Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Day of Company

There milk on the sheets, on the floor, on my rob, and all over Owen's blankets no matter how many fresh ones I change throughout the day. There is milk literally everywhere. This morning I woke up with half of Owen's head soaked in milk.

Owen was a bit fussy last night and demanded constant nursing instead of going to sleep as he had done previous nights this week. I held and nurses him for hours while propping myself up in bed with pillows. It was once again infuriating to watch Peter sleep so soundly next to us in total oblivion.

To be able to spend so much time together as a family is both a blessing and a curse. It's well known that marital satisfaction hits its all time low during newborn phase. Spousal hatred is real. There is no time to hold hands or snuggle. There is no patience for please and thank you. Of the nine things my husband does right, I never fail to notice one thing he misses. Nothing is fast enough, good enough, or thoughtful enough. Why can't he just anticipate my needs? Most of them are pretty obvious. After telling him the same thing for 2-3 consecutive days I'm about to explode with impatience. Every sentence comes out in the form of a command or critique. On top of all that, there is the pressure to be everything to your spouse. Not only does he need to take care of things around the apartment, change diapers and keep a constant glass of water by myself, he also needs to be charming, attractive, eloquent and thought provoking. Unsurprisingly, neither one of us fits the bill. When tension runs high, one quick solution is to go see other people.

Thankfully our couple friend with a seven-month old boy invited us over for homemade India food.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Back Stabbing Pain!

Owen continues to thrive yet his mom is falling into a total mess. I had stopped taking pain medication at the hospital. After coming home I noticed a shooting pain under the lower left side of my rib cage every time I took in a breath. It felt as if I had a broken rib. A quick search online yield no clear answer so I brushed it off as yet another adverse effect from the c-section. While my incisions are healing nicely without much discomfort, the pain on the left side of my back both front and back seem to have intensified over time. Two days ago the same pain somehow traveled up to my left shoulder. Now every time I inhale it feels as if someone is stabbing me all over the left side. The pain is so debilitating that I can't stand up straight, walk upright, lay on my left side, or take a full breath. That's right, I have been literally holding in my breath for nearly two weeks!

My coworker joked about 3am purchases on Amazon as a desperate attempt for infant sleep solutions that comes with prime shipping. However, Owen is not the one with sleeping problems in this household. Instead of googling how to put a newborn to sleep, I'm the only one staying awake at odd hours googling things like "broken rib from c-section," "back pain from c-section," "shoulder pain from c-section," etc. After sorting through numerous online forums, I found out that it's normal and common to have pain at random places due to trapped gas from the surgery. The gas can exist both in the digestive system as constipation or in the body cavity as excessive air pockets that must be absorbed into the body in order for it to be expelled. I was aware of constipation both from the surgery and pain medication, specifically Percocet, but I had no idea that there could be gas somewhere else as well. In another word, I have back gas and it has travelled up to my shoulder! The persistent pain is so excruciating that it finally pushed me over the edge last night and had me crawled up on the floor crying. The only way I could tolerate nursing Owen was to have Peter place him flat on the floor while I get into child's pose perpendicularly on top of him and lower my nipple into his mouth.

Although I had asked Peter to purchase Gas X earlier in the afternoon and mentioned to him that I was in pain, he went about doing the usual household chores without skipping a beat after placing Owen on the floor. I was immobilized by the pain and irritated by Peter's oblivion that I finally let out a scream to get him back to my side. "What can I do?" he asked, "I didn't realize you were in so much pain." Of course his reaction made me even more angry because I feel like whenever he doesn't know what to do, which seems like majority of the time, he chose to do nothing. This way of thinking is so counter to every cell in my being since I can't be farther from a do-nothing type person. After some screaming from my side Peter proceeded to massage my back. It helped a little but not nearly enough. Later in the night I slept with an electric heating pad under my back and a microwaveable heating pad on my shoulder. Frankly, it's the only way I could even lay down without screaming.

I woke up this morning in the same miserable condition as last night if not worse. Despite a long and vigorous massage from Peter, I didn't feel well enough to have lunch or dinner. No vitamins or fish oil or placenta pills either. Just the thought of putting anything into mid section makes me sick. Coconut water is what has sustained me since I went into labor. Now the only thing I want to have are those chewable gas x tablets. The box says no more than four tablets a day. I want to swallow them by the handful even though they don't seem to do much.

This evening was a special kind of torture. My back and shoulders were in so much pain that I couldn't even lay down in bed. Peter tried to massage my should without any success. I cried and screamed as if I was back in labor. The only thing I come close to tolerate was to stay sitting up in bed. I fed Owen that way and spent the rest of the night mostly awake in a semi reclining position.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Nursing is Always the Answer

I had an inkling before but it's becoming even more clear now as a new parent that the pressure to grow your kid is real! Thankfully when they're this little, the solution to majority of problems is always nursing.

Your baby is crying and fussy? Nurse him
Your baby won't go to sleep? Nurse him
Your baby's got the hiccups? Nurse him
Your baby's got gas? Nurse him
Your baby is not peeing enough? Nurse him
Your baby is underweight? Nurse him
Your baby is getting a cold? Nurse him
Your baby is jaundiced? Nurse him more

What works for the baby also works for the mom.

Your milk is not in yet? Nurse your baby
Your breasts are engorged? Nurse your baby
Your breasts are hard, sore or tender? Nurse your baby
Your milk duct is clogged? Nurse your baby
Your recovery is going slow? Nurse your baby
Your mood needs a boost? Nurse your baby
Your supply is not enough? Nurse your baby

Like all babies, Owen was a little jaundiced and lost about 8% of his birth weight when we left the hospital. At our one week home visit two days later, Owen weighed exactly the same as he did at the hospital, which prompted the question, is he gaining enough weight/getting enough milk? Of course, I wanted to make sure Owen is growing and that I was supplying enough for him to do so. However, I was quick to point out that he output of pee diapers is on track for where he should be. Peter has bee diligently logging it on his phone. I also questioned whether his weight had stayed the same for two days or if it had dipped down farther and is now on the rebound. We can't know for sure unless we had a daily record of things, which we don't. The midwife made it clear that from one week onward, Owen needs to grow an ounce a day.

We had our two week visit from the midwife this morning. The pressure was on. Did I nurse him enough? I thought for sure I would get a lecture on how I am not feeding him enough, whether it's due to inadequate supply or poor latch or some combination of different failures. Yet when the scale went up, Owen came at seven pounds and seven ounces, exactly six ounces more than a week ago. Hallelujah! I felt as if I just passed the first test. Now I just have to continue to feed him constantly because whatever the issue may be, for now, nursing is always the answer.

Owen's First Concert

We took Owen to his first concert last night. Of course it had to be Bach at the National Cathedral (although the second half was Mendelssohn 's String Quartet No. 2).

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Ultimate Cupout

Everyone warned us about sleep deprivation before Owen joined us. It is what it is, we thought, sleep or no sleep we'll just have to roll with it. I stayed mostly awake during the nights at the hospital as Owen napped and nursed on top of me. The nurses also came to check on us every few hours throughout the night. Owen cried occasionally. Yet, somehow Peter was able to sleep through it all on the tiny pulled out sofa. On the second night, Peter slept undisturbed from 11pm to 7am. I couldn't wake him from my bed and really struggled to carry Owen with me to the bathroom. It was infuriating.

Things have improved since we came home. Instead of having Owen on top of me each night, I would feed him and then pass him to Peter, who is a much more sound sleeper than I am and doesn't mind having Owen sleep on top of him. We did purchase an used Arms Reach for our bedroom just in case we needed it. But we had decided long ago that we were going to cosleep with our baby. It's the only thing that makes sense. What baby would want to sleep alone after spending all nine months snuggly inside mom's belly? Besides, Owen is such a beautiful baby. I would hate to miss out on sleeping next to him and watch his peaceful little face and hear him breath. So yes, Owen sleeps with us on our king size bed with tons and pillows and blankets and two wild felines. It's not recommended by the AAP but it works for us.

Last night was the first time Owen slept through the entire night without fuss. Normally he gets bothered by gas between 3-4am so we have to walk him around and give him gas drops. I started him on probiotic drops two days ago to build his digestive system. I don't know if it's that or pure luck that last night, he didn't make a sound at all. Peter changed his diaper once and I side nursed him a few times while laying down. We slept so well that Peter even said he's worried that he's getting too much sleep.

People assume just because we have a newborn that we're by default stressed out and sleep deprived. In reality things couldn't be more different. I have never been so relaxed and well rested now that I no longer have to stay up late to work on a law school paper or wake up in the morning panicking whether I f*ed up a project and the client is now going to fire us. I get to sleep in each morning and nap each afternoon. There is no pressure to do anything except to feed Owen and keep him healthy. For someone who have always raced from one difficult task to the next, this somehow feels like the ultimate copout. There is no stress except maybe to get started on this blog. But this kind of writing is something I want to and enjoy doing.

Some things need to be written down as a way to process and let go. Other things needs to be treasured so they're not quickly forgotten. These days are filled with so many moments in the second category that I wish I had more time to capture them all.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Phase

We have been gifted with a wonderfully easy going baby. Owen nurses, sleeps and poops like a little champ and almost never cries unless he's bothered by gas. People continue to tell me it's just a phase, like what they said about my uneventful pregnancy. Just you wait for the hemorrhoids, just you wait for the incessant crying, they say. But isn't that how things are? They are easy until they become hard. Owen is changing from day to day and so are we. I don't wake up each morning expecting a repeat of yesterday. That's the beauty of today. It begins. It ends. It's a phase. Everything is a phase. This breath. This life. All we can do is to take each moment as it comes.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Birth Story

Like fingerprints that are unique to each individual, every woman too has an uniquely personal story of how she came into motherhood. The words that came to my mind when I think of the birth I wanted are: love, intimacy, and connection. I envisioned giving birth in a home filled with love, a space that is safe and sacred, with a connection to all those who have walked this path before me and a visceral connection to life and death itself.

My clean bill of health prior to being pregnant coupled with an uneventful pregnancy made me a prime candidate for a homebirth. Instead of attending a birthing class, I read Ina May books and made Peter watch every documentary there is on natural childbirth. We listened to birthing podcasts and read upon just about every topic related to childbirth. If any couple was prepared for a homebirth, it would be us. Everything became more real as we rounded the corner on the third trimester and installed the birthing tub in our dinning area after week 37. Still, I knew all along that life unfolds in mysterious ways. We may not always get the birth we wanted or planned for but if all goes accordingly, we get what we need.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

33 Weeks

Over 33 weeks now and nearly 150lbs. I still feel good as ever, knock on wood. The midwife came to see us today at our place. I feel so fortunate to have found these amazing women who will help to welcome my baby here. Because they offer complete home care, along with home birth, we have been able to completely stay out of the hospital so far. It is a relief to not have to get to the hospital each time, wait around, change into gowns and get inundated with endless and unnecessary tests.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Weekend Trip to Niagara Falls

Three-day weekend and unable to sit still at home, we embarked on a long drive up to Niagara Falls, 7 and half hours to be exact. Having grown up in Rochester, NY, I had been to the Falls a bunch of times but Peter had never visited before. I figured this is as good of a time as any. Besides, falls view suit is much more affordable this time of the year.

The hardest part of long distance driving remains to be dead silence as Peter is not much of a talker. I prepared a number of podcasts for the trip and it worked out well. By dinner time we were happily devouring Buffalo wings at Duff's in Buffalo, NY. The smell of fried wings and vinegary sauce instantly reaffirmed our presence in Western New York. And I must say, Duff's is THE place to be and the wings are considerably bigger and juicier than the ones from Anchor Bar.

It has probably been 8 years since the last time I visited the Falls. I can't believe how much more commercialized the area has become. Hotels, casinos, chain restaurants, etc. I guess this is the Americanized Canadian way. The falls view room we had reserved wasn't available when we checked in at the Embassy. Instead, the hotel upgraded our second night to a falls view suit and provided complementary parking and wifi. I thought it was a good deal since two nights of parking would have been $60 and do we really need to look at the falls from our room for two nights?

Since there isn't really all that much to do around Niagara Falls, we decided to take a few photos in the morning and drive up to Toronto for the rest of Sunday. Markham, a suburb outside of the city with massive Asian population, is the true destination for Chinese food on this side of the continent. The neighborhood is dotted with Chinese restaurants, markets, and even a shopping mall. It makes Flushing, NY looks tiny. The lunch place we stopped in wasn't anything to write home about. Fortunately, I stuck with my plan and got takeout from a restaurant called Xin Jiang for dinner. Xin Jiang is a province for ethnic minority on the northwestern boarder of China, known for its lamb skewers and beautiful women. The lamb skewers and lamb ribs from this restaurant did not disappoint! We even got to enjoy them from our falls view suit. How sweet!

Before we got back from Toronto, we met up with one of my colleagues from the Eastman School of Music, who had just moved to the city with her new husband. They are such a cute and cheery couple. How exciting it is to start a young life together. It kind made me feel old even though I know I'm not that old and we're newly weds ourselves too!


Monday, January 9, 2017

Grievances and Appearance

There is no shortage of complaints from mommas-to-be, from pregnancy related symptoms to negative body images. The one take away from a prenatal yoga class I attended weeks ago was that I refer not to be in the company of so many complaints. Surely there is comfort in commiseration and often times that's how we connect with one another. Pregnancy and childbirth are serious life events that can be difficult in one way or another for many people. I too have experienced common symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, lower back pain, and just general discomfort. It is no fun to wake up in the middle of the night with excruciating leg cramp. Still, I know this pregnancy has been easy on me in comparison and I'm grateful for it. I want to stay positive and truly enjoy this rare moment in my life.

While some people fret about the increase in body weight and potentially appear less attractive to their partners during pregnancy, I really don't share these concerns. I emphasize with those who really do struggle with weight and medical issues but many people I hear from are in perfect health and weight. I remain convinced that who we are before pregnancy and childbirth is who we will be afterwards. We can be transformed and inspired, but fundamentally we remain the same. I never obsessed much over my weight or appearance before pregnancy and seeing my body transforming now doesn't alarm me the least bit. I want to look nice and be at a healthy weight but that's really the extent of my preoccupation. Ultimately I prefer to care about how my body functions and feels, rather than how it looks and how much it weighs.

It wasn't until we started seeing a midwife that I even purchased a scale. I'm not exactly sure what my base weight is other than it being somewhere around 120-125lbs. I now weigh 145 and I feel great about it. Every time I step on the scale now Peter would look on excitedly, hoping to see a sign of the baby growing inside. After all, we would never look at a tree with new leaves in the spring and think it's gaining weight.

I have gradually stopped wearing makeup on a daily basis in the last few years. My skin has never been healthier. I feel good about not having to spend so much time and money on tiny bottles of poison. I also like the fact that since I met my husband after 6 days of hiking with no shower or makeup, I don't feel any pressure to uphold some kind of artificial standard of beauty. Peter sees me bare as I am day in and day out and tells me that I'm beautiful. When I do dress up and get made up occasionally, he gets all giddy and tells me I'm beautiful in a different way. I feel easy around him. I feel easy around myself. It's a beautiful time in my life and I want to keep it that way.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

First Snow

It has been a cold weekend. We had our first snow on Saturday. It didn't deter us from venturing out to an Indian buffet for lunch. We have been deprived of Indian food since moving out of Manhattan in August. Thankfully the goat biryani and palak paneer didn't disappoint. We then stopped by Audi and Wegmans to pick up supplies for next week. Upcoming meals will include mozzarella stuffed meatballs, chicken alfredo and moussaka! As much as people talk about pregnancy cravings, I can't say I have any, maybe except for things I shouldn't be eating like raw oysters and sashimi! Also looking forward to be able to binge drink coffee someday! I've been limited to pretty much one to two cups a day since the beginning.

When a lovely ray of sunlight came through in the afternoon, I suggested that we go out to the woods behind the apartment for some pictures. Peter take beautiful landscape photos but really doesn't have much practice when it comes to portraits. Fortunately we got a few nice shots before I froze.