Getting Your Nesting On

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Arguably, I didn’t get a chance to “nest”…except that I did.  Back in November/December. That was when things went on sale and I went a little crazy buying up supplies. At the time I even thought to myself, “This is crazy. She’s not coming for four months or more! I’m being a crazy person.” And then I went right on doing it.

And as it turns out: it wasn’t crazy. By the end of January I had two changing tables (one upstairs, one down) all set up and ready to go with diapers, clothing, blankets, cloth wipes, and burp cloths. I had all the clothes friends had donated sorted and hung by the end of February. We had a co-sleeper set up at around the same time which…I mainly used for my laundry, because I’m a terrible person who never puts her laundry away. YES SORRY MOM IT’S TRUE. I’m in my late 30s, and I still leave my laundry in the basket, unfolded, wrinkling as it cools.

(Rest assured: it’s not used for laundry anymore. The cosleeper is next to me and at night, Zoë sleeps in it and reassures me by snoring along with her daddy.)

In February I bought a breastpump, despite the fact that at the time I thought things were going swimmingly and that we wouldn’t need it ’til I went back to work. But I thought, hey, buy it now, won’t have to remember to buy it later. Me and that breastpump have become very good friends, let me tell you.

And taxes. I did our taxes in March. Even though we owed money. Because I could.

I installed the baby carseat two weeks before she showed up, and the day we went to the hospital my brother-in-law (who is a police officer) inspected it. Okay, that one was cutting it a little close, but it still counts.

What we’re really lacking? Maternity bras and tops. I have one bra, two tops, and I’m reluctant to buy more because…I am always reluctant to buy more. I had no problem buying Zoë more bottles and diapers when it became clear we needed them, but you can’t get me to spend a red cent on my own clothes. It requires Mike’s scowl or my mother’s pleading to get me to do it. Have I mentioned I’m obstinate?

So what I’m saying is that, despite having felt like we weren’t prepared for our bundle of joy…we kind of were. I wasn’t spending her first days home sorting out clothes or figuring out where we were going to change her — all that was done. I didn’t have to spend time at the hospital chasing down a breastpump or figuring out what we were going to do when we got home — I had it ready to go, to her immense benefit. And I didn’t spend any time thinking oh god our taxes are due. They were already handled.

Just goes to show…if your nesting urge kicks in months early, listen to it. It may be smarter than you.

the Incredible Sleeping Zoë

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Zoë is sleeping in my lap.  Mike is going to bed.  I’ll be up at 3, 6, and 9 to feed Zoë.

Nursing is going slowly. Four days in the NICU meant our daughter started life with a bottle in her mouth. Her low birth weight (our girl was definitely a “green apple”) plus the jaundice has instilled a certain fear of exclusive breastfeeding in me. Additionally there were, um, size problems in the beginning (my baby is tiny, my breasts are not, you do the math).

Nowadays size isn’t the issue: drowsiness is. As much as I want to nurse my daughter, I worry about her getting enough to eat; nursing tends to knock her out almost instantly. Like, two gulps and she’s asleep, and it takes half an hour for me to wake her up again. No bueno when your daughter is already underweight, and really, really needs those two ounces at each 2-3 hour feeding.

So we compromise. I nurse until she falls asleep, and then we break out the bottle with the pumped milk. She doesn’t have any problem finding the boob, and her latching on has gotten much better…when she’s awake enough to do so. She’s still a very sleepy baby. We expect this is due to her being early and jaundiced, and so I’m waiting for her to “wake up” a bit more before I transition to exclusively nursing.

A week from tomorrow she’ll be three weeks old. More importantly, she’ll be “full term” then. We’ve watched as she’s gradually become more and more alert, but it still is sometimes a huge effort to get her awake and actively nursing. Until she’s more present, we’ll continue to bottle feed and I’ll continue to pump to keep up supply. Starving a baby this sleepy is just not something I can or should do.

And there is another upside to this: her dad and family get to help with feedings. Though I feed her a lot of the time, she also gets to spend that time with others. And I get much-needed sleep. It works, in its own way.

Waiting for Zoe

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At some point on Sunday, when we were still in a holding pattern, I opened my mouth and said with a complete lack of irony that we were “waiting for Zoe”.

It took four days to “get” Zoe, and during that time I spent many hours in the NICU feeding, holding, and getting comfortable with her. I held her as much as the IVs and the blue light therapy windows let me. Toward the end I made a point of showing up for every feeding with at least some pumped colostrum or breast milk, because I knew in my bones it would help.  At first it was only 3ml, then it was 10ml, and toward the end I had a full ounce. Getting her away from formula was one of the tangible, helpful things that I knew only I could do, and so I did it.

Waiting would have been harder if I’d been less exhausted; as it was, my own fatigue kept me in and out of consciousness for the first part of the hospital stay. From Saturday night to Monday afternoon, I didn’t eat — wasn’t allowed to — and I didn’t walk until Monday evening. Sleep came fitfully. I didn’t want sleep. I wanted my daughter.

The L&D nurses were incredibly kind. I’m sure it’s fair to say they’ve seen all this before and will see it all again and I wasn’t anything new to them. The NICU nurses blew me away with how confident they were with even the tiniest tiny baby, but of course they have to be. Even though people who see Zoe now say, “Oh, she’s so little!” — compared to some of the babies in the NICU, she looks like a linebacker. She was the biggest baby in the NICU at that time, and she was six pounds, three ounces when we took her home.

I made it clear to the NICU nurses that I’d never held a newborn before (I really haven’t, aside from very brief moments with my friend’s children), that I felt awkward and uncertain, and they quickly swooped in to help. It’s fair to say that most of the confidence I have now with handling Zoe comes from the hours I spent there, with several extremely capable women holding my hand and showing me how it’s done.

For all that, I also found the NICU frustrating. At times it seemed like there was no good reason for Zoe to be there, and toward the end an error in her chart (“apnea” — it was intended for another infant’s chart) almost kept her there another night, compounding the sense that this was a formality, not a necessity. The initial reason — her glucose levels — resolved in less than 10 hours. The extended reason — a blood culture that took 48 hours — turned out to be nothing.

So in the end, my daughter was in the NICU for no truly good reason other than a doctor decided she should be there. I know this is just how hospitals work, especially in the case of little, little babies. Take no chances. I wouldn’t want them to risk my daughter’s health just because I’m obstinate and a bit impatient.

It’s still incredibly frustrating. When I see the fading blood pricks on my daughter’s heels, or the remnants of tape around her ankles, I’m reminded that we spent our first 24 hours apart….

…and then I make up for it by holding her as much as possible. It’s all I can do.

We’ve stopped waiting. We are home and safe. The hospital did its job.

Now it’s time for me to do mine.


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Thirteen years ago on Memorial Day or so, I lost a friend of mine. I don’t actually know all the details of her death, but it started with preeclampsia that did not resolve through delivery of her child. She went through many months of treatment in an ICU in St. Louis before her organs finally shut down.

And so I lost a friend, and so the specter of preeclampsia started to haunt me.

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Then again, screw the herbal recommendations.

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Just feed me meat.

I love a good tisane as much as anyone else, but I’m starting to think that this might be more related to my lack of appetite and the realization two weeks ago that I wasn’t getting enough protein.

So eff it.  I’m going to keep doing what’s actually making me feel better: eating more.  Even though — and I must be honest here — a giant plate of eggs or ground beef is making my stomach turn.  When I finish them, though, I feel fine.  Great even.  It’s getting started that’s hard.

The closest I’ve come so far to anything studied or peer-reviewed is on this site…which also talks about homeopathy (HEAVY SIGH) and links to Dr. Sears (HEAVIER SIGH), but at least talks about the extremely limited studies and theories as to why the Dr. Brewer diet might work.  (Edited to add: Then again, maybe it’s all bullshit.)

This is the problem with pregnancy: no one wants to test on pregnant ladies. I am my own experiment.

Anyway, off to eat a plate of eggs.

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Day 1 Food Journal

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For my edification, the foods I’m eating.  I woke up around 7:45 AM painfully hungry, was mostly satisfied post-breakfast.  Slight headache, which I ascribe to missing coffee yesterday (I drank coffee, and it has since gone away).

By 12:30 PM I started to feel lightheaded and unwell, but not particularly hungry.  Ate anyway.

3:00 PM and I feel great now.

7:30 PM realized I was probably hungry again because I’d stopped feeling great.

Ugh.  This not having an appetite is the worst.  😛  I guess this means I should put myself on a food schedule or suffer the consequences of feeling like crap?  I guess so.

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And so the “Waiting” part of the blog begins in earnest….

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Two separate appointments with high blood pressure readings, plus some protein in my urine, equals bedrest.  Now you know the recipe for “medically necessary maternity leave”.

I am of course unreasonably annoyed at my body for this…especially when I go looking for something — anything — I can do to “help” and see people accusing women of “poor diet” when they get hypertension in pregnancy.  But those people aren’t me, and they can kindly go die in a fire.

So, day one of limited bedrest: I woke up hungry; painfully so. I started with a banana-avocado smoothie (for the potassium and magnesium), let that settle, then cooked up two eggs, two slices of ham, and a slice of cheese.  And a cup of coffee.  I’m probably going to soak in a tub after all that digests a bit.  I know this sounds like the most bizarre spa day ever, but I assure you — I would much rather not have to do any of this.  In my head, I’m on my feet and working until the water breaks.  But part of this adjusting to motherhood life is that things don’t go the way you want them to all the time.

Zoe is still moving and shifting and — based on the pressure in my torso — overall running out of space.  She’s at 37 weeks as of Saturday, so if the unexpected happens we can always go the induction route.  I don’t want the induction route.  But see last sentence in the paragraph, above.  We’ll do what we need to for a healthy family.

And once I’m done soaking in a tub and getting over myself, I’ll hit the market for a few things that may be old wives tales, but certainly can’t hurt to try. I’m going to make some tea with red raspberry, nettle, and dandelion leaf, and probably buy a Vitamin B6 supplement.  I’m going to buy more bananas and avocados, and some spinach for sauteeing with lunch.  I’m going to keep track of my protein and hope that, if I can’t reverse this, I can at least keep it at bay.  And someday we’ll have a lovely footnote to tell our daughter.


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36 weeks, and here at last I can say I’m experiencing one of those uncomfortable and highly visible pregnancy symptoms: swollen ankles.  It started, oh, Wednesdayish, and some days it’s worse than others. Exercising seems to exacerbate it. It’s not too bad in the mornings, and I guess this is as good a reason as any to put my feet up and drink more water. Like I wasn’t doing that enough already.

Tomorrow’s checkup will be the Group B Strep (GBS) test, one of those things no one tested for back when I was born but that is now ubiquitous in any modern practice in the USA. We’ll also be revisiting my blood pressure; it was a little high last visit, but I think it was a fluke. Then again, it did coincide with my ankles deciding to turn into flotation devices. Urine samples were collected. So…we’ll find out!

And it’s also the start of my last week at work, which with all these suddenly ballooning bodyparts isn’t such a bad thing. Soon I will be bored on a couch, burning through a Netflix queue and thinking to myself, “I now understand why women want to be induced.”

Other than that, I’ve been pondering what to make for my labor playlist and giving my new-to-me grill a workout (steak and ribs). I’m intermittently packing my labor day bag — currently it’s got some pads, a scrunchie, lip balm, and massage lotion in it. Tomorrow I get the official birth center list.

Zoe’s been very active all day and yesterday — last night in particular, when we were watching a movie, she turned and squirmed and flipped the whole time. Not quite the acrobatics of last month, but still clearly busy and mobile. I wonder if she’s making lists in there?