Since I only seem capable of writing about once a season, I’ll continue the metaphor.  I’ve been yearning for spring for many months and it’s finally here.  Spring is when our lives were going to get a little easier and that has so far been true.  This week marks six weeks since Fern’s back surgery.  Surgery.  We didn’t plan it but we’re so thankful she had it.  As I mentioned in last quarter‘s post, several weeks after Clover was born Fern started getting severe back and leg pain from a herniated (it turns out) disc and sciatica.  She experienced some relief in January after a cortisone injection but the pain came back one Friday in February and it was horrific: completely debilitating.  Fern literally couldn’t stand up.  She crawled around our house that weekend and early the next week.  She started back on pain meds and they did nothing.  She got another cortisone injection and it actually made things worse.  She got a pain shot at the doctor and it did nothing. Finally on Tuesday evening we dropped the kids off at a friends (I thought I’d be back for them by bedtime…) and I drove Fern to the ER.  To even get to the car from our house was an ordeal – she basically had to crawl through the snow.  At the ER they gave her morphine and valium through an IV and it helped only enough to allow her to lie down (she had previously only been able to tolerate being on all fours and sometimes her side) and sleep.  While that was helpful it wasn’t sustainable.  They admitted her so she could stay on the drugs overnight since she still couldn’t even stand up and in the morning she had a surgery consult and by that afternoon was in back surgery (the kids spent that night with our amazing friend who cared for them both along with her son).

The benefit of having surgery for a herniated disc is that the back pain is 100% cured as soon as surgery is over (at least if it goes well).  Surgery is not for everyone but it was an amazing cure in Fern’s case.  Our lives are so much different and better than during the early months with our new family of four when Fern was in the worst pain I’ve ever seen someone in.  There is still work to be done, though, and we just finished the six week recovery period that included no lifting anything over five pounds (hello kids), no bending and no twisting.  We’re lucky to have family that dropped everything and came into town to help during most of those six weeks.  It has been really hard on me to be the only one who can pick up the kids.  It’s been hard on Fern to be so limited in her parenting (though it did get easier after the first few weeks) and it’s been hard on Goldie because she is a two year old that loves to be carried.  But it’s spring now and I pray the worst of it is behind us and things will only continue getting better.

The other major, huge improvement in our lives is that Clover is nursing almost normally now.  At almost five months I was still pumping/bottle feeding about 75% of the time.  My deep (physical) wounds were able to heal on this schedule but every time things seemed to be going well and I’d try nursing exclusively for a few days, I’d end up with major pain and new damage.  My vasospasm pain was also off the charts and when I met with our LC (after a couple of months not seeing her) she said very plainly that if I wanted to nurse long term Clover would need another tongue surgery.  If I didn’t do that I’d have to continue pumping.  So we did.  Our plan was 1. get tongue fixed, 2. get on nifedipine for the vasospasms after the procedure.  It worked.  Not perfectly but it worked.  The nifedipine was amazing.  One 10 day course cleared up all but the occasional nerve pain and I am so relieved it’s better.  Every now and then I’ll have several painful days of nursing.  My nipples will be sore and the pain will get just shy of unmanageable. But so far all of these periods have resolved on their own and I hope that continues.  There’s no doubt that Clover is still tongue tied and he isn’t a great nurser but there is nothing more they can do without putting him under general anesthesia.  Also, I desperately want to avoid any more procedures – they’re traumatic and painful for C and costly and scary for us.  I can handle a little pain as long as it doesn’t get out of control again.  I’m hoping that as C gets older he’ll get better at nursing (right now he’s in a biting phase – possibly related to learning bad habits while tied, possibly related to teething – that I would like to see end).  Of course now that he can nurse, he’s away from me most days and I’m still pumping.  But our time together is much less angsty and I don’t have panic attacks before he nurses anymore.

As for me I’m doing better too.  I had post partum depression, I’m pretty sure.  It was absolutely made worse because of the nursing problems and Fern’s health but, no matter the cause, it was there.  I wasn’t myself.  I was sad and emotional but also angry.  I threw a toy stroller across the room when I tripped on it while trying to leave the house.  Nothing else was really the matter except that I was annoyed that I had to go to a doctor appointment with Clover because Fern’s back pain prevented her from being alone with him.  But somehow I went from zero to throwing Goldie’s (at the time) most precious toy (she wasn’t home luckily and I really don’t think I would have done it had she been).  I’ve never felt so much rage before that postpartum period – just constant, baseline anger – and it would have been scary if I wasn’t also feeling such ambivalence and sadness.  Fern encouraged me to try an antidepressant so after some stalling I started zoloft in January.  It hasn’t been night and day but the pressure has eased.  The drug, coupled with the breastfeeding improvements and Fern’s surgery have put me on much stronger footing.  I’m farther away from a really hard birth which I’m sure was a factor in my depression too.

All that updating and not a thing about the kids.  Quickly, Clover is about the happiest 6 month old you’ve ever seen.  He not just smiles but giggles regularly when he sees his family.  Or when he sees a shiny object.  He seems very carefree and it’s usually easy to turn any fussing into joyful laughter with some strategic tickling or dancing (he LOVES to watch us dance).  Especially after his early refluxy/newborn months of angst, this side of C is so wonderful to know.  He’s generally an easy-going, people-loving baby which is so much fun this time around.

Goldie is hilarious, precocious, energetic, creative and fun.  Her language amazes me daily and she’s recently gotten into “big” (24 piece) puzzles and building with magnatiles.  I love seeing her problem solve and getting to know her amazing personality.  She is very, very 2.5 – stubborn with a side of sass.  I can’t say parenting her is totally easy right now.  But even when she’s being defiant it’s often amazing and funny to see her mind work (ok, sometimes it’s just frustrating and rage-making, but when I’m better rested it’s amazing and funny).  I love seeing her explore the world, know and remember people and relationships, make real friends and turn into this extraordinary person.  She even sometimes sleeps through the night now (though certainly not every night).


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Winter now

I wrote a long, angsty post on my phone last week but it wouldn’t post to my blog for some reason. I decided it’s just as well because that post used too many words to say one thing: I can’t nurse our son normally and it’s making me depressed.

Clover has had four tongue tie clips. Four. And he is still tied. His tongue created deep, horrible “divots” in my nipples providing some of the worst pain of my life. I’m now in my third week of primarily pumping and bottle feeding with a couple nursing sessions a day so that my nipples can heal. But even with very limited nursing I can still tell things aren’t right. It still hurts. Luckily this pain is manageable but I don’t trust that it won’t get bad again. I am deeply worried that I won’t be able to nurse Clover long term. This reality is very hard for me to deal with and I’m often very panicked, anxious and sad.

I am so deep in this problem, it is consuming and I have no idea how to climb out. We have one of the best lactation consultants in the country and though she is still working with me and preaching hope I think she is out of ideas. Clover’s latch might improve as he grows. I think that’s about where we left things last. We just can’t imagine doing more to his mouth. So we wait.

I know some of you might tell me that it is ok to think about stopping and that he’ll still thrive on pumped milk or formula. I know it’s true but it isn’t what I want to hear now. Right now this just hurts. It hurts when he’s upset and tries so hard to latch onto my shirt, to burrow into my skin. It hurts when I have to pump and wash parts and pump over and over, day and night. It hurts when he wants comfort, not food, but I’ve nursed him too recently and my nipples are too sore to let him. It hurts when Goldie nurses away on Fern because I’m worried Clover and I will never get to such an easy, happy place before we have to stop. It breaks my heart. And it just hurts physically. After three months I thought I’d be past the gel pads and ointments. My breasts still hurt to the touch and have developed numbness. I seem to have nerve pain/vasospasms in addition to the pain of having holes in my nipples. It sucks a lot.

In addition to the breastfeeding problems our family has been struggling in other ways. Fern is in severe pain from a bulging disc and sciatica and has been almost totally out of commission over the last couple of months. Furthermore when she’s on pain meds they make her very nauseated and so she’s either in debilitating pain or sick. She can do only the bare minimum when it comes to the house, cooking, driving and childcare so we had a very sharp shift from Fern taking care of everyone and everything in late preg/early newborn days to her being able to do very little. I feel all consumed by the various breastfeeding dramas and so our house and any semblance of normal has gone completely out the window. We are lucky that friends have pitched in but, honestly, it feels like we can’t really ask anymore. We have called in so many favors it’s near impossible to keep asking. It is extremely hard to live far from family right now. It is hard to be so stuck.

Our lives feel impossible some days. But our kids are amazing. I feel sad that I can’t give either of them the attention and energy they need. Goldie especially feels our stress. I wish I was posting updates about all the changes and about life with two. But it feels like we can barely feed them and keep our heads above water so posting has fallen low on my list. Short update: G is articulate, stubborn, funny and sweet. She has many friends and loves her baby dolls A LOT. C is huge, goofy, and he often sleeps well (a small miracle that I can hardly believe and don’t like to say out loud). He can grab toys and hold his head up. They are both absolutely beautiful.


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Stop the Madness

I can’t tell you how many posts I’ve started/worked on in the last 2 months.  I am so sick of not writing on my blog that I’m going to break the ice with some micro updates.

  • Breastfeeding is damn hard.  It is much better than it was but not great yet.
    • Clover didn’t latch for two long, terrible, tear-filled weeks and then spent a week on the nipple shield before nursing on my breast directly.  Did I mention tear-filled?
    • Clover had three tongue tie clips (including one by laser a week ago) and we might finally be over the hump.
    • His poor latch (because of the tongue tie) injured my nipples repeatedly and caused a lot of pain.  A lot of pain.  I have a divot missing from my right side and it was basically an open sore for about 4 weeks.  The presence of this divot gave me huge anxiety about nursing on that side and sent me into middle of the night panics.  It also hurt an unbelievable amount for a while (then lessened to a manageable amount of horrible pain) and I would scream out in pain when Clover nursed.  Did I mention tear-filled?
    • I am blessed/cursed with an over supply of milk.  It’s a blessing because, despite a terrible latch, Clover is as fat as can be (and was gaining at the crazy rate of a pound a week for several weeks).  It’s a curse because Clover overeats and the volume and speed of the milk entering his mouth has (we think) caused  reflux and has led to a LOT of screaming (mostly Clover).
    • I feel 100% sure that breastfeeding will get better and even will become great.  We have a TON of wonderful support from lactation consultants, breastfeeding support group and friends.  But it is still a struggle and I still have pain and frustrations even at 2 months.  I never imagined this would be the case.
  • Reflux and screaming and sleep.
    • As I mentioned, Clover has reflux (we think) and he’s been on medication for about 3 weeks.  He started on Zantac and is now on Prilosec.  I honestly don’t know if it’s working because we’re dealing with so many variables.  We’re going to try to wean him off to see if he needs it but not yet.
    • Even though we put in an order for a calm, quiet baby, we got one who cries quite a bit.  Some times all day.  However, it really feels like if we can work out the tongue tie, oversupply and reflux he’s a happy, calm baby underneath.  Sometimes I feel really optimistic and upbeat about the screaming and sometimes I sink under its weight.
    • The one thing keeping me sane is that Clover doesn’t usually scream throughout the night.  He still cries at night but not like during the day.  And he seems to sleep for at least one longish stretch most nights.  Being able to be better rested than we were with Goldie is keeping me from losing my shit.
  • Goldie is amazing and challenging and amazing.
    • I love having a two year old.  By the way, we have a TWO YEAR OLD.  I love so much about this age.  G loves her brother.  But, man, parenting two is hard work and some days I feel like I do a mediocre job at best.  Goldie is mostly great with Clover but has been known to hit him and tear at his beautiful face quite hard when frustrated.  I can’t wait for days to come, though.  Once Clover is slightly more interesting and cries slightly less, I think these two will be amazing together.
  • I had a c-section
    • There is so much here but it all feels too close to touch right now.  I’d love to write about it sometime but I’m still sorting out my feelings on it.  It’s hard to process.  Sometimes it’s just a fact of my life and other times (usually when I”m alone in the car) it just tears me up.  My postpartum hormones have let up a little so I don’t cry on this daily anymore…but it’s holding steady deep inside me and I need to work through it some day.
  • Joy
    • Despite any and all of the challenges I described above, Clover is amazing and we are deeply in love.  He is a beautiful person and his smile is the most uplifting thing I can imagine right now.
    • I love throwing “my kids” into a sentence.  Two is beautiful

And now to bed I go without proof reading this or anything!


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Broken Heat/Coming Home

I wrote this yesterday and never found the time to finish or post it.  But I want to post it now so I can remember how that day felt.  For the record, today was a much better day.  More on that soon…


After a short post c-section stay we arrived home from the hospital yesterday to a new season.  We left relentless summer behind and replaced the 90 degree heat and pounding sun with cool air and pounding rain.  You probably heard about our state in the news last week.  Clover’s birthday was a day of unprecedented flooding in the cities and towns.  The summer didn’t just fade away but was replaced almost overnight by a new season as they cut our baby boy out of me.  I only knew that it was raining outside and had no idea about the chaos.

We were so excited to come home yesterday, to be released early for passing all the tests, but it was hard to come home.  Our house was frozen mid-home birth.  The first meconium specks that leaked out of me stain our kitchen rug, the half deflated birth pool that I labored in for many hours fills our bathtub.  Soup for strength during labor sits in a pot on the stove.  What had been so hot and full of hope is now empty.  The messy, excited chaos of labor is now only a mess.

My milk hasn’t come in and our beautiful boy can’t latch yet.  Our lactation consultant said he’ll learn once I have more milk.  So I pump and pump and we feed him Fern’s milk from a syringe and I do skin to skin and try to gently coax him onto my breast.  But the pump takes me back to the worst contractions at home when we were inducing and to waves of anger and regret that anyone could guess would have surfaced after such a rapid season change.

I’m absolutely amazed at how quickly we can start a new life.  When I look into our 3 day old’s beautiful face I can’t remember not knowing it.  When I look at pictures of my pregnant belly and our family of 3 from only a week ago it feels distant and old.  Even though this life is brand new, the transition here was long.

I miss the hospital – the safe, middle highway between the two roads.  There were no seasons there, no true darkness, no need without some measure of fulfillment.  The hospital was limbo that held me together.  The first days home show the shadows and the light and I have to reconcile the pain at my incision and stitches with the evidence of our almost birth here at home.

It’s day three postpartum so I’m riding the inevitable hormone swoops.  I know I’m vulnerable and prone to tears, lots and lots of tears.  I’m in different pain than I’d thought I’d be and I’m very frustrated by the limitations of my body and all the evidence of what could have been.


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Clover is here!

I’ve got a beautiful, perfect, outrageously cute newborn in my arms. Our Clover was born 9/12/13 at 10:05 in seriously the most epic birthing experience I could have imagined. I’ll update more soon, but basically I started prodromal labor almost exactly 1 week before his birth including home inductions that spun me into crazy contractions and many sleepless nights. Then “real” labor on 9/11 after lunch and came SO close to a home/water birth early morning on the 12th after laboring hard for 12 hours at home. But we had to transfer to the hospital for meconium. I ended up with a c section after laboring on no sleep (literally none the night before but also next to none on the prior 5 nights) at the hospital for 14 hours. Some of those hospital contractions were among the hardest things I’ve ever done. Seriously I can’t believe how many huge contractions I came through on so little sleep.

A c-section wasn’t what we wanted at all but right now I feel very proud of how I did in all stages of this labor. I might go through some regrets and sad feelings about aspects of this birth but right now I feel like a rock star – a very sore, tired, unwashed, depleted, hungry, happy rock star. And our son is so perfect.

Pictures and hopefully a full birth story to come when we find our footing.


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Prodromal Labor

I have been in prodromal/false/practice labor since Friday.  It has been an incredibly hard 5 days full of natural inductions, sleepless nights, multiple days and nights away from Goldie, real pain, real vomit and so many frustrations and tears.  I have tried to get labor going based on the constant contractions I was having starting last Friday.  I’ve gotten to several hours-long patterns of 3 min apart, hard contractions.  I’ve done acupuncture, castor oil, herbs and pumping and sent my body into overdrive.  But nothing is taking.  We’re now on day 6 and I’m simply not in labor.   I’ve hit some major lows and feel like I’ve been sending my body contradictory signals.  I want so desperately to have this baby but I feel so angry that my body is doing this.

It’s a surreal place to be.  I miss my daughter and I want to start our life as a family of four.  I was mentally prepared to go a week or so overdue but not for that week to be full of unproductive labor.  Now I feel like I’m more afraid of labor than I was and I’m sending my body so many mixed signals.  I want nothing more than for the contractions to leave me alone.  And yet I want more than that to have the real contractions that dilate my cervix and allow this baby to be born.

The silver lining is that Goldie has been doing amazingly well staying with friends (apparently she sleeps through the night and naps on command when she’s in the company of others) and we got to have her back yesterday evening and night when we decided to stop trying to induce for now.  But I feel terrible that it’s so confusing for her – we told her she’d be meeting her baby brother soon and that was days ago.  And I feel guilty that my family isn’t together while I labor and get no where.


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