Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Call from the Clinic

Yesterday, we got a call from our clinic in Montreal. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up the phone. A frisson of fear ran through me as the grief of six plus years still haunts my thoughts.

Turns out I had nothing to worry about though.

The woman I spoke with from the Lab wanted to know some details about the baby and her birth for our file. They asked questions like:

Did you deliver your baby? (Answer: Yes. Thank heavens.)
Was it a boy or a girl? (A beautiful baby girl.)
When was she born? (August 27, 2009)
How many weeks gestation was she born at? (40 weeks, 2 days)
Is she healthy? (Yes.)
Was it a natural delivery or a c-section? (Natural.)
Did you have any problems afterwards? How is your own health after delivery? (No, and fine.)
What did the baby weigh? (6 lbs 15 oz)
Is she gaining weight appropriately? What does she weigh now? (Yes, and I'm not sure, but at last check she was over 8 lbs. I hope to have her weighed next week again. I suspect she's close to 10 lbs by now.)

And when she'd asked all the questions she had to ask, I wondered what they needed that information for, you know... besides for their own statistics. She replied that the information I'd given would be added to our file for future reference should we decide to go back for further treatment to add to our family.

Our family. Our FAMILY.

It's nice to say that. We're not just a couple anymore... we are a family.

I don't yet know if we'll go this route again. It's a long, hard road. That's for sure. I expect that we've depleted much of our finances to do this a second time. However, it's not yet entirely out of the question. But first things first. I'm enjoying getting to know our daughter and to get the hang of us being a FAMILY.

That's incredible to me. I don't know if I'll ever get used to it. But I'm glad I get to practise saying it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cause you know, it ain't real til you talk about poop

After two weeks, we see so many changes in our little girl. She's already up to over 8 lbs for heaven's sake! The public health nurse and the doctor are very pleased with her development; apparently her hips, skin, eyes, tone, control and various other aspects of her growth are all in perfect order. The doctor said to come back for her 2-month innoculations or if perchance something comes up in the meantime. Basically, all is good.

All is pretty good for me too. My uterus has shrunk down to where it ought to be again, my blood pressure is superb, I've lost 25 lbs (based on my weight at my 39 week checkup) and the muscles in my lower abdomen are knitted back together exactly as they should be. However, I'm not yet ready to go back to the gym according to the doc; the muscles higher up aren't yet knitted back together so I still need to take it easy. One day at a time -- much like during the pregnancy -- and I'll get there. I'll be happy to get back to the gym too! My neighbours graciously added a child care component to my gym membership as a gift to us so I'll be able to take advantage of that when the time comes. That'll be marvelous! I'm so very grateful.

Other than that, things in our house are, well, moving along. It's been difficult at times, that's for sure. And true to form for many babies, most of our difficulties are revolving around feeding, digestion (or lack thereof!) and elimination (and lack thereof!). And thus, the poop talk. Cause you know, parents gotta talk about poop. And while it's my first time as a parent, hubby's seen much of this before!

Feeding -- Petite refuses to nurse directly from the source. She is absolutely ADAMANT about that. She purses her lips, screams blue murder and pushes my breast away at each opportunity. I still give her exposure but I'm not forcing her. Sometimes after she's fed, she's content to just hang out at the breast and lie there, skin to skin, dozing quietly in my arms. And that's okay. But she will not, absolutely not feed from the breast. It just isn't happening. Added to that, I am not producing enough for her to have breastmilk exclusively. (Thanks PCOS and hypothyroidism!) They say to judge your milk production about 10 days post partum. And frankly, it isn't near where it needs to be. So my doctor prescribed the domperidone that I requested and hopefully in a couple of days, I'll see a difference. For the moment, I'm pumping as much as I can and Petite is drinking down whatever I can give her, and she's just loving it. We're still supplementing because otherwise, she simply wouldn't get enough to eat.

Digestion -- Petite is obviously digesting the breastmilk much easier than the formula. And that's good. What is bad is that she still has to have formula at all... because it's tearing up her little tummy. We've noticed that when she has breastmilk, she is much more content, sleeps better and has a lot less gas to deal with than when she is having formula. With formula, her little legs draw up frequently, she cries and alternates flexing and stretching her legs and body, trying to work the gas out. She doesn't burp well at all (much like my sister used to do apparently) and you can hear the gurgling in her tummy as she wails in pain. It's absolutely heartbreaking. However, according to the nurses and doctor, it's too early to change formula for her to see if another one would make any sort of a difference. I'm tempted to give it another few days with the current formula to see if anything changes, but then to try another one that we have, just to see if there's a difference. Additionally, I do have gripe water and although the doctor said there's nothing to suggest that it can actually help and they don't recommend it, I'm awfully tempted to see if it'll relieve her pain.

Elimination -- And accordingly, with the breastmilk, Petite has a much easier time with peeing and pooping. Honestly, with the formula, she sometimes goes for 36 or 40 hours without a poop and boy, you can imagine the poo-splosion when it finally comes! And when it does come and she's clean and happy again, she sleeps amazingly well and is happy and content. But when she is gassy and uncomfortable, she wails like a banshee. High pitched screeching, enough to tear your heart out. It's so intense that if it were an adult crying that way, you'd be completely hoarse. It's painful to listen to and all we can do is try to help her get the gas out of her system.

So we're doing the best we can to keep her fed (rule number one of course) and give her as much breastmilk as I can, and then to help her process the formula that she is given. We're working on it. I'm not giving up yet. I am still hoping to get her latched but it's going to be a helluva job. We tried tube feeds at the breast and tube feeds at the finger. We tried getting her to latch after she's had a bit of breastmilk and satiated the immediate need of hunger. We tried a nipple shield (she wasn't having ANY of that!), we tried different positions, we tried all kinds of things. No avail.

And then I have these special moments. Those moments when I get to gaze on her happy face. When I stare into her blue eyes staring up at mine. I feel her tiny fingers curled around my own finger. I hold her close and soothe her (according to my mom, she is most content in my arms than anyone else's), rocking her back and forth. I kiss her darling little cheeks and breathe in her new baby scent. And it is in these special moments that I get to smile and shed a tear of absolute joy. For I recognize how very blessed I am to hold Petite in my arms and I give thanks for these precious moments. Each and every one.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The First Ten Days

The first ten days have been... wow. Just wow. I am exhausted, sleep-deprived, elated and thrilled all at once. It's all been quite a blur in fact. Schedules, feedings, changings, walking the floor as we wait for little tummies to process food and digestive systems to get rid of pesky gas... all that sort of thing. And every moment is worth it.

We were in the hospital for two nights after the baby was born, and on Saturday evening, August 29, 2009, we were told we could go home. I couldn't believe that we would be permitted to leave the hospital with a baby. I've read that other infertiles feel much the same thing when they leave the hospital with their children, but you really don't know what that feels like until you experience it yourself. Much like you can read volumes about what it feels like to give birth to a baby, until you are there, you don't know how it will affect you personally and how YOU will feel or what you will do. Understand, I don't mean to belittle emotions or suggest that there is no capacity for empathy among us. However, experiences -- personal experiences -- are what make us who we are. And it is our own personal experiences that permit us to put ourselves in the place of people who've been there or to determine how we relate.

There have been frustrating moments this week. Petite* isn't latching all that well at the breast. With all the issues that I have (PCOS, hypothyroidism, etc.), I expected that milk production would be the biggest issue that we faced. However, my milk has come in (although not yet in spectacular amounts, but we're getting there) and for that I am extremely glad. Now if I could just get Petite to latch on, that would be superb. Once in awhile she'll latch on and feed for a few moments, but all in all, she's not that interested. I expect part of that is because my milk took four or five days to properly come in and of course, in the interest of needing to feed her, we ended up resorting to formula. She is happy with it, and of course, she doesn't have to work at the bottle like she does at the breast so there's that to deal with too. I did see a lactation consultant while in hospital, and since we've come home, the public health nurse has seen us and we've had an appointment with our family doctor too. All three tell us that we're doing all the right things and not to give up. I'm trying to stay hopeful.

Petite's first outing was to visit the doctor. And true to little girl form, her second outing was to the shopping mall with me, her grandmother and her great-aunt. It was successful; she came home with new outfits! Apparently "she has far too much yellow and green in her closet" and my mom and aunt decided to rectify that ASAP. We now have lots of pink items to add to the lot! And given Petite's small size (weighing 7 lbs 2 oz on Thursday when the public health nurse weighed her), much of her clothing is huge on her! My sister saw some photos and proclaimed, "She looks like she's wearing a sack of potatoes! She's so tiny!" Thus, she also received her first parcel from another great-aunt... new sleepers and onesies in 'Newborn' size that actually fit her. She looks terribly cute in them too. While at the mall, there were a number of people who stopped to admire her and at one point, my mother covered her up in an effort to keep gawkers at bay!

Although she had a bath in the hospital, she's had a first bath at home (and a few others now too!). She's not yet got the hang of the whole night and day thing though; she's frequently dozing through the daylight hours and up all night long! I expected that though, given that she was like that in utero. She kept me awake most nights and I rarely felt her move during the day. I expect she'll eventually get the hang of it though. Sometimes it takes awhile for newborns to regulate that; in the meantime, we're all sleeping in shifts. And none of us is sleeping well! That's for sure.

As I keep saying though, it's early days. And we WILL figure it all out. She's learning, as are we. We'll eventually get the hang of it all. Patience and time and we'll figure it all out.

In the meantime, here are some photos to tide you over. Enjoy. And love to you all in blogland.

*As a side note...
We referred to our little one as Petit in utero. Now that we know we have a daughter, she'll be referred to as 'Petite' hereafter.