16 August 2016

On an Island

We live in Baton Rouge, which has seen its share of tragedies this summer. The latest is a flood of epic proportions.

All around us there is devastation.

Our home is fine. We are fine. We have power, Internet and plenty of food and water.

There's no threat to our home now. We're in a high spot and away from where the biggest rains fell. We are also far enough away from bodies of water that we shouldn't suffer flooding from the backflow (which I still don't understand).

But I'm still unsettled, anxious and often find myself on the brink of tears.

We are so lucky. But what are we to do?

Our church is a short-term shelter for now, and I've been helping out with the communications/social media aspect of that as I can. I haven't brought myself to go to church and volunteer directly (although the way is clear and we went for worship on Sunday). Having the girls and being a nursing mom makes that much harder, and I can't tell if they're overwhelmed with volunteers already and an extra three people (since that's what I really am) would be more in the way than helpful. But that adds a level of guilt. I should be giving up some of my things and more of my time in constructive ways more than anxiety stressing.

We haven't been out of the house since Sunday. The roads around us are clear, but where is there to go? I got groceries on Sunday afternoon, and it was a madhouse and scary with a half-flooded parking lot that I later heard had an alligator in it (hopefully a false rumor, but certainly not unbelievable). We're a little stir crazy too. TBD on when Jane's school will actually start.

On Facebook I've seen a lot of complaints about how the flood isn't receiving national news coverage. I guess the cable news networks aren't covering it too much. I've read a few stories about "disaster porn" and maybe we're not important since it's an unknown city and Louisiana floods all the time so we should be ready for it. I don't know what national coverage would do to help things. Would people donate more? I don't know. But the disaster is staggering.

Oh, and my breast infection is definitely yeast and hasn't fully healed yet. I have been taking medication for several weeks that helps but hasn't been able to completely eliminate it. I am due for a refill tomorrow, but I don't know if I can reach my doctor OR if she'll agree to give me more (it's not a narcotic, but it is expensive and not usually used for so long). I was off it for two days last week and the pains came roaring back so she gave me another week. That's a personal anxiety but it hums in the background, increasing my general unease, malaise and ennui...

14 July 2016

Breastfeeding Madness

I've written about breastfeeding before, including a recent post on The Mommy-Go-Round. And when I talk or write about breastfeeding I AM INSUFFERABLE!

It's so easy, she said. Anyone can do it, she said.

NOPE NOPE NOPE.

Consider me humbled, crow eaten and in awe of moms who make it through breastfeeding challenges. If I experienced this the first time around and didn't know how easy it is to "open bra, push baby to breast, go back to eating/reading/scrolling" I'm not sure we would have made it to seven months of exclusive breastfeeding, let alone 26 months total! 

Everything went great with Jane (although reading back in the posts I did have a bout of mastitis that I cleared up without much trouble). But for the past couple weeks I've been in the land of eat-your-words, because breastfeeding has been anything but easy.

To start I had a sore nipple, maybe seemed like a milk bleb. I did hot compresses and lots of nursing to get it open, but it kept hurting and last Wednesday night I got the shock of my life when knife-like pains started internally in my breast, basically all throughout the milk ducts, after my last nursing of the evening.

I've done so much internet sleuthing, but it didn't seem like mastitis (no fever/chills) and didn't seem like yeast/thrush because Livia didn't have any symptoms and mine weren't typical and it was only on one side.

I started calling the doctor's office right away on Thursday afternoon after a terrible bout with pain, but because I felt some better when I called on Friday they didn't seem to be in any rush to have me be seen. Then I had to wait over the weekend to come in, and it got worse and worse (a couple hours of level 9/10 pain after each nursing on the right side).

So far I've been to a nurse practitioner (who diagnosed mastitis even without any mastitis symptoms) and prescribed an antibiotic. Then I had a lactation consultation, and they think it sounds more like yeast, and they recommended treating with diflucan. My doctor's office prescribed that, but only one dose, which is what is recommended for a vaginal yeast infection, with a second dose 7 days later.

The lactation consultants all referred me to "Tips from the Trenches," and the handout on yeast (and everywhere else on the internet) recommends a much longer-term dosing (instead of one dose you take a double dose and then one dose daily for 14 days). So far the doctor's office has said "no way" to that and told me to continue the antibiotic (even though an antibiotic can wipe out the good bacteria that can help fight off the yeast organisms).

I also got some advice on a better latch with Livia. She was pretty wild during the consultation -- slipping on and off the breast and chomping more than usual. It's most comfortable when she's calm/sleepy and can just get down to business. But having to TRY with the latch after months of pain-free automatic nursing has been difficult.

But the PAIN has been the worst. My nipple is still sore (got some prescription cream for that now, although I had to ask if that was OK/it was never offered as an option) so nursing/initial latch is painful. But it's nothing compared to the feeling after nursing is done and the yeast starts attacking.

My pain is worse in the mornings after the first feed, although I do have pain throughout the day after nursings. PERHAPS it's because I go so long in the night between feeds (Livia and I like to sleep) and I have been hesitant to nurse on the right overnight because I know the pain will wake me up totally. But tonight I'm going to try and nurse on the right and hope the morning pain is more manageable. I'm also going to take some ibuprofen in the night, which might help.

In my own opinion, not being an MD or nurse, I have a very stubborn and strong yeast infection that will need the bigger course of diflucan. In the meantime I'm trying grapefruit seed extract, taking high doses of probiotics to counteract the antibiotic and still looking for gentian violet locally (as usual if I'd just ordered it on Amazon once I suspected yeast I could have been using it already). For the pain I'm taking double doses of ibuprofen spaced 6-8 hours apart. It doesn't really touch the pain at all, unfortunately.

There's also the risk of re-infection and the breastfeeding literature says baby and mom should be treated simultaneously to prevent spreading it back and forth. So far Livi has no symptoms so her pediatrician won't treat for it. I hope it stays that way, and that if she does get symptoms we can do some gentian violet or similar to knock it out fast. There's lots of extra laundry in that towels and burp rags, baby clothes and bras all have to be washed in hot water with vinegar rinse. All the breast pump parts and any pacifiers/toys that go in her mouth have to be washed AND boiled (daily!). I've already melted some of her best toys doing that, so I've been limiting what I let her put in her mouth to things that are definitely washable/boilable or that I don't care if they get ruined.

I plan to write a Mommy-Go-Round post after all is said and done -- and to eat my crow in a more public way. And I have a lot more to say about the experience emotionally. But in the mean time, that's where I am now.

24 June 2016

Being in Two Places

Out and about -- photo by Aunt B
I'm 12 weeks into this "having two kids" life, and so far it's pretty great. The age difference is good, as Jane is happy to have a baby sister and helpful most of the time. We've had our moments, and someone from church said "Oh, I hate a four-year age difference ... just think about one in high school while the other is in college." (Or something like that -- I honestly can't really remember her objection logic.)

But the age difference also has struggles, but it's really just the struggle of having a newborn during the heat of the summer and wanting to maintain Jane's active schedule.

I've wanted to be in two places at once so many times already, starting with a field trip at Jane's school when Livia was just a few weeks old (I couldn't even walk properly yet, so it was impossible to consider) and the latest being taking Jane to the Finding Dory movie yesterday (my sister and nephew did that for me).

Basically Livia needs me right now, while Jane needs someone to do activities with her and that can be daddy, Aunt B or a friend. I can still do a lot with her, and we do. I've been taking her to swim lessons this week while Aunt B watches Livia -- two hours away at a time is the longest I've stretched it so far, and it was doable but not my favorite. We also go to the library, since that's something Livia can easily come along for. But I couldn't volunteer at VBS so Jane was there alone, and I can't take her to the water park or similar.

Yesterday the Mommy-Go-Round blog published one of my last (or last?) blog posts - Bringing Home Baby #2. (I could look it up whether I've submitted anymore. I honestly can't remember.)

09 June 2016

More Writing ...

My freelance (emphasis on the free) writing continues to be published on my hospital's blog, The Mommy-Go-Round, and my doula's blog at Birth Help. Here are a few recent posts:

Better Birth Through Improved Communication
I’m a communications professional by trade with degrees in journalism and years of experience in public relations. I excel with the written word and communicating within a marketing framework. Communicating is my vocation, but when it came to talking to my doctor about my wishes for childbirth I came up short. Standing up for myself and what I need does not come naturally to me.
I needed some help to become a more effective communicator in the doctor-patient relationship.

VBAC Success: I Will Push This Baby Out of My Vagina
Despite everything stacking up against my desire for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) – previous big baby, ultrasound estimating an even bigger baby, being overdue and having gestational diabetes – I was ultimately successful and delivered my second daughter vaginally.

Our Jaundice Experience
Both my daughters had jaundice, a condition in which the baby’s blood contains too much bilirubin and makes her skin and eyes appear yellow. My older daughter’s jaundice resolved itself on its own, but my younger daughter born at the end of March had a more severe case. She had a lot of risk factors – exclusively breastfed, larger baby (born 10 lbs, 8 oz.) and our blood types were incompatible, which seemed to be the thing that worried the pediatrician the most.

A Mama's Choice: Getting Started Breastfeeding
I breastfed my first daughter for 26 months, and that nursing relationship was a very healing thing for me after the disappointment of my C-section. I’m proud of myself and my body for feeding and nourishing her for so long. So I knew no matter how my second birth went I would be a nursing mom again for this second baby.

I have high hopes to actually write more HERE and have a list of posts I'd like to write (and have probably written dozens of times in my head). Nothing earth shattering but just continuing to chronicle bits and pieces of this life I'm living. Time at a keyboard is limited, and I'm also trying to work on a (paid!) freelance project and ease back into my volunteer work at church.

18 May 2016

Writing Elsewhere on the Web

Note - as soon as I posted about the thank you notes we got a thank you from the most recent kid party. So not all families skip thank you notes!

I've written a few posts at my hospital's blog called The Mommy-Go-Round. I thought I'd share them here in case you'd like to read them. All my posts are here, and there will be four or five more posted. I just sent them in yesterday. Let me know what you think!

Here are links to the posts published so far, including Livia's birth story:

My Birth Story: A Successful VBAC at Woman’s

Despite everything stacking up against my desire for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) – previous big baby, ultrasound estimating an even bigger baby, being overdue and having gestational diabetes – I was ultimately successful and delivered my second daughter vaginally.

Gestational Diabetes Diary: The Home Stretch

I’m writing this one week away from my estimated due date, so no matter what, I’m in the home stretch of this pregnancy. Although it’s been true since the beginning, each day brings me closer to birthing and meeting my daughter. I can’t wait!

A Baby is Coming! Sibling Class at Woman’s Hospital

Our four-year-old daughter is very excited about becoming a big sister, and she’s maintained a very positive attitude about the new baby since we told her around week 12 of the pregnancy. (We didn’t tell anyone else before her, since it impacts her more than pretty much anyone else.) It’s good that we’re expecting another […]

Gestational Diabetes Diary: I Just Want a Cookie!

As I am rounding the bend to the end of this pregnancy and my experience with gestational diabetes (and hopefully diabetes all together – unless I should ever become pregnant again), I find myself wanting a cookie more than ever. Both literally and metaphorically. I have worked very hard to maintain my blood glucose levels, […]

Things I’ve Missed During My Pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes

All pregnant women miss some foods and drink that are on the verboten list such as sushi, wine and cold sandwiches. I miss those things too, but I have an even longer list of “wish I could haves.” Here are just a few I’ve been thinking about. In addition to the raw fish aspect of […]

Preparing for VBAC with Gestational Diabetes

When I was pregnant in 2011 I had a desk job, and as my due date neared my assignments decreased to the point of sheer boredom. I joked that I was able to “finish reading the Internet” because I had so much time on my hands. That’s not the case this pregnancy; although I do […]

I Bought a Diaper Bag and a Car Seat – It’s Getting Real

I’m not a first-time mom, so I haven’t spent much of this pregnancy poring over listicles of “things you need” and “things you don’t need” to bring home a new baby. It may be false confidence, but I think we can handle it. Although there still are a few things we need to buy. One […]

A Supposedly Fun Thing (or Why Movie Tavern & Gestational Diabetes Do Not Mix)

Date nights are rare in my house. We’ve never taken the time to find a regular babysitter, and our families live more than a day’s drive away. So when we have family stay with us we take advantage and sneak away for dinner and a movie. Since the new Movie Tavern opened near our house […]

Patient Perspective: Blood Glucose Testing for Gestational Diabetes

I’m not really needle averse, but poking my finger 4+ times a day is not my idea of a good time. And I had a rough experience at the lab with the blood draws for the glucose screening tests that left one of my arms bruised for weeks to really add insult to injury for […]

The Gestational Diabetes Diet

After I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 17 weeks I assumed I’d be following a low carbohydrate diet. I have experience with that from the South Beach diet that I used before my first pregnancy and smart carb dieting recommended by the staff of the Metabolic Clinic while I successfully managed my insulin resistance […]
Continue Reading...

What to Expect at Your First Diabetes Center Visit

I met with Ellie, a diabetes nurse educator, and Sara, a dietitian, at the Woman’s Hospital Diabetes Center about a week after I failed the three-hour glucose test. I was surprised when I called to schedule the appointment that someone actually answered the phone – there’s no answering service like I’m used to with my […]

Gestational Diabetes Diary

Gestational diabetes is just what it sounds like – diabetes that arises during gestation. It’s usually diagnosed with a glucose challenge (the dreaded orange drink test) around week 24-28 of the pregnancy. Most women pass the test no problem and continue with their normal pregnancies. (That’s what happened to me with my first pregnancy in […]

07 May 2016

Southern Manners Don't Extend to Gratitude

This is a terrible thing to b*tch about, but it's been irritating me a great deal. And what do I do with irritating things? Complain!

Jane's at an age where she's being invited to birthday parties for her classmates. If it's in our ability to attend we usually do. We missed one the weekend after Livia was born, but otherwise Jane has gone to the parties she has been invited to.

We always take a gift, and I don't mind giving a child a gift for his or her birthday. In fact, it is a pleasure (usually) to pick out something with Jane's help - either at Target or on Amazon - that the friend will like.

What I don't like is no acknowledgement of the gift. And that seems to be standard here, even among the people who insist on "yes, ma'am" and "no, sir" and their children calling me "Ms. Mari" (which I'm getting used to but still don't care for that much). The thank you notes we have received have been from families who aren't from the South originally ... curious, right?

I don't need a thank you note -- although those are certainly nice, and we send notes for every gift we receive. (If I've failed to send you a note for a gift call me out on it!) What I would like is a "thanks for X" either from the parent or kid.

Part of the problem is the elaborate parties at rental places. So much fun for the kids and easy for all the parents, but it doesn't leave time to open gifts during the party. (It would be completely acceptable to me for a hearty "Thanks!" upon opening the present as it's tossed in a pile, but that can't happen if the presents are opened after the party.)

Shawn was at Jane's school for show-and-tell when one of the kids showed a gift he received at his party. The teacher asked him who gave it to him and he didn't know (completely understandable since he's 5!). But Shawn knew since it was what we gave him. I'm so glad the kid liked it, and at least I got to know that, which should be enough.

It is such an ungracious thing for me to gripe about. Seriously -- what's ruder than complaining about other people being rude?! Not much. Maybe bragging about how I do things "right"? Read on, friend. Read on...

After our baby shower I sent thank you notes for the gifts we received. Pretty standard fare, and all the people at our shower were members of our Sunday school class, average age of 70 I'd say (excluding us and the other mid-30s couple). So I would think they would expect the social nicety of an expression of gratitude. EVERY SINGLE ONE thanked me for my card and were surprised to receive more than our verbal thanks at the party.

So what's the deal? Do they not "do" notes here in the South? What about monograms and stationery and that kind of thing? Thank you notes, Christmas cards and birth announcements (going out this week, finally!) are the last bits of real mail I send out, and I relish doing it. Am I just an anomaly? Raised in a different culture? Just my family's emphasis on the importance of expressing gratitude with written thanks?

Whatever it is I'm going to work to make it part of Jane and Livia's culture and carry on my family tradition!

02 May 2016

FitBit Phooey

I still love my FitBit, but its usefulness for new mamas is suspect.

During pregnancy there was an option in the dashboard to select "pregnant." I'm certain that it changed the "calories burned" and estimated I was burning more each day because I was growing a person (truth). But sometime during the pregnancy they removed that option entirely. I tweeted about it, and FitBit support tweeted back, directing me to a semi-helpful thread. It says that the "pregnancy" option didn't increase the calories burned estimate - was basically an option that served no purpose. I have no way of verifying that because the dashboard doesn't make it easy to scroll back to look. So whatever. Not a huge problem, especially because I'm not using it as a weight loss tool or really paying attention to the calorie burn. Just weird.

It also isn't very good at measuring sleep, and it thinks I'm sleeping as soon as I'm semi-still even if I'm tossing and turning or reading in bed. That's not unique to newborns' moms though, and that was an issue I noticed even before.

The "real" issue for new mamas is about how the tracker measures things that are not steps as steps. Specifically rocking in a rocking chair counts as steps -- and "intense" steps to boot. And patting a baby on the back -- for burping, general comfort, etc. -- is also stepping. I would have thought I'd need to have some forward momentum for that to be counted. I can almost see how the rocker could be mistaken for an elliptical machine -- there's no way for the FitBit to know that I'm sitting down while my wrist makes that gliding motion. (But it still doesn't count steps if I'm pushing a cart because my wrist is pretty still?!?!)

Basically my calorie burn still seems high, although as a nursing mom that's accurate, and my step count is WAY high -- being overestimated in the thousands I'd say. I can look at the dashboard and see the peaks in my activity are times when I was sitting on my butt holding/nursing/rocking. Another gripe - only the dashboard on the web shows this level of detail. Neither the app on my phone nor the direct software on my computer will actually show hour-by-hour info like the web dashboard will. Bad design on top of weak-ish technology?

But like I said before, data is data and as long as I only compare it to my own data from the same time period it could still be useful. I'm looking forward to being able to do more real steps. I can't believe I'm still recovering four weeks after the birth, but that's the rub in pushing out a 10.5 lb baby I suppose!

Here's a picture of some baby feet that one day will take steps of their own: