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