Saturday, January 14, 2012

One week old. One week down. One crazy week!

Marek was born on Saturday night and we came home from the hospital on Monday morning.  Their policy would have allowed another day, but I was bored, the boys were bored and Ryan was pretty bored too. 

I came home to a wonderfully clean house, with all the laundry finished and a lasagna ready to bake for dinner.  Ryan has done an amazing job with the boys and the house, which can't be easy, considering he was just thrown into the details of our daily routine (really, I swear I'm not crazy, but there's a gazillion things to keep straight as you go through the day and missing the timing of just one can lead to a pre-schooler peeing his pants during naptime).  With the way he's jumped in to help deal with the house and kids and meals and me and the baby, I'm pretty sure I have the best husband ever right now, so all you single ladies can just give up, Prince Charming is already taken. 

So far this week, we've handled pre-school, doctor appointments for weight checks, a trip to Pump it Up, more doctor appointments, a grocery trip, a Babies' R Us trip, pre-school again, more doctor visits, and an afternoon of bowling.  Even with a new baby, we've been just as busy as ever with Pete and Chester.

On to the baby related news:  Marek is eating well and gaining weight.  I cannot sufficiently express my joy over this but many of you know how badly I struggled feeding Pete and Chester.  At the Navy Hospital where Pete was born, I was told he was a "big baby" (at 8lbs 10oz- the smallest of my children) and would have blood sugar problems because he hadn't eaten 3oz of colostrum in the first two hours after his birth.  There's so many things wrong with that, but I had no idea, and instead he was given bottles of formula until my milk came in three days later.  By then we had no chance of getting his latch right and he ended up hurting me when nursing directly and mostly ate bottles of pumped breast milk.  Chester's saga was a little different, his latch was inhibited by a tight frenulum, but the result was the same, he totally mangled my nipples, leaving me cracked and bleeding for months.  He also had poor weight gain, so we supplemented Chester with bottles of pumped breast milk.  Finally I have a child who seems to be on the right track. Marek has already regained his birth weight by day four, and I have no new significant damage to my breasts.  This is how breastfeeding should be and I am forever grateful to BG, SBH and the lactation counselors here in Beverly for everything they've done to get us on the right track this time. 

Caution: graphic breast details- skip this paragraph if you don't want to know.  Thursday, after meeting with the Lactation Consultant, I was sent to a breast surgeon who numbed the nipple and sliced the scar tissue that had been covering a milk duct for over a year, since Chester mangled me.  As soon as she did it, the pressure released and the gobs of old milk that had been stuck behind the skin came out like stepping on a toothpaste tube.  We are hoping it won't seal over the opening again as it heals, but it already feels a million times better when Marek eats.

I even had a chance to enjoy a girls' night out with SH, LG and LK on Friday night, though I guess it wasn't a true girls' night, since Marek came along with me.  And this afternoon, there's a spouses' club board meeting for me to attend.  I'd say we're settling right in, even though I'm still using my two hands to feed the baby, and therefore can't quite surf  the internet like I could while I was pregnant! 

With all three boys napping, I better get to sleep too.  Having a newborn in the house is just about the same as being pregnant with two poor sleepers and third-trimester insomnia, so I'm grabbing naps whenever I can!
And now for the gratuitous baby pics! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm going to San Diego!

At my January 3 midwife appointment, I received severely disappointing news.  Despite an original due date of January 4, they were moving my due date to the last of three dates.  Three different ultrasounds gave estimates of January 4, 6, and 12, and considering we had reached January 3 with no indications of impending labor, it was a “safe” idea to move the due date to January 12 to allow Baby to enter on his own schedule rather than using medical intervention.  Birth Center protocol only allows for a baby to be delivered up to two weeks “overdue” and by changing my EDD to January 12, we were protecting my right to a birth center birth without the hassles of hospital protocol.  Though I knew and understood the reasoning behind the change, it was still a devastating thing to hear.  Even worse, the final cutoff for Marek’s arrival was January 26, the day AFTER we were scheduled to return home from San Diego.      
Saturday, after an exciting week of visiting with Grandma Kowalske, I was rapidly giving up hope that Marek would arrive while she was here to help and I was starting to worry I would have to cancel my trip to San Diego.  We attended J’s first birthday party in the afternoon out in Sudbury, an hour from our hospital, almost as if I were daring a rapid labor to start.  Looking back, I remember feeling a few twinges at the party, but nothing different than the last three weeks that would indicate progress. 
We ate dinner and I put Pete and Chester in bed, this time I actually started timing some of those twinges, mild, but lasting 30 seconds and coming approximately every ten minutes.  And then… they stopped.  I was upset, but this had happened between 7-10pm several times a week for the last three weeks and it wasn’t surprising to me at all. 
About 8:15pm, I started feeling a general sense of pressure, and I was having momentary twinges, just a few seconds at a time, and sporadically, a minute, then three minutes, then one minute apart.  They didn’t form a pattern and lasted at most three to four seconds.  Remembering how quickly Chester’s labor went from “mildly uncomfortable?” to “OMG that’s a baby!” I decided to call the midwife on duty for a chat.  She reviewed my history and agreed that I should come in to get checked, if only for peace of mind.  I really thought I would be sent home.      
When we arrived at the birth center at 9pm, I measured at 3cm and based on my description of the pain we decided it most likely wasn’t labor but she suggested we stay for an hour to confirm there was no progress.  Ryan watched the Lions game on and I listened to music and tried to solve a crossword puzzle.  The “real” contractions returned at 9:30pm, so I was encouraged, and found comfort hanging over a birth ball.  By 10:15pm, Reina checked me again and I measured at 6cm.  I was officially admitted, she filled the tub and put me on the monitors.  Ryan called our friend Sarah who would be photographing the birth, and sadly my friend Meghan was visiting family in Maine and she would miss the birth.
The contractions got stronger, but not significantly closer together and I wondered how this birth would go.  Every birth has the potential to be different from the last, and I was a little nervous of my ability to handle the pain if it didn’t end soon.  I was in the tub and begged to be checked again, but I couldn’t move to allow her access.  I had no concept of passing time, but was able to joke and laugh in between contractions.  I focused on the music each time a contraction hit, closing my eyes and envisioning my hips opening, trying to relax through it and open instead of tensing to fight the pain.  I hummed and moaned through each contraction and I’m pretty sure I got a little loud.  Suddenly I could feel movement, and I thought I might poop.  All I could think was that would be very embarrassing with my friend there to watch, even though all the books tell you it happens quite often.  I didn’t want to poop, but with the next contraction, I no longer cared and decided to let it happen.  That’s when I realized it wasn’t poop, but his head coming.  I paused to listen to the music, and heard Il Divo singing Amazing Grace, pushed again and his head was out.  Another push and his shoulders emerged.  The midwife had me lay back and reached in to guide the baby to the surface as I gave one final push and his body slid out.  I looked at this guy and just thought how small he was.  He felt small, he looked small, he had been predicted between six and seven pounds just a few days before, but he was actually NINE pounds and two ounces.  I guess it’s all relative! 
Marek Jacob Kowalske, born 1/7/2012 at 11:44pm.  Nine pounds, two ounces and twenty one inches long.  Another fast and easy birth to make up for a long and miserable pregnancy. 
Big brothers Pete and Chester are in love with their new baby brother.  Pete even wanted to bring him home “already” (his favorite word when I tell him he needs to wait or be patient) and Chester brought him cheerios to share.  I see many discussions of what babies are and are not allowed to eat in our future!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hey, what does this button do?

I've been so focused on waiting for this baby to come out that I've completely neglected this blog.  Earlier this week, I recieved a blog award from one of my oldest friends LVDMF who writes about her experiences as a doggie foster-mom here,  at A Heartbeat at My Feet.  I'm still a tad preoccupied with the impending baby, so rather than actually follow through on the rules of the Liebster award, let me just be lazy and instead say I'm honored that a non-Mom would be reading and laughing at my mom-blog.  I miss you and I wish we all still lived a few miles from each other so we could sneak out at night together like in High School... (if you're my Mother or LVDMF's mother, ignore that last part)

Back to what you've missed in the last few weeks.  Chester climbed up on the chair tonight while I was making dinner with a friend, and started playing with the alarm keypad by the back door.  L jumped up to move him, but I reassured her that the keypad is disconnected.  I know this for sure, at least I do now! 

Two weeks ago, as I prepared dinner, Chester pulled up a chair and stood up to press buttons on the alarm keypad.  I didn't blink an eye because he's done this a million times before, and it makes a very nice, satisfying "beep" sound with each button he presses.  It's entertaining for him, and as far as I knew, it was harmless fun while I focused on dinner.  After all, that alarm isn't activated, it's not connected through a phone line to a call center, nor to the local police.  When we bought the house, we didn't get an alarm code, the alarm had been inactive for years before we even moved in.  What I didn't know is that the alarm still has a loudspeaker on the outside of my house, and that there's a sequence on my keypad  that acts as a panic button to activate a local alarm.  More than five years after we bought the house, Chester discovered that sequence and set off the alarm.

There's total chaos as our alarm is sounding, dinner is on the stove (probably burning), both boys are running in circles trying to figure out what the heck is going on!  Ryan is yelling over the alarm, asking why I'm not watching the boys, letting them play with the alarm, and how do I turn it off?  Ryan checked outside for wiring to clip, but the alarm is attached 20 feet off the ground, so he retreated to the basement to look for the power source.  I was reading the panel on the alarm, searching for instructions, which to my dismay indicated I should enter the alarm code to disarm it.  Then I remembered there's a master panel in the front closet.  I grabbed a screwdriver and opened the panel.  I clipped every wire I could find, and the alarm stopped.  The whole incident only took five minutes, and thankfully my neighbor was already on the way over to check that we were okay.  I love the R family for being our surrogate family and keeping an eye out for us! 

Sadly, the alarm panel no longer gives Chester that satisfying beep when he pushes buttons, but in the grand scheme of things, I'll take that over a repeat performance of the alarm incident.  So he can stand there, for as long as pushing buttons is entertaining to him, because at least I know for sure now that he can't do any further damage.