2/12/2020

The Joys of Breastfeeding

There really is tremendous joy in breastfeeding. I couldn't imagine doing it very well before Ellie was born, but now that she's here, I'm proud and happy that I can feed her and share that physically connected time with her. I've learned that some women are not able to breastfeed, even when they really want to and try their hardest, so I don't take it for granted. Additionally, I know that formula nourishes a baby well, also.

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but Ellie can really be the most adorable goofball, and this trait can show up during breastfeeding. Early on, she would do this little routine where she would be interacting with the breast as though it was it's own entity, and she was being sort of dramatic and pushing it around - like, you're my breast and I can do what I want kind of thing. lol She will now grab my shirt and pull back and forth roughly, like a 30's gangster or something, when she's frustrated with milk flow. She will also start grunting to express her frustration, which is my favorite sound she makes (no).

When she's hungry and super pleased with her breast and how it's flowing, she coos and makes happy sounds - I love it! Having her warm little body lying against me and little sucking feeling as she feeds is very sweet. I will breastfeed while watching TV in the afternoon for an extended session, while she does "non-nutritive," as labeled by the lactation consultant, sucking.

Along the way, I've also discovered the downsides to breast feeding, which include milk supply. As an older mother, I guess this is more commonly an issue. It took a while for my supply to come in at the beginning, and we supplemented with donor milk, but then the supply came in and looked good for a while, then recently has not quite met the need again. It's super frustrating. I never thought I would sit there squeezing the life out of my boobs and not have a care for how it feels to me, just praying they produce a little more milk.

This usually happens later in the day, and the lactation consultant told us it's fine to supplement a little with formula in the evening. I'd rather not until six months, so, as we are getting down to the last couple bottles of donor milk we bought initially, I'm considering buying more. If we incorporate formula, I hope to mix it with pumped milk in the evening.

The other downside that has kicked my butt off and on is clogged milk ducts. They are the worst. A big lump develops in your breast, like a rock, and you're supposed to massage it hard. Ouch! I've managed to work them out every time with hot showers, massage, and gravity feeds, but this last one required a needle.

WTF! you say. Let me explain... A couple of "blebs," as they call these little milk blisters, had formed on my right breast, and I developed a clogged duct. For the first time, I started feeling flu-like symptoms indicative of an inflammatory process. After reading about it on Google, of course, I called the lactation consultant who determined I did not have mastitis. She told me I had to sterilize a needle and puncture the blebs so milk could get through. Yeah, that's as fun as it sounds, though a little less painful than I'd feared. After trying a couple times, it worked, thank God. Such a relief.

I will say that I think it's all worth it for me, and I'm going to try and continue for at least another several months. Ellianna turned four months on February 10th! I will write about her four-month doctor's appointment coming up this Friday, as well as our Parenting Now group, in my next post.

1/08/2020

Happy New Year!

Thank you sooo much to those of you that commented when I was feeling sad and vulnerable. I really appreciate it, and it very much helped!

I rarely have much time to post now because of Little Miss, but I wanted to share a few memorable happenings from the holidays:

RC's oldest son from Texas came to visit with his wife and four (!) kids, ages 4-years up to 12-years AND, at the last minute, his youngest son came down from Portland and stayed two nights on our floor. The family stayed in an airbnb but hung out at our quite small townhouse for a good portion of the time. That was interesting, especially considering the 4-year-old is very energetic! But we loved seeing his sons and grandkids (my grandkids, too? eek!) meet and interact with Ellie. I am so happy these relatives are in her/our lives. I feel she is a little more secure in life with more folks who love her. :)

We went to my Dad's and fiance's house for Christmas eve and had a delicious prime rib and crab dinner. I breastfed her at the table again and am getting comfortable with doing that whenever needed - with family, at restaurants, in the car. lol

Christmas morning, after an impromptu visit from RC's family (we had plans to spend time with them in the afternoon), we went to my sister's house. I was so proud of Ellie and how she was able to hang out in her car seat for a good amount of time. I fed her once (my family takes a long time to open gifts!) and was still able to participate and watch my nieces and nephew and the rest of the family open their gifts, which I'd been a little worried about. It was a great morning, and my family liked their gifts and gave some special gifts to Ellie, too, which was fun. Christmas afternoon and evening we spent with RC's family and made a delicious standing rib roast for dinner.

I will say it was challenging to be in the role of both hosting out-of-town guests and participating in local family gatherings. It would have been great to combine both, but we couldn’t host that huge group here, and it would have been a big stretch for my sister to do it, also. In any case, she didn’t offer, and I didn’t think I should ask. I did feel it out indirectly, and it was clear that would be a no go. So we tried to both spend as much time with his family as possible AND participate in local family activities, which was hectic at times. We did it though, and overall, Ellianna’s first Christmas was wonderful.

New Year’s was nothing special in and of itself, but we are doing some reflecting and goal setting that I think will be meaningful. I, and I think RC, are doing the 101 goals in 1001 days that Risa posted about recently on her blog. One goal is to find a fairly close part time job in Eugene, hopefully within the next few months. On reflection, working from home with the baby is just totally unrealistic for me, unless we were able to afford in-home care. In the meanwhile, and likely concurrently, I will continue to attend my business networking group and be open to new career counseling clients.

On New Year's Eve, we reflected back to when we became engaged last year. Then, we spent New Year's Day at a beautiful light house and beach location on the Oregon coast and have some wonderful memories. I can’t believe so much has happened in a year!

Lastly, I’ll share that embryo donation has been at the forefront of my mind lately. I have struggled with wanting to try again with our remaining embryos, but we don’t feel it’s  realistic for us right now, unless something changed. So, we are now considering embryo donation, as well. It’s interesting to look at profiles now from a totally different angle, after looking at various profiles from an infertility lens.

 I’ll leave you with a couple pictures of Ellie and family taken over the holidays. Happy New Year!






11/24/2019

Sad

I guess since my blog is about being real and living an authentic life, I’ll share that I feel really sad that no one commented on Ellie’s birth story post. It’s weird, I almost feel like it’s a rejection or lack of caring about her, which intellectually I know is not true, but it’s interesting watching the feelings that come up. I’m not sure what else to say on this right now but will continue to reflect. Needless to say, if you feel moved to make any comment on her birth story, I would feel happy and grateful.

11/16/2019

Birth Story

I totally understand now why other bloggers have gone for months before they post their birth stories. Our reality is so different now, and my time and energy is much more limited. I’d like to save the memory and story on my blog, though, so here is a rough version anyway…

Our birth date was planned because of me being higher risk due to my age but also the polyhydramnios that happened in the third trimester. So, my doctors scheduled me for a C-section at 39 weeks.

We went into the hospital at 5 AM on October 10, as instructed, and I was registered and checked in in one of the hospital rooms. I guess this isn’t normally done in those rooms, but the smaller check in rooms were unavailable or something. The nurse checking me in then attempted to place an IV, but it was a total fail. She tried twice, but it wouldn’t flow, and it hurt so bad I almost screamed. I then said I was not going to go through a third try with her, and they called the IV therapy nurse who was much more skilled.  She had no problem placing it on the first try.

Then, I was visited by doctors, first the anesthesiologist who I initially thought was a little quirky and could’ve had more warmth or compassion, but he turned out to be pretty awesome, which I’ll share later. Then I was visited by my primary maternal fetal medicine doctor, and she was her normal upbeat, kind and jovial self.  She always manages to instill confidence and normalize what you’re going through, which was great at that time.

We found out that the cesarean would be done by both her and the head of the maternal fetal medicine department, who we had met with before and had basically trained and mentored her. He was on call that shift, and she came in special, so they teamed up, which made us feel very secure and well cared for.

Prior to her visit, though, the nurses hooked me up for a final stress test. Stress tests were definitely not my favorite test in the third trimester. They are so uncomfortable and it seems like my girl would always be moving around a lot and they would lose her heartbeat and have toStart over or go longer and I just felt she was pushed around inside me in the process, which I hated. Anyway, this time the machine stopped recording for some unknown reason so they had to go longer but finally got what the doctor needed.

Once all that was done with, I would say the rest of the procedure flowed smoothly and really was a positive, powerful experience for us overall. They wheeled me back to the OR, and RC had to wait in the hallway while they prepped me. He said it seemed like forever that he was waiting. From my perspective, the doctors and staff in the OR worked like a large, well oiled machine, with multiple smaller groups in different parts of the room.

The anesthesiologist gave me a spinal, and that was a little uncomfortable because I had to hunch over like a turtle for a bit of time while he injected it in the specific place it needed to go between the vertebrae. Both he and my doctor were coaching me, however, so I felt supported and it didn’t hurt badly.  When the spinal anesthesia kicked in, it was the craziest feeling. The lower half of my body was total deadweight, and I couldn’t have moved if my life depended on it. I just felt like my legs were hanging there kind of splayed so that was weird, but I trusted the doctors and basically surrendered to the procedure at that point.

Around that time, RC was let in the room, and I was very glad to see him. They put up the curtain in front of me. I remember having some anxiety, and the anesthesiologist suddenly became my best friend. He was super calm and reassuring and best of all kept me informed of everything that was happening as it happened. I truly felt like he was coaching me through the process.

Next comes the best part… I knew the doctors were about to cut into me, so I was very tuned in to feeling any sensation whatsoever, but I never did. She tested first before pinching or poking me or something, and I didn’t react at all. Anyway, I knew they had begun, but I didn’t know  exactly where they were in the timeline, until I heard the head doctor guy, who is a really big, bald former basketball player, by the way, so you have an image, say, “Hi there, Cutie!” Oh my heart. I knew at that point that they had cut into the uterus and could actually see her.  Sorry if that grosses anyone out, but to me it was so beautiful.

Next thing we knew they were taking her out and my doctor held her up and said, “Hi, Mama!” I immediately started sobbing. It was overwhelming and so incredibly beautiful. I definitely loved her immeasurably right away. RC and I were both overcome with joy and love, and I babbled, “I love her so much! She’s so beautiful! etc.”

Because of the polyhydramnios,  a representative from the NICU had to take her briefly over to make sure her airway was clear, which it was. RC went over with him and cut the cord. They lifted part of the curtain for me so  I could see that happening, which I felt grateful about. Then they brought her over to me and put her on my chest. Queue more overwhelmed weeping of awe and love.

Of course, we saw when my doctor  lifted her out that she had a head full of dark hair. I thought all along that I wanted a more bald baby but when I saw her, I could not have imagined anything different. She was perfect. And I love her hair so much, we both do. We play with it all the time, and it’s so soft.


After I held her for a while, and the doctors were stitching me up, we all moved back into the recovery room. I’m trying, but I can’t remember a lot about that time period. Probably, in large part, because I was on pain meds at that point and dozing off and on a little, totally blissed out with her on my chest.  know I held her for a lot of it, but they also cleaned her off and weighed and measured her, which RC accompanied her for. After her measuring on the big side in our ultrasounds and the doctor predicting her weight at around 9 pounds, we were surprised when she came out at 7 lbs. 15 oz.

I will write more about our hospital stay later but will post this much now..,

10/18/2019

She’s Here!

She’s here! 🎉😍👶

Ellianna Grace Bennett Cheney
Arrived Thursday, October 10th, 8:04am by cesarean section
7lbs 14oz (NOT Nine or 10 pounds as predicted by the ultrasound/doctors 🙄), 19 inches long, lots of hair! ❤️❤️❤️
Mommy, Daddy, and Ellie were in the hospital until Monday, October 14th.
Now working on breast-feeding and helping Ellie gain weight; not so easy to say the least.

Birth story to follow later…







9/07/2019

Pregnancy Update #13 - Ultrasound: big baby! extra fluid...

I haven't been posting regularly. I think, in part, because my energy is going towards dealing with these intense 3rd trimester symptoms. It really is like night and day. Up until 30-32 weeks, I had a relatively easy, smooth time of things, then, WHAM, 3rd trimester swoops in and transforms the experience.

Insomnia got real, and I would find myself awake at 2 even 3am in the morning, then if I did sleep, it would be in short, frustrating intervals. Every time I'd try to lay down, I'd feel hot and itchy and restless, both in my body and mind. I know better than to lie there trying to force it, so up I'd get. RC is working swing shift right now and starts at 4am, so he got a surprise morning greeting a couple of times when he came downstairs. After trying Benadryl to no great effect, the doctor finally prescribed Ambien, which at least allows me to sleep more soundly, though I still don't drop off until 1 or 2am.

The worst new symptom, though, is carpal tunnel. I won't even be able to make this post as long as I'd like because my hands are already getting tingly and painful. Anyone who has had serious carpal tunnel knows what I'm talking about. It's relentless. At the very least, I have tingling and numbness all. the. time. Then it regularly moves into aching and pain. Nothing completely relieves it. Icing, tylenol, and a couple of specific stretches can take the edge off a little but not for long. I'm wearing braces at night but am not sure how much they're helping. My doctor referred me for a cortizone shot, but the hand specialists who do these can't see me until the 20th. Argh.

I've also gained more weight and in addition to feeling overextended with a watermelon-sized belly, I get tired and winded fairly quickly and have to make use of chairs and benches that were mainly installed for the elderly. RC has been kind and patient overall and has helped me navigate these challenges. After I broke two glass carafes for our french press within a few days - thank you carpal tunnel and lack of feeling in my fingers - he took over the coffee making duties for both of us. lol

The news is not all bad, however. Our little Ellie is active and growing, and we are experiencing the thrill of big movement and little feet pushing against the top of my belly, so that I can touch them and give a little push back. So cute! I love it so much. :) She's so long, and, now that she's head down, I can feel kicks at the top and simultaneous churny, tickly feelings at the bottom. I'm definitely blessed with the gift of kicks and pressure on my bladder at this point, which really feels strange. I'm not losing bladder control, though, for which I'm grateful.

Which leads me to the best part of my post, our ultrasound yesterday. You'll never guess how much little girl weighs now...6lbs 4oz!!! That's birth weight, my friends, OMG! The doctor anticipates her growing to near 9lbs by 39 weeks, and says she is leaning towards a c-section, that being the case. She has told us that with her own pregnancy, she had decided that if her son were over 8lbs, she would choose c-section (she was on the older side, too, around 40). If I were lower risk, I don't think this would be the natural course, but all things considered...including that we discovered I have polyhydramnios or high amniotic fluid, which adds some risk, as well. My level is mild to moderate, and she said they will just keep an eye on it. It makes me nervous, though. Has anyone else had this diagnosis? There doesn't seem to be any particular actions I can take to address it, so I have just recommitted to getting some exercise every day and trying to keep up a healthy diet. I admit to eating chips regularly, but the doctor said it has nothing to do with salt intake. It's probably partly why my stomach feels so huge and distended...

Anyway, all the other news was good. She's still measuring big in the 70-90th percentile on individual measurements and over two weeks ahead developmentally. Her heart and organs look great, and we captured some amazing pictures. I will share a couple of my favorites below. That's all for now. We are going on our babymoon to Bend tomorrow through Wednesday, and I hope to enjoy it and spend some time outside. Baby shower (scheduled on the 28th) is coming along, and my sister generously offered to have it at her house - a great location - so that's exciting. It feels like we have turned the corner and are on the final stretch.😅



8/03/2019

Pregnancy Update #12 - Early Third Trimester Ultrasound

We had another ultrasound last Tuesday! Some highlights:
  • Saw little Ellie kicking her feet like she was tap dancing. So cute! I feel this sensation sometimes, so it's fun to see her in action.
  • She's 3lbs 7oz, measuring almost two weeks ahead! Is this common? It was 28wks 5days, and she measured 30wks 3days. Our big girl. So glad she's growing well.
  • I was given my Rhogam shot a couple of weeks ago, since my blood type is O-. Happy to have that done to make sure and protect her, in case her blood type is positive.
  • At the end of Tuesday's appointment, the nurse gave me the TDAP injection. Big needle, a little uncomfortable, but the worst part is definitely the sore arm that lasts for several days. It's gone now, and again, it's worth it to keep her safe.
  • We got a better 3D picture of her face. Such a precious little face. If you can't tell, I'm falling more and more in love! 


With regards to my own symptoms and how the pregnancy is progressing, I will say there has definitely been a shift towards greater discomfort. Here are some examples:
  • My stomach now feels overextended on a regular basis. The feeling is akin to an overblown balloon that may soon pop. lol It really is quite uncomfortable. It's worse after I have eaten or if I'm bloated and/or constipated, which happens regularly. 
  • Insomnia or, as one of my pregnancy apps calls it, "disrupted sleep." I have trouble falling asleep and often end up getting up for another 45 minutes to an hour before I can finally relax and nod off. Then I wake up every hour to two hours for the first half of the night to pee and/or change positions, get another chunk of sleep, wake up once more, then sleep for another hour or so. So. many. dreams. Stupid, overly and unnecessarily detailed dreams. I usually like analyzing dreams. Not these. I wake up and shake my head and try to forget and move on. 
  • Physical limitations in terms of shortness of breath and stamina. We went to Costco today, and I knew I could not traipse all over that warehouse of a store like normal. So, I drove one of those little scooters with the cart on the front. heehee I cracked myself up, but it worked and was just what I needed. We went to the county fair the other day, and we had fun, but I had to take regular breaks to sit down and keep drinking water. 
  • Basically, I feel like I'm past the "cute" pregnant stage and into the part where I look like a walking beach ball. I'm so big! I can't believe I have another 9.5 weeks to go.
Not that we are ready for her yet! We still need to get the room done (we are doing NW forest/forest animals theme), and I was finally just able to schedule the baby shower with my friend who is generously co-hosting it at my sister's house for Saturday, September 28th. I know it's really late to have a shower - my due date for induction/c-section is October 10th at 39 weeks - but it's literally the only date she was available, and I really need and appreciate her being in the hosting role. My sister is just too busy and not really into that kind of thing. I'm super happy she's opening her house for it, though. Anyway, tell me it will be okay to have it that late? Praying over here that I'll be physically able to enjoy it, and that Ellie won't decide to make an early appearance.

I have more life stuff to share, but I'll save that for another post. Suffice to say, I'm so grateful and full of gratitude and joy for my little girl and getting to feel - and share with RC - all her activity. AND I'm feeling kind of generally anxious and overwhelmed and would love to just hibernate and not deal with the world for a while.  More soon... hope you're having a lovely, fun-filled summer so far.