Random Thoughts: The Nightmare Before Christmas Edition

So much happened in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and I didn’t get to “talk” about any of it.

I usually try to keep the stress of the holidays minimal, and it helps that my faith keeps me focused on the reason for Christmas (i.e. birth of Christ, etc., etc.).

This year, though, the week leading up to Christmas was especially challenging.

December has been a little rough all-in-all, actually. Adjusting to life with a newborn has been… uh, I need a synonym for “rough” and/or “challenging” here.


I didn’t get out much with the baby, excepting doctor appointments. And aside from one shopping trip for Dan’s Christmas gifts, I didn’t go out with all three children at all. And that trip was made out of pure necessity. And it was about as stressful as I thought it would be.


In the weeks leading to Christmas, also, Dan’s grandmother, known around these parts as Nanny, went into decline. Two weeks before Christmas she had to be transported from the nursing home she was in to a hospital; she hung on for another week, long enough for us to introduce her to Michael. And then the Monday before Christmas she died.

That was a hard week, obviously. Nanny had not had an easy life, but she was well-loved and she had loved well. Three of her four grandchildren spoke at the funeral, and then four of them plus myself and my SIL’s husband were pall bearers.

And then it was two days before Christmas. We did a lot of last minute shopping and wrapping. Decorating went by the wayside, but the kids and I did make chocolate chip cookies for Santa (and to share Christmas day).


Christmas was nice, actually, low-key. The children did well, although they squabbled about “sharing”. We got Flora a DSi, and Kate Zhu-Zhu Pets. I was just happy they were happy — they were even thrilled with their stocking stuffers (band-aids, hand lotion, and candy). Christmas was just fun for them.

Michael seemed pretty oblivious.


Anyway, it was a stressful week. I’m having some holiday let-down issues, as well as some baby blues this week. But more on that later. This post has been disjointed enough!

Third Time’s a Bust

Breast feeding is not going well. And I’ve no idea what to do.

Michael never had a very strong latch, and starting about a week or 10 days ago, he pretty much gave up on it entirely. I’ve been doing breast compression while he’s feeding to get the milk out and into him.

Breast compression is pretty uncomfortable.

Also, sometimes he is so fussy, he doesn’t latch at all, and I just end up giving him a bottle.

So: he’s feeding about every four to five hours. We start out with the breast (supply doesn’t seem to be an issue, although I’m not sure what my hind milk is like. Michael isn’t the most patient baby). After about 45 minutes or an hour of breast compression (if we’re lucky), if he’s still fussy, he gets formula. He’ll snack on a bottle for the next hour or so.

He’s starting to be more alert, and in between feedings and naps, we are playing and reading. The girls usually participate if they are not too distracted by their Christmas gifts.

I will also say he is sleeping at night like a champ. The middle of the night breast feeding is usually the most successful, and he will go right back to bed with me after 45 minutes or so. His latch isn’t strong, but he’s not fussing at me while I do breast compression.

If you have any ideas to help with his latch, I would appreciate guidance. I’m sure it’s difficult all the way around this time, as I’ve got two other children to take care of. I have to get the tubing for my breast pump, too; otherwise I would just be pumping instead.

Memnoch the Devil: Michael’s Birth Story

After the Day of Reprieve, Dan and I headed back to the hospital to start induction. I had confidence in what we were doing, and even though I hated the monitors and IV I had to be hooked up to, I figured by sometime on Tuesday, I would deliver a baby.

My baby, on the other hand, had other plans.

I don’t know why I expected things to go… either smoothly OR as expected. The only one of my inductions that could be said to go well was the one for Flora, and a sunny-side up baby and three hours of pushing can’t exactly be called “smooth”.

So, Monday night, checked into hospital.

Tuesday got my breakfast, which consisted of liquids and strawberry gelatin. The thing about a planned delivery at the hospital is they don’t let you eat real food. It’s a worst-case-scenario type of mindset.

And to add insult to injury: I got decaf tea instead of coffee.

Dan and I settled in for a day of induction. The pitocin started.

And it didn’t do much over the next, oh, 10 hours. My cervix effaced but didn’t dialate. The contractions ramped up toward the end of the 10 hours as they turned the pitocin up, but my body simply wasn’t responding. We decided to turn everything off, pack everything up, and head home. And hope for natural labor to kick in over the next week.

Turns out, we didn’t have to wait very long.

After they turned off the pitocin, my contractions spaced out to about 4 or 5 minutes apart. They had gotten brutally strong over the last hour or so, and I expected them to taper off. I was tired, starving, sad and frustrated.

The contractions were not tapering off. I was not handling that very well. My midwife gave me a funny look as I was putting on my shoes and complaining about how hot I felt suddenly. (It was about this point that I gave Michael the nickname in the title of this post.)

“Listen,” she said. “I want you and Dan to walk around the floor a couple of times before you leave. Let’s see if those contractions go away.”

I had a contraction about four steps out of the room door. A few feet down the hallway, I had another.

Dan said, “That wasn’t five minutes.” He whipped out his smartphone, and started timing my contractions with the stopwatch app.

In the hour after they turned off the pitocin and Dan and I took two laps around the L&D floor, my contractions went from 5 minutes apart to a minute and a half apart. And those suckers were strong. When we went back into the room where my midwife was waiting, I said, “I don’t believe it. I think my body is screwing with me.” (I was in a GREAT frame of mind.)

My midwife said, “I’m pretty sure your body is not screwing with you.” She checked my cervix and announced, “You’re dilated to three centimeters.”

I won’t give you all the gory details. Suffice to say, after about another hour of hard contractions (and they still wouldn’t feed me), I asked for an epidural. Dan and I slept, and things continued to move along. They broke my water at midnight. Around 3 a.m., my epidural started to wear off. I was about 7 centimeters.

The baby was experiencing some heart decellerations, which was worrisome. The midwives changed shifts, and after assessing the situation, the new midwife put an internal monitor on the baby’s head to keep an eye on his heartrate. (It sounds kind of scary to describe, but they figured what had happened was that when I laid on my left side, the baby’s cord was getting compressed. Once I turned over and was on my back again, the decells went away.) After watching the baby through a few contractions, the midwife declared, “Okay, you’re going to push this baby out.”

That was kind of news to me.

I wasn’t feeling very strong contractions, which was going to make pushing challenging. *TMI ALERT: You may want to skip the rest of this paragraph.* I hadn’t dialated all the way, either, but my cervix was thinned out enough that the midwife could just stretch it the last three centimeters.

I started pushing at 3:30 a.m. I was using more muscles than I had ever used before (and felt it for days afterward). Everyone was shouting encouragement. (Okay, maybe they weren’t shouting, but it seemed like it to me.) I asked for some ginger ale, because I was desperately thirsty and I needed a sugar rush. I got it, too. At 4:48 a.m., Michael Timothy came out crying.

Because of the heart decellerations, there were pediatricians waiting to see him. After I got to see and touch him, the nurses took him to the peds (right in the room); Dan went over with him. The nurses got me cleaned up, and brought the baby back to me.

My parents and Dan’s sister came in around 5:30 a.m. to meet Michael. After a round of pictures, text messages, and tweets, my parents went off to get me and Dan breakfast, then went back to our house to get some rest. (They and my SIL had been at the hospital all night long.)

As if we hadn’t already thought about it, this labor was certainly enough to convince me that we are not going to have another baby. I’m okay with that. Michael feels like an appropriate bookend to his brother, and I’m ready to close the chapter on childbearing.

Now it’s time to focus on child rearing. God help us all.


Flora is fascinated by breastfeeding. Since we’ve brought Michael home, and she has seen me in action with him at the boob, she’s been reaching up under her shirt to feel her nipples. I can tell her thoughts are something along the lines of “My nipples don’t look like Mommy’s. And nothing comes out of them. When can I feed a baby?”

The other night, Kate was pretending to be a baby and sitting in Flora’s lap. Michael was nursing.

Flora said to Kate, “Do you want to suck on my nipples, baby?”

Kate and I said, emphatically and at the exact same time: “NO!”

Random Thoughts: The Newborn Edition

I have no Internet access at home. This is causing me a bit of anxiety. I’m not quite to panic levels, yet, but I haven’t logged onto my email either. It’s time for a laptop, an iPad, or a smart phone for me. It’s just time.


The good news is that I haven’t much news. Michael is doing great — eating and sleeping well. Like most newborns, he lost a bunch of weight, and my pediatricians are keeping an eye on that. We go back today. As of last Friday, he had lost about 8 percent of his birth weight. But by Saturday, my milk had come in, and he had already gained an ounce back.

If I had a guess, I would say he’s gained a few more over the past few days. His belly’s all rounded out.

He nurses like Kate did: slowly. He’ll probably get more efficient as he gets bigger, but for now, he probably sleeps at the breast more than he actually eats.


As a side note: Perc.o.cet is the perfect pain relief drug. I sincerely wish I had left the hospital with a prescription for some. I was offered one, but I declined it. Because I was feeling pretty good.

I was feeling pretty good because of the Perc.o.cet. By the time I got home, I felt like a truck had run over me. Several times.

If I should ever need that level of pain relief again, I know what I’m asking my doctors for.


Otherwise, life is a series of adjustments. The girls aren’t sure what to do around Michael since they can’t run, jump, or talk loudly when he is downstairs with us. Flora likes to look at him and hold him; Kate wants to poke him sometimes.

The girls’ first reactions to their brother: Flora, upon meeting him Thursday evening: “He’s so little! He’s so cute.” She holds him very well, with support from the boppy.

Kate, upon being asked at daycare about her little brother: “He’s okay. But I’m not allowed to hit him, pinch him, or step on his fingers.”

I’m not really sure where she got those restrictions. I mean, they are all true; she’s not allowed to do those things. But I never spelled it out for her like that. I suspect an older sibling at school or daycare clued her in.

Kate is not quite as fond of Michael as Flora is. She doesn’t like when he cries, and when he’s awake and not nursing, he’s crying. He especially hates having his diaper changed, which he needs approximately 87 times a day.


Speaking of diaper changes: Boy parts! It’s a bit of an adjustment. Yesterday he peed through five outfits, diaper notwithstanding. When I mentioned it to Dr. Bro’s wife, she said, “Oh, yeah. Boys do that. Two of mine did.” (She’s the mom of four boys.) He hasn’t peed on me yet, but he’s got years and years to accomplish that.

Michael Timothy, 12/01/2010

I know in social media terms, Michael is already about four years old.

But considering my technical challenges (one of our computers got fried), and priorities (food, sleep, my other children), I put the blog post on hold.

And this is not his birth story. No one’s ready for that.

But here are some photos.

Two days later, and he looks completely different already.

I call this one: “And Then There Were Five”:

He was born at 4:48 a.m., weighing 6 lbs. and 10 oz., measuring 19 inches long.

He’s perfect.

And his big sisters were excited to meet him (and see Mommy).

More soon. Stories to tell, and random (sleep deprived thoughts) to share.

I cannot thank everyone enough for the prayers, well wishes, support, encouragement, baby clothes and gear. My family, Dan’s family, our friends, my Tweeps, his patients, and our co-workers. The kindness and generosity extended to us has been more extensive — and more appreciated — than I can put into words.

Welcome to the world, Michael. It’s a bright and beautiful place.