Lianne and Shad

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Breast is best but not always easiest

One of the hardest things about going back to work after having Zeke has been finding time to "pump" at work.  I chose to breastfeed for many reasons including the bonding experience between me and my little guy (there's really nothing quite like it!), how cheap it is compared to buying formula, the fact that it torches some major calories so weight loss is easier, but mostly I'm just a believer that it's better for him.  I understand that not everyone can breastfeed, and there's nothing wrong with formula feeding, but I really want to continue to breastfeed as long as I can.  In my line of work, however, this isn't exactly easy. 

I work 10 hour days in the operating room.  I'm in an operating room pretty much all day, minus a 30 minute lunch break and two other15 minute breaks.  This means I have very few opportunities to pump.  Also, when I do pump, I do so in a shower stall in the women's locker room.  The hospital does having designated lactation rooms, however, by the time I walk over there and set up the pump, it's already time to come back.  So I make the shower stall work and I pump during my two 15 minute breaks- one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  It's not easy, but to me it's worth it. 

This is certainly not the first time I've dealt with the stress of breastfeeding/pumping while at work.  When I was a teacher, I had first block planning and had to pump during my lunchtime in the employee restroom or risk going all day without relief.  I didn't have the guts to stand up to my principle and tell him I needed a time and place to pump.  Because of this, my milk started to dry up, and I quit breastfeeding when Sebastian was 5 months old.  I refuse to let this happen again.   

Recently on our hospital webpage "Glad You Asked" (a website where employees can ask senior management questions surrounding their jobs and the hospital in general), someone wrote in criticizing the OR for not supporting breastfeeding employees when UNC Hospital is designated a "five-star breastfeeding facility".  My boss, the VP of Surgical Services, replied by stating that there are designated lactation rooms located throughout the hospital and advised said employee to try to pump during their lunch hour each day.   As if this information wasn't unrealistic and un-useful enough,  she also gave an interesting piece of advice to all breastfeeding employees that I would like to share:
If another woman at your workplace is also pumping milk for her baby, arrange to eat your lunch together while you pump. This can be helpful if you miss the camaraderie of lunch with colleagues.
When I read this, I had to laugh OUTLOUD because honestly, who would do this???  And why limit it to just breastfeeding friends?? Maybe we should just forget the shower stall and start pumping in the employee lounge during lunchtime! 

I know that recently there has been a lot of media buzz regarding breastfeeding mothers who have chosen to publicly display themselves feeding their children.  There was the Time Magazine's recent cover story with a shocking photo of a very attractive mother striking a pose while breastfeeding her four year old son.  There was also the picture of the military mothers breastfeeding their children in uniform, one of which was breastfeeding twins.  I admire these women for having the courage to bring breastfeeding in the public eye, even if doing so was a wee bit controversial.  For me, however, breastfeeding (and similarly pumping) has always been personal and private.  I've never been the type to   breastfeed my children in public.  The few times I tried left me feeling exposed and self-conscious.  Even with my "hooter hider" I never could get comfortable with idea of being that exposed in a public setting.  So pumping with a friend is definitely out of the question for me, as much as I might miss the "camaraderie" of my fellow colleagues. 

I will say that I have been caught pumping in the car on various occasions, which is a little out of character for me.  Somehow the inner sanctum of my vehicle makes me believe that no one really will be able to see me.  I do have a pumping bra and wear a jacket over it, so exposure is at a minimum.  Just to warn you, though, if you see me in my car, just keep on driving.  You never know what I'm doing :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summer's here!

It's official!  Memorial weekend has come and gone which means-  SUMMER IS HERE!  Can you sense my excitement?!  The past few weeks have been utterly crazy with me going back to work full time.  The chaos has not stopped and we are still trying to get adjusted, so can you blame me for being a little excited about things to come in summer 2012?? 

Summer is always a very busy time of year for us.  With Solomon and Kaidyn's birthdays a week a part, vacations, beach trips, weddings, etc things can get pretty hectic.  There's something about the beginning of warmer weather, the opening of our neighborhood pool, and the end of school, however, that make me (excuse the phrase) 'as giddy as a school girl'.  Seriously, I think I'm just as excited as the kids about this! 

Our first summer engagement will be in a few weeks when we attend the wedding of Sara Allen and Tyler Nabors in Asheville, NC.  This will be the first time I will have been away from Zeke overnight, as the kids will be staying with my parents in Raleigh.  Although I am a little apprehensive about leaving him, the thought of a night (or two nights) out on the town without the kids has me very excited!  I love weddings, and I can't wait to celebrate this one with some of our friends! 

After that we also have our 4th of July trip to the Outerbanks to look forward to!  My dad has rented a house in Nags Head for the week so our family, my sister and her husband, and my parents will all be there.  I haven't been to the Outerbanks since I was very young so I am very much looking forward to experiencing it again, this time with my own kids. 

The end of July/ beginning of August will also include the birthdays of two of my favorite kids- Solomon and Kaidyn.  I can't believe they will be 8 and 9!  Solomon has already decided he wants an Avengers birthday with a bounce house.  Kaidyn has decided she wants to do giryl things like go get a mani/pedi.  "Birthday season," as I like to call it, is sure to be super crazy as always but definitely something I'm looking forward to!

The past few weeks have been utterly stressful so the prospect of spending time with my husband and kids is absolutely all I can think of at this point.  Is anyone else super excited about Summer 2012??

Monday, May 7, 2012

Back to work- ugh!

Today was my first day back to work from maternity leave.  It's hard to believe that 8 weeks has flown by so quickly and that I've officially been thrown back into working mom status. My mother is watching the boys this week while I get acclimated into the working world.  Next week, they will go to daycare.  I can preface this by saying that I was really not looking forward to today.  It's not that I dislike my job.  In fact I am very much looking forward to certain aspects of the working world, such as adult conversations and intellectual stimulation.  But the thought of leaving Zeke in the hands of someone else for long periods of the day tears at my insides like nothing I've experienced.  

It's not that I had any delusions about extending my maternity leave into something a bit more permanent.  After all, even if we could afford to live on a single family income (which we can't), doing so would mean paying back UNC Hospital the $12,000 that I still owe them for my indentured servitude.  This coupled with my lost wages would not be such a smart economic plan for our family.  I've never really thought of myself as the stay at home mom type anyways.  My maternity leave has been fabulous but productive would not be a word I used to describe it.  I feel I'm far more pressured to get things done when I'm under time constraints.  I also feel like a better mom when I'm working because we have so little time together that every moment counts.  Working has always given me a sense of identity, which in turn makes me a happier person and a better mom.

Yet, even as I reaffirm all these ideas to myself, one look at Zeke and I'm cringing internally all over again. You would think this would come easy to me after having done it twice before.  My inner mommy seems to have forgotten this, however.  She's shaking her head at me right now and whispering sweet nothings of self-doubt that tend to hit me where it hurts.  He's SO little.  You should be there for him.  What kind of mother lets someone else raise her children? 

Of course I know these to be my own thoughts of insecurity and eventually they will fade.  Eventually I will wake up one morning and it won't be so hard to drop him off at daycare because I know he'll be OK.  He will grow into a happy, healthy boy, unscathed by my choice to work for a living.   But for now I understand that it's hard because it should be.    It's a mother's nature not to want to ever leave her children.

Today was not a horrible day.  I was welcomed back at work with open arms and friendly faces.  I had an easy day with a light case load.  Naturally I called home a few times to check that everything was running smoothly, but of course it was.   Like I said before, I know it will get easier- it already has in a way.  I survived day one.  Now on to day two. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

An ode to my blue jeans...

One of the hardest things for me right now is looking in my closet and seeing this:

This is about 1/4Th of my wardrobe. As you can see, I have many clothes. I love my clothes, and can I just say, I miss them! I started wearing maternity clothes when I was 10 weeks a long so it has been a while since I've worn them. I especially miss these:
My favorite jeans from Ann Taylor Loft

I have about 10 pairs of jeans and can't fit into a single pair at this point. I knew it was going to be a long, tough road. After all, it took me 9 months to gain the 45 extra pounds I put on, so of course this wasn't going to come off overnight. Unfortunately, baby Zeke did not weigh 45 pounds {sigh}.

After having Sebastian, I started working out and began dieting with weight watchers. I look back at Christmas of 2008, a little over a year after having Sebastian, and I was in the best shape of my life. I swore to myself that I was never going back to being overweight and unhealthy, but a las my dieting/exercising program slowly became more and more lax and the pounds started piling on.

When I got pregnant with Zeke, I was 20 pounds up from that 2008 weight. Add on the 45 pounds I gained during pregnancy and you see why I am fretting about fitting into my clothes. I would love to get down to that 2008 weight again, which means I had a whopping 65 pounds to drop after giving birth.

About 25 pounds of this came off easily after the birth due to baby Zeke, water weight, placenta, etc. Now comes the hard part, which is dropping the extra 40 and hopefully fitting back into my pre-pregnancy clothes sometime soon! Pretty much since I gave birth I've been working super hard to get the weight back off. I'm doing weight watchers again. I'm exercising. I'm really, really ready to wear my clothes again.

Hopefully this hard work will pay off and eventually, I will be able to wear this again: (my size 6 little black dress)

Friday, April 6, 2012

The new normal

It has been a month now since little Zeke was born and I'm just starting to figure out what our new "normal" is. I haven't had a chance to blog about how we've been doing because, well, I haven't really had a chance to do much of anything. When you have to plan your time in 3 hour stretches (which is necessary when you have a newborn), you find out really quickly what absolutely HAS to get done and what can wait until later.... much, much later.

It's impossible to describe the feeling of becoming a parent and the love that seems to develop almost overnight between yourself and your little bundle of joy. Of course I fell in love with Zeke while I carried him for almost 9 months, but I find myself still being amazed by how much I am still falling in love with him each day. Having said this, I will admit that the past month has not been the piece of cake parenting I was expecting it to be. One of the questions I get asked most lately is if Zeke is a "good" baby. While I might smile and nod when asked this question, I often find myself questioning the truthfulness of my answer, especially if "good" translates into "easy".

Both Solomon and Sebastian were very easy babies in the sense that they never had any feeding problems, learned early on to "self-sooth", and slept through the night at a fairly early age. I guess I was hoping and expecting a little bit of the same this go round. Don't get me wrong, Zeke is a perfectly peaceful baby... when being held and rocked and given a pacifier. The problems arise when he's not in those circumstances. This makes putting him down during the day impossible as screaming almost certainly ensues. Night times are a little better but not completely without issues.

Shad blames my constant "hover mom" stance for Zeke's dislike for any situation that doesn't involve being held, and he may not be wrong about this. After all, I do jump to pick him up at the slightest whimper and have become permanantly attached to my Moby wrap. But when the latest research suggests that letting babies cry it out could cause developmental delays, even brain damage, what's a mom to do??

Our 1 month pediatrician visit is coming up, and I hope to find some answers to some of the problems we've been having. There's a good possibility that acid reflux could be involve since I've noticed many of the possible symptoms. If that were the case, this may be an easy fix. I'm not completely optimistic, however. Zeke could just be a fussy (dare I say "colic-y") baby.

If that's the case, like many mothers who experience the effects of a constantly crying baby, I'm just trying to find our new normal. Right now that involves living life in 3 hour stretches and trying to get as much done as possible while wearing my little one like some sort of accessory. It also involves getting used to very little sleep.

In the mean time, at least I get to look at this little face all day :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

He's here!

It's hard to believe that just two weeks ago we were anxiously awaiting the birth of our baby boy. Those last few weeks were definitely the hardest because we were just so ready for him to be here, but he came exactly when he was ready which turned out to be Thursday, March 8th at 11:41pm.

I wrote in my last post that I would be trying anything and everything to jump start labor, and I can honestly say I did try it all. From special tea that was supposed to "ripen my cervix", walking, spicy foods, eggplant parmesan, sex, and even caster oil (this one I can recommend NEVER trying. Not a good experience!), nothing worked! I was getting so frustrated and started to believe that this baby was never going to come out! So two Wednesdays ago, by my request my midwife decided to help me aid the process a long by stripping my membrane, which is supposed to help release the hormones that start labor. She let me know that she didn't know if it would work but if it did, it would be in the next 1-3 days. I went home from that appointment excited about the possibility that labor might actually start soon.

The next morning I awoke a little crampy but with no significant contractions. I took Sebastian to the park and then met Shad for lunch at a Mexican restaurant. I told him I definitely didn't think it was going to happen today and went home to get some housework done. A couple of hours later, I started having some pretty uncomfortable contractions that seemed to be coming pretty regularly. After timing them, I figured they were coming about every 15 minutes. I didn't want to get my hopes up that I was definitely in labor so I continued to get stuff done around the house and then sat down to watch some TV and rest for a while. An hour later, they were coming about every 8 minutes a part consistently so I called Shad, my mom, and Shad's mom and let them know that we may be going to the hospital that night. Shad's mom came over to take the kids back to her place, and I went on a walk to try to speed up the labor.

Around 7:30pm, my contractions were coming every 4-6mins a part so we decided it was time to head to the hospital. The L&D floor at the hospital was completely packed so they actually didn't have a room for us right away. I guess everyone decided to have babies on March 8th! Anyways, we did end up getting a room but in their antepartum suit, not in an L&D room. My midwife arrived to check how far along I was and let me know I was 3cm dilated. 3cm??!! Really? I was not very excited about my lack of progress. She told us to go walk around the unit for an hour and come back to see if that helped. So we started walking, and pretty much as soon as we did, I started REALLY feeling those contractions. They were coming every 1-2mins and man they hurt! After 45 minutes I had had enough!

We went back to our room, and I continued to have very close together, painful contractions. I tried the birthing ball, which helped some, but after a while I decided I needed to lie down. My midwife finally agreed to check me again, and we discovered I was 8cm dilated. So I went from 3 to 8cm in about an hour and a half!

The last 2 cm were absolutely the worst. I have no way of describing the pain because I can honestly say there was nothing like it. It only took about 20 minutes but it felt like forever to go to 10cm dilated. I was having some major nausea as well, so in the midst of mind-blowing painful contractions, I had to get an IV placed so I could get some Phenergan. Towards the end I was begging to push, and wouldn't you know 3 pushes later and Zeke was born! He was 7lbs, 2oz, which I was very grateful for considering we were being told he was going to be at least 8.5 lbs. I can't imagine!

So now that I've experienced both a natural delivery and epidural-assisted delivery, I've had many people ask me which I would prefer. The truth is, I can't say I prefer one over the other. They were very different birthing experiences and they both had positives and negatives. With the epidural I felt that I could rest a lot more during labor so I wasn't very tired after the birth; where as after this delivery I was absolutely exhausted on every level. Then again, my labors with the epidural were about 10 hours after I got to the hospital, where my natural delivery only lasted about 2 hours from when we reached the hospital. I also felt like my body bounced back a lot quicker this time. I was able to walk around pretty much immediately after the birth. Oh and there wasn't the scary-I-might-die, loss-of-consciousness moment that I experienced with the epidural so hey, that's a plus!

I'm so grateful that it's over and now we our sweet little Zeke with us. He is such an angel, and I will be sharing much more about how we are both doing in the future. But for now, I think I've written enough!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's a waiting game from this point on...

I'm 38 weeks this week and yes, I'm still pregnant. Much to my dismay, I am still freakin' pregnant. Most women who have experienced pregnancy before will agree that the last 2 weeks of pregnancy are the most excruciatingly long weeks of one's life, and this isn't only because of how uncomfortable it is to be 38+ weeks pregnant. The waiting is what is unbearable.

For those of you have not been pregnant before, or have been lucky enough to have a planned delivery, let me see if I can relate it in this way: Suppose you are due to go on a vacation. You know the vacation will be any day now, but unfortunately, the exact day your vacation will start is unknown to you. Every morning you wake up excited, thinking 'today may be the day my vacation starts', and every night you go to sleep disappointed because said vacation failed to happen. Now imagine weeks us this. Waiting. Wondering 'when the heck will my vacation begin??' Now imagine this is not really a vacation but the birth a child- one of the single most important life events that can happen to anyone. Can you see why this might drive a person mad? Or in my case, make them a tad bit bitchy?

Third babies are not supposed to be late, or even on time for that matter. Then again nothing about this pregnancy has been what I expected or planned for. I guess that's the thing about pregnancy- it's the one time in a person's life where you have absolutely no control over your body, your life, or the life that's growing inside of you. Forget planning- it does no good. We can pretend we are in control but in reality, control is an illusion that we have created during pregnancy. Control is in the hands of God alone.

So wait I shall. In the mean time, I'm trying to focus on the positive. Like the things I will do when I'm not pregnant. Drinking a margarita and shaving my legs are at the top of my list. Sneezing without fear of repercussions is also at the top.

Another positive- we had a wonderful baby shower this past weekend that was thrown by my neighbor and my sister where we acquired almost everything we needed for the nursery. We had a super fun time with our family and friends that included blue and red caterpillar cupcakes (the theme of the nursery), hamburgers/hot dogs, and even a keg (not for my benefit obviously). I absolutely love the nursery and have included photos of it below. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take pictures of the shower! I'm working to aquire some from others that were in attendance and will post when I do.

This weekend my mother-in-law wants to watch the boys, so Shad and will have the whole weekend to ourselves. Instead of sitting around, waiting for this kid to pop out, I was thinking we should do something that we won't be able to do once the baby arrives. Nice dinner and movie possibly?? Any ideas?

For those of you that have been pregnant before, what did you do to cope with the waiting??