Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hila's Arms

I've been doing a lot of staring and studying of my baby's both awake and asleep behavior and actions. Here are some things that I've noticed about Hila's arms:

- When she's eating she makes little fists with her hands, sticks out her pointer fingers and brings her arms over her head, as if to say, "You are number one, mom!"

- Sometimes she does this with two fingers out, as if to say, "Just the two of us, you and me, mom."

- Sometimes she puts out three finger, "And daddy, too."

- When Hila is napping, her hands go angelically under her chin or one arm goes over her head and one arm stays under her chin or to her side. There is always a lot of flailing in the naptime phase.

- When she is sleeping a deep sleep in her crib, both of her arms rest over her head on the mattress surface -- "I surrender to sleep!"

- Sometimes she jolts awake for a moment (or longer) and her arms shoot up into the air. "AH! Why am I sleeping?? I should be conducting an orchestra!"

The best part of Hila's arms, though, are her hands, which are perfection. She has long, graceful fingers, that are not at all like my short, stubby digits. My mother says that they remind her of her mother's hands -- Hila's namesake -- how appropriate!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Advice for New Mothers

I was recently having a gchat conversation with Talia, a fellow new mother who has about four months more experience than I do. While venting about how much more difficult infant-raising was than I had expected, Talia gave the following advice:

1. You are allowed to want to throw the baby out the window.
2. Do NOT throw the baby out the window.
3. Your husband, in-laws, and parents all want to hold her too. Let them.
4. It's tough but try to get alone time once a day.
5. Don't worry about fitting into your clothes.
6. Talk to your friends for tips and advice; then you won't feel like you are the only one dealing with baby issues.

So there are six tips...feel free to add your more!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Nursing Saga Continues

Things are getting better, but are still not perfect.

Breastfeeding is becoming an expensive ordeal. I've become a regular at my lactation consultant (100 shekels a pop), the tongue snipping wasn't cheap, nursing bras are expensive (I went up another cup size!), and we still need to buy formula which we're still having to give Hila at every feed.

Nipples are still a bit sore, but thanks to silicone nipples, they feel a MILLION times (at least) better.

I'm pumping about four or five times a day to help increase my milk supply. And I'm taking fenugreek supplements which are supposed to also help. And I'm really starting to see an increase!

I nurse Hila maybe three times a day, but sometimes she just sits there to humor me, waiting for me to finish so she can get her bottle. She spends half the time sitting quietly and half the time thrashing around -- again, thank goodness for silicone. My goal is to partially reverse wean her from the bottles, to breastfeed her (with no supplement) a few times a day and to rely on bottles for middle of the night feeds and outings.

The tongue snipping was a partial success. It hurts a lot less when she latches on, though I also switched to the silicone nipples, so who knows if the snipping would've made a difference with those. My lactation consultant says her tongue is still a little tight and she could use another snip, but I say enough is enough. There's only so much mutilation I can allow.

I'm feeling less discouraged, maybe even hopeful. More than that though, I've come to terms with the fact that breastfeeding just may not work out this time around. I'm going to try for a few more weeks and I'm going to try and stay positive.

Thank you all for your suggestions, support, and encouragement. I'll keep you posted!

P.S. The good news is that Hila is definitely gaining weight. She's really filling out and is looking a lot less scrawny. We'll do an officially weigh-in on Tuesday.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Tongue Tied

If you've spoken to me or written to me or heard anything about me in the last few days, you're likely to know about my sore nipples. People have been saying that all you need is a good latch, but what do you do when it is physically impossible for your baby to "get a good latch"? Since day one I've been struggling to get Hila to latch on properly, but even when it looks like she's got it good, it still kills. My nipples have gotten no chance to heal and just keep getting more and more and more irritated.

A few visits to the lactation consultant later, we learn that Hila is tongue tied. This is a real thing! It means that her frenulum is tight so she is unable to fully raise her tongue to the roof of her mouth, making it difficult, if not impossible, to get an effective suck. (The frenulum is that string-like tissue that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth.) Don't get me wrong -- this girl can suck strong...just not effectively and not widely, which means that all of the action is on my nipple and not enough on the area around it.

Another result of this, other than severe pain, is that my milk supply is suffering. Milk supply is stimulated through the areola, not the nipple, and since Hila is barely getting to that, my milk ducts are barely being stimulated. Thus I have been relying heavily on pumping (which also kills) to help stimulate my areolas and increase my milk supply.

Another result of Hila's tight frenulum and my sore nipples is that Hila is not gaining enough weight. This is the most upsetting part of the story. We have been advised by both our doctor and lactation consultant to supplement her diet with formula, which was actually a huge relief becuase it gives me a little nipple break and coming from them (and not me) makes me feel less guilty.

The good news: Tomorrow we are going to get Hila's frenulum snipped. A quick cut under her tongue will loosen her frenulum and help release her tongue, making it easier for her to eat and less painful for me. She will also be getting that string like thing that connects the top lip to the gum line snipped (don't know what it's called) so that her top lip has more room to more as well. (Coincidentally (or maybe I should say genetically, I had this procedure done many years ago to help tighten the gap between my two front teeth.) I've got all my eggs in this basket -- if the situation does not drastically improve, then it could be that breastfeeding is just not for us, which is upsetting, but at least now I know that it's not my fault and it may not even be what's best.

Wish us luck for tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Welcome to the World, Hila Zehava!

After much planning and anticipation of a masculine addition to our family, little Hila Zehava made her very feminine appearance one week ago on our (now shared) birthday of January 26. Here is our birth story...

I started a few days earlier with some period-like cramps. Wow, I thought, if these are contractions, than I can totally handle these -- they barely even hurt! At 6:30am, though, on Monday, January 26, those cramps got a little stronger. And then a little stronger. And then a little stronger. And before I knew it, I was in the hospital, screaming my brains out, beggin for an epidural. I felt like I was in a movie.

About eight hours later, I got that blessed epidural and the painful and traumatic labor experience went from unbearable to absolutely blissful. I took a little nap, chatted with Joanie, our amazing doula, ate a bit, and just chilled, with a warm flush of numbness flowing through my body.

A few hours later, after they had broken my water with a wooden stick (seriously) and given me a bit of pitocin to speed things up, a midwife came in, looked at the monitor, ran out, and quickly reentered with a staff of 5 or 6 doctors, nurses, and midwives. What I heard was "blah blah hebrew hebrew". What I saw was a look of panic on their faces as they pulled my legs up and apart, told me to hold my knees, and told me to push. I got the translated update -- our baby's heart rate was quickly dropping and if I didn't push her out in five minutes, they'd have to cut me open and take her out themselves.

They sent Menachem out of the room because of the emergency nature of the situation and told me to push again, harder this time. But...I still had the epidural and couldn't feel a thing. How can I push if I couldn't feel any of my pushing muscles? Apparently I didn't have a choice. And then, soley through the power of the mind, I visualized what I thought pushing would look like and feel like, and I pushed and pushed and pushed that baby out like there was no tomorrow.

My panicked cries of "Is my baby ok? Is my baby ok?" immediately switched to a relieved and overjoyed "My baby is ok! My baby is ok!" Menachem was back in the room by the time they threw that little girl on top of me and assured me that she was perfect.

It's a girl! "What?" we said. And my first thought, I kid you not, after of course the flood of relief and love that I felt, was "oh man, Menachem is going to have to exchange all that blue stuff for pink." (And he did.)

I delivered the placenta with no problems (it looks like a lung on a string) and then they sewed me up where they had cut me and where I'd torn -- and I didn't feel a thing.

And now one week later we're all adjusting to life with a newborn. It's tiring, at times frustrating, at times extremely painful (recovering from the stitches and dealing with sore nipples -- see my other blog about that), but always filled with wonder and amazement about the presence of this miraculous, beautiful, little baby girl.

Hila Zehava is named after my mother's mother, Gloria Goldie. Hila is Hebrew from praise/glory, and Zehava means gold.

And we love her. And you'll love her too when you get to meet her!


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