Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

One year ago today, I woke up early to make sure that my pregnancy test was negative before stopping the Progesterone. To my utter surprise, it was positive. It felt like a Christmas miracle...that went totally off the rails come March.

Yet here we are one year later. Preparing once again for the Christmas festivities at our relatives' houses, but having to take into account nap times, pumping schedules, diaper bags, and bringing extra changes of clothes in case of 'poo-splosions'.

It's wonderful.

This year has been a crazy ride. From the highest of highs to the lowest of the black, deep, dark pits, and back into the light again. I feel so incredibly grateful for life to be as good as it is right now.

I often look back on this last year and wonder "how the hell did we get so lucky?!!" Because we did. I know we did. When I think of all the terrible things that could have gone wrong between the time of my water breaking, to when Kaia was born, I shutter and internally shy away from remembering those awful weeks. I still to this day cannot read my blog posts between March 24th and July 9th of this year. It just brings back the hurt and the fear, and I'm not ready to mentally revisit that time yet.

People often wonder why bad things happen to them. I know I did after Aidan died. Why did he die? Why my son? Why him? Why our family? But the other side of that, is of course, questioning why do good things happen to us? Why did Kaia live? Why did we get so lucky? Why did she beat the statistics and come out (almost, dislocated hip aside) perfect? The nurse practitioner I was telling my story to at Kaia's pre-anesthesia appointment this week said that 'it gave her chills'.

Too true, lady.

I don't know why things worked out so well for us the 2nd time around. I don't know if it's something I did or didn't do. I don't know if it was luck or genetics or fate, or some combination thereof. If so, why did Kaia have it and Aidan didn't? I will never know...but I am eternally grateful for the life and health of my second child. And I'm so happy to be celebrating the holidays with my wonderful husband, and little miracle girl.

I hope all of you out there in blog land find some peace and joy in your lives this holiday season.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

And sloppy, drooly, kisses from Kaia.

Have you ever questioned why you got 'lucky' either baby-making or otherwise? How did you reconcile yourself to the fact that others don't?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Twelfth Night

It's 10 days 'til Christmas and Twelfth Night occurs 12 days after Christmas (January 6th). Twelfth Night has religious and historical significance, and is the name of a very funny play by William Shakespeare which I really enjoyed reading in Grade 9.

This coming Twelfth Night has now taken on a different significance...

It's the date set for Kaia's surgery and casting.

And it's only 3 weeks away!

The surgeon's secretary called me yesterday to tell me the date and I about fell off my chair. I was thinking we weren't going to be scheduled until February at the earliest. I figured I would have some time after Christmas to start thinking and planning for 'cast time'...but it will be here before I know it.

On the one hand, it will be good to get it over with as soon as possible. The sooner the cast goes on, the sooner it will come off. With Kaia being casted in early January, she should be out of it by early April. She would have been in a cast well into May if we started in February. Also, January, February and March are easily the worst weather months here in Canada, (unless you like to ski), so it won't be such a chore to stay indoors.

On the other hand...


No more squishy baby hugs.
No more cute outfits unmarred by the unsightly cast.
No more baths.
No more easy, snap in and out car seat.
No more sleeping in the bassinet in our room. She won't fit, and will have to move to her own crib.
No more easy diaper changes.
No more 'aww, look at the cute baby' when we go out. I'm sure instead we'll get looks of pity and possibly suspicion that Kaia was in some way dropped or hurt. ie: Why is your BABY in a CAST?

It's only 3 months, but when your kid is currently only 5 months old...3 months seems like a LONG time.

Then I remember that kid is Kaia, who after surviving this last year and earning the title "the girl who lived", laughs in the face of 3 months in a body cast.

It's just her parents who will have to get use to the idea.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Boob Juice

After that first month home with Kaia where I was desperately trying to breastfeed I have basically given up the ghost. My girl, besides the occasional boob snack, is a bottle fed baby and I'm an exclusive pumper. I never really wanted to be in this camp, but here we are and generally it's working out. I remember thinking prior to having a baby "why would anyone want to bottle feed? You have to get up in the middle of the night, walk down stairs, heat up the bottle and then walk back up stairs. Wouldn't it just be easier (and cheaper!!!) to pull the baby into bed with you and breastfeed??!" HA! Jokes on me. Now I have to do all the work of a formula fed baby PLUS stay up an extra 30 minutes or more after Kaia goes back to sleep while I pump. Fun times.

The thing about being an exclusive pumper is that you become a little obsessed with breast milk and it's production. So I decided to devote a whole post to my boob juice!

I've recently dropped to 6 pumps per day. I pump around 5:30am, 10amish, 1pm, 4pm, 8pm and 11pm...but it's all adjustable based on what's going on that day. I started out pumping 8x a day, every 3 hours, when Kaia was first born and then dropped to 7 around the time of my grandmother's funeral in August. It's gotten easier to fit pumping into my life with each dropped session. I feel pretty safe that I'll be able to keep Kaia exclusively on breast milk for the foreseeable future as I haven't seen a huge drop in production as I've dropped pumps. According to a lactation consultant I met, your breast milk production is established in the first 6-12 weeks postpartum. Meaning that if you pump (or breastfeed) till you drop those first weeks, you'll reap the rewards of high milk production down the line.

My current long term plan is to keep Kaia exclusively on breast milk until 6 months corrected (so early March) when I will start some solids, however I don't know how this whole spica cast business is going to fit into our lives, so we'll have to see how easy pumping and dealing with Kaia is once we are in a cast in February.

Until Kaia came home from the hospital I was tracking how much I pumped per day to the milliliter (Brian has an app for that). I think I maxed out at around 1200 mls a day (about 42 oz), and currently pump about a 1L (35 oz). Kaia has never taken more than that in a day and I hope I'm safe with aiming for that as my daily goal. Kellymom, a site devoted to breastfeeding and breast milk has studies posted that show breastfed babies usually level out in their breast milk demands at an average of 75o mls/day around 1 month, and stay pretty stable until 6 months when it starts to decrease if you introduce solids. I would say this has shown to be pretty accurate for Kaia. She might eat more per bottle, but is having less bottles per day (and sleeping longer at night!! YEAH!!!)

Many women find they begin to know their bodies better when they start to track their ovulation cycles. Cervical mucus, headaches, breast tenderness, sex drive and period duration can be tracked ad nauseum if you're into that sort of thing (or if you HAVE to be into that sort of thing if you're TTC and it's not happening as quickly as you'd like). Now that I have a kid who I pump for, I have another body function I can watch and track until my heart's content. For example. I can tell when I haven't been drinking enough fluids just by how full my boobs are between pump sessions. If they aren't as 'full feeling' and my let down is slower at my next pump session, I know I need to drink more. Stress also affects these things. If I'm tense or trying to 'hurry' through a pumping session you can bet it's going to take FOREVER to get my usual volumes.

I can also tell you 'fun facts' about breast milk just by my own observations. A friend of mine who exclusively breastfed was talking to me about the prenatal class she went to prior to her daughter's birth. She said she didn't find it very helpful because they couldn't answer many of her questions. One of which was "how long does it take for your 'hind' milk (the fatty stuff) to start to flow when you are feeding?" I could now tell her that it depends on how long you've gone since your last feed (or pump) and how much milk is available overall. The larger the amount of milk to be fed or pumped (such as in the morning after sleeping 6 hours), the larger proportion of it will be watery 'foremilk'. In the morning I usually pump about 300 mls overall and the first 30 mls or so is pretty watery. However later in the day, when I might pump 150 mls, maybe only the first 10 or 15 mls or so is foremilk.

When you refrigerate pumped milk it separates out as it's not homogenized, which is done to cow's milk before it's sold. So human milk in a container will have the 'watery' milk on the bottom and will look almost clear. Then gradually it will get 'whiter' closer to the top. If you've left it in the fridge for longer than a few hours, the fat will separate out and form almost a 'paste' at the top. Brian finds it funny that sometimes this fat layer is so thick that when the milk is turned on its side, it takes a second for liquid milk underneath to 'break through' the fat barrier, creating a 'glop' sound. If you shake the milk the fat is quickly mixed in and the whole container will look like 'normal' milk again. I like looking at the fat at the top and thinking "see...that's the cookies I ate earlier today!" It's fun to see the fat come off me and be transferred into Kaia's cheeks!

Speaking of fat, the calorie content of breast milk is about 20 Calories per oz. So if Kaia is eating 750 mls a day (25 oz) then she is getting about 500 Calories per day. That's about 42 Calories per lb of body weight since she's about 12 lbs. If I had the same metabolism and was growing at the rate Kaia was growing this means I could eat about 5460 Calories per day. Think of all the Christmas goodies that is!

I pump using an Ameda Purely Yours double electric pump. The most popular one these days seems to be Medela as it's sold at Baby's R Us but I've been happy with my Ameda. The customer service was really good when I had to have a part replaced, so that was nice. It's held up very well too considering how much I use it, and it's pretty easy to clean all the parts which is good. I recently did the math and figuring out the number of pumps I do per day, and how long I've been pumping, I've used the pump over 1000 times. One thing that exclusive pumpers should be aware of is that if you suddenly notice a drop in supply, check the parts on your pump. They can wear out over time (as anything made out of plastic does), and may need to be replaced. Pumps and their parts aren't cheap either, mine (with the shoulder bag and cooler bag and extra bottles) was over $300 and I've spent about $50 on replacement parts since then. I'm hoping to get some money back through my insurance as the pump was considered 'medically necessary' due to Kaia's prematurity.

The thing I find hardest about pumping is 'what do I do with Kaia while I pump?' It's a challenge, I'll admit that. Generally when I wake up, it's because she's crying for food. However, as soon as I'm up my boobs start leaking what do I do first? Feed her or pump? Answer? I do both at the same time. First I get up and put on my pumping bra with the breast pads inside to keep me from getting my shirt all wet. Then we go down stairs and heat up a bottle and change her. Then I get my pump parts all set up and in position in the pumping bra. Then I put the boppy pillow on my lap and lay Kaia on it. She eats, while I pump and then we chat or she naps until I'm finished. I prefer not to feed and pump at the same time as it can be kind of awkward, but I do what I have to do during the week. On the weekend it's easier as Brian can feed her if I have to pump.

Speaking of Brian, I think that is the one benefits of exclusively pumping over exclusively breastfeeding. Brian is much more involved in Kaia's care and general well-being because he can bottle feed her. He spends more time with her and is comfortable looking after her on his own. I don't know if that would be the case if she had taken to breastfeeding. I'm glad that Kaia can be looked after by her Dad in the evenings and on weekends as it gives me a break, and I hope that it is the start of a special Daddy-daughter relationship.

If anyone has any questions about exclusively pumping I'd love to try to answer them. It has been challenging to be an exclusive pumper, but I'm so grateful it is working out and Kaia's getting the best I can give her!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Friday night I couldn't sleep. Earlier in the evening we had watched the movie "The Help". I had read the book and was looking forward to seeing the movie. Brian was sitting watching with me and he seemed to be enjoying it....until we got to the part where Celia has her miscarriage in the bathroom. As she's burying the box in the backyard under a rosebush, Brian turns to me and says "Why didn't you warn me?"

Ah yes. Woman laying on the floor. Blood soaking the bathroom. That is a sore spot.

So Friday night as I lay in bed I couldn't help thinking about Aidan, and how the next day, Saturday December 3rd was the 2 year anniversary of my positive pregnancy test with him. I remember that day so clearly. I was so excited. Nervous. Thrilled. Relieved. I never, ever, could have guessed what would happen over the next couple of months. And I wondered, would I have wanted to be forewarned? In that moment when those two lines popped into existence, would I have wanted to know what was coming next? Probably not. Getting that positive test is like jumping off a cliff. You can't go back, so why ruin the moment?

Christmas this year will be easier than last year...but not perfect.

Never perfect.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Plague

So the plague has hit our house this week. Okay, not really a plague, but Brian was sick with a cold and home from work for three days and I am currently starting to have a sore throat. I'm hoping it doesn't develop into anything, but that's how Brian's cold started so I'm less than hopeful.

I'm worried, of course, about Kaia becoming ill, but there is little I can do. Brian tried to stay away from both of us this week. He slept on the couch downstairs and didn't hold Kaia for almost 3 days. Of course now with us both feeling less than stellar, one of us is going to have to look after her, cold be damned! I'm just hoping Purelling the hell out of our hands, breast milk antibodies and avoiding baby kisses is going to keep her well.

But it's hard to avoid baby kisses.

Especially when your baby looks like this:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Twi-life

I had a bit of a surreal experience last night.

I'm sitting in the theater watching Twilight: Breaking Dawn.

Bella finds out she's pregnant. All hell breaks loose.

I've read the books. I knew beforehand what was going to happen.

But as the movie starts in on the fantastical drama surrounding a human giving birth to a half vampire fetus...I'm literally nodding my head. The emotions, even some of the depicted scenes and events surrounding this crazy birth were so much like those surrounding both Aidan's and especially Kaia's pregnancies that it was weird.

Bella...camped out on the couch, fearing harm to half vampire baby.
Emily...camped out on the couch, fearing to harm to human baby.

Bella...unnaturally ill and sore from growing half vampire baby.
Emily...unnaturally tired and sore due to bed rest and heart defect while growing human baby.

Bella...lying on medical table while doctor tells her awful fate of both her and half-vampire baby.
Emily...lying on medical table while doctor tells her awful fate of human baby, and possible resulting maternal complications.

Bella...unable to find out sex (or anything useful) about vampire baby even with modern technology.
Emily...unable to find out sex (or anything useful regarding possible health) of human baby even with modern technology.

Bella...ghostly pale due to growing nutrient sucking vampire baby.
Emily...ghostly pale due to being stuck inside growing human baby and never getting any Vitamin D (or a tan) from sunshine.

Bella...daring to persevere with half vampire baby pregnancy despite medical risks.
Emily...daring to persevere with human baby pregnancy despite medical risks.

Bella...fearing she'll never get another chance to have husband's baby if this one is taken away.
Emily...fearing she'll never get another chance to have husband's baby if this one dies.

Bella...requiring help from vampire sister-in-law to shower.
Emily...requiring help from husband to shower.

Bella...gulping down liters of blood to sustain half vampire baby's nutritional needs.
Emily...gulping down liters of water to sustain human baby's amniotic fluid.

Bella...hiding from friends and family knowing they won't understand desire to carry half vampire baby.
Emily...hiding from friends and family knowing they won't understand medical complications of carrying human baby.

Bella...trying to be the brave little soldier while dealing with pregnancy complications.
Emily...(sometimes) trying to be the brave little solider while dealing with pregnancy complications.

The Cullens...freaked out while trying to cope and be brave for Bella.
My family...freaked out while trying to cope and be brave for me.

Bella and Edward...fearing what this little hybrid is going to look like, but knowing they'll love it anyway because it is theirs.
Emily and Brian...fearing what this squashed little baby is going to look like, but knowing they'll love it anyway because it is theirs.

Bella and Edward...trying to bond with half human/half vampire baby during pregnancy while fearing Bella's demise.
Emily and Brian...trying to bond with human baby during pregnancy while fearing its demise.

The delivery scene at the end literally gave me goose bumps just because it brought back the emotions I had in the delivery room with Kaia. The fear for myself, the fear for Kaia, the bodily disconnect....

...the not knowing what the hell was going to happen after it was all over.

And yet for some crazy reason, it was great to see. Because here it was, finally depicted on screen: A pregnancy experience I could relate to!

Anything pregnancy related I see these days in TV, movies or in the media always feel so far removed from what my experience was that I have a hard time even reading about it. Pregnancy is almost always shown as a healthy, empowering, stressful-but-exciting time in a woman's life. I felt none of that. I felt ill, hopeless, disheartened, and anything but excited for what was going to come. I was bone deep scared.

And while both Bella's pregnancy outcome and my (2nd) pregnancy outcome were as positive as one could have hoped for under the doesn't negate the absolute terror of the lived experience.

It's just kind of funny that my real life pregnancy experience more closely correlates with that of a melodramatic fantasy film than is does to any other movie I've ever seen.


Sunday, November 6, 2011


Something has been bothering me lately. And when that occurs, I have to write about it in order to sort it out in my head.

It has been bothering me that Aidan's absence hasn't been bothering me as much as it use to.

At first I put this down to having Kaia. I was and continue to be so grateful for her life, her survival, her health. At first I was convinced that my joy over Kaia was currently just over ridding my sadness over Aidan's death. Surely, eventually, the sadness over his loss will return in full force. Maybe even stronger, because now I get to feel his loss not just for Brian and I, but for Kaia too.

Then I figured that maybe it's just because I'm so busy with Kaia. When 80-90% of your waking day is filled with either holding, changing, feeding, or pumping for your child, other thoughts have a harder time crowding in. I feel like before Kaia, I lived in my head a lot. I had the time to do so. I thought a lot about my life, about Aidan, about my two disastrous pregnancies and about his loss. Since she's been home, and especially since Brian has gone back to work, I don't get much of a break. It leaves little time for thinking deep thoughts beyond "did I forget to put that load of laundry in the dryer? and "what am I going to make for dinner tonight?"

But maybe it's not either of those things.

Maybe it's just true. Maybe I really don't feel the same level of sadness or loss when I think about him. Or when things happen that remind me of 'what should have been'. I can pass little boys in the street without wondering "is that what Aidan would have looked like?" I can plan, attend and enjoy family gatherings without thinking of who is missing. Kaia's room, which would have been Aidan's, has become wholly hers. I don't sit in it and think about whose room it might have been. It only gives me a bit of a twinge that my sister in law will deliver a baby in February who I suspect is a boy. If it's a boy, he will not only share the same last name as Aidan, but he will grow up in our family and will have and be and do all the things that Aidan never will. Maybe the thing that bothers me the most is that I don't cry over his loss like I use to.

And that makes me sad.

Almost without noticing I feel I have somehow entered another phase of grief. I don't know whether it is Kaia, or my own personal growth or simply time which has caused this shift, but I feel it. The intensity of his loss has lessened.

Initially after his death I felt like I was no longer living. I was surviving, dragging myself through each day. It felt like I was just 'getting by' for a long time. Nothing held the meaning it use to. I was sad about a lot of things, apathetic about the rest. And here, just over a year and a half later, I feel...good. His absence is now almost entirely bearable.

But how can that be? He was my CHILD. How can my life feel so full, so rich, so normal without him here? Shouldn't I continue to hurt and grieve and rail at fate for the lack of him? Shouldn't it burn more? Sting more? His absence felt like a jagged open wound in the wake of his death. Surely that couldn't have healed over? A good mother wouldn't have let it. A good mother would never be happy without all her children surrounding her.

Sometimes I worry that I don't miss him more because he was little. Very prematurely little. As if somehow the 23 weeks and 3 day that he existed wasn't enough time to indelibly mark my soul in a way that wouldn't heal in his absence. That if he had 'lasted' longer, been a full term baby, or a one year old, or a 10 year old, I would miss him more. Could that be it? We only spent 54 minutes together with both of us alive. Maybe it wasn't enough time.

Maybe Kaia really has 'made up' for Aidan in ways that I never wanted her to. Maybe what I craved was only a living baby all along. Maybe it didn't matter who that living baby was. It makes me feel sick to my stomach to think that if that was all I really wanted...then maybe he wasn't as special, as needed, as loved, as I always thought he was.

But then I think, no, that's not right either. His picture, his urn, his little plaster foot moulds wouldn't mean so much to me if that were true. If he was just A BABY and not MY BABY, I wouldn't cherish those remnants of him as deeply as I do.

So if I really did, and still do, love him as much as I remember then it stands to reason that I could lose so much more...and still be okay. My house, my job, my friends, my family, my husband, my living child...what if they were all stripped away? Would it only take a year and a half to live in happiness with ANY loss? That doesn't seem right. I absolutely dread the thought of anything happening to upset my corner of the world...but when it happened last year, I lived. I survived. I even have begun to thrive.

It feels like a conundrum. I hold on so tightly to who and what I have right now...yet I seem to be living proof that you can lose what is most precious to you and still enjoy life.

It seems somehow like it shouldn't be that way.

But I'm glad it is.

Does this apply to you? Does it make you sad that it does (or doesn't)?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from my little pumpkin!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Walk the Line

I've jumped on my blog probably a dozen times in the past week to write a post, but things always seem to get in the way. Either Kaia needs feeding or changing or just wants to be held, or I need to pump, or wash bottles, or do chores, or eat or sleep.

Those are all excuses however. What is really keeping me from writing is the sense of not being sure where I fit in. I no longer need this as an outlet to write about the disasters in my life, because really, comparatively, I don't have any. While Kaia's upcoming surgery and casting will (I'm sure) occupy a few (or more) blog posts, there isn't the sense of 'dire-ness' that has plagued me for the last two years. My complaints would be of a much more mundane nature, which I'm afraid come off sounding whiny and ungrateful.

I think this is the hardest thing about being both a dead baby/living baby mommy that I have experienced. I don't feel guilty about Kaia's pPROM issues and I don't feel badly about her prematurity. Those were things I could not control and we have and continue to deal with them as best we can. What I do feel badly about is sometimes, when Kaia wakes me up for the 3rd time in one night, or when she won't fall asleep until well after midnight, or I'm pumping for the 7th time in a day, or I'm washing my 2nd or 3rd round of bottles...I sometimes forget how lucky I am. Sometimes I am decidedly crabby. And that makes me feel guilty.

I suppose I naively thought, since I usually had not one but two sick needy newborns under my care in the NICU, I would have this baby stuff down cold. Change diapers? No problem. Bottle feed? Cake. Wipe up spit up? Sure, bring it on. But it's different when you don't get to clock out at the end of a twelve hour shift, and there are no days off. I also thought that my dead child, and my disastrous pregnancies would somehow make me more tolerant and appreciative. I would be like Glinda the good witch, calm and serene in my fluffy white dress and crown, able to float above it all in my happy soap bubble. I would laugh (or titter behind my white gloved hand) in the face of little sleep, a messy house, and a fussy baby. It's harder than it looks though. Sometimes I feel more like the Wicked Witch of the West. Green, and warty and crabby as hell. In the long term I guess I probably am more appreciative and will look back in fondness. But, sometimes in the moment, I am a little ashamed to admit that I lose sight of how good I've got it.

I suppose I have been afraid to admit on here how challenging I find it sometimes, because over the last year and a half I have read so many BLMs post about how they hate hearing mothers complain. And I want to be sensitive to that. I don't want to sound ungrateful or unappreciative. I recognize that my life IS better than after Aidan died, for sure, definitely, but I also can't pretend I don't also have a better understanding of what those other mothers were complaining about.

On the other hand, I also feel like anything I post about Kaia and how damn cute and adorable and wonderful she is, is a slap in the face to those who are still waiting and hoping that their 'rainbow' will make his or her grand entrance one day. That waiting game is HARD. I know, I've been there and it sucked to see everyone else hop on that 'isn't-my-kid-just-the-cutest-thing-in the-whole-word" train while I felt like I fell off (clutching my sad little dead baby urn) somewhere along the way.

So where do I fit in? Kaia is adorable and wonderful and has made our lives so much happier and fulfilling and easier...while also making us incredibly tired, sometimes frustrated, occasionally crabbier and has complicated and made our lives harder as well.

I feel as though I am walking along the top of a hill. On one side are the dead baby parents who are feeling intense grief, or who haven't had the chance to parent a live child which they desperately want. They may feel lost, angry, sad, left out. I can relate to them because I can remember so clearly being there too. On the other side of the hill are the parents who have never had a dead child and who can't really appreciate the feelings of grief and loss that come along with that experience. These parents may have their own challenges and struggles with their living children, while also experiencing the joy and love that children bring. Both sides have a hard time seeing each other. They haven't walked in each others shoes. I'm walking along the top of the hill. While I want to comfort and be sensitive to my fellow BLMs, I can't help but have all the same happiness and concerns that those of a live baby do too.

This was brought into clear focus the other day when I sent out an e-mail to my extended family members regarding our kid's Christmas gift exchange. I have a big family on my mother's side. For DECADES we have gotten together with my cousins and second cousins and even a few third cousins at Christmas time, and the parents of children under the age of 21 have done a gift exchange. Every child's name goes into a hat, and you draw out as many names as children you have. Every kid gets a present. No one gets left out. I looked forward to this tradition as a child because (duh) I got a present to open! And who doesn't love that?! This year I might be looking forward to BUYING a present just as much, because it means I HAVE A KID! Anyway, we drew names last weekend at a family gathering and I was put in charge of e-mailing those who weren't at the gathering the name(s) we had drawn for them.

Yesterday I got an e-mail back from one of my (funnier) cousins stating that he was going to give away his KIDS as the present. ie: "Suzy will get Joan, John will get Alan, Tim will get Tom and Sarah will get baby Mike, but we'll put him in a dress to make him more 'girly' for her. Haha! Can't wait until Christmas!" (names have been changed, obviously). I first reacted as a dead baby mom": How can you joke about giving your kids away? Don't you know there are people out there who would go to the ends of the EARTH to have just one living child??!! Jeez, try to be more sensitive!!!

Then I found myself joining in on the joke. I might have even smiled. Because the man has 4 kids...and good God that would be tiring. You would want to give them away sometimes. Plus Sarah clutching little Mikey in a dress would be cute as hell.

I guess to sum up, I feel like I'm walking a fine line on my blog these days.

Sorry if I step on any toes.

Are my posts harder for you to read these days? Do you ever feel like you censor yourself on your own blog, fearing to offend? Does anyone else feel like they are walking the line between the living and the dead? How does it make you feel?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

15 weeks and 2 days

15 weeks and 2 days old.

Today Kaia is the same number of days old as the number of days I spent on bed rest during my pregnancy with her.

It is mind boggling.

During my time on bed rest I felt like I did nothing. I watched a lot of TV. Blogged a lot. Read a bit. Slept. Ate. All broken up by the occasional stressful doctor's appointment. It felt like it went on forever at the time, and yet now it seems like I couldn't have been doing that for the same amount of time that we've been doing this:

Visiting Kaia at 2 different hospitals, watching her come off multiple sources of breathing assistance, learning to eat by mouth, watching her gain close to triple her birth weight, have her in 4 different harnesses (the first 3 were the same brand and all crap, the last was good, but not good enough in order to fix her hip). I've recovered from
a C-section and am almost back to my pre-pregnancy weight. We've had Kaia home for 8 weeks, Brian was off work for 4 of those. We've been to 13 (or was it 14, or 15?) different doctor/lactation consultant/ultrasound appointments with her since bringing her home. I've been pumping 6-8x per day every day since she arrived. We have done a few family visits and Kaia has been around for the August long weekend, Labour day, Thanksgiving, Brian's birthday and my birthday. It seems like she's been a part of our family a heck of a lot longer than I was on bed rest.

I don't really have any more to say about it..
.but it just feels like an important milestone that must be mentioned.

Thank you for hanging on my baby girl. You were entirely worth it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Home 7 1/2 weeks.

A few weeks ago I found an old article on about Brooke Shields. In it she was discussing her daughter Rowan's hip dysplasia. The article says this:

"Every time they tightened the harness, Rowan would scream. Chris always tightened the harness-Brooke didn’t want to, nor did she want to hold Rowan. She had to even be baptized in the harness. Brooke wrote about how beautiful Rowan looked in her dress, but then the harness sticking out underneath was just heartbreaking."

And this:

Brooke said, "when you’re a new parent and you have a child that has any kind of special need you rely so much not only on the ability of your surgeon or your doctor but the compassion." Brooke said that she had Dr. Skaggs cell phone number and that she would call him when she was "terrified" when she had trouble changing a screaming, crying Rowan’s diaper while she was wearing the harness.

First of all, you know you're a celebrity when you have your pediatric orthopedic surgeon's phone number on speed dial so he can talk you through diaper changes. Secondly, Brooke Shields needs to suck it up because she was one of the 90% of parents whose baby's with hip dysplasia are fixed by being in a harness.

We, unfortunately, are not.

We found out yesterday that Kaia is going to need a spica cast. She has been in the correct Pavlik harness for two weeks and her surgeon wasn't seeing the improvements that he wanted to. Namely he could still pop her hip in and out of joint. By this point, we were hoping that the hip would be in socket and staying in...but alas, things are always more complicated for us.

As he said "90% of the time, this works for babies that are as young as your daughter, but 10% of the time we have to move on to casting". HA! Sorry doc, I should have mentioned it, but it seems like for our family if things have a possibility of being more complicated than originally expected, then they will be.

As of now, Kaia is out of the harness until her surgery which will be sometime in the late winter when she is between 4 1/2 to 7 months corrected age. Likely February. She will be put under anesthesia, a small incision will be made in the groin area to release the tendon, and then her hip will be put back into the socket. A body cast will be applied (it will go from her nipples to her toes keeping her in 'frog' position) and then she will spend the night in hospital. She will wear it for 12 weeks and then we hope like hell it stays fixed and doesn't need any more 'work' (ie: further surgery and re-casting). I hope we can get it all behind us before the weather gets hot because it seems cruel to have a kid in a cast when they could be swimming instead.

I'm sad, but resigned.

I think I would be a lot more upset if Kaia had been my first baby, born without complications or anxiety. Because of all the things I knew could befall her after my water broke (death in utero, death out of utero, no lung development, poor lung development, heart defects, extreme prematurity, brain bleeds, NEC, ROP), hip dysplasia is WAY down on the list of 'awful'.

But it still sucks.

I was really hoping we were already 2 weeks into a 12 week stint in a Pavlik harness. We were getting good and fast at threading the tabs under the straps during diaper changes. I had finally found 0-3 month outfits that were both practical and cute that fit her harness (the footless one pieces that have the snaps up the inside of the leg seams). Kaia was getting more tolerant of sponge baths. Now it doesn't matter, at least for the time being.

Last night we 'celebrated' by plunking her in her tub for the first time in two weeks. She actually wasn't even that dirty. Just some dead skin build up on her feet. I plan to take full advantage of this time when I can dress her in whatever I want. I'm going to go buy 0-3 month pants this weekend. Maybe even some tights, with cute shoes to go along with it!

While I will enjoy having my cuddly baby back for now, I'm sad that she will be older and more 'aware' when she's put into the spica. Right now, she's been in a harness since she was 36 weeks gestational age, (albeit a crappy harness for the first 7 weeks), so she doesn't really know the difference. I feel like when it comes time to putting her in the spica, she'll be at the age when she will be used to sitting up, rolling over, grabbing her toes...and then all of a sudden she won't be able to do those things anymore. I know she'll get use to it, but it's just another thing we have to contend with.

But in some ways I'm grateful I know it could be so much worse. So like Brooke Shields should have done (seriously she didn't want to even HOLD her baby??), I'm going to suck it up and move on. And for the next 4 months we are going to rock out in some super cute outfits!

*P.S. Okay Brooke Shields you get an out for also having postpartum depression. I suppose that plus having a kid in a harness would be a bit much to deal with. But I stand by my comment about having your ortho on speed dial. Because if she hadn't shown off her boobs in Blue Lagoon I'm pretty sure he would have blocked her number.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Home almost 7 weeks

Remember a few weeks ago I asked for help in how to word Kaia's baby announcements?

Well after fretting about it for a little while I finally figured that a picture is worth a thousand words. So on the back of the card, in between a picture of Kaia and Brian and Kaia and me, I put this:

We're carrying you with us Aidan, today and every day. We love you, baby boy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


It's my birthday. I'm 29.

It's amazing the difference a year makes.

Last year I was sad and missing Aidan and working towards a 'successful' pregnancy.

This year, while I still miss Aidan, my days are full caring for his baby sister. My year, while not totally going according to plan (HA! understatement!!), did eventually work out the way I wanted it. For that I will be eternally grateful.

Anyway, the following are some thoughts that have been rolling around in my brain for awhile.

Thought # 1:

I often wondered after Aidan died if I was correct in my assumption that life would be all around 'better' with a living baby. Obviously I wouldn't be sad if my kid wasn't dead, but I often wondered if I was 'romanticizing' being a parent. Every time I saw anything that reminded me of the parenthood I lost (strollers, baby shower invites, newborn outfits, parenting blogs etc.) it felt like a kick in the gut. Like a world I was ejected from that looked like SO much more fun than the life I was living. I was sad and angry that not only did I miss Aidan so badly, but that my life was so off track from where I wanted to be. That if only I had a baby life would be 'perfect'. Yet even though my cloud of grief I realized that the parents I knew who had young children weren't walking around on cloud nine, singing the praises of being a parent all the time. While I'm sure if asked they would all agree they loved their children and wouldn't trade them for the world, their lives were obviously not perfect. So which was it? Would a living child really make me 'happier'? Or was it all an illusion, just my sad, disappointed brain imaging a 'better' life that didn't really exist?

I feel I can now answer my own question. Yes, life really is happier...but it's true it's not perfect and I can't say I keep up the sentiment of feeling 'grateful' and 'lucky' all the time. But I'm learning to let myself just be glad for normal. Just like life was eventually 'okay' again after Aidan died because no one can stay in that initial fog of grief forever, no one can stay on cloud nine forever either. And honestly, I'm glad. It's exhausting to feel such extremes all the time. Major emotional events are going to happen in life, but generally I feel healthier and happier to just be in the middle most of the time.

I've also learned that while getting the one thing you've always wanted (a living baby) is an extremely wonderful thing, it does not fix other areas of your life. If you argue with your partner, you will still argue, and a new baby might even make that worse (although a dead one probably doesn't help matters either). A new baby while fun and exciting and beautiful, is also a lot of (often tedious) work (how many bottles did I wash today??!) It's occasionally stressful, and a big drain on resources, physically, emotionally, and financially. While a new baby brings joy and happiness into a family, it also means sacrificing other things that make you happy including sleep, a fulfilling career, hobbies, and events with family or friends. It can also be lonely hanging out all day with a new baby as they aren't known for being the best conversationalists. But while there are some draw backs, I would say I now feel more fulfilled, more centered, more at peace having a living child. And I try to remind myself, even when things are tough, how amazingly lucky I am to be able to say that.

Thought # 2

A few weeks ago, a woman I know posted on Facebook about the birth of her second child. She had not known the sex of the baby prior to delivery. Her first was a boy. Her second, a girl. People were posting congratulations and a comment was made 'now you have the million dollar family!' And my thought was "Holy shit, I had the million dollar family (one boy, one girl)...but half of mine died". (Does that mean I have the 500K family?) My mom often commented on her 'million dollar family' when my brother and I were growing up. She felt blessed to have one girl and one boy when she was told, for medical reasons, not to have any more kids. Because at that point, she was fine with no more as she had what she wanted. I had a boy, and I have a girl...but I won't ever have the satisfaction of watching my boy and girl play together or fight or lean on each other in tough times.

I e-mailed Dr. K. a few days ago and the placental pathology confirms that I had another Breus mole placenta (I could have told you that just based on the ultrasound pictures alone as Aidan and Kaia's placentas were very alike in their weirdness, so this wasn't exactly 'news'). This brings up the question of course though, why did it occur (TWICE??!!) Once was sad and unfortunate. Twice is kind of freakish. It makes me very wary of ever considering another pregnancy, because how can I be sure it won't happen for a 3rd time? It wasn't suppose to happen twice and it did. Plus, how could I place another child in jeopardy? We will be dealing with the ramifications of Kaia's confinement (literally) for the next year, and we are lucky her issues are 'fixable'. I also NEVER want to have to deal with another very early pPROM again. Ever. It was scary and terrible and soul crushing. I don't want to have to watch my husband, daughter or family have to live through it again either.

And yet...I would love another baby someday. Even more than that...I would like Kaia to have a (living) sibling. One that she can play with and tell stories to, have fun with, and confide in. While my brother and I don't spend as much time together as we used to, I do love having a sibling. I want that for Kaia. I want her to have a (living) brother or sister. One who isn't just a baby in a photo. One who doesn't sit on the shelf in the living room. Brian and I miss never getting to know Aidan...and now I miss him on Kaia's behalf too.

Thought # 3

I have been asked SO many times since Kaia was born "is this your first?" (honestly, this question gets asked more than her NAME, which I think is weird). Sometimes I tell the truth, and other times I lie. You'd have thought I would have gotten used to this in the last year having to answer the other dreaded question "Do you have any kids?", but still it's hard EVERY SINGLE TIME.

What also gets asked a lot is "how old is she?" This is another hard question for a preemie mom, because for anyone that knows anything about babies, she obviously doesn't look 3 months old. She's not even 9 lbs. She doesn't hold her head up yet. She is JUST starting to smile. Which means she's right on track...for her corrected age. Now, I don't mind telling people she was a preemie, but just like saying "oh my first child died", sometimes it feels like revealing too much to just any old Tom, Dick or Harry. So I often end up telling strangers "she's 6 weeks old" (the amount of time she's been home from the hospital). It gets confusing. It's not awkward like the number of children question, or the 'first child' question...but it's another baby question which I find myself occasionally lying about. Who knew having kids would make me such a liar?

So yeah. Kind of random I know.

That's where I am at as I enter year 29. I'm so glad I'm in a much better place than I was at 28. I hope it gives hope to those out there reading who aren't sure where they are going to be on their next birthday. Because you just never know what a difference a year can make.

Thoughts? Comments?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kaia: 6 weeks home

Home 6 weeks

I have been wanting to write a post about Kaia for awhile. Just about her. Nothing else. No complaining, no whining, no fear or concern over health issues.

Just Kaia.

My sweet baby girl.
She is now almost 3 months old, but is technically about 1 month corrected. She weighs just over 8 lbs. She has blue eyes just like mine and hair that almost looks auburn in the sunlight.

She is a fairly good sleeper generally, but not for longer than 4 hours at a time and usually more like 3.
She is starting to have a few smiles which I swear might be real and not just gas.

She loves to be held, likes walks in her stroller, and prefers her milk just shy of hot thankyouverymuch.

She loves to be in the water, and I'm sad that she won't get to experience that for awhile now that she's in the harness full time.

She cries during sponge baths, and I don't blame her because everyone knows they are no fun at all. She is starting to have a little bit of neck strength when held upright, which I like to attribute to carrying her in her Moby wrap.

She has never had anything but breast milk...but seems to prefer to feed by bottle.

She will breastfeed, but does it more for comfort and something to suck on than nutrition and I'm trying to satisfy myself with that and not take it personally. Her dad is best at getting her to burp. She lets out some loud ones too. Her grandma (my mom) has babysat for her once while I was at the doctors and is convinced she loves music, which she listens to in her swing.

She has the best wide eyed stare in the world, as though she is really intent on what you are saying.

You can tell when she's pooping as she goes all red. She makes the craziest sounds, even when sleeping which I've heard is common in preemies. She often squeals like a dolphin, grunts like a goat, whinnies like a horse and/or squeaks like a mouse, sometimes all 4 in the space of a few minutes. Her room is my masterpiece and is the most 'perfect' looking room in the house. I'm so pleased with it because it's girly without having a lick of pink.

She loves to sleep in her bassinet (which is part of her stroller, thank you to everyone who helped me get it for her!), and I feel safe when she's there as it's hooked up to the Angelcare monitor. Her nicknames are Pumpkin, Monkey, Chicken Little, Kaia-Papaya, and occasionally mommy's little Acorn. I say Acorn only occasionally because it's funny how I don't really even associate her with my awful pregnancy. Acorn was her...and yet the two events just seem so far removed from each other. Pregnancy = awful. Kaia = great! During the day if she's been napping for awhile, I almost miss holding her and want her to wake up just so I can look in her big blue eyes.

I can't wait to see what the next 6 weeks of having her home will bring. Hopefully real smiles (that other people think are real too!) and maybe a giggle. Maybe some more sleep at night? (Pretty please!) Halloween costumes (I finally have a kid to dress up!!!)

Thank goodness you're you Kaia. You've been home 6 weeks and I can't imagine life without you.

Love you, my baby girl.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The song that doesn't end...

Home 5 weeks

I don't get it. I just don't. Crazy scary things just keep popping up in our lives and I'm not sure how much more I can take.

It started last Sunday morning. It was the last day before Brian had to go back to work after being off since Kaia came home. I was understandably a little nervous about having to fly solo. It was a HUGE help having Brian at home, especially with Kaia's (ongoing) feeding issues and multiple doctor's appointments (11 appointments for her since she's been home: 2 with the lactation consultant, 2 weight checks back at the hospital, 3 with the pediatrician, 1 ROP eye exam, 1 orthopedic hip exam which greatly upset us, 2 ultrasounds, one on her head and one on her hip, and she has another orthopedic appointment down at the children's hospital on Tuesday).

Anyway, Sunday morning I get up and walk Kaia down to her room to change her. As I zip open her sleep sac, I notice that her legs look funny. Although she is still strapped into her harness her legs are no longer in the 'froggy' position that the orthopedic surgeon put her in after (PAINFULLY) popping her hip back into position. Nope...her legs are now in the same position that they had been in for 7 weeks. In short...her hip was once again dislocated.


I was understandably upset, and started to think about Kaia having to go through having her hip reduced (PAINFULLY) AGAIN...and....

my heart started to feel funny....

really funny...

like it was fluttering and not beating like it should.

I tried taking my pulse in my carotid artery in my neck, and it didn't feel strong. It felt kind of slow and weak. I started to feel dizzy and had to sit down. Then my legs and arms started to feel kind of numb. I told Brian I had to go lie down. He went to get me a glass of juice and I started to feel like it was hard to breathe. Brian asked if I thought I needed an ambulance and I said yes. So we called one. The dispatcher on the phone asked him if he could find my pulse and later Brian told me he thought my pulse seemed kind of slow (my normal heart rate is > 90 resting due to my heart condition). He must have sounded upset on the phone because not one but two ambulance crews arrived within minutes.

While Brian was on the phone with the dispatcher I started to feel a little better and by the time the ambulance crew showed up, I felt I could breathe a little easier and my heart seemed to have returned to a more normal rhythm. They checked me out and although my blood pressure was pretty low (77/56) initially, it improved within a minute or two and I felt okay enough to send them away without going to hospital.

But, as you can imagine, the whole episode freaked me RIGHT THE FUCK OUT. Because although it COULD have been a panic attack (which I have had before and I know from experience can be very scary), it didn't entirely FEEL like a panic attack. The heart rate thing was different. Usually during panic attacks it feels as though your heart is pounding, like you ran up a flight of stairs...this felt like my heart was fluttering...beating quickly, but shallowly, if that makes any sense.

Fortunately I just so happened to have had a cardiac appointment scheduled on Thursday. For anyone who knows me in real life who is reading this, please don't panic. All my tests came back absolutely normal (well not normal of course, they will never be normal...but normal for me). And my cardiologist didn't seem TOO concerned. To 'do something' she decided to get a holter monitor on me (which is like an heart rate monitor that you wear for 24 hours and it monitors your heart rate and rhythm). The results will be available this week. So while it could have been a irregular heart rhythm, which can happen with my particular heart defect, it would also seem very coincidental timing for a person who has never had an irregular rhythm to suddenly have one at that particular time when I was (admittedly) very upset.

After hearing my heart was okay from my cardiologist I started to take stock of my physical body and realized how tense I am. My shoulders are in knots. My lower back is constantly sore. I have an eye twitch. I find it hard to sit still. I find it hard to concentrate. I'm tired. I have come to the conclusion that I need to RELAX. I have been so stressed out for SO long that I am coming to the end of my ability to deal with things. If you've been following along you understand that they last two years have been STRESSFUL. And while coming home with Kaia was wonderful and fulfilling, it has had it's own challenges and pitfalls.

So after realizing this, I resolve that this weekend is going to be relaxing and fun. We have visits scheduled with friends and family. We are just going to chill and enjoy. Brian will be around to help with the night feedings, so I can get a bit more sleep. Sounds good right?

But then our cat gets sick.

Like puking all over the place, not eating or drinking, sick.

So after hoping she would improve today (she didn't) tonight at 6pm Brian takes her to the emergency vet as our regular one isn't open on Sunday. They give her IV hydration and some pain meds, but also tell Brian that she might have an intestinal blockage and if we want it investigated it would be $170 for an x-ray. Then if they found something on the x-ray and surgery was needed that could be in the $2000-3000 range.


We haven't even begun paying off my $2000 hospital stay...we can't afford to pay that much or more for our cat.

Of course, then we feel like awful people. We love our cat. She was our first 'baby'...even before Aidan. She's only 4 years old and deserves to have a healthy long life. She's never even had any issues up until today!

So tonight was the second time in less than 2 weeks that both Brian and I were crying due to fear and sadness and stress of having to cope with one of our 'babies' in pain.

In the end we decided to do the x-ray, which showed no blockages. Our kitty is now resting at home, hydrated from the IV and hopefully feeling no pain after the meds. Our instructions were not to feed her overnight, and if she has no more vomiting to give her some of this special cat food they had us purchase which is more easily digestible. If she's still sick overnight, we're to take her to our regular vet tomorrow. But I really hope she's better...and so does my wallet.

And now I have to go and pump breast milk for the 7th time today, then bottle feed Kaia, then try to sleep and hope that the morning makes everything seem a little bit brighter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Home almost 4 weeks.

Yesterday was our first appointment with the orthopedic surgeon to check out Kaia's hip dysplasia since she has been home.

It did not go well.

I don't think I've mentioned it on here, but the Pavlik harness that Kaia wears to keep her hip in the proper position is a piece of GARBAGE. It is held on by Velcro that DOES NOT WORK. The 'hook' portion of the Velcro is fine, but the 'fuzz' that it's suppose to stick to doesn't hold. You know that sound that really good Velcro makes when it is ripped open? A loud RIIPPPPPP sound? Well the Velcro on Kaia's harness makes a soft 'piff' sound when being opened.

In an attempt to fix this, about two weeks ago Brian decided to take matters into his own hands. To reinforce the harness he went to the fabric store, bought some of the 'fuzz' that Velcro tabs stick to and sewed it to the harness in order to get it to stay on and not 'pop open' every time she moved. It seemed to be working and the harness was at least staying put.

Which would have been great, except that Kaia's hip has NOT been in the correct position and therefore for the last SIX WEEKS that she has been wearing the damn thing it's been doing exactly NOTHING!!!!

That's right folks. My kid's hip is still dislocated and the harness which was supposed to be 'holding it in position' so that the socket could grow around the ball joint of her leg was set up improperly and was literally holding her hip OUT of position this entire time.

The worst part was when the surgeon popped her hip back into place yesterday Kaia seemed to jerk her whole body and then started to SCREAM. And screamed. And cried. For over an HOUR afterwards. Then she was whimpering and crying out every time she would move and wouldn't let us put her down all afternoon. Both Brian and I cried. It was awful. We felt terrible for her and were so afraid she was in a lot of pain. I gave her Tylenol yesterday and over night and thankfully today she seems much better. I hope I NEVER have to see that again. I wanted to kill him after he did it yesterday. It looked so painful and I was angry that he did it without any sort of pain meds or warning to us that it might hurt her.

What is also crazy is that her legs are in a completely different position now that she is in the harness 'properly'. I can't believe we (and all the medical people who have seen her the last 6 weeks) didn't clue into this.

To say we were upset yesterday both watching our child in pain and to hear how badly this whole "Pavlik harness" thing has been screwed up was an understatement. The problem was that when the orthopedic surgeon set her up in the harness initially he told us it would be fine to take her out for baths and to change her clothes. So we did. Lots. We treated her like a normal baby, who just needed to wear a brace over her outfits. No biggie. However, her hip is SO unstable likely the first time we took her out of the harness all those weeks ago her hip dislocated again and was never put back in place. Yesterday he mentioned "oh, well you might want to keep her in the harness at all times for awhile now".


I am very upset that this doctor never came back to check on her in the NICU after applying the harness. That was 6 weeks ago. You think they might have wanted to check it before now. Also now that I understand how unstable her hip is, it's appalling that the orthopedic surgeon never thought to tell us it might be best if she wore the harness 24/7. In this way we'd have to treat her as though she is wearing a cast, not a brace. Braces come off to wash. Casts do not. Kaia's pediatrician was no help either. She's seen Kaia a few times since her discharge from the hospital and could obviously feel that her hip was out of joint. Why she didn't think that was a problem, when the harness is supposed to be holding her hip in joint so it can grow properly is beyond me.

So, I am now pushing for a referral to the children's hospital where I work. Once we get there I hope we will be fitted for a new harness that has working Velcro (although this harness's Velcro might be just fine now that we won't be opening and closing the tabs so often since we won't be taking if off). I also hope that I'll get more clues as to how to care for a kid who is wearing a body harness instead of the absolutely nothing I've been told so far.

Such as: What clothes are best to dress her in? It's going to get cold here soon and she can't really wear pants. Are there any positions she can't lay in? For example, I've been trying to breastfeed her in the cross-cradle hold...but that puts pressure on her hips and legs, so maybe that's not the best idea? In that case, how should I hold her when I (am still attempting) to breastfeed her? Are there any parts of the harness I can remove in order to bathe her? What if she pukes or poops on it? Do I spot clean? With what? How do I monitor her skin integrity under the booties? Are there any worrying symptoms I should be on the look out for? I read on the Internet that you have to watch to make sure she can still move her leg, otherwise this can indicate nerve damage...but her doctor's never told me about this and I'm not sure if it is an issue I need to concern myself with.

I could go on with my list of questions, but I won't. You get the idea. Basically in hospital they put Kaia in the harness and didn't tell me anything else. When I asked if she could come out for baths they said yes. If I can't take her out of the harness EVER then a whole new set of concerns comes up. Which you think an orthopedic surgeon who has been doing this since 1987 would realize...but I guess not.

It's also sad that in addition to all the problems we've had breastfeeding, we've now lost bath time. And cute outfits. And snuggles without a harness in the way.

Kaia, maybe this will one day all seem like a funny memory of 'when you were a baby'...but right now it's really hard. And sad. And stressful. I just want things to be easy for you. Or at least not so hard.

Monday, September 12, 2011

In which I relax about the boob juice

Thanks for all your supportive comments on my last post.

I know I'm doing the best I can. Both Brian and I are. It's just hard when I feel like neither my pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding experience has been the way I envisioned. Breastfeeding was the one biological thing I felt I could 'control' or 'work on'. I couldn't control that my water broke WAY too early. I couldn't control the endless leaking of amniotic fluid. I couldn't control that Kaia was breech and thus I needed a C-section. I couldn't control that she was premature and needed to be in the NICU for 50 days. I can't control that Kaia has hip dysplasia and will be her in harness for months, and may need surgery and casting at some point. I thought breastfeeding was one of those things I could 'decide' on: ie "I've 'decided' to breastfeed". I didn't know Kaia would have a say in it!

On Monday we went back to the lactation consultant. She basically reiterated what we discussed last week: Kaia's latch is fine. She sucks well. She should be able to breastfeed. We should quit finger feeding her. End of story.

However, I continue to feel that Kaia does not get enough milk breastfeeding alone. My evidence is that her diapers aren't as heavy. She doesn't gain weight as well. She doesn't go 3 hours between feeds. She's just irritable from one feed to the next and doesn't sleep well. She doesn't look like her perky self. I'm her mom. I know her.

We were a bit upset and frustrated when we got home from the LC appointment. Lactation consultants are so militant! They are SO gung-ho about breastfeeding that they forget to be practical. While I'm completely on board about breastfeeding and the benefits of breast milk, I couldn't help feel a bit pissed off when I was reading a sign in the LC's office that RANKS the 'best ways' to feed your baby, with exclusively breastfeeding at the top, breast milk in a bottle as second, donated breast milk as third (and where the heck does one get this? Certainly can't pick it up at the corner store!), cow's milk formula as 4th and soy based formulas a distant 5th. How shitty would that make you feel if couldn't (or didn't want to?!) breastfeed and your kid was allergic to cow's milk. Sorry are being fed in the 'worst' way possible. Nice.

The basic truth is that I can't feed Kaia 24-7. Kaia can't breastfeed 24-7. I can't do supplemental feeding at with a tube taped to my boob she doesn't latch well with the tube in the way. Finger feeding is not practical for use on the go (and we have to be on the go a lot as Kaia has a lot of doctor's appointments the next little while). We shouldn't be made to feel like we're failing for feeding our child in a way that makes her happy!

We got home from the lactation consultant appointment and decided that while we are committed to Kaia getting breast milk, we are NOT going to sacrifice her happiness, our sleep, and my stress levels anymore.

So we went and bought a bunch of bottles, a bottle warmer and a microwave steam sterilizer.

I continue to pump, so Kaia continues to get nothing but breast milk, and at each feed that is practical (which is any that are at home) I attempt to breastfeed her first, before giving her a bottle. She seems to suck on the boob for about 15-20 minutes before getting tired and then she gets a bottle of however much she wants afterwards.

And you know what? I'm okay with this. In fact, it's been working quite well. It helped that I checked out the preemie page on babycenter and many moms found that their preemie took a lot longer to learn to breastfeed (if ever), and needed a bottle for longer because they got too tired breastfeeding (exactly what I feel is happening for Kaia!) Because Kaia is now full term baby size (almost 7 lbs!) and is over 'term', it's easy to assume that she should act and be able to do the same things that a full term baby can do. What I have to keep reminding myself is that in gestational weeks 32-40, when normally babies are just relaxing in the womb, chillin' and not having to do much of anything, Kaia had to learn to breathe, learn to eat, keep herself warm, was separated from us, and has had to deal with being in a harness to fix her dislocated hip! That's a lot for one baby. It's amazing that she's doing as well with breastfeeding as she is.

The last two weeks I've felt like such a failure as a mom, and frustrated with Kaia that she won't act like a 'normal' baby. I kept comparing myself to my friend who breastfed her daughter exclusively, and have listened to endless stories from my mother and mother-in-law about the wonderful time they remember having breastfed both their kids. But you know what? None of them are Kaia's mom. They fed full term babies. I have to do what is best for us and for Kaia. As much as it's a lot having to feed her twice (once with the boob, once with the bottle) AND pump, it's worth it to ensure she's A) getting breast milk and all the benefits that entails, and B) that's she happy, healthy and growing well.

We've also started to enjoy one of the perks of non-exclusive breastfeeding. Which is that we BOTH get to feed her. I knew before Aidan or Kaia was born that Brian would be a great dad, but even I'm impressed at how helpful he's been and how great he's been through all our feeding challenges. I don't know that any of the women I'm comparing myself to had the support that I've had. Because they exclusively breastfed they HAD to be the one to feed the baby, and because their babies fed well, they only needed one person. Since Kaia's presented a little more of a challenge, she has involved BOTH her parents in her care, and I refuse to see that as a bad thing. It will be more difficult in a week and a half when Brian goes back to work, but I'll deal with that as it comes. I'm off work for a year, so really...what else to I have to do but feed my kid!

So that's that folks. We're back to Kaia's pediatrician on Friday for a weigh in and I'm actually looking forward to it! My baby's thriving and it's no one's business but ours how that happens.

So there.

Did your breastfeeding experience go the way you planned it? If it didn't how did it make you feel? How did you resolve the issue?