nearing 7 months (almost 29 weeks)

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I wanted to write the next blog entry from a position of strength and certainty. I wanted to have answers. I wanted to know everything’s going well. I don’t know how soon we can have answers or that things are going well, though, so here we are.

Owen’s weight at his 6-month checkup was concerning; although he had grown in length and head circumference, his weight appeared to be 2 oz. less than his 4-month measurement. We returned 2 weeks later for a weight check and he had gained 3 oz. but his doctor had been hoping for a gain of at least 6 oz. We’re waiting for the results of some blood work and who knows how soon we’ll get those results back.

I have been very ill. We are transitioning to full-time formula feeding over the next few weeks because I need medication that is incompatible with breastfeeding. I hate that it has come to this.

But to happier things… Owen has started reaching for us now, which is super sweet, and he also grabs at pretty much everything he wants to grab. He’s also started playing with food, as evidenced below.

Watching gorillas at the zoo:

Peeking at the lion cubs at the zoo, who were born just 2 days before Owen:
Owen 04/14/13 - Zoo

Baby babble:

First food: bananas! Om nom nom.
Owen 04/24/13 - Bananas

“Did you just flashy-thing me?!”
Owen 04/25/13 - WTF Look

Sweet potatoes are very exciting, apparently!

Owen 05/20/13 - With Mama

We got these nifty silicone feeders for Owen that we can put food in to nom on — similar to the mesh bag feeders, but so much easier to clean!

Baby laughter is the best!

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5 months (almost 22 weeks)

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At Owen’s 4-month appointment on March 15th, he was 25.3 in. long and weighed 13 lbs., 3 oz. He seemed less uncomfortable after his 4-month immunizations than after his 2-month immunizations. We didn’t experience the “4-month wakeful” even though we kept waiting for it. We’ve finally quit using the nipple shield. Owen is easily distracted while nursing now, of course, since the whole world beyond the boob is oh-so-interesting, but he seems to be happy and doing well.

We tried out sunglasses for the first time on March 9th. He won’t keep them on long, but pretty cute, right?
Owen 03/09/13 - Sunglasses

Everything is nommable. He definitely gets more out of his toys now that he’s levelled up in motor skills.
Owen 03/18/13 - Nomming Fruit Monkey

One of Jeremy’s coworkers gave us their exersaucer. Owen enjoys some vertical time!

For Easter, Owen received a little beanbag monkey, a book, and a couple bath products (not shown).
Owen 03/31/13 - Easter Monkey

Owen 03/31/13 - Easter Book

And then we dressed up and went to church for the Easter Service, which included Owen’s baptism.

Baby laughs are one of the best things ever!

These overalls are pretty baggy on, but it’ll be cool to see how Owen fills them out more as he grows.
Owen 04/09/13 - Overalls

Oh, and he can do this for brief moments now…

3.5 months (15 weeks)

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Owen was 23 inches long and weighed 10 lbs., 8 oz., at his 2-month checkup on January 11th (8w6d). He got through the aftermath of his 2-month immunizations fine with some extra snuggles and comfort nursing and occasional icing of sore injection sites. Owen was 24 inches long and weighed 11 lbs., 7 oz., at the surgical consult for his umbilical hernia on February 11th (13w2d). The surgeon was optimistic Owen’s hernia may resolve on its own and we needn’t restrict his activities or otherwise baby it in the meantime. Owen is still primarily consuming breast milk but we’re supplementing with formula an average of 1-2 feedings per day so that Jeremy can handle all the nighttime feedings whether or not I’ve had the opportunity to pump enough milk to cover a feeding — so I can hopefully get more/better sleep without stressing out over pumping or having to get up to nurse in the wee hours.

Owen is thriving and happy, but the rest of us? Not so much. I’m taking medication but we’re still waiting to see how much it improves our day-to-day experiences. We still have an enormous amount of financial stress which never seems to get better, just keeps piling on. Getting through these times together is a struggle. When anyone asks me how we’re doing, my go-to answer is that we’re “hanging in there.”

Owen has discovered toys and fists and drools on all with equal enthusiasm.
Owen 02/11/13 - With Doughnut Monkey

I don’t often put Owen down on his tummy for “tummy time” because he strongly prefers chest-to-chest time instead, but once in a while I force him to do a few minutes — so he decided to show off his “tummy time” thwarting skills. (Joke’s on him, though, because that was exactly the kind of skill we wanted him to ultimately demonstrate, bwahaha!)

Owen enjoys going to church to see his church friends! In this picture, he’s wearing one of the hats his Great-Grandma Evie made for him.
Owen 02/17/13 - Blue Hat from Great-Grandma

I try to take a picture of us together at least once every couple months.
Owen 02/22/13 - With Mama

7.5 weeks

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I had my postpartum checkup last Friday. Physically, things look good and we scheduled Mirena insertion for this Friday. I weighed in at 230 lbs. so that gives me my starting weight as I begin the journey of changing my lifestyle in the new year (and trying to shed some fat in the process). Emotionally, yeah, still experiencing a lot of symptoms. Since failure to successfully reproduce was one of my big stresses, yes, I was hoping I might magically be less easily symptomatic once Owen was born, but no, didn’t really work out that way. And I felt so amazing emotionally at first that crashing back down to this baseline depression is all the harder. So I got a referral and put in a call to the psychiatrist’s intake line but had to leave a message and wait for a return call to start the intake process for treatment. With the holidays, looks like I may be waiting until Wednesday or later to hear back, and in the meantime I worry about being forgotten or ignored or otherwise falling through the cracks because that is exactly the sort of thing I worry about frequently already.

I forgot to import the latest pictures from the camera before writing the last entry, so here’s a belated bath picture from December 14th. Owen’s umbilical hernia has grown a bit over time but should either resolve on its own within the next couple years or be fixable via surgery — I’m sure we’ll talk about it some more at his checkup next week.
Owen 12/16/12 - Baby Spa Time

We introduced the bottle at 6 weeks and Owen’s doing pretty well with it so far. It’s been really nice to be able to let Jeremy handle some feedings without me so I can try to get a little more rest. It’s also nice to be able to take a bottle with us sometimes when we go out since the feeding process is quicker and easier than feeding straight from the boob in unfamiliar places. Owen seems equally satisfied with both feeding methods and isn’t picky about milk temperature, either, thankfully. He’s also growing like a weed, so clearly we’re doing something right. Jeremy made this video.

Owen 12/19/12 - With Mama

Jeremy thought Owen should take on a more active role in diaper changes, so gave him a wipe to keep handy.
Owen 12/19/12 - A Helping Hand

We adopted Oliver from Build-A-Bear for Owen. They’re almost the same size!
Owen 12/25/12 - Oliver

“Get thee behind me, Sleep Sheep!” Ewegene was a gift to Owen from Santa.
Owen 12/25/12 - Afraid of Ewegene?

Owen decided Ewegene isn’t so baaaad after all.
Owen 12/25/12 - Chillaxing with Ewegene

My primary audience for Owen footage recorded without Jeremy is Jeremy, to show him things he may be missing and to give him a dose of cute baby while he’s at work. Owen sometimes goes from happy to fussy pretty quickly once the camera’s on. You can see, though, he’s been making some progress with sounds and smiles.

1 month (5.5 weeks)

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One step forward, two steps back. We were working on weaning off the nipple shield but were still having difficulty properly latching so now I have some serious nipple soreness on the left breast and we’re back to using the nipple shield every time until I have a chance to heal or toughen up or figure out a better approach. Lanolin seems to be helping a little bit but mostly I just need to make sure we have everything positioned well at feeding time, which maybe I had been a little lazy about before since I wasn’t experiencing any soreness unless I was extremely poorly-positioned.

My parents visited the first week of December and we took Owen to visit Santa at Alderwood Mall that Friday. We ordered Christmas cards with one of the pictures of Owen with Santa. I don’t know if the cards will reach their recipients before Christmas, since I haven’t dropped them in the mail yet, but I plan to share a picture of the card here on the blog closer to Christmas.

I’m not having an easy time emotionally (not that I expected to, at this time of year and with a new baby and with all the stress that continues to pile on) but I don’t know if I’m ready to try to find a therapist and try medication roulette right now. I’m not in a really bad place but I’m not in a great one, either. I still feel very discouraged about medication and therapy by past experiences, though, so I don’t know how easily I can clear those hurdles even if things get more desperate.

A few pictures taken since last time:

Just after diaper change, Owen realized he had been promised milk, but boob was not made available to him soon enough to thwart vocal demands that I “Unleash the boobies!!!” (I don’t normally pause to photograph my grumpy baby, but I needed a grumpy baby pic for that week’s themed photo sharing in my online moms’ group.)
Owen 12/05/12 - Grumpy Baby

Posing sleepy babies is HILARIOUS.
Owen 12/08/12 - Sleepy Monkey

I was taking pictures of Owen’s many facial expressions as he looked over Jeremy’s shoulder one evening and this is my favorite. “Rawr!”
Owen 12/14/12 - Rawr!

Owen has been practicing smiling! We haven’t had much luck at capturing the full smile experience in photos or video, so this is the closest we’ve gotten.
Owen 12/14/12 - Smile Practice

2.5 weeks

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On November 19th, Owen had his first checkup with his primary care doctor. Owen was already up to 8 lbs., 4 oz., so just 2 oz. shy of birth weight, so he must be getting some good noms! I know he gets plenty of feeds in, and is making good numbers of wet and soiled diapers for his age, but it’s nice to get assurance that he’s growing and gaining on track, especially since we’re still relying on a nipple shield so of course I feel kind of fail for not getting these latch issues worked out yet. But if a little piece of silicone makes all the difference between being able to feed Owen at the breast or having to pump or supplement just to get him fed, well, so be it. We’re still only 2.5 weeks out, anyway, so I’m trying not to sweat it too much. (I did get a voicemail from the Breastfeeding Center at the hospital the other day, though, to ask if I’m still using the nipple shield, which so far I’ve not called back about because my first instinct is to tell them to stop stalking my boobies, which may not be the most appropriate response. And then I’m doubtful there’s anything they could tell me over the phone I haven’t heard/read/seen already and I’m not trekking all the way to the hospital for a visit when really we’re doing pretty well and we’ll just keep working on that latch on our own for now.)

On Monday, Owen and I took our first solo adventure together! We walked to the medical building where his doctor’s office and lab are to get the second part of Owen’s newborn screen blood work done, then stopped by Starbucks on the way home for a hot drink treat for me, and rented a movie from Redbox on our way back. I didn’t take any pictures during the actual adventure but it took us so long to get ready to go that I snapped this picture just before we went out the door:

These cute monkey jammies are newborn size — clearly we will need to buy them in 3mos size soon! Also, don’t mind the red-eye; apparently my son is just part Cylon.

I finally tried out the Moby wrap on Monday and Owen’s done most of his daytime napping in the wrap yesterday and today. It is amazing to have two hands for eating/peeing/computing/etc. without having to put baby down! I want to try a more structured carrier when he’s a little older but for now this has been pretty great. I’m really glad he was born in November, though, because we would have to be nekkid in the summertime to be wrapped up together like this.

And here’s a video of Owen making some of his favorite facial expressions (previously shared via Facebook, so it’s the same video if you already watched it from there this week):

Holy crap, we have a baby!

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On Friday, November 9th (38w4d), we went to our O.B.’s office for our second fetal non-stress test (NST) of the week and weekly prenatal appointment, expecting to be done in ample time for Jeremy to drop me off back home and head to work on time. Owen had other plans, apparently — NST didn’t go so well, so we followed up with a biophysical profile (BPP) ultrasound. The ultrasound tech asked us how ready we were to have this baby and I thought she was just making conversation at first, but no, O.B. came in and told us Owen scored a zero on his BPP so it was time to get baby out.

Jeremy had joked for months that it would be cool if Owen arrived anytime from November 7th through November 10th, because then he’d either arrive the day before our wedding anniversary, on our anniversary (November 8th), on Jeremy’s birthday (November 9th), or the day after Jeremy’s birthday. Pretty funny then that we were induced on Jeremy’s birthday, no? Labor didn’t go quite fast enough for Owen to share his papa’s birthday, though, so we did wind up with a three-day stretch of family anniversaries.

Our O.B. inserted a Foley bulb catheter before we left the office to encourage further cervical dilation (I hadn’t made any further progress on my own since the week before, so still at about 3cm dilated). We headed downstairs to be admitted to the Family Maternity Center. Once admitted, we were shown to our room (last two digits of room number were 42, which I found geekily reassuring, as that’s the answer to life, the universe and everything), started I.V. fluids, first dose of antibiotics, and Pitocin to help establish a contraction pattern. I remained on Pitocin throughout labor, and received more antibiotics every few hours.

Owen appeared to be doing well at that point, so we were able to continue with labor and have a vaginal delivery — if he’d shown signs of distress, it would have been emergency C-section time. We had some difficulty tracking Owen’s heartrate externally, however, as he and I kept moving just enough to get his heart out of range of the external monitor, so my membranes were artificially ruptured and an internal fetal monitor was put in place. We also weren’t able to walk around the ward except for a brief excursion because the wireless monitor wasn’t cooperating. I mostly labored sitting upright on the bed and made a trip to the bathroom every hour or so to pee, usually having a handful of contractions along the way.

Labor was very challenging and when I hit a wall (physically and emotionally) several hours in, I did opt for a couple doses of Fentanyl, which allowed me some more concrete moments of respite before we got to the home stretch — not my original plan, but no regrets, as it didn’t introduce any further interventions or restrictions like an epidural would have (and I really, really, really did NOT want an epidural) and gave me the break from intensity I needed to gather my strength and courage for the final hours of labor and birth. Without the amazing support we received from our doula, Shannon, I think I would have asked for I.V. pain medication sooner, at the risk of not making as much progress beforehand.

After almost 2 hours of pushing, Owen was born at 8:34am PST on November 10th, 2012.

We got to go home Sunday afternoon. Owen had a fetching ensemble all picked out for his outdoor debut.

On Monday we had a check-up at the Postpartum Care Center and they sent us to the lab for some blood work to check Owen’s bilirubin level. We went home and then during dinner the pediatric hospitalist on shift called us to let us know Owen’s bilirubin level was high enough he needed to be admitted to the hospital for phototherapy treatment. I cried the whole car ride back to the hospital because I just wanted to be home, but honestly I probably got better rest in the hospital on the comfy bed in Owen’s room than I would have at home at that point in my postpartum recovery.

Owen hated the phototherapy bed for the most part, as he is a total snugglebunny and seemed to view the phototherapy bed as cruel and unusual punishment. The first time he went into the bed was the worst as he was just inconsolable, but ultimately he was able to chillax for periods of time while the lights did their magic. Follow-up blood work on Thursday through Owen’s primary care doctor came back within normal range, so no more phototherapy required! \o/

And back home again: