Monday, February 28, 2005

The Problem

My mother-in-law got here today and I think she figured out what the problem is. Anna is not sucking hard enough on my breast. She kind of half-heartedly sucks, then falls asleep. Then wakes up ten minutes later, extremely hungry and mad. This development now makes sense as to why my milk refused to come in for eight days...

My MIL asked me if I felt a "whooshing" feeling while she was feeding, followed by her swallowing vigorously. Nope, never felt that.

So, how do you make a baby suck hard enough? How do you keep them awake, but not furious at you? Advice greatly appreciated.

Bad Night

What a bad night. It started at 11pm and lasted until 11am. Anna slept a total of an hour and a half, which by default, means that I slept an hour and a half. It was 12 hours of what we were going through in the evenings last week. I called the pediatrician this morning, just to make sure this was normal.

I described the gassiness, wailing, fussiness and crunching up. The nurse said, "Sounds like classic colic." I said, "NO! I didn't plan on having a colicky baby! In fact, I planned on not having a colicky baby!" She laughed and said, "Well, it should be gone by about three months." Three months?! Hey hey! Ellen did not sign on for this!

I asked her if there was anything I could do and she said, "Get some help. You're going to need it."


Last night, around three or so, I decided that I was the worst mother in the world. Three o'clock in the morning with no sleep and a gassy, crying baby can do that to you, I suppose. Around four o'clock, while pumping my breasts with my two hands and rocking Anna's infant carrier with my foot (and stinking up the joint, as I am covered in poo and spit-up), I revised my decision. No! I am the best mother in the world! I am the Queen Mother. I rock. I am subjecting my nipples to torture seven times a day for this child. I am going 12 hours with no sleep for this child. I am still somehow able to kiss her sweaty head, even while she is screeching.

Of course, the light of dawn caused me to revise my decision back to worst mother in the world, but at least I had one moment of enlightenment.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Fuzzy Logic

I think I am having mild Baby Blues. Which I am aware is normal. It's different than the "sobbing whilst sitting on the toilet" episodes from weeks one and two. It's more like an emotional weariness.

I know that a lot of it is hormones and the growing realization that my life will never be the same. Which I am actually ultimately fine with. (I don't want to put her back in or anything.) But I think that it still takes a fair amount of acceptance. Jason lets me run to Wal-Mart without Anna, and I find myself savoring getting to stand in the Maxi Pad aisle by myself. But then my boobs start to leak all over my shirt, so that brings me back to reality.

I also think some of my Baby Blues are due to my confusion concerning feeding Anna. I just feel fuzzy. I have never been good at making decisions. Making large ones have usually sent me into a depressive tailspin. Right now, my whole menta l life is wrapped around what type of food goes into a little seven pound creature, and how the said food gets in there.

(The following is all pretty boring stuff, so feel free to skip this section on my feeding process.) What we have been doing is breastfeeding Anna during the day. First I try to get her to take the right breast. When she refuses that, I try the left breast. When she refuses that, I pull a bottle of breastmilk out of the fridge for her, feed her, then pump. If she happens to take the left breast, she nurses for forty five minutes, and then is generally hungry again an hour later. If I give her the bottle, it's two hours. End this with a half hour of trying to burp her and calm her wailing from all the gas build-up. Not much time left for anything else.

Which is why we made the decision to give her formula at night, so I could get a little sleep. She usually promptly falls asleep after the formula, and rarely needs burping. She also goes three to four hours between feedings. It's no wonder that I am greatly wooed by "the dark side." In fact, today (Saturday) we are trying a little experiment. I am pumping all day, and we are seeing how she does on formula. It's been pretty great, unfortunately (cue Darth Vader rasping: "Luke, join me... bring the Similac.") The real test will be this evening. I've had a week's worth of evening wailing sessions, due to gas.

A friend of mine called yesterday and reported back on a co-worker, who had her baby a week after me. She said, "Yeah, her baby latched right on. Apparently, they are naturals." I said, "I hate her."

I just feel paralyzed to make a decision, though. I really did want the 1970's glowing mother suckling child experience. I don't think it's possible, though. Jason asked me last night, "What do you want to do?" I said, "I want breastfeeding to be easy and do that." He said, "From where you are at in reality, what do you want to do?" I thought and said, "I honestly don't know."

What else is keeping me from giving up breastfeeding completely? Well, everything, every book, every doctor, even the side of the Similac can, say, "Breast is best." Also, and probably a dumb reason, but one often finds one amazed by what peer pressure can do, but every one of my friends has breastfed. By not sticking it out, I am a wuss. I have gotten lots of reassurance that, by two to three weeks, it suddenly gets much easier. I confessed to one friend that I was thinking of switching to formula. She said, "Oh, but it gets so much easier!" I told her that we were already giving her formula at night, and she said, "Oh." That was the "Oh" that constantly resounds in my head. The "I've already screwed it up by not trying to nurse her the minute she came out of my womb and then I resorted to pumping and formula at night" Oh. It's the same "Oh" I hear when people find out I'm returning to work.

I think that this whole experience has actually revealed to me several issues, which have lurked in my life for many years. 1) Caring what other people think way too much and 2) Not trusting my own Life Instincts.

...but right now, Le Baby stirs. Ellen out.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Disjointed Thoughts

1) Thank you to everyone who has commented, given me advice, encouragement and prayers. I am very grateful-- though slightly unable to reply right now, as time will only allow for one event to occur after every feeding ("Shall I pee this time? my cats? Maybe drink that bottle of vodka?").

2) Breastfeeding. Well, last night, I managed to get her to willingly take the "bad boob." Three whole times. And then once this morning. But I figured out that she will ONLY take it after she's had the good one and had her diaper changed... and she has to be slightly sleepy, but not too sleepy. If any of these things is slightly out of whack, nope. Ain't fallin' for it.

3) I have almost watched an entire season of "Monk" in the past four days.

4) My mother finally left this morning. It's a long story, but here's the short version: it was nice having the help, but it will be nice to finally get to be the parent.

5) My husband has officially become a proponent of formula. He hates breastfeeding more than I do. The thing is, I tell him, when it is going well, it's nice. I like having her close and "suckling" (erk, hate that term). But when it's bad, I do not have a soothing husband in the background, saying, "Come on, honey, you can do it..." No, he's chanting, "For-mu-LAH! For-mu-LAH!" I'll be honest... she sleeps longer, digests it better, barely needs burping and seems much happier when we use it. For the past couple of nights, it's been a simmering stew between Jason and my mother. She is fiercely against it. She even stayed up late last night, we think, to keep Jason from supplementing with a formula bottle after I fed Anna. So basically, we've been sneaking around the house at four in the morning, giving her formula and quietly washing the bottle evidence, so she would sleep longer than an hour. And no, I know that this is not emotionally healthy, but as I said earlier, it's a long story.

6) Thank goodness for Secrets of The Baby Whisperer book. I have found it invaluable. She is just practical and makes sense to me. I know that life will seem more normal when we are on a rough schedule, so that is my goal by six weeks.

7) Not that I was a flaming Ferber Method person before I had Anna, but I definitely had my mind made up how things were going to go. She'd be breastfeeding with ease, sleeping in her crib and there would be NO nipples introduced before six weeks, other than my own. Well, ha ha. We all know the breastfeeding situation. I had a pacifier in her mouth as we left the hospital. And she sleeps either on top of me, or curled up next to me, as we sleep on the couch at three in the morning, watching "Monk." "Cry it out"? The child can't whimper without being picked up and comforted. And I don't give a RAT'S ASS. I still want to get her on a schedule, but I am overwhelmed by the knowledge that she is only going to be a baby for so short an amount of time. If I want to rock my baby to sleep, then I'm going to do it. I will deal with the consequences later.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Great Breast Wars Strikes Back

I'd like to revise my statement from a week ago. My child does not hate my breasts. She hates ONE breast. The right one. Since Day One. And here it is Day Thirteen.

Monday was a pretty good day. She sucked herself onto the left breast and I managed to lob her head onto the right breast (or the "bad boob," as we like to call it around here) a few times. It deteriorated from there, though. By late Monday evening, I started feeding her the left breast every two hours, then pumping the right one afterward, to keep it from withering away. After cleaning bottles and rocking her to sleep, I had perhaps a half hour to tend to myself before the next feed. This, my friends, does not leave much extra time for even the neccesities in life.

Wednesday had me near tears in the pediatrian's office, pleading with her to tell me what to do (F.Y.I. new baby check went great.) Nursing is one thing. Pumping is another. But nursing AND pumping is another animal quite unto itself. She gave me lots of pointers and tips, and even said that the same thing happened to her with her second (she ended up pumping exclusively.) But in the end, she told me it was up to me. Damn that woman. I honestly secretly wanted her to say, "Oh dear. I order you to switch to formula."

So I've kept nursing and pumping. Nursing and pumping. Nursing and pumping. Yesterday, I prayed that God would help me make a decision by this weekend. I called the lactation consultant and she's coming by on Saturday. I asked her, "Is it possible to just use one breast?" She said, "Sure, but you will be lopsided." I said, "I do not care. Bring on the stuffies."

...oh, by the way, I do really love my daughter and would go through all of this again and more for her. I just hate breastfeeding. In fact, I think my mind has officially shifted into Mother Mode. I am already dreading the day I have to drop her off at Daycare (found myself crying in the shower at the thought) and having the panic dreams where I've dropped her or can't find her. I'm assuming it just gets worse from here.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day

Today, as the best Valentine's Day present ever, Anna latched by herself. No tears and no bribes.

Whoo hoo!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Great Breast Wars Part Deux

I thank everyone for their breastfeeding suggestions. My friend, Shelley, read my post and called me immediately to offer support, which helped greatly. I've been so frustrated and obsessed with my breasts this past week, I've barely spoken to anyone except the family who are camped out at my house. She also went through the trauma of engorgement two years ago, so she had some good advice.


Last night, I finally fell apart big time. I was on the fourth day of my breasts feeling like rocks. I was pumping every hour and a half yesterday, so I couldn't even get a nap. I didn't hold my daughter until the evening to feed her (well, I can barely get her out of my family's arms anyway...) Nothing was working. Around 8pm, I pumped for forty-five minutes and got an ounce. Tears came. And my mom means well, but she began demanding that I call the lactation consultant, the doctor, the nurse, the hospital, anyone. The last thing I could bear at this point was getting on the phone and calling a complete stranger to talk about my boobs. My mom and I ended up arguing loudly, with her trying to force the phone into my hand.

I ended up sobbing in the bathroom, exhausted and in pain. I just felt like a failure as a mother. And yes, I realize that I was irrational and hormonal. My husband finally pulled me over to the bed and just held me for awhile. I just cried and let him. I finally told God that I admitted defeat. I didn't know what to do.

My mom came in and told me that she'd been calling around and the hospital told me to come back in so they could check me out. I'm still slightly pissed at her for going over my head, but it was probably for the best in the end. Feeling humiliated, covered in formula, and tear-stained, Jason took me to the hospital.

The nurses checked me in, and I could tell that they thought I was crazy (hell, even I thought I was crazy for being there). But they had me put on a gown, poked at my boobs, and acknowledged that, although I was very engorged, I didn't have mastitis. My doctor's partner got on the phone with me (mine was out of town) and he was very consoling and kind. He gave me some tips, assured me that I was doing all the right things, told me that I wasn't a failure and told me to give it a few more days. He also told me that if I wanted to quit, there was no loss of honor in that. I told him I didn't. Then we left.

Remembering one bit of advice from Shelley, we ran by Target and bought an Avent hand pump. I don't know if it was the new pump, or the bit of reassurance from the doctor, or that I just needed to relax long enough for my milk to come in, but things started flowing today. I think I finally let down. Relief!

I guess the thing with this motherhood thing is that you have to set small goals for yourself and not beat yourself up too bad. For instance, last Wednesday, my goal was pooping for the first time after giving birth. That was my major life goal at that point. Right now, I just want to keep my daughter fed and keep my milk flowing.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Great Breast Wars

It's official. My daughter hates my breasts. No, really. She hates them. The lactation consultant is even slightly baffled. She said, "Well, occasionally I see this happen..."

From the minute I tried to breastfeed last Sunday night, my sweet-natured, snuggley baby has shrieked whenever my breast comes near her. On Monday afternoon, the lactation consultant poked and prodded my breasts for two hours trying to entice my child to latch, while I exhaustedly tried to keep from falling asleep. We finally barely got her on with the help of a breast shield (which, let's face facts, is just a plastic bottle nipple placed on your boob) and a syringe of glucose water dribbled over the nipples.

We brought her home, and thus began a three day non-stop marathon (and I'm not exaggerating with "non-stop") of latching attempts, screaming, half-hearted sucking, repeated 200 more times. And Mylicon. Oh, the Mylicon! Frankly, I think that was what was sustaining her for four days.

And yet, my milk refused to come in. Finally, on Thursday night, we bowed under the pressure and gave her a bottle of formula. And I don't give a rat's ass if the entire La Leche League comes over to burn me in effigy, it worked. She ate. She slept. She smiled. She turned back into my sweet baby. (Jason breathed a huge sigh of relief, as he was starting to think we'd gotten a lemon.) I got five whole hours of sleep. Five whole freaking hours.

The next day, World War Three in the Great Breast Wars began. I am horribly engorged by this point, and my milk just refused to let down. We start trying to latch again , but now, even getting near my nipples send her into full-on panic mode. It is now taking about four people to try to get her to latch. I hold the breast, my mother tries to pour sugar water all over my nipples, my husband holds her head and my sister tries to keep her flailing arms down (she actually starts batting us away with her hands.) We call the lactation consultant, only this time, my mother, heaven forbid, gets on the phone with her (as I am crying.) First the lactation consultant reprimands my husband and mother for letting them talk me into giving her formula. Then my mom tells her a thing or two about the kind of week we just had and sort of demands that the consultant inform us when my milk was going to let down (like the consultant knows this.) Anyway, we basically got a chipper "Keep trying! Go get some cabbage leaves!"

I decided to give it one more college try. Well, that college must have been instituted in hell, because that latching attempt was so awful that I decided it was the final straw.

Therefore, an executive decision was made yesterday that I am pumping, and Anna is bottlefeeding. I have been doing it since Friday night, and she is a completely different child. I keep feeling slightly guilty, knowing that I won't have that sweet 1970's dayglow mother and child breast-bonding experience. But then I look at her happy and sleeping. Pumping, here I come.

However, here is my other problem. My milk STILL will not let down. I am doing hot compresses, cold green pea bags, cabbage leaves (Hey! A salad!), massaging and pumping every hour and a half. I manage to barely pump out enough to keep up with her feedings...but is there some trick I don't know? I'm definitely clogged up. I have little weird cloggy pockets pooching out and I am still as hard as a rock. Any advice is greatly appreciated, moms.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I Now Have A Baby. Wow.

Hi! I am managing to grab a few moments to write, since my dear dear husband is rocking the baby. Thank you for all your sweet comments. It meant a lot to me.

We are all doing really well. I couldn't have asked for a better experience, and I thank everyone who prayed for us. We went in at 7:30am on Sunday, and the nurses quickly got me hooked up to the Pitocen and off we went. The epidural was put in around 9:00am, just as the contractions were beginning. The epidural is HIGHLY recommended by Ellen. Love the epidural. I truly feel like I actually enjoyed labor and delivery. Every time I looked up at that screen, I felt a huge sense of thankfulness that I was not feeling those wavey lines.

My mom, sister and brother-in-law showed up late morning, and we all hung out reading trashy gossip magazines. My mother was amazed by the whole experience-- she gave birth to me in an Army hospital in Germany, no drugs, no pampering, and even had to change her own sheets every day.

The baby was really low and dropped, apparently, so when I was dilated to 9 around 6:00pm that night, it was time to start pushing. Believe it or not, it was actually a pretty laid-back experience. We actually kept the Super Bowl on in the background (And the nurse said I was an awesome pusher!) I probably pushed through about 15 contractions or so, and there she was! Jason cut the cord, and they put her on my chest. I'm not sure what I thought she'd look like, but she looked perfect. When I saw her, I thought, "Yes, exactly."

I am such a planner in life. I planned for feeling like I had been hit by a Mac Truck (which I do), feeling exhausted and a little down (which I certainly do) feeling like I am doing everything wrong (which I really do) and feeling frustrated at breastfeeding (which I really really do.) But I guess I didn't count on loving her so much. She's just perfect, and has the sweetest, cuddliest little personality. She has perfect little ears and big round eyes. I even love her when she is wailing. She is beautiful (and yes, I may be biased, but the nurses told me that she was a favorite in the nursery. so there. hee hee)

I am also overwhelmed with gratefulness to my family and my husband. I do not know what I would do without my mother here. Seriously. I would be laying on the floor in sobs, probably.

Right now, I am praying for my milk to come in, my butt to feel like normal again and maybe two hours of sleep tonight. Keep praying for me, I need it.

My husband, the photo hound, added a bunch of pictures to Anna's site. Some are sticky and gross, but enjoy.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Anna Marie

Hello everyone, this is Jason, Ellen's husband writing to let you know that Anna Marie was born on Sunday February 6th, 2005 at 6:39 pm. Weight: 7lbs 3oz, Length: 19 1/2 inches. Ellen is currently recovering and will be back soon to give you all the details. She was amazing during the birth of Anna, and pushed her out in under 40 min.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


Looks like we're inducing Sunday morning, 7:30am!

I went and had my blood pressure checked yesterday afternoon, and it had gone up more. I had two options: induce Sunday or come back Monday morning for another check. If it hadn't gone down, he would want to induce then. I chose Sunday. My body seems like it is primed up anyway and ready for a small push over the edge.

We thought about not telling anyone that we were going to induce. Just "Surprise!" afterwards. I mean, that's how it would be if I went into labor on my own. But we went ahead and called the ole' parental units. After each of us got off the phone, we looked at each other and knew we should have just waited. Are all parents this way? What I want as an adult "child" is a "Hooray! We're so excited! We'll be praying for you!" Not "Are you sure that's the right decision? What did the doctor say?" (Um, he suggested it.) "Have you checked your insurance to make sure your hospital stay is covered?" (Um, that's usually why you have insurance...) "Well, you need to be lying down until then." (Aye aye, capt'n.)

I know that parents do this second-guessing, nagging, half-scolding thing because they love us. I know this. It is firmly planted in my head. But when is it time to let go? Not stop the loving, just stop the parenting. I'm already worried about this with my own child. Thirty years from now, I don't want her rolling her eyes, phone propped up under her chin, saying, "I know, Mom..."

I will hand it to my father that he has done a really good job separating himself from his former "daddy" role. He actually made a point of it after I became an adult. I remember he once told me that he saw his parenting job as successful when I didn't need him anymore and could see him as a friend. I guess that has quietly happened. And the thing is, I am more apt to ask him for his advice now. Maybe because the emotional parent aspect of it isn't there. The "Do this or you will deeply regret it!" aspect. When my dad gives his advice, that's really all it is. Just advice.

I know it's probably tougher for mothers, though. You've spent a good part of your life fiercely protecting your brood and wiping dirt off their faces with your own spit. Sort of like a mother bear. But even mother bears have to run their cubs up the tree when Cub Independence Day finally comes.

All this being said, my "mommy" is coming to help for the week. She was actually begging to come today and go grocery shopping and bathroom cleaning. And I know it was purely out of love because she even offered to come make sure my cats got enough attention while we're at the hospital. (She humors me about my animal obsession, though has never really understood it.) And I'm sure I will be begging for the baby advice very shortly.

Anyway, everyone, we'll keep you posted. Pray for me! (And pray I don't poop on the delivery room table...)

Friday, February 04, 2005

Bring It On

I'm still here. I swear, I don't think this child is ever coming out. What else is she waiting for? I am dilated to 3 (maybe 4 by now, who knows), sans mucus plug, have constant random contractions and she has moved so far down, I don't even think I have a bladder anymore. Maybe she's waiting for the Super Bowl to start (side note: my new nursing bras eerily smack of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction.") Or Valentine's Day. Or, heaven forbid, St. Patrick's Day.

I am trying to just appreciate the last few days (weeks?! months?!) of non-parenthood. I have been really blessed to not have sleep problems throughout this pregnancy, so I have been savoring my pillow. I have been laying on the couch watching "C.S.I." on Spike TV. I got my hair trimmed. I have been having lunch with the girls and loudly singing Destiny's Child songs by myself in the car.

The thing is, I'm mentally BORED. Maybe that's what waiting does to you. In the evening, I wander around the house looking for something to do, yet not wanting to do anything. In a weird way, I'm like, "Bring on the sleeplessness! Bring on the sore boobs! Rough me up! Come on, I can take it!" Two weeks ago, I did not feel this way. Maybe God set up the 40 week timeline for a purpose. By that point, the waiting and uncomfortability has become like Chinese water torture on your forehead. Drip. Drip. Drip. Okay! Okay! Just give me that baby! That screaming, stinky, demanding baby! I cannot eat bonbons and watch Spike TV for one more minute...

I'm sure that I will be begging for the bonbons again soon enough.

(I get my blood pressure checked again today. We'll see how that goes.)

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

A Better Day

Went to see the doc today. I am now dilated to three. Which probably explains why it feels like a baby is going to fall out of my vagina when I walk. My blood pressure also spiked, so they are going to check it again on Friday. If it spikes more, he'll probably just go ahead and induce this weekend. I'm fine with that. However, he said that it wouldn't surprise him if I just go into labor on my own this week.

I think I finally got through to my boss. Actually, my cankles did. Yesterday, he was ruminating over my "What's Left To Do" list and said, "Oh... this is doable. I can do THIS." I think he thought I was possibly leaving him with the List From Hell. So then he caught a look at my cankles and did a double-take. "Wow! Those are like logs!" Yes, sir, thank you very much.

So this morning, when I came in, he told me that he'd had a nightmare that my husband tried to attack him because work stress had caused my ankles to explode. He then propped my trashcan under my legs and told me to take it easy and roll my socks down if I needed to. It was very sweet.