Sunday, November 29, 2009

Compare and Contrast

I am constantly amazed by F's size. T was so tiny for so long that it seems strange to have a baby with fat little cheeks. In retrospect, I'm really glad we didn't know any better when T was born or we would have been completely freaked out by how little T was, how tough it was to get him to breastfeed and how slowly he gained weight. I'm not sure what he weighed in the picture below, but according to this post, he was 7 pounds, 6 ounces at 5 weeks. On our very unscientific scale, F is already about 9 pounds (at 3.5 weeks). It's amazing what a few extra weeks on the inside will do for you.

I also looked back through pictures of T and decided he didn't really start looking like T until he was about 4 months old. I'm excited to see what/who F is going to look like.

T at 3 weeks old.
T at 2 years, 9ish months. F at 3 weeks.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Someday it won't be so cute

Yesterday I took both boys on my own for an outing to a concert and friend's house for lunch. I got to spend some time chatting with two friends, while T played with their daughters. At one point, the 3 adults (and F) were in the living room, while the 3 kids played in the family room. It got pretty quiet, so my friend went to check on the kids. She came back in the room laughing and explained that the girls had T laid out on the stairs, examining him with Q's new doctor kit. Sure enough, when we walked into the room, T was on the stairs, belly exposed, while the girls "listened" to his heart.

Monday, November 23, 2009

An Unfortunate Name

The other night the Illini played the Presbyterian Blue Hose.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What they don't tell you

The picture is just bonus baby daddy cuteness.

There is a ton of stuff no one tells you about the postpartum period. Sure, you hear about baby blues, and tiredness and being a bit sore. Here's a short list of stuff they don't tell you (and I wish I'd know before my first pregnancy):

1. You'll sweat like a racehorse at night. I've been sleeping on towels to try and avoid changing the bed linens every morning.
2. Your hair will start falling out in giant chunks. The shower drain looks like a hair massacre every morning.
3. If you decide to nurse, you will have crazy sore nipples for at least a week or two. Don't believe the lactation consultants who tell you that if the latch is right it won't hurt. That kind of abuse is going to hurt. Period.
4. Newborns are really easy. You won't believe this when you have one of your own, but seriously, wait until you have a toddler and newborn and you will realize just how easy a newborn is.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I found out today that I have been accepted to nursing school for the fall! Woohoo for me! I am so relieved to have gotten into my first choice program. Now I don't have to worry about applying to the other programs or potentially having to wait another year.

Now I have get a drug test and pay the school some more money for registration and a background check. The fun will really start next summer when I start looking for a place to send the boys 3 days a week. There is also a 2-3 week summer session that is and orientation to the hospital/nurses aide program. Anyone want to volunteer to come watch the boys for a few weeks this summer?

Having F really reinvigorated me to start the nursing program. I got to see a whole spectrum of nurses during the 2 days I was at the hospital. I met some really outstanding nurses and some nurses I wouldn't want again. Here I go!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


There is something fundamentally broken about our healthcare system. I had about as low-intervention birth as it's possible to have. I had two bags of saline and one bag of antibiotics. I had no drugs, catheters, epidurals, surgeries or special monitoring. F spent no time in the special care nursery, didn't have a circumcision, and had no special monitoring. We were discharged less than 48 hours after I gave birth. The hospital billed our insurance over $23,000 (so far) for this. Our insurance paid about $5300. They are saying we owe $1300 out of pocket. Was it a gold-plated IV stand? Ooooh, wait, they did give me 2 Motrin and an iron pill. That must've been it.

Stuff I don't understand:
  • How my crazy low-intervention birth could cost $23,000.
  • Why it's OK that the insurance company only pays $5300. (For those of you playing along at home, that's about 25% of the billed amount).
  • Why we pay so much in insurance premiums every year only to owe thousands more out of pocket.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

So today I turn 30. Woo. It's really anticlimactic, what with the new baby and everything. The good news is I don't have time to feel bad about turning 30. We're going to have a quiet day here, since T has been feeling under the weather and I'm not quite ready to take F out into the big bad world. My hubby got me a wonderful present.Aren't they beautiful? Rings are one of the few items of jewelry I actually wear every day. I have a feeling these won't spend much time in the box.

Baby F Update

Yesterday baby F had his first doctor's appointment. He's doing great! He weighed 7 pounds 2.5 ounces, which is great since they generally give babies 2 weeks to regain their birth weight. Our little eater did it in 5 days. Go team!

He's doing well, sleeping like a newborn, and being adorable. See?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Pain with a Purpose: Finley's Birth

Warning: You may want to skip this post if birth stories weird you out or you don't want to think about me in the situations I'm going to talk about. I realize this post may not be for everyone, but it's a story I want to document because it was so wonderful. Also, I don't feel like there are enough positive birth stories out there. When women get together and swap, it's always a horror-fest. I have attempted to keep things as tame as possible, but I just gave birth. It's messy.

Wednesday evening around 5 pm I was sitting on the couch with T when I felt a now-familiar pressure pop. I had just talked to Ry, who was on his way home from work. He was planning on running an errand before heading to the house. I scooted into the bathroom, and sure enough, saw the telltale pinkish amniotic fluid that said my water had just broken. I called Ry back and told him that he probably ought to come straight home rather than run his errand.

Then, I called my midwife and my girlfriend (who was going to watch T for the evening). I started gathering last minute items for T and myself: extra "special toys" and underwear for T, final toiletries for me. My midwife called back and told me that since my Group B Strep test* was positive, I needed to head into the hospital sooner rather than later. When Ry got home, I headed for the shower. My contractions started around 5:30 and were 5 or 6 minutes apart.

My girlfriend arrived shortly to collect T. He was super excited to spend the night with Q and have a new brother soon. Ry and I finished gathering the stuff we needed, and by the time we left the house around 6 my contractions were only 2-3 minutes apart.

It must've been a slow night on Labor & Delivery, because when I walked in, the triage nurse said "J?" We got checked in (through a few contractions) and escorted into the labor room. They started the required 20 minutes of fetal monitoring, started my IV, and went through the battery of questions. My contractions were getting much stronger and closer together as my midwife walked in the room to check my dilation. I was 4 centimeters around 6:15 pm. By the time my 20 minutes was over, I was dying to get out of the bed.

Then I knew I needed to hit the bathroom. I spent the next hour laboring on the toilet. Everything in me needed to come out, including the chili and watermelon I'd had as a snack around 4. Even now, 5 days later, I still can't look a watermelon in the face. I told the nurse I needed to throw up and she gave me this darling little kidney-shaped bowl. It probably held 12 ounces. I looked at Ry and said "that's not going to cut it!" He found a basin, and it's good thing he did or he'd have been wearing watermelon and chili.

At 7, the nurses changed shifts, so I got a new nurse. She came to hang out in the bathroom with me and Ry. I think I remember saying something to Ry and the nurse about there being nothing like a party on the toilet. Around 7:00, I needed to move again, so I left the bathroom, got on the bed, buried my head in the pillow and proceeded to "ahhh, weeee, oooohhhh, and haaaaa" through the next 30 minutes.

Then I started to feel "pushy." For those of you who have never had a baby (or talked to someone who has), it feels like you need to have a BM. My midwife checked me again, and I had gone from 4 centimeters to "almost 10" in just over an hour. I remember the midwife telling me that if I felt the need to push, I should just listen to my body.

To be honest with you, I have no idea who was in the room that last hour. Ry tells me it was him, the midwife, my nurse and the baby nurse. All I remember was the incredible pain, and then the incredible relief of pushing. I'm not going to lie, it was nearly the worst pain of my life, but it felt so good to be able to do something with the pain. Why wasn't it the worst? The end of my labor with T was worse because I wasn't in charge of the pain. Huh? Lemme 'splain. With T, I was epiduraled and hooked up every which way. Towards the end T's heartbeat started showing some troubling decelerations. The doctor ended up using a vacuum to pull him out. The agony of having a baby pulled from you is something I hope you never experience.

This time, with every contraction I pushed. I was able to focus the pain, do something with the pain and, most importantly, be in charge of the pain. I decided how hard and how long to push. I remember someone telling me to not be afraid of the pain when Finley started to crown. That was what I needed to hear. I remember saying that I thought I was going to split in two. Someone assured me that wasn't the case. I remember someone putting a hot towel on my back and asking them to take it off. They did. Most of all, I remember the absolute euphoria I felt when Finley was born at 8:26 pm. All of a sudden the pain was gone. I turned around and they put my sweet little boy in my arms, rubbing him dry. I felt like I had just run a marathon. I was exhausted, but I felt great.

After a few minutes, they took Finley to measure him, warm him up and do all the new baby stuff. The atmosphere in the room was serene as Ry talked to Finley and my midwife stitched my minor tear (which probably only occurred because of the tear/episiotomy during T's delivery). She delivered the placenta, which is a really brilliant color of blue on the baby's side. And then they handed Finley back to me, where he snuggled in and nursed for 45 minutes, all before he was 30 minutes old.

I was up on my feet within the hour. My recovery has been swift. I have never felt more alive than I did in the moments after Finley was born.

In the long run, I suppose it doesn't really matter how your baby is born. I know that this experience was an intense, amazing experience and I will be forever grateful to have had it. It won't change my relationship with my boys, but it does change my relationship with myself. The highly medical model of childbirth tells women that their bodies are insufficient, incomplete, and even broken. I feel like a warrior. Should you get the opportunity, I highly recommend it.

*Group B Strep is a bacterium that is part of a woman's normal flora. About 10-40% of women carry it at any given time and it is generally nothing to be concerned about. It can, however, get into a newborn's system during birth and cause pneumonia, respiratory illness and other yucky stuff. Being treated with IV antibiotics during labor lowers the risk of illness for the baby from 1 in 200 to about 1 in 4000.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Hospital Talk

As grateful as I am for the existence of hospitals, every time I've been in one, I'm chomping at the bit to be released. As anyone who has spent time in a hospital knows, they are about the worst place in the world to get any rest. Every time I fell asleep, someone would come in to poke me or the baby, talk to me about my/his diet, ask me to sign something or check my temperature. By the time I was released Friday, I was asking our nurse every time I saw her if we got to go home yet.

My short stay did make for a few interesting conversations, however. The first was with the nurse who attended F's birth. She told me that she had worked in the maternity department for 3 and half years, and had never seen a natural birth. She went on and on about how much better I and the baby were doing than normal and how calm the atmosphere was during the delivery (calm was not how I remembered it, but more about that later). I find it kind of a sad commentary on NJ in general and this hospital in particular that you can work in a maternity ward for over 3 years and not witness an unmedicated birth. The C-section rate at the hospital is over 40%.

The nurses also kept trying to circumcise F. Every couple hours it seemed someone would stop in and ask us if we were having him circumcised. The day we were due to go home, one of the OBs stopped in and asked. I told him that nope, we weren't interested. "Oh," he said, "the nurses lied to me!" Then he came over to me and said "give me a fist bump!" Confused, I did it. Then he explained that circumcision was a very American, social custom. He explained that most of the world didn't circumcise and that a slightly lower risk of HIV was the only medical reason to consider it. It was nice to have a doctor reinforce our decision.

My whole experience over the past several days has reinforced my choice of career path. While I think it'll be difficult to work in such a highly medicalized atmosphere (labor and delivery, not hospitals in general), I hope to help women make the decisions that are right for them and their babies.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Proudly Announcing

It is with great pride that we announce Finley George Thomas, born November 4, 2009 at 8:26 pm. 7 pounds, 3 ounces. 20 inches long.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Holding on and creeping up

We have a bit of a perfect storm brewing right now. I have 3 families who have agreed to watch T should the baby come before my mom gets here on Sunday evening. One of them is out of town until late Friday and the other two will be out of town this weekend. I've enlisted another friend, who can hopefully be available should I go into labor Friday. Friday also happens to be the only day that the hospital has no midwife coverage (one of the doctors would have to deliver me). Given all that, it's almost guaranteed that I'll go into labor on Friday.

I had a midwife appointment this morning and have progressed no further than I was two and a half weeks ago. That really doesn't mean anything in the great scheme of things, I could still go into labor tonight. I also gained another 3 pounds this week (despite the fact that I am eating less each week as the baby squeezes my stomach into my cardiac cavity). The midwives aren't concerned and seem to think it's water weight. The good news is that V.2 looks good, sounds good, and still seems to be quite happy to stay put for the time being. Chant with me folks, "Monday, Monday, Monday, Monday." Stay tuned, I'm 39 weeks tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

So proud to live in NJ

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2009 - Vote or Keep Going About Your Day
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis
Skip ahead to 2:35 for the NJ election discussion. Just another reason I'm proud to live in Jersey. How do I feel about today's election? That would be a resounding "meh".

Monday, November 02, 2009

Happy Autumn!

It's finally beginning to look and feel like fall here on the east coast. We're consistently having temps in the 50s (although Halloween day was 70+). I think fall is my favorite time of year. There is just something so satisfying about putting on a sweater, hearing the crunch of the leaves beneath your feet, and making big pots of soup. I hope you are all having as gorgeous an autumn day as we are.

And here's the answer

A few days ago, I asked you what my darling little man was doing in this post. All of your answers make more sense than what he was actually doing.

We have no idea why this was so much fun, but he did it for 20 minutes. First he sang the ABCs, then Twinkle Twinkle. I believe this is "Cheese, Cheese" for the camera. He ran so long and so fast that he exhausted himself. Kids are weird.

As a side note, we've uploaded some new videos to youtube on Ry's channel. You can see all the T videos here.
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