Thursday, August 24, 2017

Bienvenida Belén!

The birth of our baby girl is a good reason to come back to the blog. I am not a gifted writer, but sharing her/our story is important for her history, and may very well be interesting for you.  Sharing her/our story is healing for me too.

This pregnancy was pretty similar to when I was pregnant with Walter--easy. Just a little more morning sickness.We found out we were having a baby girl early on and we were all really excited. The pregnancy progressed really well. I worked throughout my pregnancy and exercised too. I felt good and lasted all the way past 35 weeks. I mention that because Walter was breech the entire pregnancy and I had an unplanned c-section with him at 35 weeks because of his position and low fluid. 

Initially I had approached Walter's birth from a natural perspective-- practicing hypnobirthing and reserving the birthing tub in the hospital so I could have a water birth. That obviously didn't work out. I admit that at the time I was disappointed in that lost birthing experience, but I was more excited to meet my boy than to really object. Time and a new perspective has  also "healed" me. The c-section wasn't that bad and like some other women, ( you know the type, you read their blogs) I am not traumatized at my medical birth nor do I believe I am less of a woman for it.  I do not need to suffer to feel empowered by my birth

But I actually did plan for a natural VBAC with this pregnancy (VBAC= Vaginal Birth After Cesarian) It wasn't because I hated my c-section, but rather because breastfeeding didn't work out for me after Walter, and the c section and some of the other things which occurred with Walter's birth are associated with lactation failure. The hardest part of welcoming Walter was my inability to breastfeed.

With baby girl we went to 40 weeks 2 days and I went into labor without induction. I labored at home Friday night July 14th and checked into the hospital about 4 AM July 15th. Ulises wasn't much of a birthing coach while at home and was rather grossed out that my labor brought on nausea. He didn't do well with the barfing. Although he went to birthing classes with me, he really was at a loss of what to do when it came to coaching me through contractions. He was taking a shower or cleaning his night stand while I was laboring. I would call him over when a contraction came and he would hold my hand. But as soon as the surge passed he continued puttering around. I told him next time we gotta work on that.

When we got to the hospital I was 7 cm and they took me upstairs. I was offered an epidural and I accepted. While initially I had wanted to go without pain medication, I had been reading some really interesting stuff a few days before I delivered that really challenged my ideas. First, realizing that having the epidural wouldn't affect the onset of lactation itself was comforting. And realizing that other peoples ideas of what birth should be had made an impact on me, was also important.  I learned to let go of other peoples ideals and ask myself why I wanted what I wanted. 

This is what made a huge difference in how approached this experience.
  click here: "giving birth in yoga land"

Its a must read.

Once I got the epidural I was shocked how effective it was. Maybe next time I will do a walking epidural or try and go un-medicated (or I might not. There is no right way to birth) I was able to rest but not really sleep. By the time 1PM rolled around I was ready to deliver the baby. Ulises was a great coach when it came to actually delivering the baby. Maybe it was because he could feed off the nurses who were also great coaches. The nurse assigned to me was awesome. I'm kicking myself for not remembering her name. She was older and reminded me of my own mother who was a labor and delivery nurse for 30 years. I felt like I had someone with some wisdom taking care of me.

Within 45 minutes of pushing, Belén was born. July 15th 1:46 PM  to be exact. It was amazing to watch and it was really rewarding to have so many people urging me on, encouraging me to birth this little girl. It was such a surprise when they pulled her from me and put her on top of me. A little overwhelming and wonderful! It seemed too quick! I held that baby and told her how much I loved her. It was so nice to deliver there at Avista hospital with the lights pouring in the windows, my husband at my side, and such a great group of women urging me to get this little girl into the world. 

The next few hours were great. Snuggling your baby after giving birth sure beats having the babe whisked away to the NICU as Walter was. And recovery after a regular delivery really is better than a c-section. hmp! I was up and walking within hours!

Walter came that night to meet his sister. He was too shy to hold her, but was excited about her. It took him a while, but  now he gives her kisses and today he told me he loved her--all unprompted.
Walter more interested in his truck than his sister
We convinced Walter to pose

After a successful VBAC I was ready to 'try' breastfeeding again. This time I approached breastfeeding with a new perspective because I had more information. My failed lactation with Walter, as it turned out, wasn't because of the c-section or anything. It was because I have Insufficient Glandular Tissue. No amount of fenugreek or brewers yeast or power pumping was ever going to bring my supply up to sufficient levels. I was diagnosed with IGT the year before falling pregnant with Belen. My hopes this time around were to be able to produce enough to at least offer something--to have her comfort nurse at least. I had no illusion that I could provide for her caloric needs. But I did want to try some form of feeding at the breast.

Even after being prepared mentally, and knowing that I had a legitimate reason for failed lactation ( we will talk about that word "failed" later....) this was the part of the journey that hurt the most. I imagine it will always hurt no matter how many babes I have the honor of mothering. Much of it is mourning the 'failure' of your body to perform a function that is so closely associated with good mothering. And it's okay to mourn unmet expectations and disappointments But a lot of it also comes from society's expectations and a lot of misinformation about lactation.

How is it that we accept the fact that people need braces for crooked teeth and glasses for blurry vision and that other parts of our body are allowed to fail to perform perfectly, but  must accept that breasts are always capable of feeding our babies? Would we tell someone with deafness or blindness that they are lazy or aren't trying hard enough? People need to know that insufficient supply is normal and that breast can be best... but only when breasts work--and a lot of times they don't! And that's ok. Humans have evolved  and thrive because we were smart enough to use wet nurses, create formula and use it, and work around mortality's challenges. 

It was hard to have so many different nurses and lactation consultants come in and assume I was able to breastfeed. Telling each new person my story made it harder. Here I was sitting in the hospital bed and  I was told that breastfeeding will make all my extra baby weight melt off...  or they would talk about how "when your milk comes in....." but  for me it wouldn't.  I even had a nurse come help Belen bottle feed  who said " This stuff is yucky, the good stuff comes from mommy."  And the nurse was feeding her donor breast milk! So it was still breast milk. But it wasn't mine.... So apparently everything other than my breast milk (which, by the way, doesn't exist) is yucky to my daughter.What a happy thought. 

I did have a couple of down to earth lactation consultants who understood and believed my low supply ( I have read horror stories about some lactation consultants who insist insufficient supply is not real) and were supportive.They won't ever know how validating their words were to me.

3.5 weeks into it I could pump 2ml a day. Yes, you read that right...
 I don't know if I will continue pumping much longer or using SNS with Belen. But when I do stop, it will still be something I will have to work out emotionally. It's a loss all the same.

This is from both sides, 10 minutes each side.

a few days worth

When you meet a new mom, yes, ask her how baby is doing, but instead of following up with the question of breastfeeding, how about you ask her how she is doing.  a simple "How you doing, mom?"  will do wonders for the baby blues.
New mom again

We mothers are so much more than our  reproductive organs and breasts. If you see someone bottle feeding, don't feel sorry for her either. Always support a mom who is feeding and nourishing their child. You never know what factors ( and they don't really matter either) brought her to bottle feed.

I've shared my diagnosis of IGT knowing that there are so many other women and friends of mine who, for whatever reasons, also need to (or choose) to bottle feed.  You are not alone. 
And the one thing you should walk away with after reading this post is that no woman ever needs to defend her method of feeding her baby. to anyone. ever. Fed is best. Full stop.

want to know more about insufficient glandular tissue? 

Want to know something else ironic? Even had I produced enough milk to breastfeed my baby, she still would be bottle fed. Belen has Laryngomalacia and while some kids with the condition can breastfeed, Belen's  pediatrician has had to give us an RX for fortifying her feedings and increasing her caloric intake. She currently takes donor milk fortified with formula and thickened to prevent reflux,

Belen's Laryngomalacia is not life threatening. She did go to the NICU at 10 days old when she was breathing heavily and we didn't know why. There they diagnosed her with the condition after the pediatric ENT performed a scope. She has a moderate case and had surgery on August 14th. The surgeon was clear, it's not a solution or a fix, but it will help. Hopefully she will avoid the path it usually takes--getting worse at 4-6 months.  As of right now she is recovering well, has fewer squeaks and wheezing, and we are working on chubbing her up. Check out the non profit that has taken care of us. Learn more about laryngomalacia. They're great!

Having a baby, even baby #2, is full of surprises and is an emotional rollercoaster. I'm so grateful for Ulises who has been supportive this entire time. He is such a good man, husband and father.

And Walter, he's doing great with this new role as Big Brother as well.
Shy at first

We love little Belen. I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to be a mother. We aren't worthy of the blessing, but are so grateful it has come. We thank God daily for these gifts, these children.

We feel so blessed to also have her first few hours documented by a friend of mine, Jenna Dallaire. Check out her website here jennadallairephotography

Later we gota few newborn shots with her to match ones that Walter had done. I plan on submitting these to their year books someday hehe.  Check out Diana Cordova Photography here

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Home alone

So Walter and Ulises went to Spain for spring break! Hooray! I stayed here, at work... Boooo!

In just two days I get to go pick them up from the airport! To say I've missed them would be an understatement. I feel it in my bones. An emptiness. Kind of like I've lost a bit of my identity. I've not been in a position like this in years. No diapers to change, family dinner to cook, no one else to prepare or do stuff for. I've tried to make the best of it but I can't celebrate my "freedom" too much when I still have to go to work and my budget hasn't exactly increased to the extent my free time has.

I've gone to the gym classes I don't usually have the ability to attend and I've gone out with some friends ( thank you!!) and done some shopping, but that's not a fair exchange for the giggles and kisses Walter and Ulises bring.

I had to stay to work. I work to maintain health insurance and the company I work for would have cut off my benefits if I went under my designated amount of hours. So I stayed. I was a big girl and decided to remain employed and insured instead of partying in Spain.

I'm looking for a different solution for our family right now. I could go work for another company and get better benefits and a higher salary, but the joy that I get being so close to Walter and spending my day next to him while I work is invaluable. So I'm looking at work from home options or something. I'm trying to stay positive and look at this in perspective. Ulises will finish his PhD in just 2 years and will likely be employed somewhere where he can insure the rest of his family members for a reasonable rate. And then I would have the option to work for pleasure or stay at home or a combination of both.

Good news is that Ulises will get his student visa status adjusted to permanent resident soon and his restrictions on work will be lifted. And that will happen this year, not in two years!

So I'm trying to be patient. I do lement that I missed Ulises sister's wedding-- what looked like a simply  beautiful event-- in Spain. I also missed the time I could have spent there with Ulises family and our friends. It was really hard feeling so left out. While they celebrated, I helped toddlers glue cotton balls on construction paper. Ah the glamour of working daycare!

Sometimes it's hard being an adult.

But really, I'm glad they went. I've cried everyday since they've been gone, but Walter is being loved by all his aunts uncles and grandparents there. It's the best gift I can give them. I hope they see how hard this was for me and give him so much more love because of it!

So here is hoping we can go to Spain at Christmas. And here is hoping work requirements won't derail that dream.

And now, for some pictures! This is what I have been living off of while they have been away!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Walter's hospital visit

Walter comes to work with me at a daycare. Being a working parent is both good and bad.

My laundry and housework are neglected, my to do list never ends. I miss out on community events I could take Walter to if we were home in the day. (Twinkle babies at the library, anyone?) I don't have many mom friends because most of my friends at work are younger college aged girls, and by the time we arrive home it's bath and bed time- not play date time! But in reality, it really is good! I'm happy there because I get benefits, a free gym membership, and adult interaction with some really good people. I have a reason to start my day early. I can go and eat lunch uninterrupted. And Walter is always there! I've not had to miss any milestones like rolling over or crawling.

And then there is Walter's experience!
He benefits from the social interaction. He has girlfriends I'm pretty sure ;) People can see his cute outfits cause we actually leave the house. And he has a million toys at his disposal. But..... He is also more prone  to illness. Which I guess can be good to build up his immune system. But the last week of January, it got bad. And it stunk. A lot.

When adults have RSV it is sometimes expressed as a cough, a runny nose or  mucous, coughs, etc. Well when babies like Walter get it, their little narrow cavities and lungs can't handle it so well. And they don't know how to sneeze or cough it up.

January 27th Walter had been fighting a fever that we were treating with ibuprofen. But he wasn't kicking it. He was irritable, coughing and starred to wheeze and whistle when he breathed. He got so bad that at 3:00 am the next morning we took him to an urgent care at the local children's hospital where he was admitted immediately they suctioned out his nose and a huge amount of mucous came out. They did it every few hours!  Even though he was cleared out, the oxygen they were giving him wasn't working. He needed to be transferred to the Aurora main branch of the children's hospital network where a better machine could pressurise the air for him.

So we went by ambulance and arrived there. They sucked out more mucous and put him on a cpap. Still  not enough improvement. Poor Walter was exhausted. They moved him to the ICU and put him on a bi-pap which is a pretty significant amount of breathing support. While there, they  did a chest xray and added to his diagnosis of bronchiolitis (caused by RSV and corona virus) pneumonia! Poor baby!
He couldn't eat for a couple days and eventually Ulises and I chose to give him a feeding tube. Hard decisions. It was rough seeing our baby cry at every nose suction. Heel prick, tube insertion and iv. But after 3 days in the ICU we were upgraded to a regular room.. In all, he went from bi-pap to cpap to heated high flow air and then a nasal cannula and finally room air! Then we went home day 5!

He was pretty sick and it was hard to miss work, school, worry about those things, all while little Walter baby was suffering. But our church congregation took really good care of us. We feel really blessed for having health insurance, a skilled medical staff who helped us so much, and our church family who supported us when our own family, far away, couldn't come.

Now Walter is back to normal and has now started crawling everywhere! He certainly got his energy back!

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers! We really felt your love!

Now for some hospital pictures and pictures of him at home