Monday, January 14, 2013

On Being a Working Mom

I want to state this: There is a special place in heaven for moms. Stay-at-home moms get the front row. I am a working mom, by necessity first and choice second. Or is that the other way around?

EDITED TO ADD: One thing I did to create a mommy-is-off-to-work routine is to take a daily self portrait of myself with Harlow. It started on day when the hubs had to be at work early and we sent him a picture of us. Now, it has become routine. See some of our funny creations throughout this post. Keep an eye out for future pictures ... If I am making funny faces, it is because I am trying to imitate Harlow. :) 

Last Thursday marked one month since I had gone back to work after having the baby. I never pictured myself as a stay-at-home mom. A stay-at-home wife, sure ... that is a whole different thing. I kid, sort of. The hubs and I have our budget and lifestyle adjusted to our income, so to take away my income would mean many adjustments. And it isn't something we wanted to do. After the first few weeks of motherhood, I couldn't see myself staying home. (Again, this was not an option, but it is always something that comes up in conversation!)

During my pregnancy and maternity leave, I was often asked if I plan to return to work or what we planned to do. I always said that I am going back and part of me was looking forward to it. I enjoyed my leave. I had my parents here, we did a lot things, I had a lot of help and it was like an eight-week vacation, in some ways.

My leave was eight weeks and toward the end, the hubs asked if I wanted more time off. To be honest, I was looking forward to returning to society. I was looking forward to daily showers (mind you, there was only one day during my leave when I didn't shower!), putting on makeup and some peace and quiet. While I work in a marketing office, it is pretty quiet here. I also looked forward to being able to pee whenever I wanted, being able to eat lunch when I wanted--and take my time doing it--and being able to check my email. While I was home, none of that happened without preplanning.
I strategically came back to work before Christmas because, let's face it, no one really works too hard in December. At least I can ease my way back into the work force and I planned to take off the week of Christmas since her daycare was closed. 

I went back to work on December 10, when little peanut was just about eight weeks. During my last week of leave, I put her in her daycare for two days to get us both adjusted. I got to get a massage and do some clothes shopping and she got her little feet wet in her new schedule.

The first day we dropped her off, I did cry a little bit. But mostly because of what her teacher said. She talked about what miracles and blessing babies are and I thought about how much I loved my little one. And I teared up. Then we got outside and the hubs and I high-fived each other. 

I started back at work on a Monday, which kind of sucked. But I got up, put on some dress pants and a new shirt, did my hair, put on makeup and headed out to my carpool. I was excited and eager to get my day started. One thing that made it easy was that I didn't have to drop Harlow off at daycare. If I did and then went into work, that may have changed things. The hubs did the honor and I spent a little extra time saying good bye. In fact, she may even have been sleeping when I left.

Upon my return, I was often asked if it was hard. I am still asked this. All day, I missed her but felt no guilt for being away from her. I knew that she was in good hands and that she would have a better life if I was at work. Whenever she needs anything, she will have it. Because I recognized that I am not cut out to stay home, she will also have a mom who is sane and relaxed. I don't have a super stressful job, I work for a great company and with great people. Coming back wasn't hard. And I felt guilty about that. I felt guilty that I didn't feel guilty. Does that make sense?

When people ask me how hard it was to go back, I tell them it wasn't hard at all. And I think that it shocks most people. Don't get me wrong, I miss my girl. A LOT. I have pictures of her and flip through my phone to see more pictures of her and to watch the silly videos I took of her. But I am happy to have the break, to be able to use the bathroom and to eat. I am happy to contribute to a job I enjoy and bring home a paycheck. Let's face it: Stay-at-home moms are SEVERELY under paid!

Sure, I may miss milestones. It may not have been her first smile ever, but I will get to see her smile for the first time. It may not be her first step ever or hearing her very first word, but I will get to experience all of those milestones for a first time.

Being a working mom isn't the end of the world for our family, it was a decision and a choice that is best for our family. And something that is happening successfully because I have a supportive partner. Partner being the key word.  We each have our roles, we have designated days on who wakes up during the night (hubs, if she gets up), who gets up with her at 5 a.m. (me), who gets her dressed (hubs), who drops her off (Mon-Thurs., hubs; Fri., me), who picks her up (Mon-Tues, hubs; Wed-Fri, me). This is what is working for us, for now. I am sure it will adjust and change as times goes on. And the hubs doens't always work his normal schedule. There are weeks where I have to do all of the above tasks because he goes in to work at 2 a.m.

Working and being a breast-feeding mom aren't the easiest of challenges, but they are manageable. It takes flexibility, creativity and patience.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Labor, Delivery and Recovery Gown Reviews

When packing my hospital bag, I packed FOUR gowns, I had a few options for labor, delivery and recovery.  There were a few reasons, namely I didn't like the idea of a previously worn gown. I didn't know if someone gave birth in it, someone had surgery in it or anything else in it. Plus, I wanted to feel a little bit cute. That is very hard when you are swollen, bloody and have your legs up in stirrups. But during recovery, it was nice to at least wear colors that were flattering.

This was the one, by Posh Pushers, I wore for delivery. I love these gals, too. They are moms themselves who created a product that is both cute and functional. Both of which are necessary during labor, as you pretty much have nothing else left other than to at least look cute. Their gowns had back snap closures and shoulder snaps for nursing ease and skin-to-skin immediately after birth. They thought of everything!

I also brought this gown along, the Birthing Gown. I didn't wear this one at all for two reasons: 1. It was too nice for me to "mess up" with birth fluids. 2. Afterward, I would have worn it, but it was too open in the back and didn't have snaps or a way to close/cover myself up. I do plan on finding someone to sew it up for me me tho and I plan on using this as an everyday pajama.

For my recovery and first day post-partum, I wore this gown from Dear Johnnies.  This gown had back Velcro closures and shoulder snaps for nursing and skin-to-skin. I coordinated it with some light blue fuzzy socks and my look was complete.

I brought, but didn't wear this sassy frock by Pretty Pushers. As I noted in my birth story, the back of this gown didn't work for accessibility for checks and for the epidural. Although it was open in the front, I appreciated the gowns that were open in the back--not that it needed to be, but when they would roll me over for changing the bed pads and roll me from side to side for getting the baby to move, the gown would have been more of hindrance than a help. However, if labor was progressing quikcly and you were going more au natural, this would be a great choice.

Note: I was given all of these gowns as samples to use and consider for inclusion in Las Vegas Woman magazine and my blog. However, all reviews and opinions are that of my own.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Baby Flobee's Birth Story, part 3

 You can read parts 1 and 2 here and here.

We last left off at 7 a.m., but with most labors, things started to slow down after the epidural. But it was all good because I was in no pain and started to take small naps since I had no pain. The feeling was numbness, from the hips down. Mostly in my toes, I couldn't feel anything in the toes. Since my water broke, and there was a LOT of fluid, the nurses had to keep changing the bed pads under me.

They had to roll me to one side, lift of the pad, roll me to the other side, lift up the pad and then I had to try to lift up my butt to get it out. That was always funny ... I tried to make light of everything because you don't have much else during this time. Throughout the day, the nurses would move me from side to side to get the baby to move into a better position. And they also had me wear an oxygen mask for precautions. It wasn't comfortable, but the more oxygen I had, the more the baby had. (I am sure there were other reasons and maybe they were kept from me!)

I will say that every person who came into the room commented on my gown, "Is that your own gown?" "When did the hospital get new gowns?"

At 9:45 a.m. I was 5 centimeters only and they checked with my midwife about starting Pitocin to  get things moving. At this point, the cervical checks were welcome and not a problem because I couldn't feel a thing! At 11:15 a.m., I was 6 centimeters, the contractions were stronger and two minutes apart, but I still couldn't feel anything. I was still resting comfortably.

Around noon my midwife came in to check on me and said to up the Pitocin level around 1 p.m. I am still comfortable and now recognizing my contractions on the monitor. They were not as strong and as regular as they wanted them to be, but we were still making progress. At 2 p.m., they came back to check me and I was 9 centimeters.

Something hit me at this point (why at this point I don't know!) that there is no going back. There was no going back 39 weeks ago, to be honest, but I started to get emotional and cry. I was wondering what kind of mom I would be, I was thinking back on my life up until this point without having a little baby, how my life would be ... it was just a whole mess of emotions at this point.

I was also giving myself shots of the epidural when all of the sudden an alarm went off! YIKES! My epidural had run out. That is the worst thing imaginable. They called someone to come and refill it, they did and all was well again. Until the alarm went off again! I was so worried it was too late and I was stuck without my dream drug. I wasn't. They fixed it. 

At 3 p.m., the nurse came in and did another check and said, "Oh the baby is right there. Let's call Angela." I knew that any minute we would start the pushing and I'd be a mom any time now. Angela came in and around 3:30 p.m. we started pushing. They would give me up to three hours to push, but in my head I thought it would take like five minutes ...

All day the nurse kept saying, "Wow this is going to be a big baby. This may be a 10 pounder. Wow, I hope you can get this baby out." So in my head I knew that we were in for a challenge, well we knew that all along.

The nurses "teach" you how to push, this is where the epidural is NOT a good thing: I could barely feel anything. Yet alone how to bear down and push like I am having a bowel movement. My legs, or as I called them "sausages" were feeling realllllly heavy. I was supposed to hold my knees back and keep my elbows out and push with the contractions. The hubs had one leg and my mom helped to hold the other. I started to feel some pains on the left side, so I knew when the contractions were coming.

The hubs was coaching me to push, which was great for maybe the first of the three-push cycle. I was getting distracted. Focusing isn't my strong point. While pushing, they could see and feel Flobee's head, which was covered in hair. At one point they offered to pull her out by the hair. Haha. I couldn't get all three pushes in each cycle to be effective. One was good and two weren't, so it was one step up and three back. at 4 p.m., the doctor came in ....

I knew that he'd be there in the event we needed a C-section. I could see him and Angela looking at each other after almost an hour of pushing. He then got in front of me and tried his luck too. And then he nodded to Angela. I thought, "oh no! here it is ... the C-section."

Now, let me state this: I was ready, willing and able for whatever needed to happen for a safe and healthy delivery. I didn't want a C-section only for two reasons: diabetics have a harder time recovering from injury or surgery and hubs only had two weeks off, I didn't want to spend five of 14 days in the hospital. I wanted to be home with all of us.

They offered me the vacuum. I pictured "whooooooozzzzzzzzzzzz sshshshshshsshsshhhhhhhhh plop" and a Dyson wand or something. They told me they can vacuum and the worst that would happen is the head would be a bit cone shaped, but that happens with a vaj delivery sometimes anyway. I asked for one more chance to push, but I was spent. I couldn't do it even with one more push. In the instant I said "OK," a team of about 10 or 12 were in the room with the tools needed and I got to sit out one more contraction. I still had to push, even with the vacuum. My legs were propped up, the nursery nurses were there telling hubs what would happen (the golden hour: skin-to-skin, nursing-- unless anything was wrong and they needed to further examine the baby). I was prepared either way: for the golden hour or for them to take the baby away because I am diabetic and we knew there could be blood sugar problems.

I felt the next contraction coming, I did my first series of counting to 10, then a second and a third. They told me to keep going and on the 5th time I felt some sharp pains in my stomach and could feel this little life being pulled from inside of me. And just like that, there was a baby on my stomach.

I didn't think to ask what it was, I was just in shock. I couldn't believe that we had done it, that there was no C-section and there was this big baby with a full head of black hair right there. When we did ask, "What is it?" Angela said "It's a toddler!" She said that she wanted me to see what it was, they peeled back the towel and there was my little Harlow. It's a girl. I cried happy tears. The hubs cried and kissed me. My mom cried and kissed me and then everyone left to go make phone calls! Ha, welcome to 2012.

 My fluffy peanut ... she was so puffy with fluids, too. We knew she had hair from the ultrasounds, but were not expecting her to come out with a wig on!
She didn't cry right away and I heard the nursery nurse say, "We need to take her. Her sugar is 33." They toweled her off, weighed and measured her while I delivered the placenta (that was more painful than birth!) and then I did get some time with her before they took her to NICU for a feeding. Her first meal came from a bottle and was formula. It was needed in this case for her sugar and I didn't care, as long as she was tended to. And she was, her daddy took care of her.

Meeting my girl. 
I stayed in L&D for about 2 1/2 hours and until the epidural wore off. She was in NICU for about three-four hours.

Part of post-partum recovery is being able to pee on your own. Twice.The first time I went, I asked the nurse to come with me. Good thing or someone would have had to pick me off of the ground like a heads-up coin. Some blood clots gooped out and I almost passed out. Oh, I guess I should have inserted a "TMI, this will be gross" warning. Consider this your warning. Blood clots happen, you still leak fluids and I was as puffy as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I didn't end up taking any more pain meds, not even once. I didn't find the recovery to be painful at ALL! I did not like the post-delivery uterus compressions, but even that wasn't so bad.

Harlow Olivia was born at 5:02 p.m. weighing in at 9 lbs., 5 oz. and was 22 inches long. I had almost two feet of baby inside of me. 

So that takes us up to about 8 p.m. on October 17. We stayed in the hospital for 46 hours after her birth. We were spoiled, I loved being served three meals a day, I loved having a few visitors, I loved being waited on, I loved having help with the baby and I loved the relaxation; the calm before the storm.

All in all, I have a GREAT delivery. I was very lucky because it could have ended up awful. But my team and the medical team did a great job working together to make it smooth and pain free. Being diabetic and pregnant is not easy, so I am very grateful! The staff at Centennial Hills Hospital is AMAZING. They made the experience so great. My midwife, Angela DeTie of Women's Specialty Care, is a lifesaver. She was fantastic and I wish I could still schedule monthly appointments to go see her! 

Baby Flobee's Birth Story, part 2

Part 1 of this saga can be found here. 

After getting into my designer gown and getting into the hospital bed, it was time for the Cervadil insert. What is Cervadil?

From the Cervadil website: Cervidil® vaginal insert (dinoprostone, 10 mg) is approved to start and/or continue the ripening of the cervix in pregnant women who are at or near the time of delivery and in whom there is a medical reason for inducing, or bringing on, labor.
Once inserted (it is like a sandpapery tampon with small spikes), you have to stay in bed for two hours. Cervadil can remain for 12 hours, some people work on one cycle and some need two. Imagine, 24 hours with nothing happening? That didn't happen to me.

At 1 a.m., they started an IV drip with fluids and my blood sugar was 100. I was monitoring my own sugar, although the staff did take their own readings here and there. No insluin was given through the IV, I was still doing all of that on my own.

At 1:45 a.m. my Cervadil was inserted after a cervical check. If you have never had one of those ... brace yourself. If you never though it was possible for a hand to go into your vaj and come out your ears, ask for a cervical check. I was 2 centimeters dilated, 70 percent effaced and -2 station. And that was the official start of labor.

During this time, I started having some stomach cramps. The same cramps I had for a week or two prior. Usually in the morning, when the cramps came, I would use the restroom and go about my day. Stomach cramps = a poop. I didn't think anything of it until I told her nurse I felt like I had to poop. And they showed me the contractions on the monitor! Who knew!?! I heard contractions were so awful and that you know when you are having them. To me, they felt like that stomach pain when you have food poisoning and then you go to the bathroom. Uncomfortable, but not awful.

The contractions were getting stronger and I couldn't tell them apart. To me, they felt like one long, constant contraction. The lights in the room were dimmed and we were told to rest. The hubs brought a lawn chair cushion (see related: hospital bag) and my mom was resting on the hospital chair-bed. I, however, could not sleep. It was also the middle of the night so I couldn't really text anyone either.

At 3:45 a.m., I had another cervical check. My cervix was soft (good sign!) and I was about 3 centimeters. I started to dilate while on the Cervadil, which doesn't always happen. I was also getting the shakes at this point, which happens with an epidural, so not sure why they were happening to me at this point. I started to feel contractions in my back and my butt and continued to feel like I had to poop.

After my two hours in bed were up, I did in fact go to the bathroom. Of course, I was allowed to eat but was not at all hungry. Figured.

At 4:15 a.m. they started the Penicillin drip for the Group B strep, this is a normal and common thing for a lot of women. They suggest three rounds of this to protect the baby from catching the virus and they give it to you every four hours. It buuuuuurrrrrrrns. Whew! That was uncomfortable. I still had no sleep ... between the contractions and the nurse visits I wasn't getting any shut eye.

I was warned that when I asked for the epidural, it would take about an hour so to not wait until I can't take the pain. I knew it was time to ask for it when the hubs and my mom started talking and I said, "Let's all just stop talking right now."

I am not one for pain. I am grateful for the person who invented this delightful drug. I am in awe by the women who are strong enough to have a natural childbirth, but that was never a consideration for me. At 5:30 a.m., I asked for the epidural and continued to breathe until the anesthesiologist arrived. He came in around 6:15 a.m. and started to get ready. I am not going to lie, I was a bit scared for the epi, but also knew it was more of a pinch/bee sting feeling. Even still, I made sure to not look at the needle!

They did a cervical check when I asked for the epidural and had progressed to 5 centimeters, so they removed the Cervadil. Because I was going so fast, we thought the baby would be there by noon! Ha, not so much.

The nurse walked me through how to sit, how to hold my hands and how to grab onto the hubs' hands if it hurt. The key is to remain still. Yea ... ok! So at 6:25 a.m., I sat up on the bed, started to get into position and felt this pop inside of me and a warm gush down my back. Remember how I was writing about the feeling of needing to poop? Yea, I was pretty sure I just crapped myself.

The hubs was sitting next to me and this is where our marriage vows were tested. I told him what I thought happened:
Me: I think that I just crapped myself. Can you look?
Hubs: What? No. I am not looking.
Me: Please? I think that I just pooped. I am going to lean over and you take a looks.
Hubs: {reluctantly looks around my side} No, you didn't poop. Ok? Gawd.
Me: Then I pee'd myself. Hey everyone, I think that I just pee'd on myself. Or my water broke?
Nurse: {looks where I was sitting} No, you didn't pee your water broke!

So at 6:25 a.m., I had a spontaneous rupture as they like to call it. I call it, "So glad I didn't crap myself. That will come later."

Mr. Anesthesiologist started then to do his thing around 6:30 a.m. after yelling at the nurses. The dosage is based off of your weight. Ahem. And they didn't put my weight on the papers. Well, they did but it was in kilograms I believe. So we had to convert it. Finally, I just shouted it out. One-hundred-twenty. Haha, I am kidding, that is sooo not what it was, I think that I gained 120 pounds. So here we go ... a little pinch and I thought I was done. It felt like nothing, I've placed my insulin pump more painfully than the epidural before. Oh, wait, it's not done? Crap. Pinch, ouch, flinch. I did jump just a little bit, but remained still and had almost immediate relief.

Remember the whole "let's not talk anymore" comment? Well, I was fine and joking again within 15 minutes. It was amazing. With the epi, you get to give yourself additional doses if it starts to wear off! It is placed with a special tube with flags on it so as not to be moved or removed. They drape it over the front of you and give you specific direction to make sure the flags are always in sight. No pressure or anything.

So it is now 7 a.m., I am 5 centimeters, the Cervadil is out and the epidural is in. Life is good ...

Part three ...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Baby Flobee's Birth Story, Part 1

Well, it's only been close to three months since Baby Flobee was born, so I figured it was time to write down the birth story. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that the baby is here and it was a girl. But here is how she got here.

Our 38-week appointment was October 10, 2012. My midwife said that she would schedule an induction (you can't induce before 39 weeks without medical necessity) for October 17 (39 weeks) and if Flobee arrived before then, all the better. She offered to strip my membranes, but I declined. I was more scared of going into spontaneous labor than being induced.

Before I go any further, I'd like to say this: The story of my birth include decisions that were the best for me and may not be the best for anyone else. Some of the choices I made for labor, delivery and Flobee's first few hours are choices that some may frown upon. Everyone has to do what is best for them, and that is what we did. No judging, please.

Why was I afraid of spontaneous delivery? It would hurt. I knew that I would want an epidural and thought that if I labored at home, maybe it would go too far and I would miss the chance to get one. Both my mom and sister had early and quick deliveries with their first and second babies. I thought maybe the same would happen for me. My sister birthed BOTH children drug free. And I think that she judged me just a little bit when I said I was not going drug free. But at 37 weeks, my baby was already 8 pounds.

I didn't create a birth plan. Why? Well, I knew that as a diabetic, there was a good chance I would end up with a C-section because the baby would be big or my induction would fail. I am very proud of what I accomplished in pregnancy and that I carried Flobee to 39 weeks. I am also glad that we didn't allow me to stay pregnant past 39 weeks because I think that the birth story would be a whole different can of worms if we did.

My last day of being pregnant was October 16. It is kind of weird knowing that you are going to be pregnant that day and in a few hours you have to go to the hospital and you aren't leaving without a baby. Another good thing about induction: they don't send you home when you come in 1 cm dilated.

Before going in, we grabbed something to eat because I didn't know when my next meal would come. Low and behold, you could eat, walk, use the bathroom, etc. until you get an epidural. Then you are stuck to the bed. But, once they give you cervadil, you can't move for two hours.

Waiting to go in for an induction is kind of like taking a red-eye flight. You are all packed, you are excited, showered, dressed and ready, but you sit and wait until almost midnight. I couldn't go in before midnight because I wasn't technically 39 weeks. I couldn't wait anymore and started packing up the car just around 10:30 p.m., said good bye to my pets and my house as I knew it because I wasn't coming home until my belly deflated and a baby was in my arms. 

Our "last supper" included a trip to the Raising Cain's drive-through. Chicken, fries and a Coke Zero for me. We sat in the hospital parking lot until we finished and then grabbed our stuff and headed in.

As far as the "hospital bag," we packed too much stuff. You never knew what state you are going to be in, so better safe than sorry, but it took us two trips up and about six trips out of the hospital. I will save the packing list for another time.

So, we arrive and check in. There were a few families eagerly awaiting arrivals in the waiting room. It was kind of cool to see that anticipation and excitement, since the only people who were waiting were going to be in the room with me: the hubs and my mom.

We check in, give our cord blood banking box to the nurses and get taken to the L&D room. At Centennial Hills, you labor, deliver and recover in the same room. After the epidural wears off you are taken to a post-partum room and that is where you stay until you leave.

We were taken to our room and I was led to a scale. OUCH! My final weight was ... a LOT! Yikes, I had gained about a pound a day since my 38-week appointment. Luckily, it was all fluid. More on that in another post. 

If you know me personally, you know that I like all things makeup, beauty and fashion related. So it would be no surprise that I had my own labor, delivery and recovery gowns. There is something about a used gown that kind of skeeves me out, even though they are washed, etc. When I arrived, a gown and socks were sitting on the bed for me. but I had other plans.

Nurse: Here is your gown and socks.
Me: Well I kind of have my own gown to wear.
Nurse: Is it open in the back? It should be so we can easily perform checks and you can get your epidural.
Me: {pulling out this gown to show them. Hey, I wanted to be cute}. I have this sassy one, and coordinating socks.
Nurse: The socks need to have grips on them or you can't wear them.
Me: Oh, I have socks with grips. I have a pair to match each gown.
Nurse: Well, that gown isn't full open in the back so it won't really work. Here, put ours on.
Me: But wait! There's more. I have two actual hospital gowns with snaps in the back and on the shoulders.
Nurse: {the look on her face was a bit of bewilderment, surprise, delight and disgust}.
Me: I will go change now.
My mom: You're a real piece of work.

So I dressed into my own gown, with coordinating socks with the grips, and hoped into the hospital bed.

Part two to follow ... I just don't want this to be too long and you lose interest. Because labor, delivery and birth stories have you glued to the edge of your seat.