Friday, July 22, 2011

A Day in the Life of Mommy C

Back when Superman was born I really struggled with the feeling that I was accomplishing nothing during the first few months.  I was home full time.  Shouldn't I have a perfectly clean house? Shouldn't I have laundry done and dinners made? Why could I not find time to get these things done? What was I doing all day?

As I mentioned this to friends, I surprised to hear that I wasn't the only one that felt this way.  I got several tips on how to find time to clean/cook/do laundry (thanks Fly Lady!), but the piece of advice the most unique piece of advice was from a fabulous mom named Karen.  Instead of a to-do list that she went through everyday, she had a journal where she wrote down everything she did as she did them.  Diaper change? Write it down.  Nurse the baby? Write it down. Showered? Write it down.  You get the idea.

At the time I didn't really appreciate the advice.  I thought it was a neat idea, but really I just wanted to have a clean house again.  Now that I am home with a toddler and a newborn the idea of finding time to clean is laughable right now.  I barely have time to pee, let alone scrub a toilet or dust the end tables.  My husband went back to work today and as I thought about what I wanted to do today, I remembered Karen's advice and this post series was born.

From time to time I am going to post a "Day in the life of Mommy C" where I catalog all the things I accomplished that day.  I think it will be interesting to see how the lists shift over time as the boys grow and their needs change.  Most importantly, I hope that it reminds me that even when I don't accomplish anything "productive" around the house, I am actually being quite productive.

A Day in the Life of Mommy C

16 diapers changed (5 poopy ones and I only got peed on 1 time)
5 outfits changed
7 cuddle and play sessions with Superman (after nursing Mr. T) including 
2 times- playing with the trains with S
1 time- playing with the cars with S
1 time- coloring on the easel with S
10 minutes searching for the missing purple ball
2 loads of laundry started
1 load of laundry folded
1 walk to the playground and then around the neighborhood
13 wipes of S's nose (Go AWAY allergies!)
2 meltdowns by Superman
5 time outs given for throwing and hitting
1 story time and nap for Superman
1 nap taken by me
3 times- letting the dogs out 
3 times- yelling at dogs for barking (actually it is more like 15 times but I figured each trip out would count as one)
(approximately) 161 minutes spent nursing (by 7:45pm - still have at least 2 more nursing times left today)
1 trip out to the Washington Square area to pick up pictures and my earrings 
1 nursing session done in the car while the toddler watched a video and shared a Jamba Juice with me.
1 drive home while trying to soothe Mr. T 
At least 65 hugs given
3 meals served (pizza delivery counts right?)
3 snacks given
5 sippy cups given
2 tummy time sessions with Mr. T
1 Sesame Street episode started to give me a break for a few minutes
1 blog post written
1 Tour de France stage watched

Not bad for my first day alone!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reclaiming My Body...Eventually

A little bit of history...
Growing up I was pretty athletic and had a good body.  I wasn't thin...I was just right.  I remember being really self conscious though and thought that I was so much bigger than all the other girls.  What I would give to have that body back!

At some point after moving to California and beginning my teacher career, I began to pack on the pounds.  There wasn't one thing that changed that caused me to gain was a whole bunch put together.  I was working a lot of hours just to live paycheck to paycheck.  I was living off mac n' cheese and other cheap food.  I was depressed and homesick.  I quit running and most other exercise.  Huh, listing things all out like this it is no wonder I gained weight! 

By the time I met my husband I was about 40-50 pounds overweight.  We fell in love (obviously) and moved in together.  Over time I realized that most of the reasons I packed on the pounds in the first place were history and I decided it was time to shed that weight.  I lost all of it in about 9 months and kept it off for some time.  Then I left the classroom to be an instructional coach.  Between the lack of exercise I got because I had a "desk job" and the stress eating I did because my job situation stunk, I slowly began added 25 pounds back on.  

When we moved to Portland 3 years ago we had so much fun exploring the great restaurants and pubs that I joke that we ate are way through Portland.  Then I had a miscarriage, fell into a depression, and gained the last 20 pounds plus some that I had lost way back when.

When I got pregnant with Superman I was 210 pounds (yikes- I can't believe I am telling you all this!).  I gained about 15 pounds during the pregnancy and thankfully lost that weight almost immediately.  Despite the fact that everyone told me that breastfeeding helps you lose weight, I struggled to lose more weight postpartum.  In fact it took a LOT of effort to lose 13 pounds before getting pregnant with Mr. T.

Where am I now?
So I started this last pregnancy at 197 pounds.  I gained about 13 pounds by the end of the pregnancy.  Today, 12 days postpartum I weigh 192 pounds!  There was one morning where I weighed 190, but I think that was just a fluke. Besides, I have heard that your weigh can fluctuate for the first 6 weeks postpartum.  Anyone else know anything about this?  I can't remember from last time.

My Goal
I have a goal weight of about 155-160 even though that is on the high end of my "ideal weight range" for my height. At my lowest weight of 150 pounds I really felt like I was just too thin and don't have any desire to get back to there.

I would like to get to this weight in a year, but I don't think that is realistic because I don't consider my body to be mine yet.  As long as I am nursing, that takes the priority.  So I am giving myself 18 months.  This year I will focus on eating healthily and exercising and see where that gets me.  Then adjust and pick up the pace after I am done nursing.

Biggest Hurdle
As I have said, I am nursing and I am assuming that I will struggle to lose weight like I did after giving birth to Superman.  I am not willing to jeopardize my milk supply so finding the appropriate amount of calorie intake given my activity level is complicated.  I will be going back to Baby Bootcamp as soon as I can and may use the point system from Weight Watchers just to make sure that I am getting in enough calories (because I know points and it makes keeping track of calories a whole lot easier). 

So stay tuned.  I will update my progress as I go along.  It won't be a regular posting, but as I reach milestones (hopefully that is) or encounter struggles, I will be sure to post.  For now, if you have any tips on how to lose weight while maintaining your milk supply, please feel free to share! 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Adjusting to being a brother...

Are you curious to know how Superman is adjusting to being a big brother?  Overall, he is doing great, but there have been a few hiccups...

It seems like a lot of my friends are having their second child right now and a hot topic among us has been "How do you help child #1 adjust to the new baby?"  In fact, Evelyn, over at Momsicle, has had two posts that include tips from her friends. We gave S a baby doll a while ago to help prepare him and we had all the baby stuff out a couple weeks before Mr. T arrived so that he got used to it, but really, nothing could have prepared him for his new little brother.

Overall I guess we are lucky because Superman doesn't pay much attention to Mr. T.  However, when he does seem interested, S gives him hugs and kisses, tries to feeding him his snacks, lays any stray blanket over his little body, and loves trying to stuff the pacifier into Mr. T's mouth. 

The difficulty has come with sharing me.  If he and I are playing, he sometimes swats other people away when they come to join us.  We have been trying to handle this by being firm, consistent, but loving.  He is trying to show us that he is feeling insecure and as his parents, we need to hear him even if we don't like the way he is telling us.  We have done time-outs, but only when he continued the behavior after we scolded him (Typically that sounds like, "No hitting, ouch, hitting hurts. Sam wants just Mommy right now, but Daddy wants to play too. Let's let Daddy play too.")

We have had a few meltdowns that have taught us about Superman's needs, including one dinner that was a pure disaster.  I will admit that during these meltdowns I have gotten really frustrated too, wishing things  But I have learned (maybe that shouldn't be past tense...) that I need to take a deep breath (or ten) and try and see things from S's perspective.  While I am working on being patient, I am also taking notes on what S needs from us.

His behavior has told us...
  • He needs to have time that is just him and I.  
  • He needs to know when things are going to change (ex. I need to stop playing and feeding Mr. T) and be given some warning ahead of time. 
  • He needs his schedule to be consistent and predictable. 
  • He needs extra hugs. 
  • He needs time with both my husband and I.  It seems to be less about getting undivided attention from us because he is okay if Mr. T is also involved.  I think it is more about him feeling comforted by having his family all together.  
Most of these things are really easy to accomplish.  Mr. T is pretty content in the swing or bouncer seat so finding time to play with S one on one is simple enough.   I love structure and having a schedule makes me just as happy as it makes S.  We are still tweaking the old schedule to meet our new needs, but we have managed to have very little change for S.  He needs hugs?  I am an endless supply of cuddles and hugs.   Finding time with my husband and I is super easy right now because my husband is home for the rest of the week. Once he goes back to work we will have to make sure he gets plenty of time with Daddy before bedtime. 

The one area that seems to be the most difficult is supporting him with adjusting to a change in activities.  My psychiatrist (and then several friends) mentioned having a box of toys just for when I am nursing Mr. T.  That made me think that I could use the box to help transition from one activity to another, but still wanted to be able to give him some sort of visual heads up when possible.  So I have gotten him a toddler timer that has the red, yellow, and green lights. I haven't used it yet...mostly because I have to figure out how to work it first, but I will be sure to report back and let you know if it is successful. 

We are still finding our way as the parents of two boys, but I think we have a good start.  I am sure there will be more bumps in the road and I will let you know what they are and how we deal with them along the way. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It Takes Two...

I thought breastfeeding was going to be so easy from the beginning this time around.  I mean, I am now an expert right?  Okay, maybe that is a stretch, but I did feel like I knew what I was doing so things should go really well.  What I didn't think about was the fact that breastfeeding takes two people.  I may know what I am doing, but Mr. T is brand new at this!

When I first fed Mr. T after his birth, things went really well.  He seemed to latch fine and nurse for some time.  It was the following feedings that we learned that things weren't going to be as easy as I had least in the beginning. 

The latch...
Mr. T has a strong gag reflex and, for whatever reason, also struggled to actually latch on.  This was also a problem when we tried to get him to suck on a pacifier or someone's finger.  He would open his mouth wide, but just wouldn't close it and begin to suck.  He would get frantic and it would take several attempts (with some calming down in between) before he would settle down and latch.  Because I was so thrilled that he was finally latched on, I allowed him to have a poor latch and my nipples were killing me.  The lactation consultant at the hospital had me start using a nipple shield which initially seemed to not only save my nipples, but helped Mr. T with how quickly he would latch. 

My milk began to come in on Monday evening and was fully in by Tuesday.  At this time, Mr. T started having issues AGAIN with the latch.  At one point I ditched the nipple shield out of frustration and he latched almost immediately!  We have been nipple shield free since then and he no longer struggles to latch! 

Interestingly, he still is not a fan of the pacifier.  After a little bit of struggling, he will take a finger or the pacifier from my mom or my husband (occasionally), but I think he is a smart little boy that knows that I am the one with the milk and he would prefer that. LOL

When I nursed S I felt like I was a slave to the paper where I recorded all his feedings (and then eventually the app on my phone).  No one was making me record it, but since we struggled with my supply in the beginning, I wanted to make sure he was getting enough. 

This time around I still used the recording paper and I have now switched the app on my phone, but I am much more relaxed about it all.  I know he is getting enough milk and knowing that has lead to a confidence in our nursing relationship.   

At one week old he currently nurses about every 2.5-3 hours during the day (with some mini-snacks occasionally throughout the day) and every 3.5-4 hours at night.  I am going to go weigh him on Monday and I am hoping to see that he is up to his birth weight again so we can let him sleep at night.  He usually wakes just before the 4 hours mark for the first early morning feeding (like 1-2am), but I have been waking him up for the later morning feeding (5-6am).  It would be lovely to let him (and me) sleep! 

My supply...
I had heard that your milk comes in sooner and in greater quantity with your second child and it is surely true for me.  My milk came in 3 days earlier than with Superman and it seems like there is a great supply for Mr. T.  I started pumping after the wake-up feeding this morning.  I didn't get much, but I think that was true in the beginning with S as well.  So we will give it a few days and see if I end up pumping enough for one feeding a day.  If not, I will be adding a pumping session. 

Overall breastfeeding is going superb! He seems to really have gotten the hang of it and I am beginning to learn his hunger cues (before he starts crying).  I feel so lucky to have things going so well!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One week!

We survived the first week!  Mr. T was born one week ago and I would say all things considered, the week went really well.  Sure there were bumps in the road, but when you have an 18 month old and a newborn how can there not be bumps in the road?

During much of Superman's first year I did (not so much) weekly posts recording my favorite moments and the latest milestones reached.  These posts made completing his baby books (Yes, I said books. There are 4. I used Picaboo and incorporated A LOT of pictures, therefore requiring multiple books.) so much easier.  In fact, I don't think I would have been able to include so many details had I not had the posts.  So, I am going to attempt to continue these posts for Mr. T.   Will they be weekly?  Not likely, but I am going to try.

I began to write a post for this week, only to realize that I have way too much to say for one post.  Why am I surprised?  Our lives have completely changed in the last week!

So a quick real quick overview of our week and then I will post the other stuff in a new post later.

Mr. T and I were at the hospital Saturday and Sunday, arriving home Sunday evening after Superman had gone to bed (to limit the disruption with dinner and bedtime).   When we brought Superman home after he was born, the first night was so awful because nursing was not going well at all.  Because of this, both my husband and I were both worried that the same would be true with Mr. T.  Thankfully, despite some latch issues that I will discuss in another post, Mr. T had a good night with us waking him up every 3 hours to eat.

The week included a whole lot of "finding our new normal".  Adjusting to breastfeeding a little person around the clock again, having two little boys needing my attention, my husband and I figuring out how to adjust "our roles" to fit in Mr. T and so that everything still gets done are just a few things that we need to get used to.

I have to say that getting Superman used to having a brother has been my biggest focus so one of the follow-up posts will be all about that.  I also thought I would share a little about how breastfeeding is going.  Finally, not related to Superman or Mr. T really, but I will also have a quick post about my weight loss goals. 

So look for the posts over the next day and if there is anything else you are curious about, please feel free to let me know! 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mr. T's Birth Story

Friday morning- last official belly shot
Let me start by saying that despite the way this labor started, I would not change a single thing about the delivery of Mr. T.  It was amazing!! Here is the story.........

I never thought I would be pregnant all the way to my due date and frankly, neither did my midwives.  The last two weeks I had several appointments and each time I was told, "any day now".  As a person with anxiety, this was not a good thing to tell me.  Despite my desire to let things happen as they are meant to, the wondering of "when will the time be" was just too much for my anxiety.  This lead us to make the decision to have an induction if I was still pregnant on Friday, July 8th.

In an attempt to not make it to Friday we did everything we could think of to get things started. The midwife stripped my membranes, I took castor oil, and I walked and walked and walked.  I don't recommend the castor oil.  It was so uncomfortable and didn't cause me to have a single contraction. Another induction method I tried was acupuncture.

According to my acupuncturist, it takes any where from 1 to 4 treatments to put a woman in labor (with the caveat that you have already started to dilate and efface).  Since we decided to start this on Wednesday, the most we were going to get was 3 treatments.  The first treatment caused some mild contractions/cramping afterward.  The second caused some strong contractions during and after the treatment, but stalled a couple hours later.  The final treatment only gave me the mild contractions/cramping afterward.  Even though it didn't put me into labor, I am convinced that it helped prepare my body for labor and I would highly recommend it.

Stylin' in the hospital gown
The actual induction was supposed to take place at 9:30 in the morning.  Unfortunately, a whole lot of babies decided that the 8th was a great day to be born and we were told that our induction was delayed until at least the afternoon.  I can't even begin to tell you how disappointing this was for us.  We all headed home (because I was at acupuncture and heading to the hospital when we found out) with our heads hanging low.  I couldn't even talk about it.  I sat on the couch and moped.

Thankfully, we got the phone call around 2:30pm stating that they were ready for us!!  We got to the hospital a little after 3pm and after some waiting around, got settled into our labor and delivery room.  Both the nurse and the midwife came in, talked with us about the induction plan, and we got things started about 5:15pm (pitocin started).  When we began I was 3cm (could stretch to a 4cm), 70% effaced, and the baby was at -2 station. 

I really wanted to make sure things went quickly so as soon as I could, I began walking.  It took a little bit for the contractions to get going.  At first it was just constant cramping (and didn't register on the monitor), but slowly they changed and began to come and go and form into "real contractions". 

At about 8:30pm they decided to break my water.  My stats hadn't changed much, but I was dilated to 5cm and having contractions that were under 3 minutes apart.

I did not expect what happened next.  I thought I would have to continue walking in order for things to progress so as soon as I got cleaned up, I headed for the hall.  I had several contractions before I actually got there and they definitely were getting stronger.  However, I only made it 2 doors down before they really came on strong and seemed like they were on top of each other.   I had to stop moving at each contraction and just try and focus on breathing. I asked if I could get into the tub at this point, but sadly it wasn't available.  Even though I was disappointed, it was a good thing because things moved pretty quickly from here. 

I honestly lost track of time at this point (as did my husband).  The contractions were right on top of each other and all I could focus on was surviving each one.  My husband was reminding me to breath and my midwife positioned herself behind me and put pressure on my hips (in and downward).  I was fascinated how much the hip pressure relieved the pain of each contraction...of course that only worked for so long.  Eventually nothing seemed to make it better and I was BEGGING for an epidural.

When the anesthesiologist got there, I had no idea how I was going to sit still while she put it in.  I could barely keep myself standing during each contraction, I couldn't imagine having to sit (because I had so much low pressure, sitting was really uncomfortable) and having to be still while I sat there.  Somehow I did it though and life got a lot easier (the did turn off the pitocin during at this time so that helped make the contractions a lot less painful).

At this point it was about 10pm and the midwife decided to check me and see how I was doing.  The smile that came across her face was priceless.  I had made it, without the epidural, all the way to 8cm dilated, almost fully effaced and 0 station.  Making it as long as I could without the epidural was a  huge goal of mine and I was thrilled that I made it that far.  The midwife needed to deliver another baby so we settled in for a short nap while I continued to progress closer to "pushing time".

The epidural made me feel really woozy.  My nose felt funny and I couldn't keep my eyes open without getting dizzy.  I mentioned something to the nurse, but she was weary about reducing it too soon.  After a little while longer I decided that I couldn't deal with the strength any longer and it was interfering with my ability to rest and causing some anxiety.  They gave me some oxygen at this point to help calm me down, which helped a lot.  When the anesthesiologist returned (around 11pm) she discovered that it really was too high for me.  I had no temperature sensitivity all the way up to my breasts!  She backed it down (from a 14 to a 6?) and we began to wait for me to regain some feeling.

The midwife took this opportunity to have my nurse check me again.  I think the nurse's exact words were, "if he was any lower, he would be crowning".  We still wanted to wait till I could feel some more (and for the midwife to get done with the other birth) so we continued the waiting game.

The midwife returned to our room about 11:45pm and I began to push at 12:07am on July 9th.  Pushing was a completely different experience this time around.  There was no pressure to push for "x" amount of time.  There was no counting, no pressure to keep pushing, no shouting (or loud encouragement that I perceived as shouting).  It was just my midwife, the nurse and my husband encouraging me to push during each contraction in a relaxed and calm way.  I stopped when I couldn't push any more and as I took my breath, the midwife told me whether or not I should push again. 

Although I couldn't feel the contractions, I could feel the pressure (it was mostly on my left) and the midwife massaging the perineum.  After a few contractions I really felt a lot of pressure on the left.  She told me the baby was crowning and she guided my hand so I could feel his head.  I pushed through a couple more contractions and I felt a little pop as his head came out.  The midwife confirmed that his head was out and that I could push even though I wasn't having a contraction.  I think I only pushed a couple more times and the next thing I knew the midwife was telling me to grab my son.  It didn't quite register at first...what was she asking of me? But then I reached down, someone helped me grab him and then I pulled him up onto my stomach....I had just delivered my own son! 

As I had him on my belly the nurse cleaned him up and helped me take off the gown so we could be skin to skin.  There was no rush to take him away (not that I thought there would be) and they waited for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing before having my husband cut it.  It was amazing! 

When it was finally time to weigh and measure Mr. T we were all shocked to learn that this little bundle of joy (that delivered way easier than his brother) weighed almost 2 pounds more than his brother did and only was 1/4 inch taller.  I have no idea where he is hiding the weight.  I speculate that it is in his hands and feet...they are gigantic!  He doesn't seem chunky at all, but barely fits into the newborn diaper and newborn pants are almost too short.  Wherever he is hiding it, he is just plain adorable and we love him!!

So there you go...the official birth story.  What do you think??

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Anxiety, Depression, and Me

Throughout this pregnancy (and frankly the life of this blog) I haven't really gone into much detail about my "mental health issues".  The good news is that I haven't shared much because there hasn't been a ton to share.  Over the last year (plus some) I have shared with you how I am feeling in general, but I have been hesitant to share much more.  I feel like I am in a place now where I am not only able to share this with you, I feel as though it is important for me to share it.  

I have a diagnosis of depression and general anxiety disorder (as well as ADD, but that is another story for another day).  When I am not pregnant or nursing, my medications for the depression and ADD do a good job treating those issues and holding off my anxiety.  However, when it has creeped back into my life, I have added a medication for that as well. 

I think my symptoms for depression and anxiety seem pretty standard.  When I am depressed I tend to eat more, do less outside the home, and begin to close myself off to the rest of the world.  Internally I beat myself up for every little flaw that I see myself as having and see that there is no way that I will ever live up to the person I think I should be.  I am very concerned about pleasing other people and when I am depressed I struggle to see how I will ever be "okay" enough for those around me.  This is what usually leads to the anxiety...the fear of losing everything around me.  I not only worry about the every day type of details in my life, but I begin to have panic attacks that are obsessive and completely irrational.  The worst symptom I have during an anxiety attack is that I have a hard time breathing.  This always makes things worse because I begin to beat myself up for having the attack in the first place and I get mad that I can't control my emotions.  I try and relax and sometimes just focusing on the attack itself makes things worse.  Many times I need to distract myself from what I am obsessing about until I have calmed down, then I go back and deal with why I was so anxious. 

So what do I do about this all?  Well, I am under the care of a psychiatrist, whom I see regularly, that specializes in pregnancy and postpartum care. I was seeing a therapist regularly as well, but she did such a great job building up my skill set for dealing with my "issues" that I have not seen her since the early part of this pregnancy.  She is available if (when?) I need her.  

I mention this because when it came time for us to think about having children, I was terrified that my depression and anxiety would get worse.  It was suggested to me by a previous psychiatrist that when it came time for me to get pregnant, it would be wise for me to set up a "team" of support personal.  This not only included a psychiatrist and therapist, but an OB/midwife that was keenly aware of how my sudden change in hormones may impact depression and anxiety.  My team also included my husband and mother, obviously since they were going to be the ones with me postpartum.   I suppose you can also say that part of my "team" also includes medication.  This is a very personal decision and one that each person needs to make based on the information provided to them.  I am very confident and comfortable with my decision (so please don't judge). 

When I got pregnant with Superman we were all pleasantly surprised to find out that pregnancy hormones agreed with me.  In fact, towards the end of the pregnancy (even though it was in the middle of winter), I suffered from no noticeable Season Affective Disorder symptoms for the first time in many, many years.  I was able to continue the same minimum dosage for my medication throughout the pregnancy and postpartum.    This is especially impressive considering many women need to increase their medications at the end of the pregnancy to maintain the same effects.

We were also pleased to learn that my body adjusted nicely postpartum and I suffered from minimal signs (if any) of depression or baby blues.  HOWEVER, around the time my husband went back to work and we had no family visiting, I began to have anxiety attacks.  I had them sitting upstairs nursing S, worried that someone was going to break into the home.  I had them driving, worried that someone was going to crash into us.  I had them crossing bridges, worried that we would somehow end up going over the edge.  I imagine many of you had similar concerns when you became a new mother, wanting to protect your child.  In fact, it is very common for women to have these worries.  What is not common or "normal" is what you do with these worries and that is what separates me from most women.

If you avoid an activity (like going to the store) because of the fear and anxiety of what might happen, that is not a "normal" response.  If you obsess over your worries to the point that you can't think about anything else (or take one of the above worries and have to play them out in your mind so that you are sure you know what you will do just in case it happens, but then realize that nothing you can do will make it okay and you begin to freak out a little more because of this), that is not a "normal" response.  If you are having anxiety (or panic) attacks, this is not a "normal" response.   This is where I was with my anxiety and I was grateful that I had my "team" in place so that we could take care of it and within a few weeks, I began to have very few anxiety attacks.  The treatment for Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) is different for each patient, just as the treatment for Postpartum Depression (PPD) is different for each person.  I believe that because I had my team of people in place and because of my history with anxiety and working through it (both with therapy and medication), I had an easier time "fixing" it.  By no means was it a walk in the park, but it could have been worse. 

When it was time to get pregnant again I had no concerns about my depression and anxiety.  I felt like I knew how my body adjusted to the hormone levels and was sure that things would be similar the second time around...and for the most part things were the same, up until a few months ago.  

I began to have anxiety attacks similar to the ones that I had postpartum with Superman around the time of the earthquakes in Japan.  I was worried about an earthquake here.  I was worried about radiation levels and what would happen if they increased here.  I began to have anxiety attacks.  Thanks to my wonderful husband and the strategies that I have learned, I was able to work through most of it.  I had scheduled an appointment with my psychiatrist and was pretty much attack free when I saw her and thankfully, I did well... for awhile. 

Then June hit and the attacks came back.  Although I felt comfortable with most things related to the birth of my second child, I was frantic about solidifying a plan for Superman.  I became obsessed with all the different options for childcare for him and what each situation would look like depending on when I went into labor.  I had few actual anxiety attacks, but I recognized my frantic behavior and knew that I needed to deal with it.  Although not a perfect response to the actual anxiety issue, I found the fastest solution was actually coming up with a solid plan.  Sure enough, once things fell into place the anxiety was much better. 

Then I wrote this in the middle of last week early in the morning:
Now here I am, basically 39 weeks pregnant and at 3:40 am I am awake because I am having an anxiety attack...a big one. One so big that I can't seem to control my breathing and my relaxation strategies seem to just make things worse.  There has been so much talk about when I will go into labor that I have become anxious that it won't be soon.  I went into labor at 39 weeks with Superman and the midwife said it could be any day now.  But what if it isn't soon?  What if I am still pregnant in a week?  How will I handle that?  I am handling that idea really, really poorly right now.  I don't want to think about being pregnant another week. I don't want to think about all the people that are SURE that I will deliver this weekend. I don't want to think about the fact that I feel like I am somehow letting them down if I don't deliver this weekend.  

The problem is that not thinking about these things is what got me into this position in the first place.  I wouldn't be awake, unable to breath, unable to relax, unable to sleep if I would just deal with it.  If I just let myself mourn this possibility now, I could move forward.  But my body isn't letting me.  It is trying to protect me from feeling these emotions.   

Really, that is the heart of it all.  In my attempt to not feel certain emotions, my anxiety comes back and makes me miserable.  If I could just learn to face the emotions, I might just avoid all of this in the first place.  During my everyday life, I do a good job with this.  I face what I need to face and move forward. I think the main difference right now is how this birth is so public.  Everyone knows that I am pregnant.  Everyone knows that I am close to delivery, feeling "done' and had the midwife tell me that I am close to the end.  

I suppose that is the big downfall with sharing all these details with all of you.  But really, I know in the end that I am happier to have done so.  Sharing these details helped me connect with many of you in a new way.  I suppose that is why I was ready to share this personal struggle with all of you as the hopes that it will allow for me to connect with even more of you.  To give you the opportunity to learn that you aren't alone if you deal with anxiety or depression.  

So where do I go from here?  Well last week I upped my medication level and since then my anxiety attacks are non-existent.  I am still struggling with the obsessive thinking.  Every time I go to the bathroom, sit down, or get down on the floor with S I wonder if this will be what causes my water to break (With S, my water broke when I sat down).  In an attempt to get rid of those thoughts, I began to try and think about all the people I have read about that either didn't have their water break initially or had it break when they were just sitting there going about their business or even sleeping in their bed.  Instead of that working, it just meant that almost every action is now connected to a quick thought by me about whether this is the time it will break or the time my contractions will start.  Not healthy, not healthy, not healthy.  

I have a psychiatrist's appointment early next week and I am also going to be scheduling a therapy session as well. I know that I need to deal with the issues, but I just don't feel like I can take that on as well this week.  And honestly? I am really hoping that much of it goes away when I have the baby.  I know that isn't likely and that is why I am making these appointments, but one can hope right?  

So there you go. 

Me...wide open and honest about my mental health issues. Take it, leave it, share it. Do what you want with it. I just hope that someone, who is going through the same thing, feels a little less lonely knowing that there is someone else that "gets it". 

Baby #2: Week 39 and 4 days (an update)

I think the midwife appointment this morning went well.  I am still dilated to 3 (can stretch to a 4) and everything seems "ready to go".

We talked for a while about where I am physically and mentally.  The midwife I saw today has been doing this for 27 years.  She said that she gave up predicting when babies will come a long time ago, but could see why the other midwives thought it would be soon based on my dilation, effacement, and how soft the cervix is at this point.  Even though he is engaged in the pelvis, he is still higher but she said with second pregnancies this is really normal. 

As far as the mental stuff...well once again I am reminded that I made the right decision by switching to a midwife.  Her patience with me was really reassuring.  I didn't feel rushed and she had a way of making me feel at ease with all the decisions we made by the end of the appointment.  My anxiety and obsessive thinking has really taken over (yes, I will eventually post the entry about all of that) and she seemed to understand that right now talking through it, telling me to get over it, or to stop thinking about when labor will happen wasn't going to make things change for me, that a lot of this is chemical and will be dealt with when I meet with my psychiatrist. 

Based on this conversation, she initially suggested an induction (apparently depression and anxiety disorders that are causing problems with pregnant mothers are frequently the medical reason for inducing at the end of a pregnancy in order to avoid making things worse postpartum).  She thinks that I will need very little Pitocin to get things started and then hopefully we would be able to stop the Pitocin and let things go naturally.  She wasn't even sure that they would have to break my water because I am so close to that point naturally.

I asked her about stripping the membranes as a first step and she agreed that it would be the least intrusive way to encourage things along (and isn't considered an induction).  So we decided to have her strip the membranes today.  She also suggested some castor oil and an enema...although I can't say that I am too excited about that idea. At any rate, if the stripping doesn't work, we are working on setting an induction date for Friday.

It is nice to finally have an end date. I am hoping that the stripping of membranes work, but if not that will be okay too.  We have a plan now and I always feel better when there is a plan. 

I appreciate all the support that I have been getting here and on Facebook.  It means a lot to me to know that there are so many amazing women cheering me on.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Baby #2: Week 39

month 9

July 2, 2011

How far along: 39 weeks

Baby's size: Watermelon (Month 9: weeks 37-Delivery)

Symptoms (otherwise known as Mommy C's Weekly Complaints): 
  •  The same old symptoms.  You don't need me to list them once again.
Total Weight Gain:
Gained another pound.
Total weight gain= +12 pounds  

Maternity clothes:yes

Best moment this week: My mom got here!
Movement: Yup.  He moves from lying on his side to having his back facing out. 

Food cravings:  Not a whole lot.  I alternate between being really hungry all the time (and eating whatever I can find) to being so nauseous that I don't want to eat anything.

Gender: BOY!!!  

Labor signs: 
Lots of normal signs that signal that it might be sometime soon, but soon could be any day or a week from now.  I have lots of cramping and some contractions.   Yesterday when I saw the midwife she said I was still at about 3 cm dilated, but now 80% effaced.  She saw some bloody show as well.  When will I go into labor? I have no effin' clue.

What I miss: Being not pregnant.  I know, I know. I will miss being pregnant soon after my son is born, but frankly right now I am just done.

What I'm looking forward to:  Delivering this baby!

Weekly Wisdom (aka what I learned this week):  not a wise women, just done being a pregnant woman. 

Milestones: My mom made it here!

Emotions:I have a post written about all of this, just haven't posted it yet.  Stay tuned.

Boot Camp:  DONE  (even though I miss it!!)

Pregnancy Water Aerobics: DONE
Total exercise time:  done

Here's to hoping that next week I don't have a pregnancy post!