual mom.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bump update

According to thebump.com, Baby is about the size of a watermelon now. It sure feels like he's the size of a small moon.

I've put together a slideshow to demonstrate how far we've come.

video

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Week 37: Let's get this show on the road

According to my Fit Pregnancy e-mail newsletter this week, Baby has probably hit the 6-pound mark by now. Being so big gives him less room to move around, they say, but it doesn't stop him from trying. Believe me.
Your baby is practicing her breathing, but she has increasingly less space to practice stretching and kicking.
Less space sure, but I think he's trying to create more with every little stretch and kick and grind of his tiny little heel.

As for what's happening to me, they say:
The hormone relaxin is causing all of the smooth muscle in your body to unclench. You'll feel like you have loose "rag-doll" joints. You're probably having Braxton-Hicks contractions, which you may or may not notice.
I really don't feel like my joints are loose, just achy. Sit too long and get sore. Stand too long and get sore. Lay down too long and get sore. I've noticed some pains that are probably Braxton-Hicks contractions but nothing that's been really bad. Baby's kicks are worse than any other pains at the moment.

The best part? "This week, you may expel the cervical mucus plug, aka 'bloody show,' at any time." Eww. Why does the miracle of birth have to be so gross?

Too bad that relaxin stuff doesn't work on the brain.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Age ain't nothing but a number

This article from Parenting.com contains some awesome news for someone like me:
"A recent study shows that women over 40 who have babies without help from fertility drugs or other assisted reproductive technologies tend to live longer than those who don't. Why? One theory is that estrogen, which is still produced in abundance in fertile women, has life-lengthening effects on the heart, bones, and other organs."
The article talks about the downside of being over 40 and pregnant, too, such as the fact that fatigue is more pronounced in older moms-to-be than younger ones. And "babies born to women in their 40s are also more likely to have lower birth weights (under 5 1/2 pounds)."

I know that my fitness level at the time I got pregnant has contributed greatly to how my pregnancy has progressed. I know that I was in a lot better shape -- both physically and emotionally -- at the time I got pregnant than I was 10 years ago. (I was also in an unhealthy relationship 10 years ago, but that's a story for another time.)

The news about living longer makes me happy mostly because I want to be around for my baby's milestones as he ages. I will continue to work out and take care of myself -- and encourage the S.O. to do so, as well -- because we both know the pain of losing a parent too soon. Although, are we ever really ready for that?

Monday, April 4, 2011

No turning back now

Over the weekend, I had a bit of a meltdown. Deprived of sleep and home alone for a few hours, I felt there was no way I could do this -- no way I could have a baby and raise a child. And I'm fat and my hair looks terrible and, and, and.

I know it was raging hormones and a lack of sleep. I didn't reach out to anyone because it was a Saturday morning, and who wants to talk to a blubbering pregnant lady on a sunny Saturday morning. So I wept. And I stewed. And I tried to nap. When the S.O. came home, he held me and rocked me and assured me together we would do it ... and besides, there's no turning back now. Which is what I needed to hear. I needed that reminder.

As if to reinforce that reminder, I had a dream last night in which I could see baby in my belly. He pushed his feet so hard against me that I could see them as if my skin were transparent. Seeing the perfect outline of his feet -- which were huge, by the way -- made him all the more real, even if it was just a dream.

I'm still scared, filled with my always increasing list of what-ifs, but I know that I can handle it. Sure, there will be meltdowns. There will be pain (physical and emotional). There will be fights and tantrums and sleepless nights. But there will also be a family -- a mother, a father, a son. And we will make it work.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

No foolin'

This month's theme over at NaBloPoMo is "Sprout." I think that's a great theme for the April -- even here in Colorado where Winter can rear its ugly head well into May and beyond (depending on what part of the state you're in). Out walking the dog, I've seen plenty of gardens with flowers beginning to poke through mulch. Some even have blooms already. And so far (fingers crossed) they haven't been frozen out by a spring frost or blizzard. (That said, we could use some rain, Mother Nature.)

I also think "Sprout" is a great theme for April because my own little sprout is due this month. Although I don't think -- and I hope -- I won't make it to the end of the month blogging every single day. Honestly, I won't be blogging from my hospital bed.

I'm excited to have a spring baby. True, I'd be excited any time of year, but a spring baby has lots of advantages. First of all, I don't have to be hugely pregnant during the hottest part of the year. I got to cover my bump with cozy sweaters, and Baby has helped keep me a little warmer than I'd usually be. I get to dress Baby in fun summer clothes or even just a onesie if it's really warm. I can work off the extra baby weight by taking lots of warm-weather walks with Baby strapped to me -- or strapped to the S.O. while I walk the dog. Baby might get to have outdoor birthday parties as he grows up -- something I never experienced with a January birthday. Best of all, being born in April means his birthstone will be a diamond, so lots of cool Mother's Day gifts for me!

No, really, best of all, he will be here before I know it.