Saturday, May 25, 2013

The second baby gets the shaft

Someone sent me this article talking about the differences between baby #1 and baby #2, and I have to say it hit a note. I've been doing a lot of hormonal crying lately over a few things, and most of them turned up in this piece. I've had a hard time figuring out who to talk to about my feelings, so I suppose I'm better off just writing a bit about them instead. Maybe it will reduce, or put an end to, these waterworks I've been experiencing.

#1, Celebration
I personally believe a big way to celebrate the upcoming arrival of a baby is by having a baby shower. It is not about the gifts, it is about the celebration of the new life that is going to enter the world and all that a mother does to make that life happen. I don't know if it was the second baby syndrome or the fact that I was on house arrest for 3 months that prompted all of my friends and family to overlook a baby shower. But it has been on my "tear causing list" since Kalah was born. I wasn't going anywhere, so why couldn't we have had a celebration in my apartment? Maybe they were worried if they celebrated anything I would go in to early labor again. Since Kal will be my last there will be no more baby showers in my future. I feel as though her birth came and went fairly uncelebrated, and it makes me sad.

For those of you with friends who are expecting a second baby, don't forget the shower! A friend of mine wrote a nice entry with ideas for a second baby shower here.

#2, Documentation
We didn't even have our camera at the hospital when Kalah was born. Our nice camera is really meant to be used for the business, but when Kesha was born we lived and worked in the same place, so grabbing the camera was a no brainer. This time the camera was at the office, and since I went in to labor so quickly we didn't even think to run and get it. We have no delivery pictures of her. No high quality images from the hospital. Thankfully I had my iPad in the room and we got quite a few pictures after delivery, but they are all iPad quality, nothing we could really print. For Kesha we have an entire video of her c-section birth... Again, Kalah's my last baby. This will be my last birth experience. It seemed to rushed since the medical team didn't want me progressing any further in my labor than I already was, and there will be no pictures to show Kalah of her birth when she's older. This makes me sad.

#10, Closeness
Every time I think that Kalah is my last baby I tear up and want to hold her more. I know we wouldn't have wanted (or been able to handle) more kids, but it still makes me nostalgic that this will be my final personal infant experience in life. I've been crying about this a lot lately (I can't wait until my hormones balance out).

#14, Life Impact
I am an entrepreneur. I own and run my own business. I also do this from home, making me a work at home mom (which for those of you who do the same thing know how difficult it is... you have the expectations of a stay at home mom mixed with the obligations of a mother with a career!). When Kesha was born our business was just starting to take off, so there wasn't as much to do. She was also born in low season, which allowed me more time to just focus on her. Kalah's timing was way off. We are weeks away from high season, which will last until the end of August, and our business is growing by leaps and bounds (a wonderful thing!). I spend my mornings very involved in my work and am thankful she is a napper. However, this will change in the coming months and I sit on pins and needles thinking about how this will impact the amount of quality time I get to spend with my growing girl.

The change in our family structure has also been very rough on Kesha. Our bubbly easygoing toddler has turned in to a whirlwind of defiance. I know it's mostly related to Kalah's arrival (being 2 and a half hasn't made that any easier), but when your toddler tells you she's mad at you because of the baby, or she won't come hug you or talk to you, it hurts. She pulls out all of the stops for her father, and many evenings turn in to power struggles between the two of them. I have spent many nights in tears trying to figure out how I can help her, not only for her sake, but for all of us. I'm still a bit lost in this area, but promise to post about tricks that have worked for our family next week.

#15, Lovability
Last night Arturo and I got a few rare minutes alone to scarf down a meal at my Mother-in-law's house. So, I asked him how he was adjusting to having two kids (other than being tired). He said he was fine, and then asked me the same question. I told him that it has its challenges, but I am so happy to have two girls and am really enjoying the experience. It's amazing how rather than dividing the existing space you have in your heart for love, more space just seems to appear, and you love every person in your new little family equally.

I would add one more to the list, and that is the "bounce back". My body is definitely telling me this was baby #2 and is not returning to my pre-pregnancy look as quickly as it did after Kesha. My belly is still extremely sore from the surgery, and I know I am still swollen from the internal trauma, but I still have to remind myself that's one of the reasons I still have a belly. I'm at that awkward stage where my maternity pants are starting to fall off of me, but my regular pants don't fit yet. So my wardrobe is even more limited than it was at the end of my pregnancy (when you need a tent to wear because nothing really stretches over your massive baby bump.

I know it will pass and I will return to my former glory, but this time around it is taking a while, and it pulls at your heartstrings just as much as any other part of postpartum life.

Which numbers did you relate to? How did they make you feel?

Monday, May 20, 2013

The road to recovery (second time around)

I have come to greatly dislike abdominal surgery recovery, but have to admit that the recovery from this c-section has been, by far, the easiest. (you can read about my recovery from my first c-section here, or about my appendectomy here)

Day 1 - Sunday, May 12th, Mother's Day (Hospital/Home)

They always get you up and walking right away. The nurses came in early and told me I needed to get up and try to go to the bathroom at 11am. My first time out of bed was very difficult (as to be expected), but I was able to stand up and sit down again without passing out. The second time out (a bit later in the day) I was able to get to the bathroom and back looking a bit like a huddle over old woman.We had lots of visitors today, which was wonderful! Kesh got to meet her sister, and we were home by around 6:00pm. 

The night was hard since Arturo slept in the other room with Kesh. Getting up to use the bathroom required yelling from my room to theirs to have him come help me out of bed. Same with getting Kalah out of her bed to breastfeed her. 

Day 2- Monday, May 13th (Home)

I was able to get out of bed alone a couple of times, managed my shower, and walked a little bit, but not much. No night time help needed.

Day 3 - Tuesday, May 14th (Home)

Out of bed all on my own all the time, showered, walked to/from the kitchen (on the other side of our apartment) several times, got the baby out of her bed on my own many times. Managed a diaper change all on my own.

By day 4 and 5 I was pretty much doing most everything on my own. I was really sore, but capable. I stayed alone with the girls for a couple of hours on Thursday so Arturo could go to the gym. We didn't do much, but we survived.

I began doing light household chores over the weekend (at the 1 week mark) and spent most of Sunday alone with the girls. We did extremely well! I even got both girls to take an 1.5 hour nap at the same time, bathed Kesha, and cooked dinner (even though I over-salted and over-roasted our roast... whoops!).

One week before giving birth

A couple of days postpartum

9 days postpartum (stitch removal day!)

Although my body is bouncing back faster as far as how I feel and what I can do, it is most certainly taking longer for my uterus to shrink back to a normal size (they also say you swell more when you get a tubal ligation, so that could be part of the longer-lasting swelling) and for me to lose the weight. I gained more weight with this pregnancy than I did with Kesha and was much less mobile due to the modified bed rest, so that's not a really fair comparison to make. But I feel that baby #2 has taken a greater toll on my body than baby #1.

Several people have commented on how I am heavier now that I was after having Kesha and how much bigger my belly is now. Thank you for the helpful supportive comments people! That's just what a woman 9 days postpartum wants to hear. So, just for fun, here are my post Kesha pictures right after birth and one week out.

Immediately following Kesha's birth

About 1 week out from Kesha's delivery

Today I had my stitches taken out and was given permission to begin slowly walking again outside and building up my endurance.

I still have about 20 more pounds to lose, but as a post delivery present Arturo has a personal trainer coming to the house to work with me once a week until I have permission to workout again. He provides me with recovery appropriate exercises I can do by myself at home. He will continue to work with me in the gym and at the pool for one month following my 6 week appointment. So my ability to now walk outside of my home, combined with my trainer, and a return to home cooking and careful nutrition, those additional 20 will hopefully come right off!

Because I know everyone is curious, here are the stats...
Pre delivery weight: 78 kilos (172 pounds)
Post delivery weight (taken at home on day 2): 72 kilos (159 pounds)
9 days post delivery (stitch removal day): 70 kilos (154 pounds)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Introducing Miss Kalah May! (a birth story)

Kalah (pronounced Kal-uh) was brought in to our lives on May 11, 2013 at around 11:00pm... moments before Mother's Day!

As you all know this has been one heck of a pregnancy for us, and I have been classified as high risk since week 27. We had been holding back contractions and labor since week 31 utilizing a combination of modified bed rest and medication. But on Monday, May 6th I was taken off of all medication (kept on modified bed rest) and told that if she decided it was time, then come in to this world she would! No more interventions for us.

One week before Kal was born

During the week I let myself leave the house for a few Mother's Day festivities including a couple of hours at the salon, a Mother's Day presentation at Kesha's school, and a Mother's Day breakfast on Saturday morning. I swear I didn't walk to any of them. If I had we would have had a baby long before Saturday.

Kesh getting her first haircut at the salon

Kesha's Mother's Day performance at school

On our way to our early Mother's Day breakfast

I had been having stomach issues toward the end of the week and knew something was up (and no, not food poisoning or parasites). But there had been no other signs of impending labor. On Friday night I began to have irregular contractions, but again, nothing out of the ordinary, so they weren't really on my radar.

By 4:00pm on Saturday my irregular and "not on the radar" contractions began to get stronger and come in regular intervals. At first they were every 10 minutes, then every 8, then every 7 (you get the picture). When Arturo got home with Kesha around 5:00 on Saturday after spending all day with our friends, we put her down for a very late nap. Once she was asleep I casually walked in to talk to Arturo and I think my words were something like "there's nothing to worry about, but I might be in labor". He looked much more concerned about the situation than I felt about it.

We opted to wait for a few more hours to make sure my contractions didn't taper off, but finally called the doctor at around 8:45pm (when my contractions were 6-7 minutes apart) to ask what he wanted us to do. His answer was, of course, to meet him at the clinic right away. In my overly relaxed state I asked if he was sure or if he wanted us to wait a bit longer (HA!).

Since we had to arrange child care for Kesh (who was still napping at this point in time), we told him we could be there in an hour. So, at 9:45 on the dot he met us at our favorite medical stomping ground (the Clinica Paucarbamba). At this point my contractions were coming every 5 minutes or less. I am pretty sure it just took him looking at me to know this baby was being born that night, but he did a pelvic anyway. I was dilated and at that moment lost my mucus plug.

Most doctors here will not do a VBAC, so combining my previous c-section with the high risk nature of the end of my pregnancy they hadn't wanted me to labor at all. So once they realized that I was in active labor it was rush rush to get me prepped and the baby c-sectioned before my labor progressed any further. I hardly had time to call my parents to let them know we were having the baby!

My epidural was fine (I didn't almost pass out like I did when I had my appendectomy), but as soon as they had me strapped to the table my blood pressure dropped and I threw up. Quality (I am sure this poor clinic is so happy to be done with me). I detest epidurals and am very thankful I have no more scheduled in my near future.

They got me cleaned up, fixed up my blood pressure, then Arturo came in to the room (he was wearing official hospital scrubs and looked great in them!), and we got under way.

The surgery itself was uneventful. Kalah came out no problem and cried right away. They showed her to me and then the pediatrician whisked her away. Arturo followed to oversee her clean-up and vitals checks. In the O.R. they proceeded to tie my tubes and sew me up (yes, they did it, officially there will be no more kids for us).

They brought Kal back in to the operating room after she was cleaned and dressed. It was so fun to see her and see how much she looked like Kesh (we had been debating what she would look like). I felt bad for her because she was hungry and wanted to nurse, but with my arms tied and them sewing me up there would be no nursing until we were back in the room. (note: I know in many clinics you can ask to nurse your child and/or have skin to skin contact while they finish the operation, but the epidural makes me shake very badly and so for me I didn't even discuss the issue).

When Kesh was born Arturo's whole family was there. This time they were caring for Kesh, and it was just the three of us all night. It was nice to have that time to bond, be tired, and let the fact that we had a new baby truly sink in (and no, we didn't get any sleep).

In our room together

My in-laws brought Kesh to the clinic mid morning on Mother's Day. The girls seemed to click right away. Or at least Kesha was completely enamored with her "ñaña" (sister). They stayed for an hour or so then took Kesh off to play while we stayed at the hospital waiting to be sent home.

Kesh meeting Kal for the firs time.

Several good friends of ours came by to visit during the day, which was a welcomed distraction from my incision site pain, my attempts to get out of bed, and hospital boredom. But by 6:00pm they had given us the green light and our discharge papers and we were on the way home!

I know in the US that a typical post c-section hospital stay is much longer than the 15 and 20 hour stays I have had. However, I appreciate that they got me home quickly so that our family only had one night apart.

Our first night home as a family of 4 went really well, and it has only gotten better. My mobility now on day 5 post op is excellent. I look forward to leaving the house with Kesha at some point next week, even if it's just to go to the cafe in our building. I look forward to holding Kesh in my arms again, cuddling her close, and not worrying about her pressing on something as we snuggle (we haven't been able to do that in almost 3 months).

I expect there to be bumps in the road as we grow as a family. The other night Kesha wanted to sleep with mommy instead of Papi (I am currently sleeping in one room with Kalah and Arturo sleeping with Keshsa in her room). We had to talk about Mommy's owie (my c-section incision site) and how I can't sleep with her right now, but soon I will be able to. She cried and cried and it broke my heart. I had her come and watch a movie with me in my bed and cuddle with the understanding that when the movie was over she was going to go sleep with Papi. Kalah was sleeping, so it was just the two of us. It seemed to appease her, but the whole situation still made me sad. 

I hope that I can be the mom I want to be to both of these girls simultaneously. I hope I can be patient enough for Kesha, remember to involve my new infant in our conversations, and give them both the quality time they need from me.

My girls! So much love!

Here's to new beginnings!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Kesha's first haircut

Kesha had very little hair when she was born. In fact she had very little hair until recently. So, we never cut her hair, as there was never a reason to. Here are some pictures of my hairless wonder from when she was born until now...

A few weeks old

A couple of months old

Closer to 9 months old

About 15 months old

18 months old

27 months old

30 months old

So finally, after 2.5 years she was in desperate need of a haircut (as you can see from the pictures). So, since Mommy snuck out for a day at the salon we decided to take Bugs as well.

It was a bittersweet, yet fun moment! I love watching her grow up, and am enthralled every new experience and milestone we have together! She loved every minute of it. There were no tears, only curiosity and joy. Here are a few photo highlights from her first haircut...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The reality of my past 10 weeks

We have made it (well, almost). On Monday we will officially be 37 weeks pregnant and full term. (Little baby, did you hear that? You can come out whenever you're ready, 'cause Mama is dying to leave this house!)

My updates have been frequent at times and few and far between on other occasions. Most of them have had a positive spin... but the reality of my past 10 weeks has not been so rosy.

So, what has my reality been?

Lots of this...

Me lying around with my giant belly

Not enough of this...

For you sticklers out there, I've been doing NONE of this...

No need for wearing these...
Except for the rare occasion when I sneak down the elevator to the cafe in my building

Lots of wishing I were out there...

Mom and Kesh playing outside in our apartment complex's garden

The truth is that the past 10 weeks have been extremely stressful. 

I went from an invasive abdominal surgery at 27 weeks, to pre-term labor at 31 weeks, to pre-term labor again at 33 weeks (this time with an overnight in the hospital), to peaking blood pressure problems at 35 weeks... A possible premature birth with a NICU stay threatening us at every turn. 

Where we started all of this at around 27 weeks

During all of this Arturo's cousin had a baby who died just a few days after being born. No one told me, I found out on my own. This brought on a night of crying and reoccurring nightmares (probably why no one told me, right?).

My inability to clean my home, cook a meal for my family, bathe my child, or be helpful in any way has been overwhelming in a very negative way. One never realizes how humbling (and depressing) it is to be completely reliant on others. Useless and a burden (could someone bring me a glass of water please?! I mean, really!). Thankfully many people helped out, including our amazing housekeeper Blanquita has swooped in to save the day helping me with my grocery shopping, cleaning up after our busy bee toddler (daily!), and filling in with other odd tasks as needed.

One of Blanquita's many amazing food shopping trips for us.

I have insomnia (probably from sitting around on my ever-growing rear end all day... I even sweat when I talk on the phone now). If I happen to wake up at some point in the night I am guaranteed to stay awake for at least 2 hours, if not for the rest of the night. And forget coffee to help me get through the next day. I have limited myself to one weak cup per day due to my blood pressure issues. 

I dread my toddler coming home in the afternoons, not because I don't think she's amazing or love spending time with her, but because I know that what she really wants to do is run wild and be outdoors... I can give her neither of those things. I can only offer to participate in quiet, indoor activities of which she grows tired after an hour or so. 

I fear having another operation, and have way too much time to think about it. Epidurals hurt (if you say they don't, you're lying!). Having your body completely sliced open also hurts, and is intimidating. I have contemplated writing a living will and Arturo and I have even had conversations about what to do with my body if I die (don't get on my case about being negative, I think it's prudent). I fear another recuperation period where I have massive amounts of stitches. I'm not squeamish, but really, the whole abdominal surgery thing is gross and painful, and I am totally over it.

How could this NOT hurt?!

This will be our last baby. I am having my tubes tied during my c-section (heck they throw it in for free here if you're already paying for the c-section! La yapa!). I feel like a failure for not having a single vaginal birth. I know this happens to a lot of women, but it still doesn't make the feeling go away or less real. I'm sure I will eventually get over it, but for now there is this gaping whole in my maternal life where I was incapable of pushing them out as nature intended me to.

I fear what is to come with two children. I know people do it all the time, but our little family suffered greatly after Kesha was born and our attempt to figure out how to live life with a child, and undiagnosed postpartum depression, almost split us apart. I have nightmares about this happening again, but just have to remember that communication, honestly, and transparency will help push us through the hurdles that are yet to come.

I have broken down in my useless state (and borderline completely insane mental state) more times that I can mention (including at least one doctor's appointment... uh oh, here comes the crazy lady again!). In honor of taking no personal responsibility for anything I will blame the doctors... a pregnant lady on bed rest and hormone supplements with a two year old? You're asking for it!

Even though I'm constantly walking an emotional tightrope, for the most part I have held it together fairly well. Moments have been tough, but I've had people by my side supporting me the entire time. 

First, and the person who has bore most of the weight of all of this, is my husband. He has brought me breakfast, lunch, and dinner in bed, attended every single doctor appointment with me, taken Kesha to daycare and picked her up afterward, picked up where I left things with our business, and basically run our entire household and company for the last 10 weeks.

My mother, who took 2.5 weeks off of work to fly down to Ecuador and be with me so I didn't jump out the window of our apartment because in my batty state from being alone in this apartment day in and day out. It's not easy to travel to another country. It's even more difficult to travel to another country where you don't speak the language well. To stay in someone else's home where the stress levels are high because of a complicated medical issue (she even spent her second night here in Ecuador with me in the hospital!)... all of this is difficult. From entertaining me, to entertaining our toddler, to taking her to school, feeding her, playing with her, taking her to the park, and attending a birthday party completely in Spanish, my mom did it all for us! She will be back in June for another 3.5 week stint to help me with both girls since I will be alone with 2 children while Arturo travels with our summer student groups (at least I will be able to leave the house!!!).

My mom's photo of my overly filling hospital meal.
Don't put too much on that plate guys, it's not like I'm pregnant or anything. 

My father, brother, and future sister-in-law for listening to my emergency stories and endless complaints  calmly and with empathy!

Arturo's family here in Cuenca for sending me lunch daily, coming to visit, accompanying me to the doctor, and visiting me in the hospital.

My friends, both here and abroad, for entertaining me during my infinite state of boredom, coming to see me in my home, helping me cook meals for my family so we could eat something other than leftovers or bread and eggs.

Lastly, I should acknowledge my own successes. This is the hardest acknowledgment to make because I feel personally responsible for many of the issues that have arisen (I intellectually comprehend the fact that I had little control over much of this, but that doesn't keep the feelings from arising). But I need to take personal responsibility for the fact that we have almost made it to term and that I was one of the only people who could actually make that happen by following instructions and staying put.

Someone told me that bed rest is one of the hardest things someone will ever have do, especially with a toddler. Without my own sacrifices, efforts, awareness of my own body, or ability to reach out and ask for help and push through this, we could have easily had an early delivery and many issues with a premature baby. So, here's to me!

Within the next two weeks we will officially become a family of 4 and look forward to adding a healthy full-term baby girl to our already wonderfully crazy family!

We did it. I did it. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.