Oct 30, 2013

Life Lately

Life lately includes: feedings, diaper changes, nap times, baby smiles, tiny pink clothing, visits from relatives, dashing out of the house for an hour at a time, and general exhaustion mixed with utter happiness...



Oct 23, 2013

Surviving the first two weeks...

Some will say all you really need the first few weeks with a baby are your boobs and clean diapers (and it often feels like that is true), but here is a short list of items I found to be essential between feedings, diaper changes, and naps during my first two weeks with a newborn.

NoseFrida - Who knew it would be so much fun to suck an infant's boogers out with your own mouth? It is addicting!

Milkies Milk Saver - A week before my due date a friend offered to lend me her milk-saver, which was a contraption I had never heard of before. I am so glad she mentioned it, because this is pretty much my favorite product ever! You wear the "milkie" on the opposite side when breastfeeding and it catches all the milk that leaks out. If you are one of those ladies that leaks a ton, you will be forever grateful for this thing. I was able to store 8 bags of "leaked" milk in my freezer during my first two weeks without pumping. Amazing!

My Brest Friend - Stupid name, amazing product. This thing really does become your best friend. When I got home from the hospital and realized I didn't really know how to hold Z for breastfeeding unless my bed moved up and down mechanically, this odd little pillow came to the rescue. It's the best pillow for getting a newborn in position to eat and if you walk around wearing it, your husband might think you look like a Vegas cocktail waitress...

Fisher Price Snugabunny Deluxe Bouncer Other friends and bloggers raved about this contraption and now I am in full agreement with them. Zianne pretty much takes all her naps here {if she's not sleeping on mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, or one of many loving aunties, of course}. It's easy to move this little bouncer seat anywhere around the house and Z loves the vibrate setting for catching a little 1-2 hour snooze.

SwaddleMe Fleece Blanket - After about three nights of trying to do my own swaddle, I gave up and found the SwaddleMe blanket that was hiding away in the nursery. I'm sure I could have watched a YouTube video to perfect the manual swaddle, but let's be honest... I am a tired postpartum mama, and this is so much easier. We also recently started using the Miracle Blanket to swaddle and I highly recommend it as well. Disclaimer: I only like the Summer Infant SwaddleMe blanket in fleece. I tried the cotton version and was not impressed. It's not as stretchy or cozy as the fleece version, and Z kicked her way out of it way too easily.

Gilligan O'Malley nursing tank - These are super helpful in those early nursing days where you can't even imagine putting on a bra. They are super comfortable and provide easy access for every-two-hour-feedings. They show a lot of cleavage though, but I found it was easy to throw a t-shirt on over this tank if visitors were dropping by. Also, just know that in those first weeks of breastfeeding you will have milk dripped, leaked, and spit on you constantly. You will either have to wash these tanks every day or be okay with looking a mess at all times. Either option is perfectly acceptable, but it might be nice to have 2-3 of these in the laundry rotation.

Piyo Piyo scissors - Cut those long newborn fingernails down as soon as you get home from the hospital. These will prevent baby from scratching his or her little face, and I've heard they are much easier to use than clippers. I wouldn't know, because I've only used these scissors and love them!

Diapers as burp cloths - Although Z rarely spits up, I still need a burp cloth constantly. There are spills, dribbles and drool everywhere with a newborn. Although I have these fancy burp cloths and love them {they are so soft}, I find that it's just easier to use good ol' fashioned cloth diapers for the wipe-up job most of the time.

Aden and Anais Swaddle Blankets - This is probably redundant as every mom raves about these blankets, but the list wouldn't be complete without mentioning them. Although I gave up on swaddling with these, I still use them every day. They are perfect for covering the car seat when baby is sleeping out in public, covering Z in her bouncer when it's just a little drafty in the living room, using as a makeshift nursing cover when the Bebe Au Lait is not within reach, etc. etc. I pretty much use these for everything except swaddling...

Graco Pack 'N Play - Although it would be fun to have a fancy bassinet or cradle, Zianne has been sleeping in our room in her Pack N Play {on the raised bassinet-level} since her first night home from the hospital. Because of this, I am hoping we have an easy transition to the crib as soon as she is sleeping through the night.

Side snap onesies - These also make cute outfits and easy diaper/clothing changes for newborns. I sent dad to the store to pick out side snap onesies as soon as we got home from the hospital and he picked out these ones {super cute for baby girls}.

Tucks - These are necessary for "post-postpartum crotch," as I call it. The hospital will give you some to take home, but I went through an extra package during the first two weeks. Layer them on top of your pad. You will love it. The end.

Oct 22, 2013

Dear Zianne {one month}

Dear Zianne,

We made it. We have one whole month of this mother/daughter thing under our belts. I know that seems like a minuscule amount of time compared to the future months, years and decades we will have together, Lord willing, but right now a month feels like a really long time.

And it feels a bit victorious to be at this point, because we both know this first month is a tough one. You are not difficult. No, my dear, you are easy. You've made the transition to motherhood easier than I ever imagined it could be. But this gig is hard nonetheless...

I never imagined it would be so hard physically. The delivery part was actually fairly simple compared to the blatant physicality and fatigue of the past few weeks. I never anticipated my back would hurt so badly after breastfeeding or how much of a struggle it would be to stay awake during 5am feedings. But I'm sure it's difficult for you too, sweet girl, as you learn to breathe and eat and hold your head up high. This physical stuff is hard work for both of us.

And mentally... I am exhausted. As I was giving you a bath today I decided I should sing an upbeat song to soothe you. However, I couldn't remember the words to any song other than "Jesus Loves Me." It took me a full minute to rack my brain to remember the lyrics to anything else. Finally a few of the most random songs came to mind. My rendition of "My Girl" turned into "Baby Baby" with a brief interlude of "Rock Around the Clock" was horribly pathetic, but you seemed to enjoy your bath a little more anyway. But I think you get it. Your brain is probably tired too as you take in this big world we've brought you into. You're working so hard to learn about lights and ceiling fans and the difference between daytime sleep and nighttime sleep and the features of daddy's smiling face. But the fact that you learned the sound of my voice first will always be one of my favorite memories...

And I never really thought about what my postpartum emotions would be like. I never imagined how many times I would sob those first few days home from the hospital or how the smallest inconveniences or comments would set me on edge. I did try to imagine the joy I would feel when finally meeting you face to face. But you know what? It was less dramatic than I thought it would be... because as soon as you were placed in my arms, and every day since then, it's felt so natural to be your mama. I have joy, yes, but it's a calm and subtle joy that rests in knowing that I was made to be your mom and you were made to be our firstborn child. But as my emotions have been calming down these past few weeks, I've gotten to watch your emotions unfold. I've learned your cries (there is usually only one.. the "I'm hungry whimper") and have also gotten to see so many of your smiles, which are always most frequent in the morning and halfway through a feeding. You are a sweet one, baby girl, and it's a delight to watch you grow.

And I didn't know motherhood would wreck me spiritually. I didn't know how many of my ugly idols would be revealed to me in the first few weeks at home. Your schedule doesn't give me time to serve my tiny gods of having "me time" or cleaning my house... and I've had to spend some time repenting of how much I worship those meaningless things by laying them down before the Lord and serving you and your needs before my own desires. And I never predicted the exhaustion and emotional swings in this first month would leave feeling so dry and thirsty before the Lord. And that's not a bad thing. I am needy and desperate for my Savior, and you've helped me stop believing I can do things by my own strength. As for you, daughter, I don't know what the future holds for you spiritually, but I can only imagine your life will be full with the riches found in Christ, because so many people are praying big prayers for you. We are praying you will love the Lord and obey His commands. We are praying you will be filled with the love of Christ and find your identity in Him always. We are praying you will do great things to serve others for the glory of God. And I am confident that God will answer these prayers, because He is a good and loving Father.

And if our future together is anything like the past month, it will be filled with joy and trial and conviction and grace. We will continue to thank the Father for all His good and perfect gifts, and we will run to Him for help when the cares of this world press down upon us. I'm excited for what's ahead baby girl, and I'm thankful you are along for the ride.


Oct 7, 2013

Zianne's Birth Story {Part II}

{This is Part II of Baby Z's birth story. You can read Part I HERE.}

We arrived at triage around 1:00 am and Micah quickly realized how tired he was. While I had slept in until 10:00am the previous morning, Micah was coming off a long and busy work week. His poor eyes were red, and he leaned against the wall in our little room and tried to sleep. At this point, the monitor indicated I was having contractions every two to three minutes and I was starting to feel them, but I was still only dilated to a 2.

We're having a baby! // Final shot of the basketball // Snoozing in triage // 12 hours later post-epidural

When we finally got checked into our delivery room, I had the nurse turn down the lights and I tried to let Micah catch some sleep while I labored through the night. The contractions started to become more intense but I could get through them by taking deep breaths and counting slowly to ten. I liked that I could still get up and move around, which I did at least once an hour. At 6:30am, a resident came to check me, and after a whole night of contractions 2-3 minutes apart, I was dilated to a… 3. However, during the check, the baby moved, and this last little burst of amniotic fluid gushed out. Seriously, how could there be any more after the downpour in the kitchen? With this little pocket of fluid gone, the resident said he could literally feel the baby drop down an inch suddenly. 

After the doctor left, my contractions got much more intense. I tried to keep counting and breathing through them, but suddenly ten breaths became eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. By this time Micah was awake and helping me. We tried the exercise ball, which I thought I would love but hated. We tried a rocking chair, which I thought I would hate, but it ended up being my favorite aid. We tried Micah applying pressure to my back, and I quickly decided I am in the “don’t touch me” labor camp. Micah suggested walking around in the hallway, but by this time my contractions were so intense that I burst into tears and begged, “Please don’t make me walk.” Since my water was broken, taking a bath was never an option and the thought of standing in the shower and getting wet just sounded gross to me. 

Finally at 9am, as I was approaching 24 hours of being awake, I decided it was time for an epidural. I always assumed I would get an epidural unless I had one of those crazy fast labors where the baby is literally falling out of me on the way to the hospital, but I also had a goal to labor naturally for as long as possible and hopefully get dilated to at least a 5 before I took any drugs. Clearly, my cervix was not on board with my plan. The resident had already indicated that I probably had six or more hours of labor left, and I knew I had to rest so I didn't wind up in one of those overly fatigued, need an emergency C-section situations. 

After my epidural was complete {God bless that anesthesiologist}, I was able to sleep for about two hours. When I woke up, my mom, Micah’s mom {who had arrived from Seattle that morning}, and Micah’s sister came in to visit us for a while. Then a resident came to check me at 12:30pm and I was dilated to a… 4. At this point, my contractions had slowed to one or two every ten minutes, so I had already surrendered to being hooked up to Pitocin to speed things along. I was fighting the clock, because there was increased concern of infection since my water had been broken for so long. After the 12:30 check, I was able to sleep for two more hours. I woke up around 2:30, and for the next two hours my contractions became more intense. Even with an epidural, I could feel every single contraction as the baby dropped lower and lower into my pelvis. Eventually, I even had to breathe through them a bit, but I consoled myself by remembering I was probably only feeling 10-20% of the pain that was actually there…

At 4:45pm, when my water had been broken for 18 hours, I was hooked up to an antibiotic to prevent infection, and at 5pm a new resident came to check me. This doctor was the sweetest woman from Minnesota, and I liked her instantly. I liked her even more when she checked me and announced “You are complete!” Suddenly, after such a slow labor, things started to move quickly. The resident and the nurse had me do some practice pushes, and they taught Micah how to hold my leg during them. When they deemed my pushing acceptable, we took a break so they could prepare everything for delivery. 

Right at this time, my mom and Micah’s mom arrived at our door for a visit, so Micah stepped out to tell them we were about to start pushing. At the same moment, the resident left to update my OB and the nurse left to get delivery supplies. I was suddenly in my room alone for the very first time, and as I sat there, a wave of emotion rushed over me and I started crying… I don’t really know why, but all the adrenaline of knowing I was about to push out my first child combined with the suspense of not knowing if it was a boy or a girl, somehow resulted in me bawling my eyes out. Micah was back in the room within two minutes to find me in tears. “I’m just really emotional!” I exclaimed, and after a minute or two of crying, I was perfectly fine and ready to experience the next stage in this adventure.

The delivery part of labor went really smoothly for the most part, although my temperature spiked a little bit during the process and they had to add a second antibiotic to ward off infection. I started pushing around 5:30pm, and Zianne arrived at 6:45pm. The whole time I kept asking if I could do anything better or more efficiently, but everyone kept saying I was pushing perfectly and actually moving faster than many first-time moms do. I had good control of my legs and could feel my contractions coming each time. As the baby was crowning, I could also feel them applying mineral oil and I could faintly tell why they were adding it… yikes!

I don't remember this photo being taken, but the time stamp on it is 6:35pm... ten minutes before Z was born.

I will never forget the feeling of Zianne’s head emerging. Never have I felt such a release of pressure in all my life. It honestly felt like her head exploded from my crotch, and Micah, who was watching intently, confirms that’s pretty much what happened. Let’s just say I got plenty of skin-to-skin contact time with the baby as they stitched me up afterward, and my doctor almost missed her next delivery…

They pulled the baby out, held her over my stomach, and asked Micah “What is it, dad?” He announced excitedly that it was girl, and I got to watch as he cut the cord right in front of me. After this, she was laid on my chest and we spent a good 20-30 minutes this way, which included her peeing on me twice, which simply made me laugh.

The next two hours were a whirlwind, mainly because the nursing staff switched over at 7pm right after Zianne was born. Our room was filled with people… our first nurse, two new nurses because one was shadowing the other, a nurse for the baby, and a roving nurse to help our first nurse transition off her shift. My doctor finished her task and hastily leaned over Micah and the nurses to pat my head before she literally ran off to her next delivery. Then things got more complicated because the nurses had to do a full blood draw on Zianne to test for infection, since my water had been broken for twenty hours and I got a fever during delivery. Z had a tourniquet wrapped around her little arm and eventually they had to get out a flashlight to find one of her baby veins. Next, we tried breastfeeding for the first time, which thankfully went really well, and we wrote down all the variations of how to spell Zianne’s name, because we actually hadn't agreed on the spelling before I went into labor. Before we knew it, it was almost 9pm, and we still hadn't announced Z’s arrival to the grandmas and aunt in the waiting room. We were going to invite them in the room, but the nurses told us we were about to move to our recovery room, so it would be better to wait. At this point, my mom was outside our door worried, so we had to send a nurse out to tell her there was good news, but she had to wait a few more minutes to find out. Finally, they wheeled us out to the waiting room where we announced to our family that we had a baby GIRL!

The rest of our time in the hospital went really smoothly. All the nurses in the recovery ward were fantastic to work with. They taught Micah how to change a diaper; they taught me how to go to the bathroom in my postpartum condition, and they gave Zianne her first sponge bath and wrapped her up afterward like she was enjoying a day at the spa. Our second day at the hospital was filled with visitors, little girl clothes, a few newborn photos, and a Thanksgiving feast from Boston Market for dinner. Our second night was filled with cluster feedings and not much sleep. And finally on Monday, after waiting on the lab results from Z’s blood draw, the pediatrician came in and announced we could go home. We put on real clothes, wrapped up our little baby bundle, and took her home sweet home to begin our adventure as parents. It’s been a sweet journey so far, and I know it will only get better as each day passes by.

Looking back on our labor and delivery story, I can see God’s hand in all of it. Whether he simply answered my ongoing prayer for “natural labor by Friday” {and a huge thank you to all my friends who were praying this with me} or whether he used that nasty tea to bring about His will, I might never know. But I do know our baby girl is here, right on time, as I always knew she would be.

Oh, and if you are wondering... after a few quick emails in my recovery room, my dad ended up getting the house, which means I will get commission for the sale. I like to think I got paid to push out a baby…

Oct 6, 2013

Zianne's Birth Story {Part I}

Although I fully believe babies always arrive right on time, Zianne was nine days late by medical standards. I was not surprised, as babies tend to arrive past their due dates in both my family and Micah’s. I patiently waited out my 41st week of pregnancy and convinced my doctor that it was safe to let this little one arrive up to two weeks late. We scheduled an induction for Thursday, September 26th, when I would officially be 42 weeks pregnant, as well as prostaglandin gels for the upcoming Monday and Tuesday, and then I prayed my heart out that Baby Russum would arrive naturally over the weekend.

On Friday, September 20th, I arranged to visit my dear friend Shalyn who had just given birth to twins the weekend before. Because I came down with a horrendous head cold on the day she delivered her sweet babes {another reason I am thankful Zianne was late; I cannot imagine labor with congestion, sneezing and coughing}, I was unable to visit them in the hospital all week. Shalyn and I went through pregnancy side by side, sharing all our ups and downs and gory prenatal details, so I was dying to hold these twin boys at last. By Friday, my cold symptoms were gone and every online medical source said I was no longer contagious, so I texted Shalyn, “Can we bring you dinner tonight? I need the boys to convince Baby Russum that life is better outside the womb…”

Micah and I picked up a feast of wings and drove up to the Baker’s house for a night of eating, laughing and twin holding, but before we left for dinner I swung by the neighborhood Sprouts to pick up my last attempt at natural induction… raspberry leaf tea. I had already tried everything else that is rumored to start labor, including acupuncture, and this tea was my final weapon. Please know I hate tea, unless it’s doused in lemonade and named after a golfer. Tea tastes like dirty water with leaves in it. However, a number of friends said this raspberry leaf tea, known to promote “uterine health,” had helped them go into labor, so I was willing to choke down some dirt water for the cause. I threw a packet in the strawberry lemonade I was drinking on the way home from Sprouts, and whipped up a mug of hot tea before we left to visit our friends for the evening.

Now let me back track a little… Earlier that day my dad had decided to make an offer on a house he will use as a rental property, and I spent all afternoon drawing up his paper work (I randomly have my real estate license and do about 1-2 deals a year for friends and family). My dad met us at our place to sign his contract when we arrived home from the Baker’s that night. I was scanning his documents at 10:45pm, and when I stood up from the desk where we keep our printer, I felt a little gush of warm fluid. As calm as could be, I thought to myself “my water just broke…” I went into our bathroom to assess the situation, changed my pants and underwear, walked hazily past my dad who was trying to talk to me about real estate, and found Micah in the kitchen where I informed him of the news. I wasn't actually in labor yet, so I said there was no need to rush. We told my dad what was happening and he excitedly finished scanning the documents for me, as Micah started getting out snacks and making PB and J sandwiches to take to the hospital. 

Always the multi-tasker, I was determined to get my dad’s offer submitted before I went into labor mode. Now at my doctor’s appointment the day before, an ultrasound confirmed I had sufficient amniotic fluid to carry the baby for another week, and I got to experience firsthand how accurate that ultrasound was. Although many women experience just a small trickle when their water breaks, that was not the case for me. As I stood at the kitchen counter, hunched over my laptop hastily emailing the real estate contract, amniotic fluid started gushing all over the tile floor. As soon as I hit “send” on the email, I sweetly asked Micah if he could clean up my puddle while I went to take a shower.

After saying goodbye to my dad, taking a long shower, blow drying my hair, making some phone calls, sending some texts, and adding final items to our bags, we headed to the hospital around 12:30am. Since I still couldn't feel my contractions, we made a quick stop by the convenience store for a Popsicle and candy on our way there. I guess you could say we were taking our “sweet” time…

On our way to the hospital...

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