Thursday, October 31, 2013

Precious Little Fingers

I love these little fingers. The fingers that started out so tiny. Yes, they were slender and long from day one, but they were tiny too.  With one look we knew they were his father's fingers. And now, nearly one month later, they seem to have doubled in size! There isn't much fat on this little boy yet, but I can see a little "chub" on his hands now. I imagine in a few years that "chub" will no longer be there and they will resemble his father's hands once again — long and slender, capable and strong.

I think his fingers are my favorite part. Watching him reach and grab, clasp and pull (usually at me!). He's still learning how they work and what they are for. He's figuring out that these little fingers are good for chewing on and soothing himself, but he's also learning that they can get in the way of his food sometimes.

It's amazing to reflect on the smallness of his being and knowing that we all start out this way. This little baby started out with a tiny frame and tiny fingers, but our Father knows how he will grow and who he will become. Our Heavenly Father has made him for a purpose; He has a plan for him already.

I'm thankful I can place these tiny little fingers in the palm of my great-big-God's hand. I can trust Him for His plan and purpose and just marvel at these precious little fingers (and toes, and nose, and lips . . .) in front of me.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cutest Baby Hats

I have to do a shameless plug for my cousin who made this hat for William. Actually, she made it for me to use in my baby photography sessions and William just happened to be the first male model to wear it! I have a similar one in cream and pink for girls too! (see below)

My cousin, Sadie has made several styles with different embellishments, all are adorable and affordable! She'll even do custom orders if you have specific ideas in mind. They make great baby gifts!

If you're interested in purchasing a handmade hat like this, please email Sadie and she'll give you more information:

** I'm not usually one for promoting products on my blog, but I really want to help Sadie get the word out about her new business! If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please send her an email! 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Breastfeeding Woes

Its been three and a half weeks since I started breastfeeding and I have been frustrated, scared, sad and fairly emotional about the whole experience so far. I'm just waiting for happy/thrilled to make it into the mix.

As I mentioned in my post about my blood loss after the delivery of my beautiful baby boy, my milk was slow at coming in. The first few days, no one really says anything, because well, that's to be expected. But when the nurse walked in from the nursery with my baby and says "you aren't feeding him enough, he's lost 10% of his body weight and we need to supplement with formula" I started to freak out.

"Formula" seemed like such a bad word. So much so that it felt like a punch to my gut when she said it. I grew up watching my mom breastfeed my younger siblings and I will admit that all of my dolls were breastfed as well. My mom is actually a lactation counselor and breastfeeding advocate for her county.  I grew up "celebrating" breastfeeding awareness week by dubbing videos, making posters and banners for her! I knew "breast is best" and formula was "second rate" at a very young age.

To hear that my baby needed formula was a lot like hearing "You're a failure." My body was not doing what it was made to do. I never imagined I would have troubles with this; I felt I had been trained for it! I was an emotional wreck about this. I was terrified. What if I can't breastfeed at all? What will happen to my baby because I can't give him what he needs? How will we afford all that formula?

Every breastfeeding resource I read pointed out over and over again how great breastfeeding is and how formula should only be used if medically necessary. Even formula says right on the packaging that breast milk is better than what you're feeding your baby. I felt bombarded by messages of failure.

I felt this way regardless that my situation made it "medically necessary." The doctor said that my milk production was probably affected by my blood loss and they hoped it would come when my body had recovered. How long would that take?

They gave my son the formula and brought a hospital grade pump to my room and hooked me up telling me to get to work. After a few times of pumping, I thought I was doing well. Something was coming out after all. But it turns out, it was only one-fifth (or less) of what my son needed in a single feeding. Chris was feeding him the milk I pumped via syringe. I still tried to breastfeed too but it was difficult to tell if he was getting anything. The formula feedings continued. They showed us some tricks to avoid using the bottle if we were worried about nipple confusion and showed Chris how to "finger feed."

A lactation counselor came in and helped one morning, but when she left, I still felt like I wasn't getting it . . . and he wasn't getting it either. I should have asked more questions. I should have clarified what she said so I understood it better.

Once we got home, I tried to just feed him all the time so I wouldn't have to use the formula, but the pediatrician vetoed that idea when she saw he still wasn't gaining weight as he should be. So we compromised. I would breastfeed all day long but then at night we would give formula.

Yesterday I met with the lactation counselor again and she gave me some encouragement that this can get better. There will be a lot of work on my end to get my supply up, but now that I'm feeling more like myself, it should in fact, increase!

I recently read this blog and was encouraged to keep up the fight, that it is worth it. And I'm realizing that using formula doesn't make me a failure. It may be necessary for my family. It is necessary for a lot of families -- that's why its there. I realize that I may have judged others who have decided not to breastfeed, but that was wrong. I never knew where they were coming from or why they decided to go with formula. I never even asked. (Can you ask that?)

I've been humbled. I'm still sad, frustrated, scared and the tears still come when I think about this struggle . . . but I'm going to do the best I can.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Family of Three

Photographs taken by: Emily & Chris Babiak and Connie Hagen

A Week with Grandma

William met Grandma Connie when he was just ten days old. She flew out to San Francisco a week after we all got home from the hospital to help with meals and make sure I was getting the rest I needed. It was really wonderful to have her with us and I am so thankful for all she did for us while she was here! Not only that, but she came with an entire suitcase filled with clothes for him too! His closet is now full of cute, boy things.

Mom braved the city on her own a few times. I was really too exhausted to get out much at all. She took a long walk to the farmer's market and the grocery store as well as enjoyed a walk at a nearby park. The weather was actually warm and sunny the whole week, which made the return trip back to the chilly midwest even harder for her. (Of course, I would be stuck inside during the entire two weeks of San Francisco's "summer.")

Chris went back to work on Wednesday after having a two and a half weeks off, and I have to say that I am so glad my mom was hear to help me with that transition. I don't think I could have done three days on my own with William last week. I was just too tired to take care of both he and myself. She also helped me with a lot of questions I had concerning breastfeeding and bathing him. She even showed me a few of the infant message techniques she teaches. William wasn't really a fan of that so it will take some time before I'm any good!

I did make it outside a few times; we trekked to Babies 'R Us in hopes of finding a little vibrating bouncer/swing, Target and the grocery store. After that, I decided shopping online was more my thing. I just got too worn out. Mom also came with me to William's doctor appointment. Traveling is so much easier when there is another person with us! I have no idea how I will do that on my own.

During the middle of the week, the three of us took mom on a little drive through the city so she could see more of it. We didn't want her to feel cooped up in our one bedroom apartment or miss out on some fun in the city. We drove to the top of twin peaks and then went out for pizza and ice cream. On Thursday, mom stayed home while Chris and I went on a date. We hadn't really had much time together as any new parent will probably tell you and it was much needed.

It was fun to witness my mom be "Grandma" to William. She has such a gift with babies and knows so much when it comes to caring for them. I know William won't remember this past week, but I don't think I'll ever forget it. It's hard to live so far away from her and my dad now; to know that they won't see him grow the way my grandparents saw me and my siblings grow. The times we will have with them will be extra special for sure, hopefully it won't be a rare thing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baby B: 40 Weeks

How far along: 40 Weeks/1 week old (this post should have been posted last week, but I was too tired)

How big is the baby: Weighs 6 pounds and 14 ounces; 20.5 inches long

Sleep: Baby B wakes up every two to three hours; we're supplementing formula at night so he sleeps for a little longer than if it were just breast milk. I'm still not producing enough for him. I sleep pretty well in between feedings.

Best moment of the week: Taking Baby B home with us! Having him be part of our little family!

Worst thing: Honestly, the cramping and bleeding . . . my recovery.

Symptoms: Symptoms of pregnancy are gone! Symptoms of new-motherhood: sleepy, crabby, not showered.

Movement: Baby B moves all the time! He loves to scratch his face and poke his eyes.

What I miss: Feeling him inside me. I really miss being pregnant, not to say I don't love having him in my arms; its just different. 

Food Cravings: I don't really have cravings, but I'm suppose to eat a lot of iron rich foods. Bring on the meat!

Food Aversions: none

Maternity Clothes: Basically just for comforts sake. I can't quite fit into my normal jeans yet, but I can wear my normal shirts again.

Things People Say: Everyone says William is adorable or cute and I look great (why wouldn't they say that, right!?) Our almost three-year-old niece said, "He's a cute baby. He's sleeping, wake him up!" when introduced over skype.

Exercise: Non-existant. I can walk faster now, but it wears me out. Everything just wears me out.

Last Appointment: September 25 - where my midwife said to our group "some of you may not make it to our next session, you might already have your babies!" Well, she was right. I had William one day before our next session. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Extended Hospital Stay

The morning following William's birth was more eventful than either one of us were prepared for. I will warn you before you read my story that I do share a lot of details - and use words like "blood." If that might bother you, don't read it!

Throughout the night, I had gotten light headed and felt faint any time I had to stand up to go to the bathroom. The nurse advised me not to go alone, to either have Chris help me or to call a nurse. I had also been bleeding quite a bit, which at the time I thought was to be expected. (No one actually shows you how much you're suppose to bleed or not!)

On Wednesday morning I started to sit up in bed and felt completely dizzy. My vision was fuzzy and I was really clammy. Chris asked me how many fingers he was holding up and I said something about my eyes being closed so I couldn't see. Chris told me later that my eyes were wide open and my skin was as white as the bed sheets! He immediately called the nurses and they came running in. I don't remember all the details but eventually I was given an IV and fluids and they drew some blood for tests. I was told to remain in bed and was hooked up to a catheter.

My hemoglobin tests came back low (7 if that means anything to you), but the doctor said they weren't low enough to require a blood transfusion although it was an option to consider.  I had lost a lot of blood during delivery and through the night. I really didn't want a blood transfusion so I said I'd wait to see if the fluids were enough to get my system back up to speed. They had also given me some medication to help stop the bleeding.

After another blood test (every time they drew blood I was pricked at least three times!) my hemoglobin came back at a 4! What! How could they be lower than before!? Apparently I was also dehydrated and that can mess with the test results. The doctor tells me that I'm at risk of having a heart attack and need to have the blood transfusion right away. She would start me out with two pints and see after that if I needed more, chances are I would.

Having a blood transfusion wasn't something I ever thought I'd need after having a baby. I hadn't realized just how much blood I was loosing after the delivery. A midwife later told me that I had quite possibly lost half of the blood in my body and if this were 50 years ago, I would have died as they didn't have ways of treating blood loss like that back then. If my emotions weren't in high gear yet, they were after hearing that. And I would cry every time I thought of this fact for the next two weeks. I was terrified, scared and deeply saddened that my delivery/recovery wasn't what I had hoped for.

The thought of my husband's greatest fears (that something horrible would happen to me) had almost come to pass also brought an overwhelming sadness to my heart and streams of tears to my eyes. I hated that he had to see me so ill.

After the first transfusion they decided I needed one more the following day. And the day after that I opted to have another one. My levels still weren't in the normal range and the staff advised me to take the 4th pint as going home to take care of a newborn was going to be hard work and I needed to be better than I was. They told Chris that he would have to do everything. My job was to feed my baby, bathe, sleep and eat. He took that to heart and has changed nearly every diaper, burped him after every feeding and prepared every meal and snack for me as well.

William also suffered from my loss of blood. Not only was I unable to get up to comfort him when he cried (Daddy took amazing care of him though), but my milk supply was a lot lower than it needed to be and was a lot slower at coming in. His blood sugar dropped pretty low because he wasn't getting enough to eat and he lost a lot of weight. The pediatrician started supplementing formula to get his sugar regulated. This was another blow to what I had hoped for. I knew breast milk was best and that introducing a bottle this early on could cause some confusion for the baby.

No one really told me why I had bled so much, but the day after the first transfusion I had passed a larger blood clot that actually had a piece of the placenta in it. I was told that was probably why. Once that was out of my body I felt so much better.

So five days later, on October 5th, with my hemoglobin at a decent (but not great) level and William's blood sugar back up to a normal number, they let us all go home.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Birth Story

Tuesday, October 1st was my first day of maternity leave. I had big plans for my week off before the baby's arrival. Freezer meals to make, groceries to buy, shopping to do, furniture to find, nails to be done, etc.

I started out the day being pretty restful. I had a long quiet time which was much needed followed by a walk through a park to a baby consignment store where I had hoped to find a few last minute items.  I made a stop by the library and picked up a few books and then made it to the grocery store. That afternoon, I prepared a meal for a friend who had a baby the previous week and then got started on dinner. Chris and I were going to go to our small group potluck that night. At 4 p.m. I decided to put my swollen feet up for a bit and read my new book. At 4:50, I got up to clean the kitchen so Chris wouldn't come home to a mess before having to leave for small group. I felt a slight cramping feeling at this point but thought nothing of it.

At 5 p.m. I felt another surge of cramps coming on. I checked the clock and thought, okay, that's probably a contraction. 10 minutes apart. That okay. I sat down again, and tried to keep track of them. At 6 p.m. I thought, Where is Chris? He should be home any minute. I tried calling him, but didn't get an answer. Seconds later I heard the front door of our building close and just knew it was him. Sure enough, he walked through our door moments later. He took one look at me sitting on the couch and asked, "What are you doing, Honey?"

"Having a contraction." I said.

We discussed if he should still go to small group (the quiche was just about done!) but decided against it. I had expected the first stage of labor to last several hours and it had only been one; it didn't make sense to me for us to be stuck at home if nothing was going to happen. Chris didn't feel comfortable with that so we called the host and let her know what was going on.

I told Chris the contractions were about 10 minutes apart, but now seemed to be closer to 6. I took a shower, which at first felt nice, then it was awful so I got out and laid down for a while. Chris started his coaching script trying to keep me calm. He also took over the stop watch to clock the contractions. He quickly noticed that they were now 3 minutes apart. Okay, things were going quickly. Our hospital wanted us to call when they were 3 minutes apart for an hour. Well, after 30 minutes they were 2 minutes apart! Chris called the hospital and they told us to come on over.

Thankfully, the hospital we chose was just a mile down the road and after 8 p.m. there was hardly any traffic. When we arrived they put me in a wheel chair and brought me to the labor and delivery floor, we checked in and they put us in this tiny tiny room where they took their sweet time checking my blood pressure and had me take a urine test. When the nurse finally got around to checking my progress she exclaimed, "You're fully dialated! You're going to have this baby soon!"

They moved me to another, much larger room just as my urge to push was starting. They told me not to push yet, which in my mind made no sense at all . . . but the doctor wasn't there yet and my water had not broken yet.

Side note: For the past nine months I had been working with a midwife from the hospital so I was under the assumption I would have a midwife deliver my baby. But on that night, the midwife wasn't on call! It turns out, doctors and midwives operate very differently when it comes to delivering babies.

Once the doctor on call arrived there seemed to be a lot going on, and I don't really remember those details. A lot of questions were asked, people were scurrying back and forth and then they finally told me I could start pushing.

I grabbed Chris's hand every time a contraction started. (This was not part of my birthing plan so it surprised me that I needed to do this.) When it was time to push, the nurse on the other side guided me while holding one leg and Chris took the other. I had not planned to give birth on my back as I had read about other positions being easier, but there wasn't really time to discuss it at this point. During one of my contractions, another nurse tried to give me an IV; well, that was a complete failure as I ripped my hand from her as I was trying to push. I didn't even realize what she was trying to do until it was too late. That left a nasty bruise. Then they said I needed oxygen so they put a mask on my face. This was fine for a few minutes but then during another contraction it started to suffocate me! I ripped it off of my face only to have Chris put it back on saying the babies heart rate was dropping and the oxygen was helping that. I gladly took it back.

It seemed like just one or two pushes later they said they could see the head and I could touch it if I wanted. I had never thought of doing this before, but with the offer before me, I did. And with two more contractions (and a little bit of screaming on my part) my baby was born!

Chris looked at me and said, "We have a baby BOY!" And they wiped him off and put our son on my chest.  He had a beautiful face with round cheeks, big eyes and tiny nose. There wasn't a mark on him at all. He looked perfect. William Bradley was born at 9:22 p.m. - just four and a half hours after I noticed my contractions had started.

There is more to the story that I hope to share in the days to come, but today we'll end on a happy note!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's a Boy!

Your Patience Please

I never imagined it would take me a full week to blog about the arrival of our little boy. There have been so many things I've wanted to share with you since last Tuesday. I've thought about my readers a lot; there is so much to tell you.

But after spending five days in the hospital (more on that later!), my energy has not yet returned and there is a little someone who has become my top priority - as he should be.

So, with that, I ask for your patience. I have every intention of blogging about my son and our family. Stay with me. I'll be back soon! And yes, there will be pictures!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Maternity Leave Starts Now!

Today I am 39 weeks pregnant and beginning my maternity leave from work. I'm so thankful that I can take this time off to prepare for the arrival of our baby and perhaps find a few extra hours of rest before the real work and exhaustion begins.

Originally, I thought I'd work all the way up to my labor, mostly for financial reasons, but also so I could spend all the time I could with my baby at home. But as the weeks wore on, and the bigger my ankles (and belly) seemed to get, I knew I wouldn't be able to do that. I needed to have time and space to put my feet up and rest.

Now that said, I have a feeling my week may be beautifully interrupted by an "early" baby. I just have this feeling that he or she may be ready to come any day now. Chris on the other hand is expecting to have an entire week after the due date to twiddle his thumbs. So, we'll wait and see!

My plan is to take 12 weeks off from my job and return around the first of the year. Can you believe 2014 is only three months away! I'm really looking forward to (as in my soul is craving) this time off of work and being a "stay-at-home-mom." I know half of it will be a time of recovery and transition as well, but to be able to spend this time getting to know our child and be able to invest my time and energy fully in my family and my home just brings my heart joy.

These past 39 weeks have gone by incredibly fast. I have a hard time believing that our baby could be here "any day," but it's true! I am incredibly excited. A little nervous. Scared. But so, so happy. Please pray for us and our baby -- for strength during labor and health for Baby and me.