Oliver: 10 Months Old!

How can my baby be 10 months old already? He’s so big and independent, it’s a wonder he still needs me at all! Well, he can’t walk, so he still needs me to take him to the pool 😉

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Eats: Formula and table food. His favorite foods are apples (like his daddy), ravioli and cheddar bunnies, and his least favorite is broccoli.

Sleeps: 11-12 hours a night with a 1 1/2 hour nap during the day if we’re lucky. He doesn’t like to miss any of the action!

Favorite activity: Swimming in the pool! He wants to swim on his own and is pretty good at kicking with his floaties on. Coming in at a close second is feeding Sophie his food, although he really just likes her licking his hand.

Least favorite activity: Getting strapped into his car seat. He doesn’t like to be restrained, but once the car starts moving he is happy.

Words: He only says “dada” for everything, but I’m hoping for a “mama” soon!

Starting to: Pull himself up onto his knees. He’ll be standing in no time!

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Packing my Hospital Bag

My hospital bag was a bit different than your average bag because I knew I was having a c-section. I didn’t pack a labor bag and I didn’t bring anything in with me until after the birth. We knew we wouldn’t get a room until after we were out of recovery, so hubby brought my stuff in later.

I love making lists, and during my pregnancy I made a lot of different lists. I had a hard time finding a good list for c-section mamas, and most of the lists I found had WAY too much stuff! Get a list of what you need from your hospital – they will tell you what to bring and what they provide. Your hospital should provide everything you and baby need. No need to bring your own towels, underwear, or hospital gown. Trust me, you’re going to ruin them, and who wants to do more laundry than necessary when you’re at home with a new baby!

You might be asking yourself, why bother with makeup or a hair dryer? Honestly, I was skeptical that I would use these, but I did! I was in the hospital for 4 days and 3 nights. I showered by myself the second day and put on my nursing nightgown and robe. I didn’t put on makeup or do my hair until the day we left. The morning before we went home I showered and changed into my yoga pants and nursing tank top. I just wanted to feel human again and blow drying my hair helped with that. You’re dealing with a lot, so don’t be afraid to bring what makes you comfortable and remember, you can leave it in the car until you need it.

Bring lots of liquids that you like, you’re going to be drinking more fluid than you ever thought possible. The good news is, you won’t have a bladder the size of a quarter anymore. I was drinking 100% pineapple juice mixed with coconut water. The pineapple juice is supposed to help with inflammation (hello blocked milk ducts!) and the coconut water is hydrating. I was also drinking water but I get sick of plain water after about one glass.

That extra tote bag: bring it! Everything in that room is yours and you should take it home even if you don’t think you’ll need it. Diapers, pads, mesh underwear, bulb suckers, gauze, baby shampoo, everything! I even asked for more of some things. Stuff it in that tote bag and take it with you.

And last but not least: don’t stress! If you forget something, your hubby or one of your very nice visitors can go grab it for you.

hospital list

baby hospital list

Don’t bring:

1.slippers/socks – they provide cozy non-slip socks (I still wear mine), plus your feet might swell even more after birth

2. books,magazines, or entertainment – you won’t have time for that! (and if you do, you should be sleeping)

3. underwear – you won’t want to wear anything but those giant beautiful mesh “undies” and you don’t want anything near your scar

4. Clothes/diapers/wipes/hats for baby – they will provide everything baby needs

 

Let’s Explore DC: Smithsonian National Zoo

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We love walking around the National Zoo. We seem to have a different experience every time we go, discovering new animals or exhibits as we walk around. The zoo is so big (163 acres) so, a lot of our trip depends on which entrance we go to.  The Connecticut Ave entrance is right by the “Asia Trail” with the Pandas and Elephants. The Harvard Bridge entrance is right by the “Big Cats”, the lions and tigers. Also, keep in mind that the zoo is one giant hill, the top being the Connecticut Ave entrance. Zoo parking is extremely limited and we never seem to get there early enough in the day to get it, so we find street parking or take the metro to the Woodley Park stop.

The last time we went, we had hubby’s parents and Oliver so we went in the Connecticut Ave entrance because we found parking close by.  We took the Asia trail to see the sloth bears, fishing cats, red pandas, leopards, otters, Japanese giant salamander and giant pandas.

Of course, there is nothing cuter than a panda, except a baby panda! Luckily for us, there is Bei Bei. The Giant Panda Habitat is home to four giant pandas: Tian Tian (adult male), Mei Xiang (adult female), Bao Bao (juvenile female), and a male cub named Bei Bei. If you need a panda fix, you can watch the panda cam here.

We continued walking along the zoo path and saw the Asian Elephants which can be see from a number of different view points, depending on where they are. We went over their habitat on a bridge as well as inside the indoor Elephant Community Center, where we got an up close view of a couple of the elephants. Fun fact: Asian elephants have small ears and African elephants have big ears.

Our group stopped at the Panda Plaza to grab some popcorn and look at the gift shop. Opa and Oma bought Oliver a little cheetah stuffed animal that he loved and kept throwing out of the stroller. Then we headed down to the Small Mammals house, which houses animals like chinchillas, skunks, and monkeys.

After only a couple of hours, we decided to make this the end of our downhill descent, mostly because we had to turn around and trek back up the hill and out of the zoo to get to our car. We stopped to see the Bird House on our way back and we also did a diaper change on one of the benches. We’re getting pretty good at diaper changes anytime, anywhere.

After our long, uphill walk back to the entrance we said goodbye to the zoo until next time.

The “B” word

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Breastfeeding.

Everyone has an opinion, and I’m sure you’ve heard them all:

  • “Breastfeeding  is the only way to feed your baby”
  • “It was super easy and I’m still breastfeeding at 15 months”
  • “I will never do that, formula is the way to go”
  • “It is really hard but I made it work for a while”
  • “It’s cost effective, so why not!”
  • “I’d like my husband to be able to bond with baby through feeding”

I could go on and on, because everyone has something different to say. The most common opinion I’ve heard is “it’s the best way to feed your baby and you’ll get the hang of it.”

That is what I assumed would happen. It probably wasn’t going to be magically easy as soon as he was born, but we’d get the hang of it. However, Oliver threw me another curve ball. I fully intended to breastfeed and I had everything I thought I needed for success. But he never got the hang of it. There were a number of factors that led us down the path to exclusively pumping, but I’d say the top two were:

  1. Oliver would get super frustrated every time I tried
  2. I was exhausted

It is a lot of work being pregnant, giving birth, and taking care of a newborn while you’re recovering from a c-section. No matter how you give birth or how you feed your baby, there is no getting around it. It’s exhausting! And I was mentally, physically, and emotionally tired. Every time he cried when we tried breastfeeding it broke my heart and I cried right along with him. All I wanted was for him to be fed, and really, that’s the right answer.

For those of you without children, or who have never had to use a breast pump, let me just tell you that it’s the most difficult way to feed a baby. It’s three times as much work as breastfeeding or formula, and some women can’t even produce enough milk to feed baby through pumping, which is super frustrating.

I was glad I was able to provide him with my breast milk, but it was a daily struggle for me. There were a lot of times where I was pumping in the backseat of the car, and I would have to tell myself to just get through today and then evaluate where I was at. There were many middle-of-the-night-feedings/pump sessions that ended in tears, and I would tell hubby that I couldn’t do it anymore. But I kept on for 4 months. I probably would have continued after I went back to work, but I was sort of weaned off pumping without realizing it when my machine slowly died. I ended up exclusively pumping for him for 4 months, and feeding him milk I had stored until 6 months.

It was a huge struggle for me because I put a lot of pressure on myself. I felt a lot of guilt when I stopped pumping, especially because it happened to correlate with my return to work. It felt like I was cutting the cord all at once and sending him off in the world without me. But after a couple weeks on formula, I was able to accept that he was thriving, and I’d given him a great start.

I will happily try breastfeeding our next little nugget, and I’ll hopefully have more success. But if not, that’s okay too! Life is bigger than what we feed our babies – and they’ll all be eating chicken nuggets dipped in ketchup sooner or later  🙂

Let’s Explore DC: Getting There

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We love to go into DC for any number of reasons: brunch, 4th of July, Cherry Blossoms, you name it! Getting around can be challenging but if you know what mode of transportation to pick it gets a lot easier.

Riding the DC Metro: despite it’s bad rap lately, the metro is usually the easiest way to get around. We like it because you can hop on and off wherever you want to go. Plus we have a lot of parking options at different stops, so we can start at different points depending on our destination. It’s easiest to navigate the metro if you know where you’re going. Some of the names are obvious (Navy Yard-Ballpark) while others are trickier (McPherson Square – aka the stop for the White House). If you look at the website of your destination, most will detail the closest metro station, which helps.

metro-map

A couple of tips for taking the metro:

-Buy a SmarTrip card. It’s a permanent plastic card vs the paper fare card. It costs $2 but it can be replaced if lost or stolen, and you save $1 per ride. You can also use this card to pay for parking when you leave your parking garage. Plus, it’s much easier to keep track of than the paper fare cards and you can just keep it in your wallet until your next visit.

-You will be charged the most on weekdays during rush hour. This is also the  craziest time to metro, so only do it if you have to.

-Stay to the right if you’re standing on an escalator. People are not nice when they’re trying to catch a train, and you will get shoved.

-The train doors are not like elevator doors: they do not sense you are putting your arm in and open back up. They will close on you and it will hurt. So don’t be polite and wait your turn… just get on the train.

-Check the metro’s website for track work on the weekends. Sometimes they shut down whole stations and it’s best to know in advance.

 

Driving: When is it better to drive and try to find parking? It really depends on a number of factors. The #1 time we drive is on Sundays. Street parking is generally free on Sundays which makes parking close to your destination more feasible. We also drive if we know of a good (free) parking spot that’s close to our destination, like during peak bloom of the Cherry Blossoms. Another reason to drive if we’re short on time and have a destination that’s not close to a metro, like going to a show at the Kennedy Center. Make sure you pay attention to parking signs! You don’t want to get towed or get a ticket.

 

Other choices: The only other way we’ve gotten into the city was via our bikes. This is a great way to get around in the city and you can even take them on the metro which is great if you’re too tired to bike back to your car (speaking from experience). There is a cool program called Capital Bikeshare that provides bikes to rent all over the city. I think it’s a little expensive because you pay to rent the bike and also pay for mileage. But it’s a good option if you don’t already have a bike and want to ride around.

No matter how you get into the city, you’re bound to have a good time exploring. So explore on!

 

 

 

Oliver’s Birth Story

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Disclaimer: I view giving birth and getting married as two very similar events. They are both life changing and organized down to the last detail, but not everything will go as planned. It’s a really big day and you’re going to want it to go a certain way, but guaranteed something won’t go according to plan. At the end of the big day, the most important thing is that everyone is healthy.

In December 2014, right before Christmas, we found out we were pregnant. We had been trying to get pregnant for about 5 months and honestly, I just took the test on a whim. I had actually taken the other test from the package 5 days earlier and it was negative. I’m not sure what made me retake it, but when I saw that very faint line I ran to the store and got two digital ones just to make sure. And all at once, our journey into this adventure of parenthood had begun.

The pregnancy was fairly standard. No surprises or extra tests. I had pretty bad morning sickness that only let up for a short time in the middle of the pregnancy, but it wasn’t as bad as some. We were able to find out we were having a boy during our 20 week ultrasound. Around 30 weeks I started measuring large and was diagnosed with Polyhydramnios or high amniotic fluid levels and they also noticed he was measuring large, especially his head and abdomen. I was sent for extra testing just to keep an eye on how it progressed. There were never any red flags, even though my pregnancy was deemed high risk at that point.

Then at 35 weeks he was breech. Now, up until this point I was preparing for a natural birth, or at least to hold off as long as possible without the drugs. I had my bag packed with soothing music, movies and a bathing suit top for the labor room bathtub. We were 3 weeks into our 4 week birthing class. K was imagining driving like a maniac to the hospital when it was go time. But this news stopped all our planning with a screeching halt.

Of course, there are plenty of babies that flip head down before birth, and plenty of babies are able to be turned in utero by a doctor (which everyone shared with me). Our baby boy was not one of them. He has his head stubbornly wedged in my ribs right up until the end. It made for a much different birth experience than the one I had on my head. I repacked my hospital bags, getting rid of the labor bag entirely. We scheduled the birth for 39 weeks and 1 day and I worked right up until the birth, giving myself a day before to get ready and relax. I went to the pool, got a mani-pedi, and K and I were able to go out to dinner that night. I half expected to go into labor my last day of work or while we were at dinner, but I never experienced any labor pains or contractions.

The next morning hubby drove to the hospital at a normal speed, no crazy maneuvers or police escort needed (just me complaining I was starving). I walked calmly into the hospital and checked in, then we got settled in triage and waited. We were bumped for an emergency c-section and had to wait an extra hour. I thought the wait would be excruciating but it went by pretty fast. Then all of a sudden hubby went to the car to drop off our magazines and books and they walked me to the OR.

When you have a c-section, they don’t allow the partners in to the OR until mom is prepped and ready to go. That was the worst part for me. I was doing okay up until that point. Sitting in the freezing OR while a large team of doctors and nurses worked around me made me very nervous, especially considering I’d never seen the inside of an OR before. The nurses were amazing, in particular one male nurse who talked me through everything that was happening. But I was sure they were going to forget to get K. They administered the spinal and put up the blue divider and still he was in another room. It seemed like forever until they brought him in, even though I’m sure it was only 5 minutes, and by that time I was crying. K came in and saw me and started crying and kissed me and held my hand while we waited for our son.

Just a couple minutes later, after some pressure and a “wow, he’s big” from the doctor, he was born, all 8 lbs 10oz of him. K said “there he is! I see him” and all I saw was his little blue foot being passed between doctors in the OR. K went to see him as they checked him over and wrapped him up. K finally came over and said “here is our son, Oliver John” and put Oliver next to my face for a kiss. I couldn’t really get a good look at him until we were in recovery due to laying down and being heavily medicated. But just smelling his little head and finally getting to see my baby was the most amazing moment of my life. I was disappointed that I didn’t get the immediate skin-to-skin contact with him, but I was in no shape to hold him, and we more than made up for it in recovery and during our hospital stay.

So, there it is – Oliver’s birth story. I hope that it serves as a reminder to me of the events as time goes on, as well as an encouragement to other moms who may be in a similar situation. The most important thing is that baby and mom are healthy, and sometimes a c-section is the best way to ensure that. No matter how baby is born, the experience will still be breathtaking, and the moment of meeting my son for the first time is one I will never forget.