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Saturday, June 29, 2013

To boob or not to boob?

II'm writing this post while someone sucks on my nipple.  No, I'm not changing my blog into porn, but the next few paragraphs might be uncomfortable for some.  If you have no desire to read about breastfeeding, feel free to skip this one and get back to Facebook.

I've been really excited to breastfeed.  Always knew it was the way I wanted to feed my children, just hoped we'd be able to make it work.  Read the books, articles, even watched a video or two on how to get a good latch. Was a bit worried about how much it might hurt, but figured I was tough enough to work through it.

When the nurse brought Quincy to me in the hospital for the first time, our breastfeeding instructions went like this.

Nurse:  baby hungry

Me:  ok, (hold out my arms to take him)

Nurse:  (looks at me like I'm stupid and points to my shirt)

Me:  oh, alright (start to pull down the neck of my night gown, but obviously not fast enough, as the nurse grabs my boob and lifts it out for me.  She then hands me the baby and once I've got him in position she grabs my nipple, shoves it in his mouth and then puts my hand on my boob so it doesn't block his nose.)

Nurse:  baby breathe (nods at us, then walks away)

Suffice it to say that although our intro to breastfeeding was rather abrupt, Quincy and I seem to be doing pretty well.  Our biggest issue seems to be the fact that my boobs are so large, he could quite literally drown in them.  So strategic placement and a bit of man handling are required every time he nurses.  But overall I'm pretty proud of our success.

The first bump in our journey came when he was about 5 days old.  My milk had come in and all of a sudden he could not be satisfied.  All he wanted to do was nurse every hour.  And since it took him 30 minutes to finish, it felt like all I was doing was whipping out my boobs all day long.  The "day of the boobs" as we have dubbed it was my first (and hopefully last) experience with cluster feedings.  Apparently it's a way to help establish a good milk supply, but holy hell!  It hurts, is absolutely exhausting and led to a sob fest at 2am after 24 hours of non stop nursing, when he was screaming for food, but I knew without a doubt that my boobs had nothing left for him.  Ryan had to give him his first formula bottle while I cried and felt like a failure.

Luckily he went back to a more normal schedule after that night, and I breathed a sigh of relief that we were back on track.  Ha ha ha, silly me.

When we hit the 2 week mark I noticed white spots all over his tongue.  My mom said it was probably just residual milk, but a little voice in my head kept saying "thrush", which I only knew about in very vague terms from conversations with girlfriends with kids.  When the white spots didn't rub off with a cloth I confirmed my suspicions and our journey into thrush hell began.

It's basically a yeast infection in the baby's mouth, probably caused by the antibiotics they put me on after my c-section.  Unfortunately yeast is really hard to get rid of and when you're breastfeeding it can spread to your nipples, which sucks with a capital S.

So little Q is getting special gels in his mouth, special creams for the diaper rash the thrush caused, and bottles if momma's milk since it makes momma cry when he latches on.  He's handling it all pretty well, considering how much pain everything has been causing him.  

It's been hard, really hard.  So much harder than I ever imagined breastfeeding could be.  The lack of sleep from either feeding or pumping every 3 hours.  Fighting the flailing limbs of a little boy that doesn't understand why mommy won't feed him when his hands are in his mouth.  And most of all, the overwhelming feeling of sole responsibility for the sustenance of this child, meaning as long as I plan on feeding him, I'll only ever be able to sleep as long as it takes for him to be hungry again.  Which right now is about 2 hours.

It's been so very hard.  I completely understand why many women choose bottle over boob.  The ease of responsibility, time, more sleep, the list is far longer than I ever imagined.

And yet, as I sit here, looking down into my son's eyes as he contentedly sucks away at my very sore breast, I feel such overwhelming joy, pride, and love.  He can get his food from a bottle, but this is something only I can give to him, and in the grand scope of life's time span, he's not asking for it for very long.

So for me, it's worth it.  The boob is here to stay as long as he'll take it.  Well to a certain extent.  I'm not judging, but I won't be joining the lady on Time magazines cover still nursing little Q when he's old enough to get a part time job. Sorry buddy, but that's just how things are.  Something tells me he'll be just fine. :)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Photo dump

It will probably come as no surprise that this week's photo dump consists entirely of baby pictures.  I knew my focus would be pulled from other things, but I didn't truly realize how much "the baby" takes over every minute of every day.  How it can suddenly be noon and I haven't done a thing for myself yet, because there were so many things to do for him.  Luckily my mom has been visiting, which means an extra set of hands to help with laundry and cleaning and midnight baby rocking.  I can't imagine what zombies Ryan and I would be without her here in these first few weeks.

Anyway, back to the pictures... I know that's all you're here for.  :)

Is there anything better than a baby sleeping on your chest?

Loves his mobile, will lay in the crib cooing over it for an hour.

Learning to enjoy bath time!

Thanks for the onesie great grandma, it fits perfectly!  

My feet are as long as my shins!  I'm gonna be a tall boy.  

Chilling with grandma.

Uncle nick finally held me!  :)

Opening my eyes more and more every day!  

I'm so cute, people can't stop kissing me... It gets kind of annoying when I'm trying to sleep.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The story of Q

Quincy Memphis Cushman came into the world on 6/6/2013, weighing 6.8 lbs, and measuring 19 inches.  Ryan and I have a son.  I still can't believe it.

It's been almost 2 weeks now since Quincy was born, and I know I should write down the experience of his birth before I forget the details... wow, that is so surreal, my son is almost 2 weeks old.  This post is long, and might feel a bit disjointed since the little man keeps interrupting me wanting boob.  It's taken me several tries to get it all down.

Ryan and I got up the morning of June 6th and grabbed the last few things we would need for the hospital.  I was having a scheduled c-section because of the baby's position, so we just needed to be there around 10am.  You have to bring everything you'll need because the hospital here doesn't provide everything we're used to in the states.  Like towels, bathroom toiletries, diapers, wipes, clothes for the baby, even bottled water.  Luckily we were forewarned of all this beforehand, otherwise it would have been a bit of a shock.  All the same, it felt a bit like being a nomad packing up camp to move elsewhere with all our bags, pillows, blankets and the car seat.

I'd been warned that he probably wouldn't actually be born until the late afternoon, because, come on, this is Egypt.  The land where things rarely ever happen on time.

So when we were taken to our room, we started settling in, planning on having to wait awhile before our doctor arrived and "the show" would begin. About 20 min later, we were being introduced to the anesthesiologist, given a run down of what the epidural would be like, and then wham bam, things took off.  Dr. May arrived and made sure we were comfortable with everything, and the next thing I knew a nurse was in the room practically yanking my clothes off and getting me settled in a gown on the wheel chair. They decided at this exact moment to switch our rooms, so Ryan was put into a mad scramble to move all our belongings, grab the camera and baby clothes and catch up with us.

I was wheeled through 2 sets of lobbies, which was really weird as I was basically naked in a little robe, but all the little old women smiled at me saying, Mabrouk!  (Congratulations)  I felt like I was on a parade route.

When we arrived in the OR, I was wheeled past a room where there was already a surgery going on.  I could see "stuff" so I looked away and tried to convince myself that there would be a bit more privacy during my surgery.  They parked me in the middle of the hallway where I sat for about 15 minutes listening to a little boy on a gurney crying.  At this point my nerves were starting to get a bit shaken.  I had no idea where Ryan was, no idea where or when they were taking me and listening to a little boy pleading in Arabic wasn't helping.

Finally they brought me into another room and had me sit on the table while they prepped the epidural. This was the part I was dreading the most because I knew it might hurt and I really wanted Ryan to be there to hold my hand. He arrived just as they were getting started and stood in the corner while they rolled me forward and started with the needles.  It wasn't pleasant, and I definitely was a bit startled by the feeling of the medicine going in, but overall it wasn't horrible, and the nurse positioning me was very comforting.  They laid me down on the crucifix and started putting sensors and gadgets all over my arms and chest.  Ryan was now sitting by my head and holding my hand.  The room filled with people and activity as my legs went dead, and that's when the problems started.

I started to feel a heaviness in my chest, and it was getting hard to breathe.  Then the nausea hit and suddenly I was throwing up all over my right shoulder.  I don't remember much of that moment except a feeling of panic that something was horribly wrong, and worrying that they were going to put me under entirely. Ryan says they started pumping me with shots and put me on oxygen. As soon as the nausea abated and they'd cleaned me up I had stabbing pain in my shoulder muscles.  My face was behind the oxygen mask, so I had to squeeze Ryan's hand and get him to get their attention.  The pain was overwhelming, like a charlie horse spasm all across my trapezius muscles.  At this point my heart rate and blood pressure went crazy so they stopped the surgery to get me settled.  The nurse started rubbing one side of my shoulder while Ryan rubbed the other, and after a few min everything kicked in and I felt much better, so they got back to business.

It was the most surreal experience of my life to lie there while they pulled and pushed on my belly.  I could hear the doctors and nurses talking in Arabic, Ryan telling me everything was fine and that I was doing great.  After what felt like a very long time, the doctor told me I would be feeling a lot of pressure.  And that's when someone on the other side of the curtain went to work.  I have no idea who that person was, but they earned their salary that day.  It felt like they basically climbed up on the table and started jumping up and down on the top of my belly.  There was so much grunting and groaning it would probably have been really funny if it hadn't been happening to me.  Nothing hurt, but it felt like it was taking a long time.  

And then I heard this thin little wail.

It floated around the room to my ears and I immediately started to cry.  The doctors told Ryan to start taking pictures and everyone on the other side of the curtain started telling us congratulations.  The first thing Ryan said was "He's got a lot of dark hair, honey".  And I cried even harder.

The pediatrician was in the room and Ryan said they started sucking little Q dry and rubbing him down.  I couldn't see anything and they were finishing the surgery, so all I could do was lie there and listen to him cry, listen to people's congratulations.  But what I really wanted more than anything was to see my baby.

They told us Quincy needed to go to the nursery for a little while for observation because his lungs still had a lot of fluid in them, which was perfectly normal for a cesarian delivery.  But that we wouldn't see him for a few hours.  I was a bit heart broken over this, but wanted him to be looked after.  So we stayed in the OR for the next 30 min or so while they stitched me up, and cleaned me off.  When everything was finished and they were ready to take me to recovery, my doctor asked me how I was doing and what I thought of the baby. I started to cry again.  Apparently I'm a big ol' cry baby.

Ryan explained that I still hadn't gotten to see him, and she rattled something in Arabic and 2 minutes later, Ryan came by my side holding the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.  All I saw at first was this massive crown of black hair.  He was everything and nothing like I'd imagined he would be.  I got to touch his cheek and kiss his fingers before they had to take him away again, but it felt like a gigantic weight was off my chest because I'd finally seen my baby.  That creature that had been inside me for so long was finally real, finally here.

The next two days at the hospital were a blur of pain, crying (both Q and me), beautiful moments holding my baby, oddly intimate experiences as the nurses "tended" to me, and exhaustion while trying to recover from surgery and take care of a tiny little baby.

I still can't believe he's here.  It feels like I've known him my whole life, like he's always been here, just hanging out in the back of my mind.  I can't get over his long toes and fingers that look exactly like Ryan's.  Or how his entire back is covered in a soft fuzz like a little bunny.  He already has so much personality.  Loves to have his hands by his face, curled up like he's a boxer. He's obstinate and very determined to have things his way, and his strength astounds me. Ryan and I are constantly looking at each other and asking, should a 10 day old baby be able to... roll onto his side, push his butt into the air, throw his head back, kick with such force?  His faces are incredibly diverse, especially when he's sleeping.  And he loves to snuggle.

He's our little man.  Our baby Q.  And we love him very much.  Don't worry muggles, we haven't seen any evidence of dark magic yet.  :)