Friday, May 29, 2009

Two weeks old and growing

Our little man turned two weeks old a few days ago, and he is already back above his birth weight. Whee! As some of you know, newborns tend to lose some weight in the week after birth, then rebound. Well our Leo has been eating (and pooping) like a champion, and is now back above his birth weight. In fact, he is almost 10 pounds now. Big boy!
He's occasionally sleeping up to 4 hours at a stretch at night, which is delightful. Hopefully we can start to see some more of that kind of activity. He's also spending longer stretches of time during the day awake, and looking around at everything.
He also seems to be enjoying bathtime (hooray!) After the first bath with the water a bit too cold, we've warmed it up and he loves it. Just sits there with his eyes open, checking us out.
And I think he may end up having curly hair - while there's not much hair there yet, we're starting to see a bit of a wave in the back.
We've also started enjoying almost daily walks, which seem to put him right to sleep. And make Mommy and Daddy happy too, it sure is nice to get out of the apartment.
So overall we're doing quite well, all three of us figuring this out. I'm getting comfortable breastfeeding, and Byron has become an expert diaper changer. And we're almost rested up - hooray! Our little family Kern is coming right along...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dad's Take on This Whole Birth Thing

Well Elise did a great job recapping the birth, but I thought I should share my perspective too. I figure since she's already touched on how it all went down I'll just keep mine to more free-form comments than a step-by-step timeline.

First off, mom is a rock star! 53 hours of labor, and never once did she yell "You did this to me!" By the time we were, I dunno, 36 hours or so into this, by body started shutting down. I hadn't been eating and obviously hadn't slept, and I felt like I had the flu. After they gave Elise the little bit of narcotics to help her get a little sleep I was able to get an hour of sleep myself, then take a shower and grab a bite to eat. Later, at the end of labor (before the pushing) I was so tired again that I could barely function, and our doula Victoria and I took turns passing out on the fold-out chair for 20 minutes at a time or so. The amazing thing is that I felt like I was on the verge of collapse, and I wasn't going through any contractions... how Elise managed to get through all that is beyond me!

Second, for any moms and dads to-be out there, get yourself a doula! Our experience was obviously a more difficult one than average, but even if it had been a "mere" 24 hours of labor, having that extra person who can provide experienced support and let dad have a moment to eat or sleep without leaving mom alone is invaluable.

Third, I have to say that for anyone wanting to go the natural route for childbirth, if you are using an OB you're shooting yourself in the foot (high risk prenancies aside). If we had been at a different hospital or hadn't been with midwives, Elise would have been almost guaranteed to have gotten a c-section. Even with her water broken, the midwives stuck with their philosphy of "let nature take its course". She wasn't running a fever or showing any other signs of infection or fetal distress, so there was no need to go to drastic medical interventions, but in many practices they would have sent her off to get sliced open as policy after so many hours of having the baby exposed.

All told, despite the difficult labor the experience we had was pretty darned positive, considering the circumstances. The exception being the nurses! I was about ready to start slapping the nurses who came in while Elise was having tough contractions to just poke through drawers looking for something they needed elsewhere, and if one more nurse came in and then left the door open after going out again I might have lost it. They seemed to be, by and large, very blaze about something very difficult and momentous for us, with the exception of a few very caring nurses. Luckily the midwives and our doula were all from a very different cut of cloth, and all ended well.

As Elise mentioned, I got to catch Leo as he was born, which was an absolutely amazing, if slippery and slimy experience. When his head was crowning the midwife said she thought the next push would be "the one" and had me put my hands over hers, and sure enough on the next contraction out he came and into my hands. It's hard to imagine I wouldn't have been deliriously happy anyway, but I was already deliriously tired so it was a short trip!

Our little man is impossibly cute (especially when he yawns), and he's sleeping longer and longer as mom's full milk is coming in, so hopefully the three of us can get a little more sleep during the night... so far it's been tough trying to catch up on all the missed sleep from labor while being up with Leo at all hours of the night, but we're doing well enough and it gets a little easier every day.

Anyway, that's dad's quick-ish perspective on this whole thing!

5 Days Old

5 Days Old, originally uploaded by lisiegrin.

Our little man, in a milk-induced sleep coma.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Introducing Leo Lamadrid Kern

Well the day finally came, and our son has been born. He made his entrance into the world on May 3rd at 3:03 AM, weighing a substantive 9 pounds 5 ounces (a full 2 pounds more than the average tot) and measuring 21.5 inches long. He's a beautiful little boy, with a light head of hair and (currently) indigo colored eyes. Both Leo and myself emerged from the process healthy and with no medical concerns. That's the short story.

But the long story is more entertaining... Sunday evening at 10:30, after a celebratory birthday dinner with Byron's brother Peter, I sat down on the couch to find that my water had broken. Not the big old dramatic, sitcom gush of puddles by my ankles, but suddenly I was all wet and was quite sure I had not peed on myself. So what an exciting development - a few days before my due date (Tuesday) and on Mother's day, no less. So we called our doula Victoria to let her know, and headed off to bed, knowing that these things take time and that rest was a good idea. Little did we know. I had contractions on and off throughout the night, but they never really picked up in terms of frequency or intensity.

In the morning we called our midwives to let them know, then waited for things to pick up during the day. Which they didn't. Which wouldn't have been a problem, except for the risk of infection starts to increase 24 hours after your water breaks, and most practitioners want to get you in and have you delivered by that 24 hour mark. We knew that once we went to the hospital, the pressure to give into medical interventions would increase, but by Monday evening, we knew we needed to go. So off we went, with Victoria coming with us, to a packed Family Birthing Center at the hospital. Seems our boy had picked a popular time to show up, and we got the only remaining labor & delivery room.

The midwife on duty, which of course Murphy's Law dictated was the one midwife in the practice that we didn't really like, got me started on Cervedil, to soften/ripen my uterus which would hopefully get things moving. But this drug is an insert, not an intravenous drug, so they had to wait 12 hours after inserting it to make an assessment. Once they put it in, contractions started to ramp up, but slowly, and by 11am on Tuesday, they were finally able to determine that I was up to 5 centimeters dilated. Yay progress! But - with the contractions ramping up, I had gotten zero sleep all night, was in alot of pain, and seemed to be moving very very slowly. I was so woozy from pain and sleep deprivation that I felt like I was on LSD or something, and was about to the edge of my rope. At that moment, natural childbirth, which had been our goal all along, seemed like the most foolish pursuit, and I asked for some sort of relief so I could at least get a few hours sleep. The hour and a half between making the request and getting the narcotics was honestly one of the most miserable of my entire life, and I was practically whimpering. But I finally got two hours of sleep, before the contractions were strong enough to punch their way back through.

We marshalled the troops (and our will) and kept along this way, getting to 9 and a half centimeters by mid afternoon. Happily I was showing no signs of fever or infection, and baby's heart rate was consistently strong, so they let me continue to progress without getting too worried about the baby's state. But after I got to 9 and a half centimeters, everything stalled, and I stayed there for for hours. Back at mid morning, the midwife on duty had rotated to our favorite member of the practice, and we agreed in the early evening to give me a small (but steadily increasing) dose of Pitocin, to bring the strong contractions back. Not a decision I was happy with (because I had been in labor for two solid days at that point) and I knew it would make things pretty painful. But it did the trick, and by about 2:30AM I was fully dilated and ready to push. And after about half an hour of effort, he decided to come join us, and Byron was allowed to catch him as he arrived.

Finally, after 53 hours of labor, our baby boy was put on my stomach, covered in fluids, where he took his first breath. And opened his eyes to look right at me, which was a really powerful moment. Byron cut the cord, and we basked in the glow of the moment. If only our story capped off there. But it doesn't - the postpartum wing they were supposed to whisk us off to was full, so we were left in the labor & delivery room for several hours, which we were then kicked out of about an hour after we finally fell asleep, to be moved to a triage room until our postpartum room was ready. Lovely, right? And oh yeah, no bed for daddy in this room. So there we are, after several days of no sleep and substantial physical exertion, sitting in this temporary space until they finally found us an empty room at 7pm. Poor Byron even resorted to sleeping on the floor for a while. But we finally got a room, and it was definitely an improvement. And while we could have stayed longer, we got ourselves checked out of the hospital on Thursday afternoon to gratefully come home for a little peace and quiet. And we've been slowly settling in ever since. The End. :)

So yeah, labor and delivery was a looooooong, tough, painful, gruelling process. But it was all worth it in the end. Not everything went as planned, but hey it never does. We're now the proud parents of an adorable boy, and ready to start this next phase.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Painted Belly

Check out my blossoming belly at left, with artwork courtesy of my lovely hubby. It's hard to believe, but I'm just a week away from my due date. Though of course, the term 'due date' is a misnomer, this little man will surely show up whenever he feels like it, calendar be damned.
I'm still feeling pretty good, though in the last few days I have been overcome with itchiness. At first it was just the stretch marks on my tummy, but now that I'm trying not to scratch those it's everything else that itches. Not quite sure what's going on with it, but it's annoying. I'm doing my best not to completely destroy my skin with scratching, but it's really hard.
Other than all that, just enjoying maternity leave so far. I'm getting all the sleep I can, and enjoying the glee of watching the terrible traffic reports on the morning news knowing that I don't have to drive in that mess. It's the little things. :)