Adventures in Breastfeeding

My sweet little vampire baby has developed an uncomfortable habit while nursing. He has gotten lazy so has decided that instead of opening his mouth up wide enough to latch properly, he will just start at the beginning and slurp his way on. Like I’m spaghetti. Ouch. This may work for lazy vampire babies with a super suck  but this does not work out for their dinner. Or the person who possesses it. So, after several days of fighting these new eating habits, I am left very sore and with a dark purple “hickey ring.” This is not comfortable. At all. It really hurts. Especially when it’s that side’s turn again. We’ve been trying the shield which seems to help protect it some but it’s still pretty terrible. And he thinks it’s poison. It takes a few tries before he realizes he’s hungry enough to deal with it. Or, when faced with the task of nursing with the shield, sometimes he just falls asleep instead. Sleeping is better than poison.

Another one of his new habits is to rear his head back and stretch while still latched. This is also not comfortable. Especially on the wounded side. I’m not sure why he feels the need to do this. Apparently it’s too much trouble to let go, stretch and re-latch. Much easier to take the milk with you.

But don’t misunderstand. I love nursing my sweet baby boy. When he was in the hospital and I’d get him laid down and all situated, a lot of the time he wouldn’t latch right away, but would lay there and look all around so sweetly. Or nosily. Just depends on how you look at it. Those days he was so tiny I could tuck my arm up under him and his little feet would just tuck into my elbow. Mom would hold whichever hand was up because he would try to help so much. Once he’d start nursing he’d totally relax. Most of the time his bottom arm would be up by his face and often he’d hold my hand. Now that I don’t have to support his dinner as much (I have found a little pillow to do it for me) he often has his head laying on his hand or his hands folded together in front of me. He also likes to cram one hand right between my boobs. Typical boy.

He recently has started smacking his lips loudly after he’s done. So stinkin’ cute. Sometimes he raspberries instead and spits milk everywhere. Much less cute. He also makes squeaking/honking noise while he’s nursing. Very sweet but makes it impossible to nurse certain places. Like church. He still likes to have one foot sticking straight out at times which still cracks me up. Other times he nurses all laid out, totally relaxed.

So far he’s been nursed in Target, Olive Garden, and the pediatrician’s office. Our spot at home is in the corner of our L-shaped couch since we are lacking a rocking chair. We have our Boppy and a little pillow we got from the Ronald McDonald room at the hospital and we snuggle into our corner. We spend a lot of our day here. It’s our special time and I love every bit of it. Well, except for the parts that hurt. I could do without those.

So THAT’S How They Do It!

As amateur photographers (read: people with fancy cameras who know enough to be dangerous) and broke ones at that, my Mom and I decided we would do our own baby photos. Newborn sessions are expensive and at this stage of the game with being out of work for an extended length of time I can’t afford much that’s not a necessity. Chocolate is a necessity by the way. I didn’t have any for over 7 months so I have a lot of catching up to do.

We bought some fabric for drapes/backgrounds and started with Easter pics. Since I couldn’t take Baby G to see the Easter Bunny (unwashed masses) I bought a bunny hat & diaper cover set off Etsy in order to make my very own EB. So stinkin’ cute! The first attempt went pretty well, working with the light we had. Which, this Spring, is not proving to be much light at all. The bunny hat, although “newborn” sized, was HUGE so we had to stragetically clothespin the backside of the hat so it didn’t look ridiculous. So, clothed in a diaper and diaper cover (complete with fluffy bunny tail) and a pinned-together bunny hat, we loaded Baby G into a wicker basket and proceeded to snap a bunch of pictures while continually trying to keep him from falling out. Lots of shushing and patting and tucking little feet back under resulted in a few good shots. Then we moved to another room and got a few more. He actually cooperated relatively well except for the few times he hooked his toes at the edge of the basket and tried to launch out. Squishy soggy newborn shoot this was not.

The next day (actually Easter) we took some more pictures of Baby G in his Easter outfit (which was so sweetly provided by my cousin). It was a little big as it was a newborn size so he looked a little saggy baggy in it but they still came out cute. Maybe not professional quality but still sweet just the same. We waited until the next day to get pictures with his Easter basket as the shoot had to be abandoned in order to wash his outfit which he managed to both barf and pee on. He tends to pee a lot when he’s getting his diaper changed. He also tends to pee  a lot while in the bathtub. And he waits until you uncover him to do it. Stinker. Anyway. We got several pictures of him with his basket and with his Easter toys. Again, they might not be exactly what we envisioned beforehand but I think we did well for what we had to work with (again with the crappy lighting outside).

My favorite photo session so far has been the naked booty session. The biggest thing with taking pictures of babies is expecting messes and their general noncooperation. You have to keep the room nice and warm so that they are super comfy and the photographer and any one else in the room is so hot they’d also like to run around naked. Which is much less acceptable when you’re an adult. So we just sweated through the process. We started trying to take pictures of him on a stack of towels but he wasn’t asleep enough and kept trying to launch himself off. Seeing  a trend here? He has really strong legs. So we scrapped that idea for the time being and decided to do pictures of him in my arms. I was wearing a black shirt, sitting in front of  a black drape. He had already peed a fountain all over the changing pad when I took his diaper off so I figured he was good for awhile. I should have adjusted my figures. He ended up peeing on me 3 or 4 times during the whole shoot. We ended up doing an entire load of dark laundry due to baby pee (and poop). We started with him in my arms but couldn’t get him to settle down enough to make it work. The peeing started then and he peed down my arm. Hilarity ensued. He seemed pretty content with it too. I guess if you’re a baby it doesn’t matter were (or who on) you pee. I laid him in my lap at one point (probably to wipe up pee) and we realized the way he was propped made his positioning perfect to get booty pictures. He’s still pretty small (around 6 1/2 lbs at this shoot) so he still has a tiny little butt. I wish we could have gotten pictures of his little booty when he was first born. It was the tiniest thing!! So we tried to get him to face the camera but he just wouldn’t cooperate so the pictures we ended up with are him facing away (which worked out great because he could suck on his paci that way). I would tuck his feet up, Mom would focus, then I’d move my hand away quickly and she’d snap the picture before he could shift his feet. Once during the process he stood up on all fours. The kid is not even born yet and he’s standing up on all fours. He also farted at one point, shooting poop across the room. Very glamorous. Lots more hilarity. Ok, so maybe not across the whole room but it went far enough that our cleverly placed waterproof pad on the floor didn’t cut it. *sigh* I think we laughed so hard we almost wet our own pants. We do that a lot. Not the pants wetting part… the laughing part.

In the end we got a few good shots and had quite a bit of fun. We are learning a lot as we go and each shoot we do a little better. There are lots more things we’d like to do but getting up before noon seems to be trouble for me lately and we haven’t had much natural light in the past few days either. But hopefully we’ll be able to get in a few more shots before he gets too big. Which he’s working on faster than I’d like.

A Typical Day

Once I made it home from the hospital we had to figure out what our plan was and how we planned to get ourselves together and to the hospital. It never was a question of IF we’d go to the hospital, it was just more of a question of when. For the first week or so I was pumping every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night. Mostly. When I didn’t sleep through my alarm. Later on, after talking to one of the lactation consultants, I would do one 5 hour stretch which seemed to help. When I didn’t sleep through my alarm. So trying to pump, get enough sleep, pump, get dressed and get our stuff together, pump, and get to the hospital took some time to figure out. Especially since I was staying late at night in order to spend time with TJ since he came up after work. Spending so much time at the hospital left little time to get anything done at home. We tried combinations of things to help us get out of the house faster but it took us several weeks to figure it all out.

At some point we finally got into a groove of sorts and pretty much spent our days in the same way. This really started to happen mostly in the last pod in the third room. We would get up around 9am and I would pump and then jump in the shower. We’d pack dinner for that night and gather up all our necessary items (camera, blankets/clothes, lunchbox, Bubba Keg, netbook, phone charger, etc) and leave the house sometime around 11am. Mom would drive and I’d put my makeup on in the car to save time. The goal was to get there in time for his noon feeding. Most of the time this was accomplished. Due to my weight restrictions from the C, Mom carried most of our stuff up to the 4th floor. I’m sure we looked like we were moving in every day. We generally got a locker to hold the lunchbox so it would be one less thing to carry in. We managed to only semi-lose the key once as TJ took it home with him once on accident. Good thing they had a spare. Once we got there, we’d do his assessment if the nurse hadn’t started it yet and I would sit down to feed him. A nursing session could last up to an hour with him starting and stopping. I struggled to keep him awake a lot due to his low energy from the anemia. Then I would generally pass him off to Mom to hold upright after he ate to help with the reflux and I would pump as he was generally wasn’t taking from me but about a third of what I normally produced.

After his lunch we would head down to the cafeteria to eat. We started out bringing lunch and dinner up to the hospital but it just got to be too much to pack and carry. So we opted for salads from their salad bar and really enjoyed them. We learned to bring our own dressing; one, because they didn’t have anything tasty and low fat and two, because the dressing added to the weight of the salad. Most days we split a chicken breast in order to get some protein and every now and then got another goodie like jalapeno poppers, a quiche, or a pot pie. Unfortunately the tastiest things we found they only had once while we were there. After lunch we’d head back upstairs where I’d pump (yet again) and then most days I’d kangaroo with Baby G after his 3pm assessment. TJ would get there around 5:45 and he’d sit with us until the NICU closed down for shift changed. I’d pump again and then we’d head to dinner. Most nights we’d eat leftovers (unless there was something particularly wonderful in the cafeteria – which wasn’t often) and then head back up after dinner. TJ would kangaroo with him some nights and then I’d attempt to feed him again at 9, after his assessment. During the 9pm one he would get weighed and I’d change his clothes. After he nursed (or attempted to nurse or slept through the attempted nursing) I’d pump again and then we’d leave. TJ would have already left by that point to go home and get ready for bed. We’d get home, get our stuff together, I’d pump, and we’d be off to bed. This was our schedule for the last 2 1/2 weeks Baby G was there with only a few exceptions. There were errands to run and things to get accomplished that I knew wouldn’t be a possibility once he came home. But once he started nursing I was always there for his noon and 9pm feedings. It was important to me to be able to do that.

It’s funny… the days seemed to go by quickly even though time seemed to drag on. It’s hard to explain but sitting there with him seemed to pass by at a good pace even though our overall stay seemed to last forever. I felt like it would never end. I felt my life was on hold. Everything should have been suspended while we spent our days watching monitors and hoping our little guy would come home. Nothing outside the hospital seemed like it mattered or seemed real or fair. Why should we have to deal with insurance or bills or paperwork? Our child was living in a hospital attached to tubes and monitors – nothing else seemed relevant.