6 Weeks

Samuel is 6 weeks old today.  I am happy to report that it is getting easier.  That first month was just hard.  So much crying and feeling overwhelmed.  The last couple of weeks have felt better.  I assume that’s due to my hormones leveling back out more, as well as just getting better at caring for a newborn.  I think having to go back to work may have actually helped a little bit too.

There are still moments where I wonder if I am actually holding a little warm baby.  I find myself thinking, “Is this real?  Do we truly have a baby in our house?”  I love him more and more as we continue to bond and learn about each other.  He is so cute and sweet.  I am so excited to see his first real smiles, hear new noises from him, and see his personality come out more and more.  He has recently started making a new “goooh” kind of noise.  I love it.  He still isn’t looking at faces as much as up in the air or at the periphery of things, but he does look at my face sometimes.  I can’t wait for him to stare at me and give me that smile.  He does smile a lot, but it’s not the “real” smiles yet. I want to see that he loves me in these tangible ways.  So far, I just see that he stops crying when I pick him up and that his face/movement changes sometimes when I talk or sing to him, like he is concentrating on listening.

There are times when I am holding and loving Samuel and I suddenly feel a sharp longing for Luke.  I wonder what he would look like at 6 weeks and what his personality would be like.  I miss him.  I also wonder if I think about him enough.  I try to remember to pray for God to give him a goodnight kiss for me and tell him I love him.

After studying Samuel’s face and Luke’s pictures more, I have determined that Samuel and Luke have different ears.  I think Luke has Josh’s ears and Samuel has mine.  But they have the same hair, similar cheeks, and I think a fairly similar nose and lips.  I don’t know about their eyes, never having gotten to see Luke’s:(  Samuel’s eyes are currently a beautiful dark blue.  I wonder what color they will really end up to be.

This morning, I was thinking about going to the local county fair this weekend.  I love that cheesy little fair.  I like to see the baby cows, the millions of kinds of pigeons and rabbits, the homegrown vegetables and flowers… I enjoy having the excuse of it being once-a-year to eat some kind of fried treat.  I have long desired to take a child to it.  Last year, this was a painful thought.  This year, I am hoping to take Samuel.  He will likely just sleep through it this time, but I thought ahead to next year when he will be a year old.  I pictured him reaching out to touch a cow nose.  It overwhelmed me with joy and I burst out in tears.  That will be so amazing to see.

To take him to the fair, I am planning to use his little backpack carrier for the first time. I have always loved those and longed to use one.  I have a Baby Bjorn (from the flea market for $3–I have thoroughly washed it in the washing machine), a Moby wrap and a sling.  I plan to use them all!  So far, I have really only used the sling, but he likes that.  He is over 8 pounds now, which is the weight at which the Baby Bjorn says you can start using it.  I tried putting him in it once around week 2 or 3, just at home, and Josh said he was too little for it and I needed to wait.  I was just excited to use it.  I don’t have a baby scale, but I have been weighing myself on our regular scale, then weighing myself again holding him and deducing the difference.  He weighed 9.6 pounds today, according to that method, which I realize may not be precise.  He is visibly bigger.  He is just starting to be able to wear some of his 0-3 month size clothes, after mostly being in newborn size these first 6 weeks.  I am excited for his “Baby Brother” onesie from my sweet friend Bethany to fit properly.  I plan to post that on FB as a tribute to Luke.

The growth is fun to see and also makes me sad. I don’t want him to get too big too fast.  He is so cute just how he is.  But seeing all that develops will be so fun too.  And I do look forward to some things that seem like they may make life easier: sleeping through the night, eating baby food, playing with toys and entertaining himself… I kind of wonder if God let me have a harder time at the start because He knew how much I longed for my baby to stay small.  Perhaps He needed to give me reasons to look forward to growth.

This is still somewhat of an out-of-body experience.  It is SO time-consuming and demanding that I don’t have much time to ponder on it, but I am dimly aware that life is drastically changed.  I feel like a totally different person.  I am so thankful for him and I am enjoying him.  I also sometimes miss talking to other adults daily and being free to do as I please.  I feel a little tethered to the house right now.  It will be nice when we are able to get out and do more.  I think I am a person who needs a balance of home and out-in-the-world to be mentally healthy.  I tend to get down when I am home in my pjs and/or unshowered for too long.  If I just know that I have to go somewhere later in the day, such as going to see a speech client, then I can relish the quiet time at home until then.  But if I have long stretches at home with nothing upcoming to look forward to or to be responsible to accomplish, I can get lost. I keep a running of list of things I need/want to do and if I’m lucky, I get 1-3 done in a day.  There is laundry that has been in the dryer for days, the fridge desperately needs cleaned out, I desperately need to email some dear friends back, I have 3 pairs of underwear on the bathroom floor that haven’t made it to the hamper yet (this would be normal for Josh, but not for me)… I guess I just have to find my balance.  I keep reading/hearing that around 3 months, several things in baby care get easier.  If so, we are halfway there.  But I am trying to enjoy all the precious moments on the way and not just be always waiting for some upcoming milestone.  I had enough of that during pregnancy!

I hope you all are doing well.   I think of you often and feel better just knowing you are out there in the world, feeling similar things to me.  I can’t wait to see all the rainbows who are coming.  So many blessings on the way:)

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The first rainbow month

Samuel is one month old today.  I intended to write a post called “The First Week” and when I didn’t make that, I thought, okay, “The First 2 Weeks”, and so on… until we are at a month!

I’m a little torn writing this post because I want to just report happy end-of-the-rainbow joys.  And there are those!  But has also been pretty hard.  I read that 70% of women get “baby blues” and something like 10 or 20% go beyond that to have postpartum depression.  Your body goes through crazy hormonal changes after giving birth.  And as reported, you suddenly get a lot less sleep.  And life is drastically different.  In wonderful, magical ways, and also in ways that are also difficult.  I didn’t notice these huge hormonal changes after Luke’s birth because everything was just under the umbrella of grief.  But I have found myself to experience some of the same things after Samuel’s birth, which surprised me.  I had a couple of panic or anxiety attacks the first week.  Once in the hospital where I just couldn’t calm my breathing or stop crying and once at home when Josh woke me from a nap and I just felt panicky and my heart was racing, even though I didn’t know what was wrong.

The first week was the hardest.  I have long desired to breastfeed.  I had pictured it with Luke with feelings of warm fuzzies. I felt tearful during much of the breastfeeding basics class I attended during Luke’s pregnancy because I was just so excited about bonding with my baby in that way.  It was one of the losses I mourned most.  So, naturally, I was excited to do this with Samuel.  But it has been much harder than I anticipated.  I didn’t get to feed him as quickly as all the books say you should after birth, due to the C-section and then an issue with my IV.  So, he was by then too sleepy to really latch properly for much of the hospital stay.  On the first day, his blood sugar was a 47, which is in the normal range but on the lower end (I was told).  One doctor was considering sending him to the special nursery to get fluids through an IV.  This meant they would take him away, which was one of my big fears.  Then another pediatrician came on duty, thought that was overly drastic, and just wanted us to give him some formula.  In comparison, that seemed much better. We agreed to the formula.

That started us on a path of potential nipple confusion/bottle preference, etc., which I am still feeling resentful about. I wish I had been more vocal about my desire to breastfeed and been more forceful about getting to do it within the first hour. But I was just too overwhelmed at the time to think about that. Just getting through the delivery was all I could handle. But, here we are, now on a path of having to supplement with formula every feeding. I keep reading/hearing that supplementing hurts your milk supply, which seems to be true in my case as I don’t seem to have enough yet.

In an effort to continue to improve the breastfeeding, every day 8 times a day, I breastfeed him, then bottle feed him the breast milk I’ve previously pumped, then feed him formula, then pump again. It is a rather lengthy process, lasting from 1 to 2.5 hours altogether with diaper changes and such. When he is supposed to eat every 3 hours (from the start of the last feeding), this doesn’t leave much time in between.

But on the positive, his latch has greatly improved, I’ve gotten better and more comfortable at positioning him, and I’ve decided to ignore some of what I’ve been told about using both hands to hold him firmly in the cross-cradle position to get the  “perfect deep latch” and use the cradle hold whenever I want to, which makes us both more comfortable during the feeding, I think. I’ve also decided to allow myself to shorten the whole process when I need to by offering each breast only once (I was trying to do twice on each always) or taking him off the breast if he is just kinda hanging out there sleepy and not really sucking. So, we’re making some progress.

If it sounds like I’m obsessed with breastfeeding right now, I pretty much am. Sorry if it’s boring. I just want it work so badly. I want all those benefits that it’s supposed to give him. I want it to be much easier. I want to have plenty of milk for him.

So due to these challenges, and the hormones, etc., I have found myself crying and feeling somewhat desperate or overwhlelmed a lot. I don’t want to feel this way, which can lead into also feeling guilty about my feelings. This post from my friend and fellow loss mom Siobhan really helps combat this:

http://job121.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/dear-parenting-after-loss-mama/

Please don’t think it is all negative. I just want to honestly share the continued struggles. If you friends, so many of whom are expecting rainbow babies, have any of these feelings after your child’s birth, I hope this can help you not feel guilty about it. But I hope you don’t. I wish others just the pure joy of the victory that I was hoping for. I’m confused why God thinks I need to continue to struggle during this joy. What are you trying to teach me, Lord? Please help me to get it so that I can just have some simple happy times for a while.

Today when I took a brief moment outside to just breath and feel the wind, I sent God a simple, repeated prayer, “peace, joy, enough milk”. Those are my desires right now.

I have just felt under a cloud somewhat. Not totally in control of my own feelings. But I have more frequent and longer periods of feeling “normal” and happy as time progresses. Saturday and Sunday were great, today was kind of hard again. I talked to Josh about it today to see if he felt that I need to see someone about possibly being depressed. I have an appointment at my OB next week, but was considering going sooner. He said he thinks once I get back to work (I start back seeing speech clients tomorrow) and get back out in the world and more on a normal schedule, I will feel better. He told me that I am not like him. He said he loves to be holed up in the house, not talking to anyone, while I need to be out and part of the world. I appreciated his faith in me and that he doesn’t think I’m going crazy;)

Above all, I am so thankful for my beautiful, healthy baby. He is so cute and sweet. He makes the cutest noises and makes me laugh with his funny faces, noises and the volume of his poops. Who knew pooping could be so audible?! It kind of sounds like ketchup squirting when it’s almost empty. And it can be LOUD. He has also peed on me, on the wall, on the rocker… and I gasp then laugh every time. He makes these cute little noises kind of like a dolphin or chipmunk. I love them so much. I love his tiny, squishy cheeks and his incredibly soft, warm skin. I love his little perfect lips that he purses often. He is amazing.

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