Tag Archives: imogen

Holiday Humbug

Holiday Humbug

It's Immi's first Christmas. I should be elated, overjoyed, ecstatic even. In some ways I am, but in other ways I'm not.

Sonogram 20111128-blogLet me introduce you to Connor Elliot Olivier (Baby A), brother and twin of Imogen Marie Olivier (Baby B). Some people know about him, but most don't. This time last year was literally the worst time of my life. I do not exaggerate. It was miserable.

The Monday after Thanksgiving we went in for a routine appointment with our high-risk OB. Since we were doing IVF, and I'm wicked old, and I'd lost a baby, I'm high risk. Go figure. So, we go to our appointment, only to find out that one of the babies has heart issues. We did further testing and found out that the twins were a boy and a girl. The boy had the heart problems. He would most likely not survive much longer. We already had a trip to Hawaii booked. We went to Maui & Kauai. It was a beautiful trip, but I was pretty miserable the entire time. I couldn't stop thinking about the baby boy. Was he still alive? Was he getting worse right this second? How was the girl? Would she know about her brother deep down? Would she miss him? It was just a total mindfuck all around.

We were both so miserable, we didn't do anything for Christmas. I did manage to put up our tree 3 days before Christmas. I was glad I did. Our cat Toe, who we also call "Christmas Kittie",  LURVS her some Christmas tree. She can't get enough. She likes to lay under the tree belly-up staring up at the tree when it's all lit up. It gave me a little happiness when there was none to be found. That also reminds me. This time last year we had all our 3 kitties. They were all healthy, alive, and cozy lovely. (We've lost 2 of them this year - Sundae in March, and Mama (aka Walla) in October.)

We ate Christmas dinner at Threadgill's. Usually that would bum me out, but it was actually kind of awesome. The food was delicious and it was a great vibe there. We didn't have to fake being all holiday cheerful with family or anything. No pretending, just the two of us at a restaurant eating good southern food. I even cheated on my gluten-freeness and ate some chicken-fried chicken. Treat for me, but I definitely paid for it about an hour later. Quickest reaction I'd ever had. S'ok, it was totes worth it.

My mom came to visit after Christmas since we were so miserable, and she wanted to hug me. She's a great mom that way. While she was here, we found out on December 30th that Connor was gone. There was some risk to Imogen, the next couple weeks would be stressful too. Once we passed those couple of weeks I thought we were in the clear.

But we all know the risk was not over. The reason Immi came early was Connor. He had settled onto my cervix and my cervix started to thin. Thus, I was put into the hospital on bed rest. I gave birth to Connor on April 3rd. Immi was born April 7th.

EDITED TO ADD: I started writing this about a week before Christmas. In that time, maybe because of putting these thoughts into words, I was able to get more into the Christmas spirit. My only regret is that my mom and brother weren't with me. But otherwise, it was a pretty fantastic holiday. Next year will be oodles and oodles better even, I imagine. Immi will be older and I'm guessing more into getting gifts and whatnot. I'll actually do stocking stuffers, and maybe even shop earlier than a week before Christmas. I will always think of Connor with a bit of sadness this time of year, but for Immi it will always be a happy time. I'm sure the pain will lessen every year that passes. I will always remember 2011 for being the year I lost my 2 baby boys. It was a total suck ass year. But, I'll look into Immi's eyes, and it will always make me smile. I might not have my boys, but I do have her. And she is precious and magical and the happiest baby I've ever encountered. I really can't ask for more than that.

So, with that, I say Happy Holidays.

Breastfeeding sucks

Breastfeeding sucks

When my baby girl was born premature, I didn't think twice. I grabbed the hospital-provided pumping supplies and proceeded to pump like a fiend. Well, actually, my husband had to grab them and nudge me awake every 2-3 hours to pump. I was trying to recover from a c-section and was properly drugged up. Once we got home, the duties fell to me. It was hard, but I did it. I pumped 8-10 times a day, while also visiting my daughter at least twice a day. It was no easy feat, but I happily did it. Hell, I produced so much milk, I had a surplus. A nice stash I proudly flaunted on Facebook.

That damn stash haunted me in June after Imogen came home.

No one really gave us any real advice about how to switch to mostly breastfeeding after we got home. I called the lactation consultants at the hospital and they told me that I needed to stop pumping. So, for 4 days, that's what I did. WORST. ADVICE. EVER. I almost completely lost my supply. I went from an oversupply, to almost losing it. For the next couple weeks, I struggled with trying to breastfeed Immi, and then supplement with a bottle from my frozen stash. When the stash ran out at the end of June (woohoo! I had a month's worth. Yay me!), We had to go to formula. We started with Similac Neosure.

After a week or so of being home from the hospital, Immi started getting super fussy. All. day. long. She would sleep well at night though, so it could definitely have been worse. But if she was awake, she was fussy. You could clearly tell she was in pain, and that was why she was fussy. She would scrunch up her whole body while screaming, then let loose a machine-gun torrent of poots or an explosive boom of poo, and she would settle for a few minutes until the cycle started over. It was really hard to see her go through that. In one of her diapers we found this long stringy bit of blood, and her poo was really mucous-y. Come to find out both of those things can indicate an allergy of some sort. The most common of the allergies is milk protein (not lactose). Neosure had milk in it. So, at the advice of the pediatrician's nurse, we switched to Similac Isomil (Soy). After a little over a week, it wasn't getting better. I had cut dairy out of my diet, cuz milk proteins that I eat make their way into the breast milk. I had researched milk allergies, and something like 30% of kiddos with milk protein allergies will also have problems with soy. Lovely. We talked to the nurse again, described things, and she recommended Similac Alimentum. The most expensive damn formula on the planet. Some insurance companies cover such things, lucky us, ours doesn't. The first day on that formula she was a completely different creature. She could actually sit in her swing or lambie chair and just be happy to be looking around. No screaming, no crying, no scrunching. My baby is allergic to milk protein and soy. And I thought my gluten-free lifestyle was a pain.

Back to my supply issues... Mike finally got frustrated enough, and I couldn't bring myself to do it, so he called a lactation consultant. We went to visit her. She was very pro-attachment parenting. We are not. So, that was kinda odd. She told us things like, "a crib is for nighttime sleeping only. you wear your baby during the day." Or my fave, in response to our desire to be able to bottle-feed a couple of times a day so I can have a break to do things or to just have a break, "nonono, you can leave the house, just don't go beyond a 10 mile radius so you can come back quickly to feed the baby". I paraphrase, but that's the gist. But the clincher, the pièce de résistance was her math skills, or lack thereof. She said that we needed to feed the baby two times her weight in ounces. So, the way she figured it was -- Immi was 9 lbs 12 ounces at the time. To her, that was 9.12 (in the real world, that's really 9.75). So, she should eat 18.3 ounces. We kinda look at her funny, and question her about that, but she waves our concerns off. We weighed Immi before and after feeding and she was only getting 1 ounce from me after 40 minutes on the boob. She could eat 3 ounces in a bottle at that time. But, the LC tells us we need to feed the baby every 2 hours for the next 3 days, and only supplement with 1 oz in a bottle according to her math. Everything we'd read said that you multiply the babies weight times 2.5 to determine ounces. But, we figure she's certified, she has to know what she's talking about right?

Wrong. That bitch was flippin' nuts. For almost 2 days, I starved my child because of that whack job. We thought she was fussy with milk/soy? You ain't seen nothing til you underfeed a child. We finally call the pediatrician to find out what we should be feeding her. We should be feeding her 25.5 ounces. Ahhh. Mike talks to the LC and even confronts her about her awful math, and she still won't admit that anything was wrong. To her, 9.12 is a bigger number than 9.2 (9 lbs 2 oz). Yeah.

A few days later we find another LC that is actually more in line with how we want to tackle the issue. I want to feed my child, and tackle my supply problem. I didn't necessarily want to use her to do it. So, I would pump vigorously and feed my child. We'd meet again when the two got closer. She also knew how to do math, and that it was 2.5 times not 2. I got an herbal supplement, a prescription drug, and finally had some hope that this might just work out. I finally felt good again after over a month of misery. My child is finally home from the hospital! I should not have been that damn miserable!

Well, we are now at a month past then. My supply is definitely up. So you get a sense of the numbers... I was pumping about 20 ounces a day when Immi was in the NICU. When I stopped pumping due to the first bad LC advice, my supply went down to about 3 ounces a day. When I went to see the second LC, my supply was at about 5-6 ounces a day. I'm now up to about 12-15 ounces a day, but my daughter drinks around 26-30 ounces a day. I can't manage to pump the requisite 8-10 pumps a day. I'm looking after a baby, a fussy baby. I can usually get in 7 if I work really hard at it. So, I can continue to struggle with this mess, worrying if my milk is still making her fussy, having to constantly supplement breastfeeding with a bottle which makes each feeding time take 1.5 hours usually, or just stop. Stop feeling the guilt. The shame. The judgment. I can stop all that and take all that extra time and just enjoy my flippin' girl. Play with her, love her, and show her the world. Instead of feeling like I'm chained to the damn pump, and thus house bound at all times. The thought of leaving my house frightens me! This should not be how it is!

Another side topic... I am not the type of person to whip out my boob in public to feed my baby either. I have enormous boobs. They are GINORMOUS with milk, I am not even about to try to whip these puppies out "discreetly" in public. Not gonna do it. More power to the ladies that do it, and I feel like they should have the freedom to. It's just not for me. I'm a closeted breastfeeder. Also, I never felt that awesome bonding thing you hear about. Probably because the whole thing is so damn stressful to me. I'm constantly thinking about this problem. When can I pump? Is she going to be too fussy for me to pump? Am I going to pump enough? Is my supply increasing yet? How long is breastfeeding suppose to take, cuz I really need to go pump so I can make my next target of pumping in 2 hours. On top of all this it's getting to where I can't sleep. I only get two 3-hour intervals to sleep at night usually. And for the first hour or two of that, my mind is racing with all those previous questions. It's driving me mad! You get the awful picture.

So, just a couple of hours ago. I finally made the decision. I'm going to stop. I was surprised at how emotional I got once I made the decision. But the second I did it, my fussy baby stopped being fussy and looked up at her dad and me and gave us the greatest series of smiles. If I ever doubted it was the right thing to do, I do not doubt anymore. I gave her my milk when she needed it the most -- when she was so tiny and needed every possible chance. I will always be proud of that. Now it's time to give her ME. The fun me, the less stressed me, the mom I've been waiting to be.

ETA 8/4/12: Immi has been on frozen breast milk exclusively for the past 3 days. Her allergy symptoms have returned -- congestion, more spitting up, explosive mucousy poos. That was milk from me being completely soy and dairy free. So, this is even more proof for me that I've done the right thing. I really don't want to expose her to something else she's allergic to and cause her more issues down the line. I'm going to investigate donating the rest of the frozen stash to the Milk Bank of Austin.

Brrrrrr.... Birth

Brrrrrr.... Birth

So, let's rewind a sec. I'm gonna talk about the birth. Nothing gross or anything. Just what all went down. Okay, maybe a little gross stuff. But on my scale of grossness, it's really nothing.

So, the doctor came in and was like... Bam! C-Section. Let's do this. But, yanno, more doctor-y.

The nurses put me in a wheel chair while I'm having a contraction, I hear Mike is on the phone with someone. I remember something he said like "Oh, this is happening fast. Gotta go."

They wheel me into the operating room. I see a couple surgical techs/nurses prepping away. They tell me to get on the table. Then the anesthesiologist tells me what he's gonna do. I'm seriously only thinking about my contractions. They hurt. How the hell is he gonna manage to do this while they are happening. Good luck to you my man. At some point about here, I look at him and said something like "You're Dr. Miller?". He says yes. And I kinda laugh and said "Elizabeth K. said you'd be on call tonight, and that you're good. I hope she's right." We have a slight conversation about how I know Elizabeth K. We chuckle. Small world and all that. I do my back like he wants, and bam. That's pretty much that. I lay down on the table and then I start to feel nothing.

andrea-or

Well, I exaggerate. I feel cold. Damn cold. Right as he's telling me that shivering/feeling cold is a common side effect, I start shivering. He puts some warm blankets on me, then he puts this blow up plastic thing with a warm air hose attached to it. While it does feel nice, I never stop shivering.

I'm so concentrated on the shivering I really have no idea when my OB - Dr. Stephanie McNelis - came in. I remember the occasional comment from her, but truly my strongest memory is just being cold. The kind of shivering that is just exhausting. I do remember falling asleep from time to time and my snoring would wake me up. I remember the doctor saying something about my intestines... (that turned out to be cuz my intestines were very oddly positioned around my uterus. The doc had never seen it before.)... She said something about the baby's head being really funny shaped but that's what hats are for.

I remember Mike sitting next to my head. I remember wanting to scratch my nose a lot. And I remember shivering.

Once the baby was here, I guess I was out again. Mike tells the story of a 10 minute long wait of not knowing whether she was ok. I just remember him saying she was ok, and him asking me if it was ok for him to leave me to go with her. Weirdo. Of course you go with the baby to the NICU! I'm sure this won't be the last time he has to pick between the two of us. Poor boy.

According to Mike, I was in the OR for quite a while afterwards. I remember them moving me from the OR table to a bed, and the clock in there showed 7:40am. The baby was born at 6:16am. Interesting.

Also, when they moved me, someone ripped out my IV from my upper right arm. I look at it and ask to no one in particular "Won't I be needing that?"

They wheel me into recovery and some other new dude is working on putting another IV in me. This one is in my right hand and it's really annoying. No worries, this turns out to not be my last one. It gets infiltrated in a couple days and I have to get another one put in anyway. The guy who put in my final IV had scrubs on that said Austin Anesthesiology Group, so I ask him if he knows Elizabeth K. He kinda chuckles and says yes, and asks me how I know her. Before I mention her name he was kinda cold and disinterested. Not mean by any stretch, just focused maybe. Maybe even annoyed at being asked to do an IV (I'm not the easiest stick, so I always warn the nurses). I tell him how I know her, and he tells me about a party they had the weekend before. He just said she's pretty wild, with a big smile. That loosens him up, and he tells me about his family and his almost experience with the NICU.

Anyway, I digress. So, I'm in recovery with a new IV that sucks. I'm shivering. I think I'm even shivering harder than in the OR. The nurses there say something about getting an order for demerol, but in the meantime they start covering me in warm blankets and then another one of those plastic suits with warm air hoses. They did get an OK for demerol, apparently it heats you up from the inside. Yes! I'll take it!

These two nurses in recovery are funny. They clean me up, get me some underwear and some pads. And they have to start to massaging my uterus. The first couple times was cool cuz I still had the spinal meds going through. They keep commenting on how hard my ab muscles are and they have a difficult time massaging my uterus cuz of them. My hard abs. That's what I'm known for, yo. No, seriously, it's kinda funny. I guess it gets written on some chart somewhere, so every nurse that goes to massage my lady junk says something like "I hear you have hard abs to get past... Oh wow, you do." Hard abs under all this flab. Hell yeah. The recovery nurses keep telling me how much they like me and how fun I am. I do not remember why they have this opinion. Maybe my awesome wit and stuff was showing.

Mike came to visit me a couple times in recovery, I think I just kept falling asleep... snoring.. waking myself up. His sister, Jane, came in and visited once too. After 2 hours of being in there, and me gaining the ability to move my legs myself, they moved me to my post-partum room. I call it a room, but really, it was like a closet. So small! I have too much stuff from my Labor & Delivery Suite. Mike has to take a lot of stuff home.

Someone tells me I have 12 hours of bed rest before I can get up. That means I have at least 12 hours before I can see my baby girl. My baby girl. MY. BABY. GIRL. So surreal.

To Be Continued...

Our New Addition

Our New Addition

So, this is gonna be a bit long. I'm gonna try to glance over some stuff, but it's still gonna be long. I'm just warning ya. In fact, it will probably take a couple posts.

On March 21, 2012, I went to my Maternal Fetal Medicine appointment first thing in the morning. This was just a normal appointment. Check out the baby, see all is well, see me in another 4 weeks. However, this appointment did not go that way. They did a cervical check on me and told me my cervix was thinning and that I was being checked into the hospital for the "duration of the pregancy". 'Scuse me, wuh? You do know that's 3 months away, right? Yup. I'll go home and get clothes. Um, nope. Check in now. Okay.

So, Mike and I go across the street to check in to Labor & Delivery at St. David's North Austin Women's Center. These people are not playing. I immediately am told to strip, get comfy, and an IV is started. Not long after that, I'm given a catheter. Ugh. I thought that was bad. No, it got worse. I was given magnesium sulfate to make sure I did not get any contractions. That stuff is awful. I was given it for 24 hours. Some women are given it for 48 hours. I can't imagine. I was also given steroids for the baby. In case she did come early, they wanted to get her lungs as prepped as possible. They said "this is gonna burn", I just nod like "yah, ok", cuz when does it really burn that bad? Um, this time. It surprised me so much I said something like "Oh, shit!" Got that shot again in 24 hours. Sucked the 2nd time too.

So, after about 5 days of grossness, I was finally able to shower. This made me a completely new person. Even nurses that had seen me before would come in and be like "Wow, you look awesome!". Yah, it's amazing what being clean can do for a person.

Let's fast forward about 11 more days. I feel like I have a bladder infection or some nonsense. The pain is crazy. I test positive for a UTI. I get some antibiotics.

On Friday, April 6th around 6am, I wake up. I sit there for about 20-30 seconds contemplating getting my butt up to go pee. Before I can even move a muscle, I feel liquid let loose. My original thought was "Wow, that's quite an infection to just lose control of my bladder." I stand up next to the bed and the liquid keeps coming. Hunh. That's not my bladder. I yell at Mike to call the nurse, I go the bathroom. I did still need to pee. So I did that, but I'm still leaking.

They get me all situated, they get me an ultrasound. I've gone from 11cm of fluid to 7cm or fluid. Nothing awful, but yes the bag is broken. They tell me women can go weeks like this. Baby is doing well. No big thang.

They hook me up to the monitors for fetal heart rate and contractions. They see I'm having contractions. I don't feel them. That's good. A couple hours later, I start feeling them. Then I really start feeling them. They give me some meds to dull them and maybe slow them. Time for bed, they give me Ambien to help me get some rest.

imogen1

They wake me up around 5:30am, and tell me my contractions are maybe stressing the baby. They put me on oxygen, that doesn't help. My doctor is luckily the one on call, and I guess she had a feeling about me, so she stuck around. She comes in and tells me, she's gonna check my cervix. My cervix is a very popular topic of discussion in the hospital. I'm only 1cm, so that means contractions are just gonna get worse. She says it's time to get the baby. C-section. Wow.

Imogen Marie Olivier was born at 6:16am on Friday, April 7th. She was 30 weeks, 2 days. NICU will be her home for the next several weeks.