Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Back in the saddle

I think I'm ready for this.

After a baby, big move, a job change, having my second (!!!) son, and signing back up for school I'm finally ready to get back into banded life and get healthier. 4 years ago I was weighing in at 197 lbs after 2 years being banded. Now, I'm back up to 250 lbs after having babies (whoever said breastfeeding made you lose weight was a LIAR) and falling back into old, bad habits. Bad habits suck. Cravings are awful. Head hunger is my worst enemy. Finding the time and motivation to work out with kids is laughable...but I have to try.

My husband wants to try too, so we are going to attempt (again) to do it together. We worked out yesterday. This was the first workout I've done in over 2 years. I felt lost and nervous, but it felt good. I felt like I was accomplishing something. I haven't felt accomplished in a long time. I'm walking like a zombie because of it but no pain, no gain I suppose. (Maybe not as many squats next time though.)

I'm ready to do this.

I am scheduled for a fill at the end of next month. I have 4 weeks to start getting my eating habits in check and to get back into following the rules of the lap band. I've been eating too much, too fast and it shows. Not only am I not losing weight, I get stuck daily because I'm not paying attention to how small my bites are and how quickly I'm eating. I'm keeping track of that now to hold myself accountable and show my husband I have the control to NOT get stuck all the time.

The countdown to July 25th has begun! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Life happens.

Hello world, Erin here. Life happened...sorry! Lots of things have gone on since my last post. We moved back to Muncie in April and Xander had his first birthday just last month! And I got my first fill under fluoroscopy just yesterday.  Let's recap all those things now, shall we?

Xander is officially a toddler! He just had his first birthday on May 13th and I really cannot believe how fast this year has gone. My life seemed to go by pretty quickly anyway, but now that I have a child it seems even faster! (Of course, there are some days when I think that one day will never end.) Xander had lots of fun at his party and LOVED his cake. It was also adorable and I will have pics down here somewhere. 

My little man is pretty awesome. He has 4 teeth on top and 4 on bottom now, he walks, runs, hobbles like a zombie, but thankfully does not climb on furniture yet (although he does enjoy climbing on his daddy when Chris is laying/sitting on the floor). He says mum and dada, duh (I think he is trying to say dog), and gee (for our dog Gizmo). He also has started trying to sing with us, but he's really just making noise. He gives kisses (open-mouthed of course), clicks his tongue, and claps and waves (at inappropriate times). He also will do "so big" and raise his arms up as far as he can...all the time! It's pretty adorable.

We are currently dealing with stereotypical toddler issues... learning what "no" means but not caring, testing boundaries, throwing toys and smacking things, oh and throwing food instead of eating it (which is kind of the most annoying thing ever). He just got over his second cold ever and this one lasted a full week and ruined all the progress we had made with Xander eating new things and just eating at all. He has lived off of formula (which we are phasing out when we run out of this last can), toast and bananas, and cheese and crackers for the last week. I cannot explain the frustration I feel knowing my child isn't eating what I know he needs to eat when he was doing so well before. Now that Xander is finally feeling better though, Chris and I are going to bite the bullet, throw a towel on the floor, and just let him go nuts on any food we give him so he will at least put something edible in his mouth that is not cheese or crackers. Also, babies with colds is the worst thing ever. They don't understand why they feel this way, they don't understand why you keep attacking them with that scary thing you stick up their nose, and for the love of dog STOP WIPING MY NOSE. And they don't know that you don't want to do it and feel terrible and crying just makes your stuffy nose worse kid!!! Ugh. So glad last week is over.

Our recent triumph is Xander has started to drink out of his transition sippy cup! It's more like a bottle at this point, but the nipple changes to something more sippy cup-like. I cannot tell you how glad I will be when this is complete. I will probably be a little sad too, but it's a good step that means NO MORE WASHING BOTTLES. Hallelujah! 

Chris is still watching him while I work and then he works (also in Indy) on the weekends and I am home. Yes, it sucks as much as it sounds. I'm still working my Indy job and driving an hour to and from work every day is WHOA getting old and such a major waste of gas. Yes, I am looking for a local job but I have salary requirements that are not always easy to meet in Muncie's job market. Until then, I will continue my commute and continue being grumpy about it. 

Here are some recent pics of Xander...the ones with cake are from his birthday (obviously)
Birthday Blues Brother's suit!

Memorial Day cookout

Oooo cake!


My mini James Dean

Baby-wearing at the bookstore
Daddy and Xander people-watching at DD

Other than my adorable baby and awesome SAHD of a Husband, my life has been really...stressful. We found a house we loved in Muncie and started the buying process shortly after my last post. The closing date for our house was pushed back about 3 times and the last time it was pushed back it was ONE DAY before closing. A form wasn't turned in or signed like it was supposed to be but somehow it got all the way to the top before they threw it back at the bank. This meant all the planning for a rental truck, manual labor help, days off work...worthless. Thankfully, the bank realized how much they screwed me and paid for a moving company to help us (best idea ever, btw) and gave us a little extra for groceries! We didn't end up closing until April 7th. My birthday was April 8, and we moved on April 9. I do not recommend this. It worked out in the end though. The movers were amazing and fast and got a good tip from us for being so awesome, and I didn't have to burden any friends of family with moving all my crap.

Our house is exactly what we needed. Three bedrooms, one bath, living room, eat-in kitchen, washer and dryer, central air, big yard, garage. It's older and needs some repairs that we couldn't get the sellers to do (roof, update electrical) but it's nothing we can't handle with some planning and saving up and none of it is a dire need to fix right away situation. I won't lie, I'm stressed and worried about money and making ends meet...but I kind of always am so...whatever. (This is also another big reason I want to find a job locally...we are currently spending around $100/month for gas and I could pay bills with that money!) Xander also loves having carpet in the house and started walking as soon as he was free to wander around the floors!

Band land is...confusing. After my unfill, I got a very small fill in the beginning of April (did I mention that was a busy time for me?). It was 0.25cc. It really made no change in my eating or satiety. I haven't been paying attention to portion sizes or what I eat. It's mostly from stress. Taking care of a baby, working an hour away, and moving really has sucked all motivation from me. I'm struggling to think properly when it comes to band rules, my health, and my needs. I had this problem before too, but having a baby just adds someone else I devote my energy too and avoid taking care of myself. (This is also part of the issue I've been having with keeping up with my body love revolution...which is also kind of frozen in time because I am spread so thin already.)

Anyway, back to that appointment with the small fill. I mentioned to the nutritionist that I wasn't feeling full/satisfied but I was getting stuck regularly. She seemed a little concerned and suggested I ask to get my next fill under fluoroscopy to make sure everything is working properly. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, fluoroscopy is a gastric procedure where they do a fill while looking at my band and stomach with an x-ray machine while I drink a barium liquid that allows the doctor to see the fluid going into my stomach and through my band to make sure its all moving properly. I was a bit concerned that maybe my band had slipped a little or had a leak maybe which is why everything seemed to feel so different from the last time I remember this process. If something was wrong that would mean a whole new set of issues and decisions to make. On the other hand, if nothing was wrong then I really was just a really terrible bandster and needed a major wake-up call. 

Fast forward to yesterday...Turns out I'm a terrible bandster who needs a wake-up call. My mom watched Xander and Chris and I went to my doctor appointment. Chris got to watch everything on the screen as well and said he could see the (3-inch) needle get put into my port. Dr. Diaz gave me 1 cc of fluid and then they turned the bed thing I was laying on upright and I drank the barium solution and saw it go down my esophagus, get to my band, and the slowly ooze through about the size of a pinhole at a time. It also would reflux up a little into my esophagus (which I didn't feel). This means it was too tight....so he took out 0.5 cc and I took another drink. We watched the fluid go back down my esophagus and this time is pooled in my pouch (stomach) and slowly, but steadily went through my band. There was a bit of residual back flow of fluid but it went through shortly after. I knew how this worked but it was pretty cool to see it and feel it at the same time. Chris said it helped give him an idea of what was going on in there with me as well, so I think that was really helpful. 

This was also helpful for me because it really did show me that I am just blatantly not using the band the way it's supposed to be used, as a tool. You can't use a tool if you aren't even TRYING to do whatever it is you need that tool for, right? So, I am wiping the slate and following my rules like I'm a brand new bandster and Chris is committed to helping me stick by those rules. I had soup for lunch and yogurt for dinner last night. (I was really not prepared for my fill!) Today I've had yogurt, instant soup (instantly gross), and a protein shake. After a fill, its 48 hours of liquids, then I can move on to more substantial things. Thanks to the fill with fluoroscopy, I know that I should be in the green/optimum zone for my lap band and I really cannot push my boundaries now or I know I will pay dearly (stuck, slimming, puking, oh my!) So, I'm just going to pretend that I'm in the green for the first time ever, be appreciative and excited about this journey and try my best to not eat like crap because I have a million other things to do and worry about in my life. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A new perspective

So…apparently having a baby makes you a million times busier than anything else in the history of ever. Lots of things going on in my little family right now and I just happen to have a free moment to catch you up on some things!

My baby boy is doing amazing! He just turned 9 months last Thursday (February 13th). I still can’t really believe it! He’s still adorable and loves to flirt with the ladies when we are out. He smiles at everyone but acts shy when he wants to. He’s starting to pull himself up to stand (!), he babbles and screams and says ‘ba ba ba’ and ‘da da da’ and his laugh makes your heart sing. He sits up on his own, feeds himself his bottles, tries to crawl (as much as he can since we have hardwood floors that we don’t let him on because they are constantly dirty), and is starting to learn how to eat solid foods. He picks bits up and gets them to his mouth, but sometimes he forgets he’s supposed to swallow it and spits it back out. I cannot wait until this kid can feed himself food. It will be messy, but totally worth it. Gizmo (our dog) is already learning the benefits of a baby learning to eat on their own…it rains food! Needless to say, Gizmo is quickly becoming Xander’s kitchen buddy. Xander also loves to cruise in his walker. He just recently learned how to move forward in it and will ZOOM across the floor. Best to wear shoes around this one…he runs over toes!

Xander is also starting to show stranger acknowledgement. If someone is holding him and he sees us (Chris or myself), he wants us and us only! He also starts to get grumpy when one of us leaves. I am not looking forward to this more when he gets older and can ask me to stay home…That will break my heart! Thankfully his Daddy will be there to play with him and keep him happy. Chris and I are both so excited for what the future holds for us and our little guy. 

8 months
9 month check-up with Daddy

Superbowl outfit! 

Lap Band
On the band front, I did get my fill in December. I got 2 cc’s put in and it did just fine. I felt restriction but not enough that it changed my portions really. It slowed my eating down considerably. I am still re-learning small bites and slower eating. I got another fill a month later in January, but I had some issues with that. This whole house buying process has left me more stressed than ever…so stressed it makes my band really tight sometimes. On top of that, 2 days before my January fill, I got a case of gastroenteritis. Feel free to Google that if you aren’t sure what all it entails. Thanks to that, I actually threw up 3 times (pretty violently actually). This was the first time I’ve thrown up or gotten really sick since I got my lap band in May 2011. Needless to say, this sickness made me swell even more on top of the stress swelling. But, I really wanted that stupid fill. I had lost 9 pounds since December by that point, but I attributed some of that to the sickness and not eating for almost 3 days. I told my PA about my sickness and she told me I could have rescheduled but I didn’t want to wait (because I’m impatient like that). So she just gave me 0.5 cc. It felt okay at the time and I figured it would loosen up after I had completely recovered from my sickness. After this fill, it was talking me 1-2 hours to finish my meals. I was okay with this, as I could still eat and it was nothing like the last time I was too tight and felt miserable. Then, the chest pains started. The first time it was sudden and went away as fast as it showed up… a throbbing pain in my sternum. Then a week later the pain was back and it did not go away. It HURT and then it burned. Then I felt like I was going to throw up. I could feel my esophagus tighten and the tightening was moving up and up and up all the way until I would gag. It was a little scary. It hurt so bad, I had to stop what I was doing on concentrate on breathing. That was when I knew it was probably time for a small un-fill. I call my doctor’s office the next day and they told me to take Prilosec to help with the burning (reflux) and scheduled me to come in on Friday for an un-fill. By the time Friday rolled around, I hadn’t had any more chest pain and I was taking Prilosec every night. My PA took out that 0.5 cc she put in just 2 weeks ago and I felt better immediately. She told me to give my body some time to rest and recover from these fills/un-fills and to come back for my next scheduled appointment in March. Since then, I haven’t really paid attention to my weight. I really don’t think about weighing myself in the morning anymore because I wake up with a baby and immediately take care of him. By the time I think about weighing myself, it’s nighttime and I’m all swollen and puffy from sitting at a desk most of the day at work. So, I’m just going to let the doctor’s office keep track of that while I take care of my baby. And lately I’ve noticed I don’t FEEL hungry that often; I am just eating because it’s time to eat. I’m going to work on that. My biggest issue is eating out of boredom or because there is food around. I’m going to try to work on listening to my body and my hunger cues and see where that gets me.

My new look on life/new beginnings
My life has been a complete roller coaster of ups and downs so far this year. I almost bought a house, then it fell through at the last minute (Do not even MESS with houses in flood plains, for the love of everything) and I was totally deflated and at a really low, dark place…then our living situation completely changed overnight and that house falling through was actually a blessing in disguise. Chris and I have since decided to move back to Muncie…our friends are there, my mom is there, the houses are more affordable, and it’s really just a better place to raise a child in our opinion. We will both keep our jobs here and commute. (It’s only 10 more miles than I drive now anyway.) We are now in the process of buying a cute little starter home in Muncie in a great neighborhood. We both couldn’t be more excited and as soon as we decided to move back to Muncie, a huge wave of relief washed over both of us. We are still pretty stressed out just due to general ‘buying a house’ stressors, but I feel much more knowledgeable and prepared in this go-round. I also am a lot happier about this process than I was with the first one. This time it feels right. Hopefully, this is one of those gut feelings that means good things are finally coming my way. I really need a break from all of this drama.

On top of the house/living situation drama, I’ve had some revelations in terms of the way I see myself. When I got my first fill in December, I was telling my friend Kelly about it and she said something to me that didn’t really sink in until a month or so later. (Feel free to correct me if I paraphrase this wrong, Kelly.) She told me she was concerned that I was putting too much weight (no pun intended) on the lap band/losing weight instead of being happy with myself first. She wanted me to see myself in a positive light instead of constantly yearning for the perfect size/weight/etc. At the time, I assured her I wasn’t going to beat myself up if the weight didn’t fall off like it did before. I know my body is different and I really know that this is NOT going to be my main focus as it once was…at least not any time soon.

A few weeks after this conversation, I came upon this awesome blog post that had a fat girl posing with a small, tattooed male model in an anti-Abercrombie ad (because Abercrombie hates fat people, per their company president). You can see this article here.  Then I found the girl that was in those pictures had a blog of her own. It was about her struggle with body positivity and trying to break down the barriers that make being fat so taboo. She was doing a campaign called “Smash the Scale”. You can read about it here. That campaign had pictures of this woman, in all of her 5’2”, fat girl frame, along with a plethora of women of all sizes and shapes and colors literally smashing scales with sledge hammers. I loved the idea of the campaign, but more so, I saw these women of all sizes in short dresses and fishnets with combat boots, skinny jeans and leather jackets, swing dresses with their boobs out and proud with their war faces on and I had this epiphany: These women look AMAZING and empowered. They don’t care if society thinks they shouldn’t wear tight clothes or short dresses if you are over a size 12. They don’t care if people think their funky hair or crazy clothes are weird… So why do I constantly tell myself that I will wear fun and funky things like that, or do a pinup photo shoot with awesome vintage hair and make-up and a swing dress as soon as I get to my goal weight? Why the eff am I waiting to reach a certain weight to do the things I really want to do and wear what I really want to wear? I’ve always prided myself on being awesome (because I am) and different and a bit of a nonconformist, but I’ve recently realized how much my obsession (for lack of a better word) with my weight has really held me back from being the me I want to be.

It was that moment, looking at those pictures of all of those awesome women, that I realized the only person holding me back from being that awesome was me. No one is telling me I can’t dress that way but ME. I can say I know I’m awesome all I want to, but I always felt like a bit of a hypocrite saying it because I didn’t really FEEL like I was that awesome. So, I’m working on changing that. I’ve decided to finally throw out the majority of my wardrobe and start all over again. I have had the same clothes since I got out of high school and started working at Lane Bryant. I am way overdue for a new look. I have always loved the pinup/rockabilly style. I started doing research on it; the clothes, the hair, the make-up. It was pretty overwhelming at first, but I reminded myself that I don’t HAVE to do everything in a traditional way. That’s the whole point of being empowered and being yourself, right? BE YOURSELF. If I want to wear a swing dress with big hair and no make-up, who cares? If I want to wear bright red lipstick with skinny jeans and combat boots, THEN I WILL! I will take what I want from ALL of the styles I have always liked and make it my own. I’m 28 years old (almost 29…yikes!), I think it’s high time I developed a look that is all my own. My first step has already been completed… NEW HAIR. See pics below. 

In the midst of all of these life-changing, body empowering revelations, I came upon another amazing body-positive blogger. She is the girl in the ‘fat girl dancing’ videos flying around Facebook and the internet. She has a campaign she is about to launch called the No Body Shame Campaign. You can read about this here. She is another one of the women out there that help remind me that I don’t have to constantly focus on my weight and let it determine my happiness. And I don’t have to hold myself back from doing what I really want to do just because I think I’m too fat. Who am I too fat for? Not my husband, or my baby, or my family and friends…just me apparently. I’m too fat for myself. Well, that’s going to change damnit. I know it’s not going to be easy for me to try to change 20+ years of body shaming, self-loathing, and distorted thinking, but I am going to do my very best to try.

Now you may be asking yourself… so does this mean you aren’t going to try to lose weight now? What about your lap band? ALL THAT TIME AND MONEY WASTED? Well, yes, I think I am going to stop TRYING to lose weight. Instead, I am going to focus on being healthy and I am going to move more when I can, but I am not going to beat myself up if the weight doesn’t fall off. I am going to focus on my family, and my new home, and my job, and my happiness…not a number on the scale. I am going to LEARN to love myself at any size and be happy with who I am on the outside as much as I love myself on the inside (which I am also going to work on). I have wasted far too many years putting myself down because I didn’t look like I thought I was supposed to look like. I want to show my child that we are all different and that is awesome. I want him to grow up to love himself inside and out and I know that to teach him that, I have to be able to do it myself.  

Operation be as awesome as you are has started.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dusting off my lap band

Ahoy there! Well, since my last depressing post not much has changed!

I'm still fatter than I want to be. I'm still struggling with motivation. My baby is 6 months now and more adorable every day. He is sitting up almost unassisted, giggling, mumbling, screeching, rolling over and over, and is really just the light in my life right now. Life is hectic and busy to say the least. Oh, and we are looking to buy a new house. Yay for stress!

I stopped breastfeeding about a month ago because Xander didn't have the patience anymore. He had gotten to used to bottles and my supply had stalled terribly after pulling a muscle in my back. So...that means I'm cleared (by me) to get a fill! I have a couple small doctor bills to pay off still (well, and a big one but I'm making payments on that mother), but I figured by the time I actually GET a bill for this appointment, I should have those other ones paid off. I also really wanted to get in before the beginning of the year and everyone makes their New Years resolutions to get weight loss surgery. 

So, I called Dr. Diaz's office today and shockingly got scheduled for 2 weeks from today! December 4th is my fill date and I couldn't be more thrilled. I'm stalking the Lap Band Talk message boards again (which have since been renamed MyBariatricPal.com) to refresh my mind and get back into the small bites/small portions mindset. I don't think my first fill will do much in terms of restriction, but I'm hoping to get 1-2 cc's put back in. Before, we were going slowly due to swelling, but I'm hoping to speed that process a bit for billing purposes. I'm going to try to not get my hopes up though.

So here I am, starting all over again. I did it once, I can do it again. I'm just going to keep reminding myself that when I get frustrated, stuck, or really pissed that I can't eat french fries. I don't need you in my life french fries! Bugger off!

Just wanted to give you all a quick, more positive update. I will post baby pictures and new 'before' pics after my fill in December. I'm also going to try to get back to posting at least monthly here to keep myself on track! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Where's the follow-through, Erin?

Maybe I need to go back and read the beginning of my blog. Maybe somewhere in my words I can find where my motivation came from (as if I don’t know).  Maybe I can remember what it was like to have self-control and was able to say, “No thanks” on desserts, sweets, extra food, or anything at all.

I feeling a bit defeated today (ok, probably more like for the past month). My mind keeps going back to an article I read a long time ago on NerdFitness.com. It’s called “Are YouCollecting a Pile of Underpants? It has a funny analogy to go along with an episode from South Park, but the gist of it talks about gathering all of your information, getting totally prepared to do something life-changing and exciting, and then not following through with it. This is the story of my life right now (and has been in the past as well). As previously mentioned, I have a thing for doing research. What I haven’t really mentioned (nor had a problem with until recently) was that sometimes all that research leads to a giant pile of useless information.   

I’m just over 4 months postpartum. I’ve gone down just one clothing size, and I’ve lost (on a good day) only 20 pounds. I’m sure regular people see 20 pounds and say “But that’s great!” and it is, but when you gained 60 from being pregnant and lost almost 100 before that, it’s nothing. I’ve been researching workouts I can do in my office, clean-eating, the paleo diet, reading motivational articles on Nerd Fitness… I even signed up for a new program they are creating just for women to be notified when it comes out to test it. (If I can afford it.) But here I am… not walking stairs, buying mini candy bars at CVS on a whim, wanting and getting ice cream whenever and wherever I can. Failing at life is what I would call that. I’m failing (and flailing). I brought this on myself. I knew when I got pregnant (hell, I knew this when I was thinking about getting pregnant) that I would lose all self-control, go a little nuts, and struggle to find that center I had at one point. I saw this coming and yet I still did nothing. If I could kick my own ass, I probably would right now.

I feel very stuck and conflicted. I want to get a fill and get back into my groove of losing weight, but I’m afraid that getting a fill and reducing my calories will dwindle my already lack-luster milk supply. I’ve been half-assed trying to just control myself, but I’m quickly realizing that I got the lap-band for a reason. I have no self-control. I think this is also known as a food addiction. I have a food addiction. No, I don’t eat entire pizzas in the dark crying to myself about how fat and out of control I am. I just… can’t seem to control myself anymore. I can’t say “no”. Maybe deep down, I don’t want to…but then why do I feel so awful that I can’t find that place I was at before I got pregnant when I was losing weight and being awesome? (Don’t get me wrong – I’m still awesome.) Oh wait, I think that’s what addiction is (and guilt, let’s not forget guilt).

I want to breastfeed for at least 6 months, but I would prefer a year (even though really only breastfeed part-time, in the evenings/overnights/early mornings). What does that mean for my body? I’m not breastfeeding enough for the calories to ‘melt off’ at the rate I’m eating them, but I get hungry constantly. My weight has been steady for about 2 months. I make some good decisions, but I also make some bad ones. I don’t work out or do any real calorie-burning activities. The cravings I gave into during pregnancy have not left and have only increased...Chocolate, ice cream, carbs in general… stupid, stupid cravings. I almost had those under control at one point...almost. Now I have to start completely over and it’s been so long, I’ve forgotten how. Yeah, I know how to say no. I have all the tools and information you could ever freaking need to get started, but my motivation is hiding behind the what-ifs of my baby’s milk-supply.   

Don’t even get me started on the fear I have that my child will grow up with the same food/eating problems that I have. That’s a whole other guilt-ridden post.

So what do I do? Get a fill at 6 months and hope for the best? Wait until Xander self-weans and hope I don’t continue to get fatter? Cross my fingers? Shut my eyes and hope for the best? How do you choose who to put first when it comes to this sort of thing? How long do you put yourself second? Is it considered selfish to put yourself first too soon? Do I even care what other people think? (No, but I have enough mommy guilt already. I am my own worst enemy.)

Ugh. Wake up Erin. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you are starting from the VERY beginning. Do not. Just. Don’t. I don't even want to think about that possible situation.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm too fat for all these hurdles!

The first week with Chris home was a nice change. Now we both slept in the living room for the most part. Chris kept me fed and hydrated. He got me anything I needed. He propped my swollen feet up. He consoled the baby when I was too overwhelmed to do anything but cry. Xander seemed to always be hungry or grumpy or fussy. We got okayed to try gas drops but they didn't seem to help. We tried gripe water...still no real difference. I was scared to death that he had colic (I saw it as karma for being a difficult child). A couple days after our doctor visit, we met our home health nurse. She was a nice lady. She was very passionate about babies and breastfeeding. She checked me and Xander out. (I was super puffy in the feet and ankles...worse than when I was at the end of my pregnancy.) After filling out a bunch of paperwork and talking about the same stuff we talked to everyone about, she said she would see us next week.

The next week was the same. Feedings, fussiness, hardly no sleep, fussiness, feeding, swollen ankles, eating with one hand. The nurse noted that Xander had lost an ounce since she weighed him last. She got concerned. I told her I was breastfeeding every 2-3 hours and for 30 minutes plus on each side. She warned us that if he lost more next week, we may have to go to the doctor...or worse, the hospital. I got worried again. Please, please, not now! I just got my baby out of the hospital! What could be wrong now?

In the middle of all this, my best friend from California was coming to visit with her new husband. I tried to be as hospitable as I could. I geared up for leaving the house with my baby for the first time. All while Chris had to work (naturally). We went to restaurants. The first time didn't go so smoothly. We went to Steak N Shake and Xander was sleeping peacefully...once I was almost done eating, he woke up and was hungry. And he wanted to eat RIGHT NOW. So, I got to finagle a crying newborn baby onto my boob while hiding behind a blanket being held up by my husband (thankfully, Chris got to come to that meal). I'm sure it was amusing to anyone with a kid that understood and I'm sure it was annoying to everyone else. Chris and I took it in stride though. First time parent experiences are always the most stressful. The next day, we went to the Indiana State Museum. I got to use my Moby wrap for the first time ever and it was awesome! Xander was close to me and slept almost the entire time we were there. He didn't start to cry until we were leaving. Then he was hungry and wanted to eat RIGHT NOW, yet again...but alas we were driving. So he got to suck on my finger until we got home. Another new mommy stressful moment brought to you by hunger.

One of the few times he was swaddled

Milk coma

Moby wrap momma!

One night while eating dinner with Kelly and her husband and my mother-in-law, we got seated on the main walkway at one of our favorite family restaurants (a local diner ran by an awesome Greek family). This was a terrible idea as we were eating around the same time every old person in the planet eats dinner. For those of you that didn't know it, the senior community LOVES BABIES. Every single person that walked by went "Aww! LOOK AT THE BABY!" Which is fine. I will let you look at my newborn baby in passing and ask me how old he is, but a couple of these older ladies got a little creepy. One of them got a little too close in his face and I almost had a heart attack. Then, there was another lady who got so close I was afraid she was going to try to take him out of his car seat that he was sleeping in comfortably... She lingered so long (while I had my sandwich in my hand inches from my mouth - mind you) that her poor husband had to literally drag her away from us. Lesson learned...old ladies love babies.

After Kelly and her husband went back home to California, we got another visit from our home nurse. She brought a lactation consultant with her to make sure I was doing everything I could to help Xander gain weight. The lactation consultant watched me feed him and was very impressed with my breastfeeding skills (yay for nerdy research!) Unfortunately, Xander had lost yet another ounce. Then, the lactation consultant and the nurse said the words I was dreading for the last 2 weeks. Formula supplementation. They decided that I wasn't producing enough milk and that is why my baby was losing weight. Best guess, he was a sleepy eater and would fall asleep so soon after starting to feed that he wasn't taking in enough milk and was mostly just using me as a pacifier.

Conveniently, I had a package from Similac with a bottle and a can of sample formula. I cried as the lactation consultant helped me get it ready. Formula was the last thing I wanted my baby to have. I knew he had a rough start and I knew breast milk was the best thing for him and his little body right now...but it wasn't enough for my little guy. Looking back at pictures of this time, you can really tell how thin he got. At first, I thought it was just the IV fluids getting out of his system, but he did get very thin.

My hungry guy.

I, once again, felt defeated as a mother because I couldn't provide enough food for my baby. I cried as I gave him his first bottle, telling myself it was for the best and my baby needed it. Xander sucked that 2 oz bottle down so fast. My poor baby was starving. He threw half of it back up because he ate it so fast and I freaked out and cried more. Seeing your baby throw up is terrifying and stressful (and I still hate it, although it doesn't happen very often anymore). I cleaned him up and he went right to sleep. He was finally full and content and I was at a total loss. My mind was spinning. I fought the sadness I felt of not being able to provide my child the nutrition he needed.

This was another moment where the universe just kicked me in the ass and told me to stop trying to control every thing. Apparently, I wasn't listening before. I HEAR YOU NOW UNIVERSE. Xander had to go to the doctor that afternoon to verify the home nurse's decision. Our doctor agreed. Breastfeeding then formula feeding. I was scared to death the bottle would ruin his latch and I would fail completely at breastfeeding. I just remembered everything I had read about how formula was awful compared to breast milk and how much happier breast fed babies were. Now, I was one of those people I said I would never be*...but it wasn't by choice.

Xander's new feeding schedule changed him completely. He was suddenly a happy baby. When he was awake, he wasn't screaming. When he fell asleep, he would sleep in his bassinet until he was hungry again. When he was hungry, he did not scream bloody murder. We finally had a baby that really did just eat, sleep, and poop...and it was glorious. His latch, I'm happy to report, is still good. He had a bit of nipple confusion in the beginning and gets a little lazy from time to time, but it's nothing that I can't handle.

* I have nothing against people who feed their babies with formula! I know formula-fed babies are just as healthy, smart, happy as breastfed babies...I just saw it as a personal failure because I was so determined to exclusively breastfeed.


So, here we are, almost 3 months in. I'm back to work. (That day sucked! But I'm doing better!) I've learned a lot about myself and about life, I've been humbled by kindness, and I've had some realizations. I've learned that my nerdy research can be really bad for your sanity. Ultimately, all of these hurdles that Xander faced turned me into The Girl Who Knew Too Much. My over-abundance of education on all of these little things, while seeming like a good idea at the time to be prepared, ended up causing me a lot of anxiety. I learned all of these possible scenarios, then picked the one I wanted and the one I absolutely did not want...then I got the one I absolutely did not want and ended up feeling like a failure. Thankfully, I don't really have time to do a ton of research on the little things anymore. Don't get me wrong, I will still look something up if I question something, but I take it all with a a grain of salt. I remind myself that just because something is thought to be the best way, does not mean doing it differently is the end of the world or wrong by any means. It's just different. As long as my baby is happy and healthy in the long-run, then I'm okay with that.

I've also learned how little sleep I can function on. Where I used to NEED 8-9 hours a night, I am THRILLED to get 4-5 now. I've learned a smile from my little guy melts my heart and makes me forget how exhausted I am. His coos and giggles mesmerize me. Every time he does something new I am amazed. It blows my mind when I realize he is experiencing things and doing things for the first time ever. He is the first thing I think about when I wake up (aside from "What time is it?") and the last thing I think about when I go to bed (aside from "Please sleep until 5:30!"). I have never felt so many emotions at once before I had him. I am so thankful for everything and everyone in my life right now. My husband is an amazing dad. He watches him while I'm at work. He is hands on, and Xander smiles at the mere sound of his voice. It melts my heart (and makes me a little jealous). I am truly happy. Broke and fat (only down 20 of the 60 lbs I gained during pregnancy), but happy. Once Xander hits 3 months on August 13th, I will be getting back on the bandwagon. I haven't decided how all that is going to go yet (in terms of when to get a fill and whatnot), but I will let you all know when I figure it out.

And that ladies and gents, the final installment of "life with a baby....so far"

Enjoying fresh air!

Smiling for Daddy

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The last thing a new mom wants to hear...

So we arrived at our postpartum room, happy to get settled and finally sleep. We had to get a cot for Chris because the chair-bed was broken horribly. That took about an hour or more. I don't really remember because I was way out of it and holding our new baby.

Once Chris was settled, Xander was asleep at my breast, and we thought it would be a good time to try to sleep (since I kept falling asleep anyway). But of course, as soon as I would put baby Xander into his bassinet he would wake up and cry. So I would pick him up and he would cry and cry until he was back on my breast. Then he would fall asleep either using me as a pacifier or just lying next to me, still in a breastfeeding "football" position (off to my side with his feet towards my back). This went on all night. Chris and I were terrified to fall asleep with him in bed with me. My nipples were getting really raw and sore. Chris would try to take him and soothe him. We were determined to not use a pacifier. All 3 of us cried at one point or another in pure frustration. I knew my baby was tired, but he wouldn't sleep anywhere but on my boob. This of course made me think a million things at once. Can we handle this? Will it always be like this? Does he have colic? Is it gas? What am I doing wrong?! You know, typical first time parent freak-outs.

Around 8 am the next morning, a doctor came in to check on Xander. The nurse that checked on us the night before noticed he was still breathing a bit fast when she took his stats.The doctor said he seemed okay, he was just breathing a little fast. He didn't seem super concerned, so neither were we. I ordered breakfast after that - ready for visitors and a full day of no sleep again. My mother-in-law came and kept Xander company for a while and let me sleep for an hour or 2 and Chris went home for the first time in 3 days to shower and change his clothes. We had more visitors that day. My dad and step-mom and my sister all came to see us. The woman who was encapsulating my placenta also came.

Baby: Day 1
I think they might have taken Xander at some point to do a test or two. I really can't remember. What I do remember, is that night. It was another awful night of no sleep and a crying baby unless he was on my boob. Chris and I were both just at a loss. The lovely nurse working that night even tried to calm him so I could sleep. He did not want to be anywhere but next to me. The nurse took him to do his hearing test overnight and she said as soon as he left the room, he was a sleep. You have got to be kidding me! I was at a loss. By 5 or 6 am, I was a hot mess, crying, and utterly exhausted. The nurse offered to take him to the nursery to sleep and so we could sleep. I cried again, I wanted to sleep but I didn't want leave my baby alone. I finally, tearfully, agreed to let her take him for a couple hours so I could sleep a little. I have never felt so guilty in my life as I did when they rolled him out of there.

A couple hours later, the doctor that checked him out the previous morning came in. I can't remember if he woke me up or not. He told Chris and I that Xander's breathing had still not improved and he was growing concerned that he had swallowed some of the meconium in his fluid when he came out. He also speculated that it might have been because of my only 20 minutes of pushing, he may not have had sufficient compression of his lungs to push all the fluid out. Either way, he told me he sent my baby to the NICU for some tests. My heart broke into a million tiny pieces. The doctor said he was okay, but he wanted to be safe. He said a nurse would tell us when we could go see him and my heart broke into a million more tiny pieces.

As soon as he left, I started to bawl. The guilt I felt this morning for letting him to go the nursery to sleep had just quadrupled because now my baby was in the NICU and I wasn't there to comfort him, to say goodbye, to say I loved him...nothing. I felt utterly lost and helpless. I cannot imagine what other people who have babies in the NICU for more serious reasons go through because I was dying inside. The nurse on the shift change came in to talk to us and comfort us. She was very sweet and helpful. Every hour, we called the nurse to ask her what was going on and when we could see Xander. They got me a breast pump because they knew I did not want him on formula. We had to wait 3-4 agonizing hours before we could go see our baby. I was still shaky on my feet, so Chris wheeled me into the NICU. I cried the entire way there.

Then, I saw my little baby. Under a warming...thing, in only a diaper, with oxygen on and an IV in his little arm, sleeping. (I found out later that his IV fluids had some type of nutritional value in it that made him not hungry.) Chris and I were both a mess. I didn't know how much more I could handle at this point. We met the NICU doctor, a nice man from Africa, who's name I still cannot spell or pronounce. He said Xander's x-rays did show a bit of fluid still in his lungs. They had to start antibiotics immediately. The NICU team was truly amazing. They were very sympathetic and reassuring. They said we could come and go whenever we wanted. We could have 3 visitors at a time. Honestly, this entire day is a bit of blur still. It all seemed to happen so fast and not seem real. My baby was fine just yesterday and now I am a NICU parent. How does that happen?

We went back to our room because I needed to eat and learn how to use my breast pump. Even though Xander didn't need to eat right now, they wanted me to get my milk to come in so I could feed him. I told my family and friends what was going on. I asked my mom to come because I needed her terribly. I asked other people to not come until we knew more of what was going on. I also found out that even though I would be discharged on Wednesday, they got a complimentary NICU parent room for me so I could say in the hospital for as long as Xander was there (unless someone with a more serious problem came). This was a true blessing! I didn't have to go home and worry about my baby. If i wanted to see him, I could just walk down the hall. I will be forever grateful for Methodist Hospital for the amazing hospitality during the entire time I was there.

Later that day, they agreed to let me do skin to skin and breastfeed. They turned down Xander's IV fluids so he would be awake and hungry enough to eat. Seeing him in his little incubator with an IV line in his arm and oxygen on his face was the most upsetting thing I have ever experienced in my life. It breaks my heart over and over again every time I think about it. I tried my best to keep it together, but I still cried constantly. Guilt, sadness, fear, pain, emptiness - I felt it all...all at once. But when they put him on my chest and buttoned my shirt around him, I cried again - this time out of happiness. I finally felt complete again. I had my baby in my arms. I ignored the stupid cords and wires and tried to be okay with the oxygen smushed on his little face and I just enjoyed my baby.

This is the best feeling ever.

So. NICU plan. Since they were letting me breastfeed, I would come ever 2-4 hours to feed him or the nurses would call me if he was hungry and I wasn't there. They all knew I did not want him to have a pacifier except for when doing things that hurt him (needle sticks, etc.). By the next day, his breathing was already improved and he got the okay to take off his oxygen. He still had to get another 24 hours of his antibiotics though. Now that he was a NICU baby, he had to reach certain milestones before he could go home. Steady oxygen levels, all of his medicine, eating so much a day, peeing and pooing so much a day. I was now a mother on a mission.

My little Cabbage Patch Kid, all puffy from IV fluids

My mom and I spent most of our time in the NICU. I only left to eat and sleep. All of the parents and nurses in the NICU were always commenting how big Xander was compared to the other babies there. It was true. My baby didn't look like a normal NICU baby. Most of those babies were a lot sicker than mine. I felt very fortunate for that reason. It could be a lot worse, and I constantly reminded myself of that. No one treated us differently though. Chris spent his time going back and forth. He doesn't like hospitals in the first place. He came and went, having a hard time seeing Xander like he was. So instead, Chris focused on super cleaning our house and getting it ready for Xander's homecoming...whenever that might be.

Every morning, my mom and I were in the NICU by 9 am for the doctor's rounds. We were always present when they would talk about Xander's progress, his goals for the day, and the treatment plan. I took notes on my phone to share with everyone else and so I knew what we needed to achieve. The doctor was very impressed the morning after letting him eat when the nurse said "breast fed for 30 minutes each side every 3 hours. 9 pee diapers, and 6 poos". This guy knew I meant business and I wanted my baby the heck out of the NICU. I don't mess around or do stuff half-assed!

Finally, on Thursday, they let me take Xander back to my hospitality room (aka an unused, older, labor and delivery room) so he could spend the night on no machines and see how he did. I had to note every feed, every diaper, and take his temperature regularly. I was totally cool with that. Anything to have my baby next to me. I put Xander in a sleep shirt we brought from home with a cow on it...because I have a slight thing for cows. He looked adorable in real baby clothes and finally no cords! I was thrilled. We were one step closer to going home! As evening got closer, Xander got more agitated, unfortunately. He went right back to only wanting to be at my breast. That's the only place he was happy. I was so upset I couldn't eat anything. What is wrong? What am I doing wrong?! That night, after crying in the shower as my mom consoled my crying baby; after singing him songs I was playing on my phone (Backstreet Boys if you're curious!), and after leaving the room to cry alone int he hallway, a nurse saw me and reassured me again this was all normal and babies do this. I finally broke down and asked for a stupid pacifier*.

The nurse wrapped Xander up tightly in his blanket and stuck that little green pacifier in his mouth...and he finally fell asleep. I was relieved, but I felt totally defeated. I slept as good as a new mom can sleep (what with waking up at every sound he made, or waking up when he didn't make a sound to make sure he was still breathing). The next day, we waited anxiously for the NICU doctor to do a final assessment of Xander. We got many hospital visitors (amazing lactation consultants, discharge people, nurses). After what seemed like forever (3 hours) Xander was cleared to go home around 11 am on Friday morning. After 6 long days in the hospital, Xander and I were finally going home! 

The Ref, happy to get cleared to go home!

Going home in his too-big outfit

Since we had a NICU baby, we got a lot of extra care. They helped us set up his first doctor appointment, which had to be the following Monday to get his oxygen levels checked. We also were going to get weekly home visits from a nurse from the Health Department. This actually made me feel a lot better. We were thrilled to go home, but nervous too. Chris had to leave after we took Xander home for the entire weekend. It was just going to be me and Xander for his first 3 days home. Thankfully, my mother-in-law was there to help me! If not for her, I probably would not have eaten at all.

That first weekend was such a blur. It was mostly feedings and fighting sleep, and falling asleep sitting up, and waking up every few minutes when he did sleep in his bassinet (without a pacifier, I should add) to make sure he was okay, or waking up every time he made a peep, or moved at all. (He was a really noisy sleeper!) I didn't leave my living room except to use the bathroom. I'm fairly certain I didn't shower at all that weekend. I sent Chris pictures constantly. I missed him terribly. I was glad to have 3 days to bond with my baby, but I wanted his daddy to be there too. I barely saw Chris at all while I was at the hospital and now he was gone for another 3 days. It was very hard on my heart, that's for sure.

Chris got home on Monday morning around 7 am. Xander's first doctor's appointment was at 9 am. I was super nervous about leaving the house with him. I sat in the back of the car with Xander and held his little head up...because wobbly baby heads are scary! We got to the office and had to check in for the first time. It took, what seemed like, forever. Everyone who walked by Xander would comment on the little baby and ask how old. All I wanted to do was say "STAY AWAY FROM MY BABY!" But I held my tongue! This was a new anxiety like no other. Sick people seemed to be every where and I had a newborn fresh out of the NICU. Thankfully, the rest of the appointment was fine. We met our young, fresh out of med school pediatrician, and they took his stats and everything was good. We breathed a big sigh of relief and went home as soon as possible to get our baby away from all of these contagious people!

We were finally in the clear! Or so we thought....TO BE CONTINUED.

*I know some people think I'm crazy for not wanting to use a pacifier right away, but it can really mess with breastfeeding, and I wanted to avoid that at all costs! The one thing I was really determined to do well, was breastfeed...or so I hoped. 


This NICU experience was, by far, the hardest thing I have ever endured. The labor and delivery was nothing compared to the pain I felt seeing my baby hooked up to machines and wires and having to be apart from him. I am thankful every day for the staff at my hospital. This was just the universe showing me, yet again, that I was not in control and I needed to just let go and go with the flow. It also helped me see how strong and determined I could be. And, in hindsight, I think staying in the hospital for an entire week was very helping in teaching me how to take care of my baby...I probably would have lost it trying to care for a baby 2 days after pushing him out.