Monday, September 17, 2012

That Mama Feeling...Or Not...

When I was pregnant, I had daydreams about having the perfect birth and that insta-connection of feeling like a mama the minute my baby boy was handed to me. I mean, you see in every birth show and movie where a baby is born that the little bundle is placed in mama's arms and she instantly nurses her baby who is eager to find that breast, and the new family has this glow of happiness. Suffice it to say, I didn't have that by a long shot. Birth and being a new first-time mom was pretty complicated due to my fractured ankle (I feel on a messed up piece of sidewalk downtown resulting in the injury) was wearing a giant walking boot that went up to my knee and the traumatizing events of the after-birth. My labor itself was simple, quick, and I stuck to my birth plan of no epidural; that's pretty much the only part that was so simple though. As he crowned, the cord was tight around J's neck and I was yelled at to stop pushing. After delivery, J wasn't crying and didn't for a full five minutes, the scariest time of my life. I had torn in 2 places and the OB was stitching me up as I was craning my neck to try and see what was happening with my eerily quiet baby boy where many nurses and doctors were working on him. Just like in a nightmare I had quite often during my pregnancy, my baby boy was whisked away to the nursery instantly for observation, because his breathing was too shallow and his first APGAR score was only a 6 because of his lack of oxygen at birth. I pleaded with my nurse to let the nursery know that I wanted to nurse my baby and didn't want him getting any artificial nipples, or formula.

As people rushed into the recovery room to visit me, I didn't have my baby with me and visitors told me they saw him in the nursery and that he was beautiful. I truly didn't feel like a mom and life postpartum was not glorious. I was sore, bleeding more so than I should have been so nurses and doctors kept showing up in the room to check me, had extremely high blood pressure, and was so exhausted. I didn't feel like a new mom since I didn't have my beautiful baby in my arms or beside my bed in a bassinet; I felt like someone who had just fought a big battle and lost. I actually missed being pregnant at that time because at least when J was in my belly, I could feel him and he was all mine.

A couple of hours later, a nurse showed up in my room and briskly told me, "You need to feed him now. His blood sugar has dropped dangerously low," as if that wasn't pressure enough for a brand new mom, she roughly pulled my breast out of the gown, jammed it in the baby's mouth and asked, "You know what it sounds like when the baby swallows milk?" I told her I learned in the breastfeeding class that it should sound like a soft "c" and proudly said I thought I heard that. Her response was, "No, you didn't. He didn't swallow a thing and his blood sugar is probably lower." The nurse then asked my husband to step out of the room and informed him that the baby would be hooked up to an IV for glucose unless they gave him a bottle of formula since he got nothing from my breast. Of course, as a new dad, he didn't want the little guy on an IV so he gave the go-ahead. When dh returned and told me this, I burst into tears. I knew that this could cause nipple confusion and that the baby should at least get the formula through a medicine syringe or dropper because I had done my research during pregnancy. At two in the morning, I learned that J was on an IV for hypoglycemia in the Special Care Nursery, and that I was required to supplement with formula after each attempt of nursing in the SCN unless he fed for a full 15 mins per side. I was told that otherwise, my colostrum would not be enough for J as he was a bigger baby (8 lbs 6 oz) with hypogylcemia (low blood sugar). As most would guess, this would be only one of many obstacles with my unsuccessful breastfeeding journey.

For my two day hospital stay, I did hobble to the SCN every 3 hours to attempt nursing J prior to the nurses taking him away and bottle feeding him. I also rented the Medela Symphony pump to try and stimulate my milk to come in sooner rather than later. That walk to the SCN was a lengthy one (ironically it was just down the hallway and around a corner) because of the fact that I had the walking boot, crutches, and a very sore lower end.

Seeing the baby I had carried in the isolettte, hooked up to so many monitors broke my heart and I felt that something I had done during pregnancy must have caused this. It was even worse seeing the nurses prick his little foot with the blood sugar tester before each feeding since he was so small and defenseless, always crying each time.

I was released from the hospital one day before J which was one of the worst parts of new motherhood for me; going home that night without the child I had carried inside of me for 9 months just made me felt empty. My sister told me just to enjoy the very last night of sleep I would get for awhile, but I didn't sleep. I stayed up, pumping every 2 hours and eventually cried myself to sleep.

First thing in the morning the very next day, my husband and I rushed to the hospital so that we could spend the day with J in the parents' room of the SCN. We were told that we could take J home with us that day because J was able to maintain his own blood sugar without the glucose drip over night, which was the happiest moment we had since all that had occurred three days prior to that. I very proudly dressed J in his going home outfit, and got him set up in the carseat so that we could leave the place where I felt all my dreams had been dashed in a few hours time.

I wish I could say that from then on it was all sunshine and roses, but it wasn't. I had a lot of challenges and one of the big ones was postpartum depression, which I talked about here:

It did get much better, though, and I truly do love being a mom. Yes, I do get extremely sad when I think about this time of my life and J's birth, and still wonder what I could have done differently during pregnancy and labor to protect J from everything he went through as a newborn. And yes, I did cry while writing this blog to my readers, but that which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger and I've needed to do this for awhile.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wool Care

Since I've done a blog about my nighttime diapering, I thought now would be a good time to explain about how to care for wool. I wanted to wait until I actually needed to wash and lanolize my wool so that I could include pics, thus making it easier to understand my explanations.

Trust me, I know that if you've never used wool it is an intimidating idea. Heck, I avoided it for a long time because I was afraid of it! But I promise, once you get the hang of washing and lanolizing your wool it is such a breeze. First you need to gather your supplies:

                                          Wool Wash, Lanolin, and Mild Baby Shampoo             
I do have to confess that I use liquid lanolin. A lot of people buy a tub of the solid one and melt it themselves, but I chose a slightly easy/lazy route. It makes for one less step, and it is made by Sudz N Dudz, which some cloth diaper retailers sell.

Next, you want to rinse the wool. Rather than running it under running water you will want to fill a bucket, tub, or bowl with luke warm water. Water temp is important because if it is too hot, you can shrink the wool. Then add the wool in and just gently push it up and down with your hand like so:

Once the wool is rinsed, it is time to add the wool wash. I remove the soaker from the bowl, dump the water, refill with water, add the soap and suds it up, then add in the soaker. Once again, I gently pump the soaker up and down. Then I let it just sit there in the sudsy water for about 15 minutes.

And after the soaking is done, once again it is time to rinse but this time you will need to empty the bowl, rinse it out a bit, then add in water and move the soaker up and down until you don't see any more bubbles in it. Now you have a nice clean wool soaker, which isn't really waterproof til it has been lanolized!

Don't worry...lanolizing is simple, especially if you use liquid lanolin like I do! You'll want to make sure the bowl still has nice clean warm water in it and squirt a pea size amount of lanolin. You'll find it tends to just float in a few spots in the bowl.

That is where the baby shampoo comes into play; you need to emulsify the lanolin, which means that the shampoo binds to the lanolin and spreads it evenly throughout the water. When you do that, it'll help coat the soaker a little more evenly. You add in some squirts of shampoo and swirl the water until you see it turn a milky white color.

At this point, I turn my soaker inside out in order to get more of a lanolin coating on the inside, which is where it makes more sense to have all the lanolin to prevent leaks. Then all you need to do is add in the wool and if it floats up, you can weigh it down with a heavy mug! 

As far as how long to lanolize, I prefer to do that overnight and find that I don't need to lanolize again for a couple of months. When I did once lanolize for only half an hour, I started getting leaks 2 weeks later. After however long you decide to leave your wool in the lanolin, you need to let the wool dry. Be warned that the wool will take in a lot of liquid so it is best to roll it between a towel and step on it to really press out as much water as possible. I forgot to get pictures of myself doing this but I know that if you google The Gnome's Mom blog, you'll be able to find even more info on wool and pics of how to dry it. Once you have pressed out the excess water, the wool can be left out to air dry and in my experience, that can take a few days. I like to flip it after 12 hours, turn it rightside in after another 12 hours, then flip again after 12 hours so that air gets to all parts of it. 

I really hope that this blog helps anyone considering investing in some wool. Happy diapering!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Early Intervention, here we come!

I've been wanting to blog about early intervention for awhile but kept coming up with other topics that I was posting instead. This is truly important to me, though, as J is in early intervention and other families could benefit with some knowledge of how the system works.

When J was 12 months old, I knew that he was not hitting milestones he should be hitting. At that age, he couldn't go up on hands and knees on his belly, couldn't pull himself from sitting to standing, couldn't crawl (although many babies skip that milestone now), couldn't cruise, couldn't go from belly to sitting, from back to sitting, and couldn't roll. For months I was just telling myself that J was focusing on his fine motor skills because he was advanced in terms of fine motor. However, I finally had to accept that he really was not where he should be developmentally. So at his 12 month checkup, I mentioned this to his new pediatrician, Dr.H, and she said that he does appear to be gross motor delayed and that I should have him evaluated. After a thorough exam, Dr H said that J has low trunk tone (meaning he doesn't have developed strength in his trunk that he should and that if the evaluation shows him to be severely delayed in gross motor skills, that he should be entitled to physical therapy through early intervention.

Shortly after that well visit, I did call early intervention and arranged an appointment for an evaluation at my home. Of course there is a waiting list so it was another month before J was evaluated. Because his issue was stated to be a gross motor one, there were both a physical therapist and a special education teacher present. It was an evaluation of J overall: fine motor, gross motor, speech, adaptive (self-feeding, dressing, etc), social, emotional, etc. Basically the entire thing was done in the form of play and imitation. At the end, J was found to be advance socially, emotionally, verbally, and with fine motor (he was listed at the age of 14-15 months for those areas) but at the level of a 7 month old for gross motor development. The physical therapist gave me some exercises to work on with J in order to help him make some progress with his gross motor development: they included exercises to strengthen his trunk and help him learn to side step so that he could start to cruise.

The next step in early intervention is an IFSP meeting which occurred about 2 weeks after the evaluation. During that meeting, there was a coordinator present as well as the two people there who evaluated J, and myself. First, we set goals that we would like to see achieved by the end of 6 month's time. Then, the coordinator looked at mine and hubby's most recent income tax return to determine the cost of services, which for us is nothing because our income is so low. About one month after the IFSP meeting, a physical therapist (in this case it was the same one who evaluated J) called to arrange our dates and times for physical therapy (PT).

It was decided that for the summer months, J would have his PT every Saturday morning at 8 AM. Early intervention occurs in our home so that J is in an environment that he knows. PT always happens in the form of play, although of course J does whine when expected to do things that he doesn't want to. Not to mention, one hour of PT is exhausting for a little one. I must say that since starting PT, J has progressed a lot. A month after I started the exercises with him, J starting cruising with furniture and could hold himself up on his hands and knees for at least 5 minutes at a time (he couldn't do it for that length of time initially). After two months, J progressed from walking holding onto 2 hand of another person to walking holding just one hand of said person. At the age of 15 months, J took his first steps and now, almost 3 weeks later he walks all over the place on his own; at the moment he does it with a wide stance and 2 hands out in front of himself like Frankenstein but these were all things he could not do at the age of 12 months. Recently, J figured out how to roll both ways when on the floor and can also sit himself down from a standing position. If not for the PT, my husband and I know that J would not have progressed like this and we are glad that we called early intervention. Apparently, a lot of parents do not even if their pediatrician recommends it, and we are both at a loss as to why parents would deny their child this opportunity. We are both glad that he will be up to par with his peers by the time he is in preschool.

Early intervention is available in every county from the ages of birth to 3 months. PT is not the only type of early intervention offered. Children may receive speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc., all depending on the child's needs. If you think your child may benefit from early intervention or the pediatrician recommends an evaluation, don't turn your nose at it. Early intervention is a wonderful thing!

An Apology to My Readers

I am truly sorry for going MIA for so long! I ran into a hectic couple of weeks. First off, I was housesitting for people with a very large house and 2 dogs for 10 days. Then, J started walking. Any mama or nanny of a toddler knows what that time to do anything other than chasing the tot around :) Third, school is going to be starting for me this week.

I promise this, though, I will come up with a blogging schedule for myself so that I blog at least 3 days a week rather than just disappearing constantly.