Tag: life

Six Weeks Post-birth

Six Weeks Post-birth

During your first pregnancy, no doubt you had or will have numerous individuals tell you that once your little one arrives, “your life will never be the same” or “your life will change forever” or “everything will be different” or some variation of this sentiment. After awhile, it can even get a little tiring hearing it over and over again. My advice? Smile and nod, because they are right!

Put aside everything you think you know about babies. Unless you have experienced firsthand spending twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week with a newborn who is relying on you for all of their needs while you are experiencing extreme sleep deprivation and possibly even recovering from the physical trauma of childbirth, then you have no idea just how different your life will become after your first child arrives.

And that is okay! I’m not here to scare you, just help you prepare yourself. To do that, I’m going to share my summary of what each week after giving birth was like in my experience.

Week One

I felt like I was living in a permanent state of adrenaline during the first week. Giving birth naturally without pain medicines allowed me the opportunity to be clear-minded moments after the birth of my little Peanut. I experienced some pain and discomfort, but it was overshadowed by the rush of oxytocin (the love/bonding hormone) every time I held or looked at my newborn. My mind was filled with awe and wonder as well as a deep love and little bit of worry. I was now this little one’s mother and he would be relying on my husband and I for years to come!

Week One was also very emotional for me. Within the first twenty-four hours, we discovered that Peanut could not latch due to a number of reasons and as a result, could not breastfeed. We were concerned for many hours as we tried, with the help of nurses and a lactation consultant, to breastfeed him — even going so far as to use a small syringe to get some colostrum into his mouth. Since he was born very small, the hospital would not discharge us until they had monitored him for an extra twenty-four hours to ensure his blood sugars were stable and he had successfully eaten. The anxiety grew the longer he went without eating, either from me or the bottle. I was praying so hard that Peanut would eat something, anything! Finally, the lactation consultant was able to bottle feed him a ounce of formula and later that day my mom was able to get him to eat as well. We were able to go home the next day, and I was exhausted.

There was also some pain. About Day 4, my milk was starting to come in but it was not being expressed even though I was pumping on a regular schedule (every 2-3 hours). The only thing the pumping accomplished was to make my poor nipples extremely sore, and I watched as my breasts became engorged… swollen, hard, and extremely painful. I tried everything I could think of to get the swelling down and the milk to be expressed, but nothing seemed to be working. Finally, I found a tip on a website. On Day 5, while at my parent’s house, I used frozen water bottles and rolled them gently over my breasts for twenty minutes before pumping. It hurt but it worked, and I finally was able to pump milk. A few pumping sessions later, and the engorgement and its accompanying pain was finally gone.

Week Two

Week Two was when the sleep deprivation was beginning to take its toll, but there was still the new baby high. Fortunately, my husband was in the middle of his three weeks of family leave so we took shifts during the night. I would take one feeding session and he would do another while I pumped, and that way I was able to get back to sleep faster at night.

A lot of Week Two was spent watching Peanut sleep and feeding and changing him when he was awake. I gave him a little sponge bath with a super-soft washcloth every other day, and we would sit outside in filtered sunlight while we did it. I took tons of photos of him while he slept, and just marveled that this tiny, precious little fellow was my son, my little boy, and I was his mother. I eagerly looked forward to his first smile and began thinking of little routines I could start with him: singing, counting, letter-sounds, reading Bible stories to him, etc. Anything to help him learn my voice.

Though very tired, Week Two was like a little bit of heaven on earth.

Week Three

Our little Peanut hit his first major growth spurt during his third week, as many babies do, but it came upon us suddenly and unexpectedly. We were not prepared for his ravenous appetite! In fact, for a couple of nights, we did not realize that the reason he was waking up and crying hysterically during the night was because he was still hungry.

Severely sleep-deprived and not knowing what to do, I was at my wit’s end. We tried a tiny bit of Gripe Water thinking he had gas or a tummy ache, but that was not it. Once I even had to set him down in his bassinet and leave the room to calm myself, because I was crying myself and frustrated that I could not figure out what was wrong with him.

Then I found out that most babies have a growth spurt during this time, and when I offered him more milk, he returned to being his usual, happy self and stopped the hysterical crying.

For a baby that, before the growth spurt, drank maybe 3 ounces in one sitting, he suddenly began guzzling the milk: 7, 9, and even 12 ounces at a time! Despite all of my valiant efforts, I was not producing enough milk to keep up with him. We ended up having to supplement, but I did not like the milk-based formula options so with my mom’s help we actually made our own formula using goat’s milk.

Milk-based formula, even though he did not show an reactions to it during his first week, made me very nervous for two reasons: 1.) I am severely allergic to milk proteins, and I do not want to introduce dairy to my Peanut too earlier just in case he inherited my allergy, and 2.) I am severely allergic to milk proteins, and my skin began to react when the formula powder got onto my hands while mixing the bottles. I was afraid I would end up breathing in the powder and not be able to breathe.

So I researched non-milk-based formula options but the soy-based formulas were not only expensive, but also were over 50% corn syrup. I remembered that my dad could not have milk-based products as an infant either; his mother gave him straight goat’s milk and he is one of the healthiest people I know. After doing a lot of research and experiments, my mom and I were able to make our own goat’s milk supplement that we only had to used maybe once a day or once every other day for about two weeks until my own milk production caught up with his appetite.

Week Four

The growth spurt was beginning to subside, he went down to about 4-5 ounces of milk at a time, and he began to sleep for slightly longer stretches at night. Unfortunately, my milk supply was still barely enough for the entire day: it fluctuated through the day, sometimes as little as 3 ounces and other times barely 6 ounces. However, the day we no longer had to supplement with the goat’s milk formula, I celebrated!

To increase my supply, I tried pumping every two hours, doing a marathon pumping session (where you pump for ten minutes, take a break for ten minutes, pump for ten, etc. for an hour), and put the pump suction higher, but the only thing this did was damage my nipples, especially the left one. They were blistered and raw even though I was slathering them in nipple cream, and the left one even had a blocked milk duct (resulting in a bleb or white milk blister). Overall, it became very, very painful to pump.

Towards the end of the week, I also finally gave up all attempts to breastfeed directly. I’ll write another post on our breastfeeding journey, but let’s just say, after a month of “failure”, I had to let go of the “dream” for my own sanity and the happiness of our little family. I had to come to terms with the idea that Peanut might never be able to nurse, and I would have to pump exclusively so I needed to figure out how to heal my poor nipples and increase my milk production.

Week Five

While shopping at a local Target, my husband found a box of Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Milkmaid Tea that helps with increasing milk production. I began drinking two cups of the tea a day, and after three or four days, I began to produce more. I was making about 10 ounces every 3-4 hrs, and more in the early mornings because I was now finally able to skip one pumping session at night. Peanut was also consistently drinking 5 ounces every 3-4 hrs, so the extra milk went into the freezer to save for his next growth spurt.

Easing back on the pumping schedule also helped heal my nipples. I pumped every 3-4 hours, lowered the suction power, and put cream on before and after pumping. Though it took many more weeks to see the results, the process of healing began.

Week Six

This time, we were well-prepared for Peanut’s Week Six growth spurt. I had pumped extra milk and stored it in the freezer so even when Peanut’s appetite was astounding, far beyond anything you’d think a tiny baby’s tummy could hold, we had enough milk that there was no need to supplement. (Praise the Lord!) I continued drinking the Milkmaid Tea to keep pace with him, but after the growth spurt ended, I stopped drinking the tea and my production leveled out to about 10 ounces each session. It was enough for him to eat and to re-build the supply of frozen milk to prepare for when I would return to work full-time.

By the end of week six, I was also getting a decent amount of sleep at night. Peanut would drink a little extra in the evenings and began to sleep longer at night. We were able to feed him at 11pm, and then again at 3-4am, and then again at 7-8am. Also, I was able to skip changing his diaper at 3-4am so he would go back to sleep faster, and I was able to skip pumping at that session as well.

Ah, the little things we celebrate!

So that is a general overview of how the first six weeks went for us. Your experience(s) may vary, as every woman and baby are different, but hopefully this will at the very least prepare you for the growth spurts around weeks Three and Six and encourage you that it does get easier! Your little one will figure out his/her days vs nights and start to sleep longer at night. The soreness, pain, and muscle aches eventually go away. You will also gain confidence in your abilities as mother and learn to trust your instincts.

Project: Organization – Office progress and night stands

Project: Organization – Office progress and night stands

It has been a little while since our last Project: Organization update, and I’d thought I write a few lines. We have been extremely busy over the last week and a half. We volunteered with the Vacation Bible School at our church every evening from Sunday through Thursday, and Friday morning we left for a weekend trip to San Diego to help support my parents’ Lesson Book Ministries.

Therefore, not as much was done around the house as we would have liked. However, I like to tell Bradley that as long as we get a little bit done every day or every few days, we are making progress! With that type of a positive mindset, we were able to accomplish a few things in spite of our very busy schedule.

We were able to go through most of the storage bins that were crowding up our office. We put books we are keeping on the bookshelves in no particular order yet (that will come later) and set aside others for donation. We got rid of quite a bit of recycling and trash, and ended up with a few empty bins that we can now use to store more important things! One day while I was at work, Bradley neatly stacked the remaining bins against the far wall and now the office feels more open and you are not afraid of running into things. We still have a lot to do in there, but this was a huge step in the right direction!

Bradley took quite a bit of things to a thrift store and also surprised me with finishing tidying up our back patio, which we had started a few weeks ago when we cleaned out the shed. He moved our patio chairs up to the folding table and straightened some things. It looks much better!

We are nearly done with the re-organizing of the master bedroom. After doing a lot of hunting at thrift stores and box stores for decent beside tables and not finding anything that fit our needs and were in our price range, we stumbled upon a cute end table at Target. I went online and discovered that they were having a sale so we purchased two. We ended up taking advantage of two discounts (a 15% off and a 10% off) and free shipping, which saved us so much money. The end tables arrived earlier than we were expecting last week and so we had the boxes sitting in our living room while we did VBS and went to San Diego.

Last night while watching an old western movie, we assembled the first end table. It was very sturdily built and easy to put together, though it took awhile as we kept pausing to watch parts of the movie. So one table is done and nicely located beside the bed. It is the perfect size and color, and I cannot wait to organize the drawer and lower shelf. We are hoping to assemble the second one tonight or tomorrow tonight.

We have not had time to make much progress in the nursery yet, but we have some time. We did find the perfect curtains at Ross and some artwork for the walls. We just need to paint before we start hanging things ups. Some of the old decor (artwork, etc.) that we purchased second-hand in the last two years when the room was being used as a guest room, will be re-donated to thrift stores for someone else to enjoy.

That reminds me! We need to finish putting together our baby registries and start sending out the Baby Shower invites.

 

Our “Project: Organization” list:

Dining Room

  • move dining room table
  • organize china cabinet
  • organize overflow pantry cabinets
  • buy six dining room chairs

Living Room

  • move exercise bike
  • find rocking chair or loveseat (ON HOLD)

Master Bedroom

  • find a chest of drawers (4-6 drawers)
  • toss broken drawers
  • hang curtains
  • find two bedside tables Purchased and delivered! One bedside table has been assembled. One more to go!
  • finish cleaning out / organizing the closet

Nursery

  • go through everything: keep, toss, or donate
  • move any storage bins to the shed
  • paint walls
  • hang curtains
  • find low dresser with flat top for baby things
  • find rug
  • get crib from my parents
  • hang pictures/artwork and accessorize
  • organize baby things (after baby shower)

Office

  • sort all books: keep or donate – progress: 40%
  • organize bookshelves
  • stain second desk and move my tablet onto it
  • return glass breakfast table to my parents
  • find some curtains
  • find a rug
Preparing for an Arizona Summer

Preparing for an Arizona Summer

With a due date at the beginning of September, I will be experiencing my last trimester during the peak of a blistering Arizona summer. Though a little early, this weekend is forecasted to reach high triple digits! It will probably be anywhere between 114°-116° degrees just Saturday alone. Though we, hopefully, will have a dip in temperatures towards the middle of next week, I am not looking forward to the rest of the summer.

To survive the summer heat, I am trying to prepare myself — both mentally and physically.

Water and lots of it!

Here in Arizona, especially in the summer, it is highly encouraged for everyone to carry water with them whenever they go out. My husband is always so diligent in never leaving the house without both of us having a bottle of water. Now that I am pregnant, staying hydrated is even more important.

I found that it was especially difficult to drink enough water while at work until I discovered that our break room now has an ice machine. I have not used ice on a regular basis in about two years, but being pregnant and being a little hotter than usual, I was having a hard time drinking room temperature or even slightly chilled water. Now I keep a plastic cup on my desk filled with ice, and I just refill it from my water bottle whenever it needs. I also refill the ice any time it is all gone, which gives me an excellent reason to leave the desk and walk around the entire floor.

Two bonus points for finding little ways to exercise throughout the day! 😉

Sun Protection

I also plan to wear a big floppy hat and/or use an old parasol when going out into the sun. The floppy hat was given to me years ago by my mom, and I love it! I might need to get a more formal looking floppy hat for work purposes, though. The parasol is quite old, not that pretty, and was given to me just recently by my mother-in-law. Since I tend to have meetings on the other side of campus a few times a week that require me to walk anywhere between a quarter mile to a mile, I am keeping the parasol under my desk at work. It may look hideous, but it does its job go keeping the sun off of me perfectly. (I tested it out Tuesday!)

Warm in the office, cool outside.

When it comes to choosing the proper clothes for an Arizona summer, I unfortunately have to face a dilemma that many Arizonians can relate to. Our offices are kept at barely 70°, and if the AC vent blows the cold air down on you (as it does me), then you will be very cold for about eight hours a day. You will have to dress in either pants or longer skirts and mid-length sleeves, perhaps even a cardigan or light sweater, just to not freeze. Then the moment you exit your office building, you are blasted with 110° or more heat! You would prefer to be in shorts or a knee-length skirt and a light, sleeveless top.

Now think about adding to this dramatic temperature fluctuation the fact that you are very pregnant, run a little hotter than usual, and maternity clothes tend to have a lot of additional fabric and layers that normal clothes do not: belly panels, low-cut V necklines that require a camisole underneath. With some of my maternity tops and bottoms, I have 3 thick layers of fabric around my middle. No wonder I end up feeling overheated some evenings!

So the problem I face over the next three months as the thermometer creeps over and stays above the three digit mark is finding maternity clothes that are:

  • warm enough for the cool office
  • cool enough for the hot outdoors
  • professional enough for the office
  • comfortable enough for… Well, you know. I am pregnant!

I have a feeling I’ll be wearing cotton shirts with dress pants and a sweater at work, dresses and loose skirts to church and events, and exercise shorts and baggy T-shirts when at home. I must admit that I am dreading the heat.

I already have a little hand fan that I carry in my purse and have used quite often over the last few months. I think I will also start carrying a bandana that I can soak in water and wrap around my neck if I get too hot.

Comfortable footwear

I have been able to continue wearing my usual footwear up until this week. Last Wednesday, I had an unexpected meeting come up that required me to walk about a mile in shoes that are not meant for walking long distances. If the meeting had been properly scheduled ahead of time, I would have worn appropriate shoes, but I was intending to be at my desk all day and wanted shoes that looked “cute” with my outfit. I ended up with a very bad and painful blister on my pinky toe that made the next couple of days miserable.

This week, I have switched to wearing tennis shoes every day. It looks extremely dorky, especially with the knee-length skirt I wore yesterday, but comfort is more important than fashion. Over the next few weeks, I might go shopping for a more office-appropriate flat walking shoe, but a part of me does not want to spend the money on new shoes when my tennis shoes (old and gray and not professional-looking in the least) will do.

If you are a mother, were you pregnant during the summer? If so, how did you survive the heat?

Over halfway there!

Over halfway there!

It has been awhile since I did a pregnancy update, but we have been quite busy. April 15th was my birthday and April 18th was our second wedding anniversary, so we took the whole weekend to relax, celebrate, and do a little bit of sightseeing in our local area. Part of that weekend, we visited the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument and Biosphere 2. It was a lot of walking and stairs (my legs were quite tired the next day) but so much fun!

April 18th we also had a first ultrasound, which I did not realize would be so involved! It took nearly an hour just to do the ultrasound itself, because they check on the baby’s anatomy, growth, heart, etc. and take so many measurements. We learned the baby’s gender, but we are keeping it a secret until after our gender reveal party on May 15th for family and close friends.

On April 24th, we had one of our monthly/bimonthly family get-togethers at my parents’ house. The whole family tries to get together, especially during months when there are birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate, and April is a huge month! Three birthdays and 3-ish anniversaries! You see, my parents sort of have two anniversaries: one from their first wedding (a justice of the peace ceremony) and one from their vow renewal ceremony in 2010 (church ceremony). Anyway, since most of the family was present (we were missing one of my brothers-in-law and two oldest nephews, unfortunately), we decided to get family photos. This was also the first time I had any “baby bump” photos taken.

That is not because I have not wanted to take any pictures, it was more… I was not showing hardly at all until about Week 19 so even if we took pictures, there would have been absolutely nothing to see. So here is the first baby bump photo, taken at the halfway point: 20 weeks!

Jacquelyn Van Sant, Pregnancy #1, Week 20
April 14, 2016 – Week 20

Today I’m actually around 22 weeks and the belly keeps getting bigger, so I’ll need to ask Bradley to take some more pictures this weekend.

Cravings: So far this whole pregnancy, I have not really had any cravings. Sometimes food tastes surprisingly delicious after I start eating it, but no cravings for anything specific.

Mood: Bradley might disagree, but I wouldn’t say that I have not had any terrible mood swings. Every once in a while I’ll feel extremely exhausted and might be a little more… short/terse. I do find that I cry faster/easier than before. Not cry just to cry, but when I hear something sad I’ll tear up faster or when someone else is crying. Ugh! I’m a sympathetic crier anyway, and it seems a bit stronger now.

Baby’s Gender: Bradley and I know, but we’re keeping it a secret until May 15th! 😀

Movement: I’ve been feeling flutterings of movement for a long time, but lately the baby has been even more active and the kicks are stronger. In fact, Baby is wiggling all over my belly right this moment.

Carrying: I think I’m carrying pretty low this whole time, which makes sitting upright at my desk at work or driving uncomfortable and tends to trigger the: “Bladder is full! Must run to the restroom!” even when there is hardly a genuine need. In the evenings, the lower belly sometimes feels soooo heavy.

Weight Gain: I have my next doctor’s appointment next week so things might have changed, but up to my April appointment, I had actually lost weight. I lost about twelve or so pounds between conception and Week 20. My face, neck, and shoulders have really slimmed down, but even my hips, bottom, and thighs have shrunk (Yay!).

Aches and Pains: Somedays I end up doing a lot of walking for work, and on those days, my legs tend to ache. Last week was full of walking, not just to/from meetings across campus but also because either the bus drove right passed me so I had to walk a mile to my car OR the bus missed the turn to take us to the correct bus stops and let us off a 1.5 mile away and I ended up having to walk to the car. I’m seeing a pattern here that public transit is not reliable. Fortunately, Bradley’s summer break starts in about two weeks and he’ll start taking me in to work and picking me up so I won’t have to worry about driving and then hopping the bus (or walking) to the office during the HOT summer months!

Sleep: I sleep rather well and even better now that we bought new pillows this week! I do tend to have to get up once or twice in the middle of the night to use the restroom, which is a little annoying.

Nursery: I have created a mood board for inspiration on the Baby’s room and we have started clearing out some of the items we were storing in that space, but other than that, we have not made any significant progress. We have been focusing more on getting the main living areas (kitchen, living room, and dining room) completely re-organized as well as making our back patio usable space during Arizona’s extremely hot summer that is just around the corner. Our next project in the office, and only then will we really focus on the nursery. For the first few months, Baby will be in a bassinet in our bedroom so the nursery is not a crucial thing right now.

Names: We have had our names selected for quite a while and we are not changing them. 😀

As I mentioned before, we’ll probably take Week 22 pictures this weekend and I’ll have another update next week after the doctor’s appointment.

Finding a Doctor

Finding a Doctor

When we discovered I was pregnant, what cause me a great deal of anxiety was finding the right doctor.

I was one of those people that did not have a regular doctor. It is not that I dislike doctors, but I feel that if you are healthy and take care of yourself, there is no reason to routinely visit a doctor. Medical personnel are there when emergencies, injuries, illnesses, or other usual things happen. Now, let me just say, I completely respect all those in the medical field. My older sister and her husband are ER nurses, specializing in pediatrics, and I have numerous close friends who are nurses, dentists, or doctors.

I just do not go to the doctor if there is no reason to.

So when the home pregnancy test came back positive, I was far more anxious about finding the right doctor than any other aspect of being pregnant or bringing a new life into the world. I spent a few weeks carefully going through my insurance’s list of OB/GYN doctors in my network, comparing their office locations and investigating the hospitals they deliver at. It was a long list, but I finally found a doctor that seemed to meet my preferences.

Every woman is going to have her own list of preferences when selecting a doctor, especially an OB/GYN or mid-wife. For me, I had three preferences:

  • a female doctor
  • accepts my insurance
  • delivers at the hospital down the street

Call me a prude or ultra-conservative, especially since I know there are many excellent male OB/GYNs, but I was adamant from the beginning that I wanted a female doctor. I also desired a doctor who delivers at the hospital down the street, for two reasons: proximity and I know that hospital’s excellent reputation. My older sister actually works there (originally in the pediatric ER and now in the adult ER), and the hospital has one of the best NICUs in the area, should anything happen.

Fortunately, the doctor I found meet all three areas. I called the office and asked if she was accepting new patients, and praise the Lord, she was!

Bradley could not come to the very first appointment, and I admit to being a bit nervous. The nurse was friendly. She took my weight, check my blood pressure, chatted with me, and gave me a pregnancy care package with pre-natal samples, pamphlets, and a hospital package with a list of classes, tours, forms, etc. A few minutes later, I met the doctor. She was so nice and friendly. I immediately felt at ease with the doctor and felt comfortable asking those silly first-time pregnant questions… Well, the few I could remember at the time.

Since then, we have had two more appointments. Both times Bradley was able to go with me, and we were able to hear the baby’s heartbeat. The first time, the doctor had just a little bit of trouble locating the heartbeat because the little one was hiding pretty low and deep. The second time, the heartbeat was easy to locate. It was so exciting lying there listening the strong and steady beating of our baby’s heart. Both times, I teared up.

My advice to women who either pregnant or plan to become pregnant, take the time to find a doctor/mid-wife that you are comfortable with. Whether you intend to deliver at a hospital, birthing center, or at home, take your time to investigate.

Week 16

Week 16

Today we’re 16 weeks!

Well, 16-ish weeks, we’re still guestimating until our ultrasound in a few weeks. We opted out of the early ultrasound, and I need to set up an appointment for the standard one in a few weeks. Hopefully, we’ll also be able to find out the baby’s gender at the time. So far we have three individuals who predicted a baby boy, including our doctor, but it is just based on old wives’ tales or opinions. Though we will be thrilled with either a boy or girl, I think both Bradley and I are kind of hoping for a girl. So we’ll know in a few weeks and then we are planning a gender reveal party for our families and closest friends before we announce it to the world. How exciting!

Tuesday afternoon was very hard for me. Sunday I went too long between meals, and I think that started the series of unfortunate events. Yesterday I intentionally ate a hearty breakfast and lunch, and I did not go long without a healthy snack. Unfortunately, my stomach did not feel right all afternoon. It was all nauseous and sick. Then minutes after getting home from work, it was a rush to the bathroom and I was throwing everything up. I threw up twice during the first trimester, but that was very minor (barely counts, in my opinion), but this time was BAD. It was the type of uncontrollable, must empty the entire stomach, can barely breathe vomiting. It even had Bradley worried.

Oddly enough, after it was over, my stomach was finally feeling better than it had in a long time. I rested a little while and then made a delicious dinner of stir-fry veggies and glass noodles made from sweet potato. It was amazingly delicious! And I was lucky enough to have some leftover for lunch today. 🙂