Two Months

Wow – has it really been two whole months already?  Really?

Looking back from where I am now, I’m beyond amazed that Nathan is already almost nine weeks old.  They aren’t kidding when they say time flies, but I’m also not particularly unhappy about it (even though, apparently, I am supposed to be).  There have been good, bad and ugly moments in our first two months together, and while I will appreciate them as fond memories (and, someday down the road, I’m sure I’ll look back on some of the struggles I’ve had and laugh), I’m really not feeling that wistful lament that he’s growing up on me that I’m apparently supposed to.  I’m really looking forward to moving past the sack-of-potatoes phase, because it’s just been exhausting.  Here’s a few highlights of our first two months together, and the constant learning curve we have been on.

First things first: you guys didn’t knock on wood when I asked you to, did you?  Pretty much right after the post where I had the audacity to brag about how easy he is, Nathan got a cold, and everything kind of went to hell from there.  For a good 10-day stretch, he was so congested and cranky that he was waking up every 45 to 60 minutes around the clock – including all night, every night – because he couldn’t breathe well enough to sleep.  He stopped sleeping in his crib at all because his sinuses couldn’t drain when we laid him flat, so we would have to put him to sleep in his bouncer or swing, which made us paranoid.  I spent a lot of time uncomfortably napping on our tiny, crappy couch so I could be near the swing (and him) to make sure he was okay.  I felt like I was constantly filling his humidifier, putting saline drops in his nose, and using the snotsucker to try and clear him out.

(By the way, get a snot sucker.  You need one.  You don’t know that you do, but – just trust me on this one – you do.)

Anyway, that was about weeks 2 1/2 to 4 of his life – I was so sleep deprived and run down that I could hardly find the energy to keep up with him, let alone do much of anything else.  Mercifully, he got better, and then we had another week or so of easy baby bliss before the gas hit.

Good lord, the gas.  Suddenly, we found ourselves with a perpetually fussy, cranky baby who would spend way way WAY more time awake than he should because he was too uncomfortable to sleep… and he was miserable the whole time, both because his stomach hurt and because he was so tired.  He went from sleeping nearly 20 hours a day to often less than 10.  We experimented with tons of different types of bottles and nipples, various remedies – gas drops, gripe water, you name it – and only last week did we finally figure out the best way to manage his gas/colic and get him back to being relatively agreeable. For us, the answer was two-fold: Bio Gaia probiotic drops (this didn’t actually reduce his gas very much, but made a HUGE difference in his colic – he remained uncomfortable, but he was less uncomfortable, so there was far less screaming and crying) and, further to that, Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow bottles decimated his gas incidents.  He still has episodes once or twice a day, but they are FAR shorter and less severe than they were, and he is doing much better now.  Thank goodness for that.  Colic is hell.  Several days during the worst of it, around week 6, I would cry until I ran out of tears and scream myself hoarse into a pillow.  It honestly felt like it would never end sometimes, and the only thing that kept me from completely losing it was telling myself that, yes, it would end.  Nothing lasts forever: even the worst of days end, and even the crankiest of babies sleep eventually.

The only other large struggle we’ve had to contend with so far is clinginess – insofar as an infant can be clingy, anyway.  Especially in the last week or so, Nathan has made it very clear that he wants to be held all the time (and, when you have a particularly wakeful baby, this can be trying).  We’re managing it the best we can, and he fortunately still sleeps soundly in his crib or cradle on most nights (usually in two blocks of 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 hours, with one feed in the middle), but during the day I’m often not able to do much more than watch Netflix and surf the internet because he tends to wake up less than 20 minutes after I put him down, almost without fail.  Babywearing has made things a bit better, but there’s still a lot you can’t do with a baby strapped to you, especially one as big as mine.  Did I mention he’s more than 14 lbs?!  Yep, 14.  Already.  He is already filling out 3-6 month clothes, and I imagine that he’ll be out of those sometime in January at this rate, too.

With those complaints aside, there are good things, too.  He becomes a little more alert and responsive by the day, and he finally gave me a real smile yesterday, apparently in celebration of his two-month birthday.  I really didn’t enjoy the newborn phase at all, but I am so, so excited for what lies ahead.  I can’t wait for our interactions to be deeper, and for him to do more than cry and eat and poop.  I want to play with him and read to him and help him learn to walk, teach him the alphabet, scrub mud out of his hair after a long day of hard play, carry his backpack home from school while he tells me about his day.  Knowing that all of that is coming is really exciting.

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Adjusting to life with a baby is hard, and probably more so when it’s your first (living) child because it’s all new to you; you don’t know what’s normal and what isn’t, everyone seems to have an opinion about what you’re doing at all times (and whether or not you’re doing it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’), and you’re totally not prepared for how different your life is going to be with one, no matter how hard you might try to get ready.  I was ready for the reality of being peed, pooped, spat up and thrown up on, but I never anticipated some of the grittier realities of motherhood, like having to decide whether I want to eat or use the washroom in that five precious minutes of calm before he wakes up and realizes he’s not being held anymore, or how devastating it feels when you’ve finally put your sleepy baby down for a nap and just as you tiptoe out of the room, he has an explosive poop and you need to change him and start all over again from the beginning.

Or trying to rock his swing with your foot to keep him amused while you desperately try to get a pump done, because he’s been awake for 5 hours but still doesn’t want to sleep, is bored if he sits still, and the batteries for the swing are dead.

Or that feeling of sadness when you take him out for a walk in the stroller because you’re starving and you want him to sleep for a little bit while you find some food, he passes out as soon as you leave, but he wakes right back up again the second you get back.  You would not believe how sick I am of ready-to-eat foods like chips, granola bars and cereal.

ANYWAY!  I digress.

So, yeah, it’s hard sometimes.  There are so many things I thought I was ready for, and it turned out I wasn’t because there’s just really no way to prepare for them.  Perhaps the most agonizing is when your child is screaming and you either have no clue what it is they need, or it’s something you can’t help them with, like gas.  We seem to be moving out of the worst of his colicky phase – and thank goodness, because his crying grates away at my nerves in a horrible way – but it’s still awful to hear him cry.

I have other topics to touch on (how having Nathan has affected my grief, things I’ve learned about self-respect and other people’s opinions, and so on) but I haven’t got the time right now, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

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Yesterday

Yesterday sucked.  No other way to put it.

I was actually in okay spirits at the start of the day, but as it went on, the displaced feeling started setting in again.  It’s something I try to avoid thinking about and, subsequently, feeling too much, even though I think it’s always kind of there in the back of my mind, but yesterday there was no getting away from the feeling that I am not where I’m supposed to be, that I might have been able to change things if some things had occurred differently (those ever-persistent ‘what-if’s), and that I would be somewhere else, doing something else, if October 19th of 2014 had gone differently… if I’d seen a different medical professional, or if I’d asked for a second opinion, or gone to a different clinic.

DifferentThat word came to mind a lot.  I hesitate to say better or worse, because I don’t know where I would be if Brock were here, and I don’t know for sure if that reality would be better or worse than this one. I just know it’d be really different from where I am now, whether or not that’s a good or bad thing.

I know I’d be raising a different baby, one that would be celebrating his first birthday instead of being a mere 15 days old, and that Nathan would certainly not be here.

I wouldn’t have had a bunch of milk with no baby to appreciate it if Brock hadn’t passed, so I never would have been a milk bank donor.  Did my donations help any babies pull through who might not have otherwise?

I don’t think I would have felt the same frantic emptiness and need to better myself if I hadn’t lost Brock, so I probably wouldn’t have gone to finish high school (I formally graduate on the 12th of November), or found the time and money to finally go to driving school and earn my G2.  I wouldn’t have started volunteering for a local blood donor clinic, and my husband likely never would have begun donating regularly, either.  I wonder whose lives his donations have touched, too.

I would never have gone to loss support groups or struck up conversations with other loss mothers and fathers on online forums, and therefore there are a lot of great people I know now that I never would have met.

There are so many other little things, too.  I wouldn’t live where I live, or have a lot of the things that I now have, probably.  I envisioned a different baby, a different nursery, a different life.  On days like yesterday, it just hits me again, all over, that this was not what I envisioned at all.  It makes me wonder if there was ever anything I could have done to change the outcome, and it makes me feel woefully out of control of my own fate (which, to be fair, I know that I am – but the illusion of power is totally gone, which leaves me feeling awfully vulnerable.)

My husband and I took the day to just feel bad for ourselves.  We cried, we talked it out, we snuggled Nathan a little bit more earnestly, we got expensive takeout for dinner, and I had a couple of glasses of wine for the first time in 10 months (another advantage of pumping – if you get ahead, you can take a little time off.  Score!).

The other thing about the day that really upset me was that a lot of people didn’t even seem to notice that it was Brock’s birthday.  I received condolences and well-wishes from a few friends, acquaintances and family members, but I heard nothing from most people… and, in particular, a few I really expected would have reached out said nothing.  I’m pretty sure even most of my close relatives (my mom and dad, and in-laws) didn’t even notice the date; it was just another day for them.  It wounds me to think that he could be so easily forgotten by most people when he’s almost all that I think about on many days.  Perhaps it’s my fault for letting him be forgotten, I guess?  I don’t really know how else to look at it.  Maybe I should have made a huge deal out of his first birthday and thrown a big party or something, but I let the opportunity evade me, so now I’ve just got more what-ifs to think about.  Hooray.

Happy birthday, Brock.  I can at least promise you that your father and I will never forget you. ❤

Baby Nathan is Here

Please forgive any incoherence and poor sentence structure – I’m terribly sleep deprived, and while coffee can keep me from nodding off (for the most part), it can’t make me function at full capacity.  Life with a newborn is hard. 😉

Sorry for the cliffhanger on that one – I am sure that a few of you have been itching for an update.  Unfortunately, I like to blog when I have time to myself, which means limited distractions and no husband (or anyone else) around, and when I feel I am in good head space and can feel confident I will have a reasonable amount of uninterrupted time to write.  One of those still isn’t satisfied at the moment (I have a sleeping baby in my lap because he won’t let me put him down), but I feel the need to at least chronicle a few of my thoughts and feelings about what’s happened in the last week, and to update those of you who were following.

My induction didn’t end up getting moved to directly after my appointment on the 6th… instead, it got moved to the 7th.  The results of my last ultrasound remained consistently bad and my OB decided she would rather have him out than in.  Since she was going to be on call the following day for the whole day (a 24 hour shift… how terrifying!), she decided she would make sure to get me admitted and have him that day so that she could oversee his birth.

We arrived at the hospital for a pre-admission NST at 9am on the 7th, but there weren’t any L&D rooms available until quite a bit later.  It took until almost 6pm for them to find me a room, and we didn’t start the induction (beginning with breaking my water) until 7pm.  A little over 12 hours later, after a fairly uneventful but somewhat stressful labour (including a suggestion of a c-section around 5am when he wouldn’t properly descend because he was positioned sideways), I did manage a vaginal birth with the assistance of a vacuum, and Nathan George was born at 7:42am on October 8th.  At 38 weeks’ gestation, he was 8lbs 3oz, and 20.5 inches long.  I guess they were on to something with all of the speculation that he was on the larger side; he would have likely crested 10lbs if I’d carried him to term.

I might write more about the delivery at a later date, but right now, only two things really stand out to me: one was when my husband and I simultaneously started bawling the second he began screaming – something I suspected would happen from the very beginning – and my OB having to eventually tell me that I needed to stop crying long enough to deliver my placenta.  Ah, the joys of delivering a live baby after a stillbirth…

He and I are both doing really well health-wise (I somehow didn’t tear, and I bounced back from delivery in astonishingly good time) and he presently seems to be completely healthy, despite the whole fiasco with his kidneys in utero.  He’s on an antibiotic to make sure that an infection doesn’t develop and has a follow-up ultrasound on Friday to check on the condition, but right now it seems as though he will be perfectly fine and complication-free.

Nate—–

I’m not going to lie, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to have a baby physically or emotionally, but I didn’t prepare myself for this level of involvement, especially from a being that is supposed to sleep for 20 hours a day.  It’s been really hard, and I am having a hard time finding any kind of rhythm… many, many tears have been shed by both my husband and I over the various complications of life with a newborn.  The first couple of days were actually surprisingly easy, but it has been a bit of a downhill slide from there, as he’s now in a state where he basically refuses to be put down for more than 10 or 20 minutes at a time.  This means constant shift swapping, having to schedule and co-ordinate each and every little thing (finding opportunities to pee, figuring out who makes meals, etc.) and a lot of time wasted sitting around and doing nothing.  He seems to have picked up a bit of a stomach bug somewhere along the way, which has given him serious gas and diarrhea and only adds to his fussiness.  I’m glad that I’ve finally realized that he sleeps more soundly if he’s being touched, but again, it leaves me pretty tied down and makes it really hard to get anything done when I’m on shift, aside from mindlessly surfing the internet and trying not to fall asleep in my chair.  Thank goodness I at least have my husband for respite for the time being… I’m already terrified of what will happen when he goes back to work on Monday.

I realize this post has been scatterbrained and really hasn’t touched on anything of substance, but I’m incredibly tired now and finding it hard to form even relatively coherent thoughts, so I’m going to leave it here for now.  I will try to find time to update and add more in the near future.