Operation Fat Robin: Increasing my Milk Supply and Helping my Baby Gain

At his four month appointment my son had lost 8-10 ounces. This was bad news. I knew he was eating less because of his reflux and he seemed unhappy most of the time.  Apparently he wasn’t just in pain, he was also hungry. Our pediatrician now theorizes that what may have started as a relux issue, is now a breast milk supply issue. So in the course of the last few days, my life has been taken over by nursing, bottle feeding and pumping. I am strongly committed to breastfeeding and the idea of giving my son formula made me want to cry. Fortunately my very generous sister and a good friend are sharing their frozen milk stock piles with me, to help supplement until I can build up my own supply.

This has been a scary and crushing blow for me. The idea that my body hasn’t been giving my son what he needs is horrifying. But now I’m faced with the task of fixing that. I look objectively at my little boy and I realize how skinny he has become. Most of all I want him to be healthy, but I also treasure my time nursing him. It is the one thing that only I can do. I worry I’ll lose the bond I have with him. But for now I have focus on getting him healthy, even though that means round the clock nursing, feeding and pumping. I’ve done bloodwork to check for low thyroid and anemia, begun taking an herbal supplement, purchased a double electric breast bump, rented a hospital grade pump, as well as scheduled a session with a lactation consultant. Hopefully we start to see a turn around quickly. But until then not much else is likely to get done.


Finally my Birth Story: Part IV

There are cheers and tears, and Mommy says to Robin, “I can’t believe you’re here!”    “I can’t believe how much I love you”     “Mommy loves you!”   Nonni is holding back tears and saying how Mommy has “waited so long” for him.  It is an especially poignant moment as I reflect on the miscarriage and grief that came before Robin’s conception.

Robin is a solid 8lbs 9 oz and 21” long. 

Mommy is beside herself with joy. Robin latches on and begins breastfeeding. Her mother and sister leave around 12:30pm.   I decide to stay until just after 1pm (when the cafeteria opens)  so Daddy can grab some food for both of them.

During the next portion of my birth experience I was in a lot of pain and to my memory on semi-conscious so I am especially grateful for Katrina’s documentation of events.

Mommy’s bleeding is heavy- and she’s passing a lot of clots.   She is given pitocin.   The nurses are still concerned, and the resident performs two “sweeps” for clots.  She is very pale and nauseated. The bleeding is still heavy, Mommy is given more IV pitocin and a shot as well.  Her doctor is called back.

Mommy is getting very upset, because the doctors and nurses are discussing possible surgery (d&e) to check for remaining clots or possible retained placenta.   Two ultrasounds are performed.  Mommy asks me to call her parents for prayer.  I call around 2am and ask her father to pray. About 3 minutes later, the bleeding has all but stopped, and the nurses credit the medicine (I credit GOD!)

The doctor does one final sweep (unfortunately, for this one, the effects of the epidural have worn off, and Mommy is in excruciating pain).  All I can do is hold her face in my hands and try to comfort her, whispering prayers. Daddy holds her hand. As Mommy is writhing from the exam/sweep,  I catch Daddy’s eye and almost break down myself. 

After what seems like an eternity, the doctor is finished.  He is confident that Mommy is ok and surgery will not be necessary.

Mommy is very weak, but relieved.  I stay for another ½ hour as she and Daddy get settled. I leave the hospital around 3am. 

After Katrina left, I drifted in and out of consciousness. I miss my baby but I am grateful that he is in the nursery since I can’t care for him at the moment. My husband shows me some pictures and video from the labor and delivery. I feel so weak I can barely lift my arms and the drugs that helped stop the bleeding are causing nausea and gastrointestinal upsets. (Because labor isn’t humiliating enough, right?) After another hour I am finally moved out of labor and delivery and up to the mother baby unit. I finally see my son again. I feel so worn out, worse than after the delivery of my daughter. I thought second deliveries were supposed to be easier. I finally am allowed some juice and then eventually some crackers. My first real meal isn’t until nearly 10 a.m. on March 20th.  I was so sure that I was going to have a leap year baby, but instead my own little Robin arrived the day before spring.

Catch up on the story here: Part IPart II, Part III

Finally, My Birth Story: Part III

On the way to the hospital we suddenly realize that we have forgotten to call the doctor’s office. When we call while on route, a snarky nurse tells us that we should wait for a call back before leaving for the hospital, in case I’m not really in labor. We inform her that we are sure and are already almost to the hospital. We listen to Goat Rodeo on the way and my contractions are not as bad as I feared given that I’m confined to the car with limited movement. I bob my head with the rhythm of the music to distract myself from the pain. I have another contraction in the hospital parking lot, hoping I don’t scare passersby too much, mostly not caring. I’m finally going to have this baby.


            We get to the hospital, and the contractions are hitting hard- every 2-3 minutes- all the way through the parking lot and up to the 3rd floor.  She is checked at 8:29 pm.  She is 5-6cm (the midwife says a possible 7cm w/ a contraction), 90% effaced, and -1 station. . .  Good news!  (But- seriously, Robin, read the memo!  You should be HERE by now, honey! Poor mommy!)   

Mommy’s doctor (Dr. Malhijah) is a new face to all of us.  But, his first question is, “Do you have any birth plan or special requests?”   (I like this guy already).  Mommy forgot her “official birth plan” at home, but says the 2 most important things to her are

1. let me hold the baby right away

2. don’t cut the cord until it stops pulsing

He wholeheartedly agrees to these requests (providing there are no complications).  I am pleasantly surprised!  Request #2 has never happened at a birth I’ve attended.

At 9:20 pm Mommy is moved from triage to a delivery room.   She is having very hard, intense contractions about every 5-7 minutes.  She is considering the epidural, but worries if Daddy or I will think she has “failed” is some way. . .NO WAY, MAMA!   Her goal all along had been to get to at least 7 cm before getting the epi.  A cervical exam shows she is 6-7 cm and “paper thin”.   We reassure her that if she WANTS to “do this” (go without drugs) she CAN, and we are here for her.   But if she doesn’t want to, we support her 100%.      At 9:45 she declares, “I want the epidural.  I KNOW I can do this [naturally].  I just don’t WANT TO”.       

IV fluids are required before the epidural can come.   Mommy powers through more hard contractions.   It is 10:40 pm when the epidural is finally in place.  Sweet relief at last. Mommy thanks me for helping her and says there would’ve been much more “flailing” had I not been there.   This elicits more laughter, and we decide that “flailing” is the word of the night.  At this point, Mommy’s mother and sister join us.

At 11:20 pm Mommy is 7cm, 95% effaced, and 0 station.  The doctor breaks her water.  At first the resident thinks there’s meconium, but the nurse reassures everyone that there isn’t.  Things go VERY quickly from here on out.

11:34- Mommy is 9cm.

11:38- 10 cm, ready to push!  

The doctor comes in and says, you are ready to push. I looked at him like he was crazy. I remembered an irresistible urge to push when Thea was born, but not now. I don’t feel ready.  The doctor tells me “Don’t worry, we’ll wait. Baby will be here before midnight.” I think he’s crazy but four pushes later . . .

11:51-  Robin is born!  

He had a cord around his neck 3 times!  But he is beautiful and is put right on Mommy’s chest. The doctor complies with her wishes, and the cord isn’t cut until it stops pulsing. 

Stay Tuned for Part IV

Catch up on the story here: Part I, Part II

Finally, My Birth Story: Part II

I’m terrified that something is wrong with the baby but I try to remain calm as we head for the hospital. Though my ever calm husband has sudden lapse and starts driving in the opposite direction of the hospital, we arrive shortly and get checked into triage. We see a wonderful resident who makes me feel much better about the whole thing.

March 18, 2012

At 3:50am in the hospital, Mommy is 4cm, 75% effaced, and -2 station.  An ultrasound reassures us that all is well with Mommy and baby Robin. But the contractions have once again faded.  Mommy is given the choice to stay (and have labor augmented medically) or to go home. She opts to go home and let nature take its course.

March 19, 2012

Mommy has a morning OBGYN appointment. She is still at 4cm, 75% effaced, and -2 station.  Now, at 10 days past her due date and with more than a few false labors, Mommy and her doctor agree to schedule an induction for Thursday.  Signing the induction papers was a crushing emotional blow for Mommy. She sounds exhausted, lost, and nearly hopeless on the phone. She is now, officially, the most “post-due” mama I have doula’ed for.   I decide to drop my kids at a friend’s house and go take a walk with Mommy to cheer her up. It’s a beautiful sunny spring day outside.   Before I get to her, she calls me and says, “I don’t want to get your hopes up [or her own, I’m assuming], but I just had 3 really strong contractions in a row- 3 minutes apart each.”   I can hear the excitement in her voice, but also the apprehension.  She’s too jaded to believe it REALLY could be time this time. . .

What Katrina’s log doesn’t say is that I came home from the doctor’s appointment and burst into tears. I was terrified of induction but couldn’t imagine waiting much longer to have this baby and afraid of the risks. I was tired of being in labor and just wanted to hold my baby. When the contractions kicked up again I tried to ignore them but when I called my husband at lunch I could barely talk and he insisted I call Katrina and then he called my mother. In the mean time I walked around the house, still contracting regularly and trying not to scare my toddler. The best moment was when I groaned in pain and my daughter looked worried, so I told her I was cheering Robin on. So during the next contraction she jumped up and cheered “Hoo, Robin.”

I arrive at Mommy’s house at 1pm. Her mother is there with daughter, Thea.  Mommy is on the yoga ball, and a contraction hits.  I see Mommy sway on the ball, and hear the sound of been waiting for-   the unmistakable sound of a woman having a TRUE labor contraction.  It’s a low, primal moan.  Mommy works through a few more contractions, and then we all head out for a walk. The contractions are coming every 5-7 minutes.  Mommy makes use of the many trees along our route- stopping to lean over them and sway through her contractions. As she’s coming out of a contraction, we look over and Thea is mimicking her mother (quite well) and working through her pretend “contraction” with the use of a tree. We have a good laugh- and she tells her Nonni that her back hurts too .After our 30 minute walk, Mommy resumes her yoga ball position and works through another hour of contractions (coming every 6 minutes). She snacks on an ice cream sandwich and milk.  She briefly speaks with Daddy on the phone- reassuring him that he has more time to finish up at work- and promising to NOT have the baby without him. Thea also gets out her little ball and works through her “backache” on the ball.

At 3:30, Mommy and I go for another 30 minute walk.   When we return, Mommy showers.  The contractions space out to about 7 minutes now.  She feels refreshed and again makes use of the yoga ball.  At 5:03pm I hear a change in Mommy as she works through a contraction. 5:08pm-  I mark “BIG ONE” in the contraction log. She has 3 more of these (7 minutes apart each, but lasting 60-90 seconds).  Daddy arrives home at about 5:40pm.  The contractions are now coming about every 6-7 minutes, but there are definitely the strongest ones so far.  Mommy finds that a hands and knees position works best with these contractions.  As soon as one hits, she’s on her knees, and I’m behind her doing the “double hip squeeze” to help with the back pain.  Nonni  takes Thea for the night, and Daddy makes some buttered noodles for us (7pm). At 7:31 pm the contractions intensify again. I tell Mommy if she has more like that, we’re going. She has another.  Then at 7:43pm- she’s on hands/knees-  I’m double-hip-squeezing-  She has the STRONGEST one yet- I catch Daddy’s eye and mouth, “IT’S-TIME-TO-GO”.  He nods.  When Mommy recovers from that contraction, she says she thinks it’s time to go.   Yes-  we all agree

Stay Tuned for Part III

Catch up on the story here: Part I

Finally, My Birth Story: Part I

I would like to thank my doula, Katrina, for the wonderful job she did recording my labor experience. Her work is the basis upon which much of this post is based. Sections in italics are direct quotes from her documentation. For the purposes of this story I referred to myself as Mommy and my Husband as Daddy. In the italic sections, I refers to Katrina.

My son is now four months old and I’m just finally beginning to catch my breath long enough to finally post my birth story, for those of you who have been wondering.

I began having contractions on February 25. We really thought the baby was coming that day or the next. But the contractions subsided after a few hours and we went back to everyday life. Except we didn’t. We were now constantly on high alert. Every day and every night we wondered when this child of ours was going to appear. I became tired and irritable. I had several hours of contractions every day, often in the evenings and then everything would stop and I would go to bed. I’d have a few more every morning, leaving my husband to wonder if he should even bother to go to work. This went on and on for weeks, including several evening visits from our doula and one night of my daughter being sent to her grandparent’s overnight. This is where I will pick up with Katrina’s documented version of events, which is probably more clearheaded than mine would have been at the time.

March 12, 2012
The first “false alarm” came on the evening of March 12, 2012 (3 days after due date).  Dad called to say Mommy had been experiencing contractions every 5 minutes for more than 2 hours. They weren’t terribly painful, but they were uncomfortable. She was also experiencing a lot of lower back pain. We planned to talk in one hour- about 10pm.  When that time came, the contractions had tapered off, and they were going to bed, hopeful the next day would be delivery day.

March 13, 2012
Mommy experienced intermittent contractions throughout the day. She called me at 8:30pm with severe groin pain/pelvic pain/cramping/and back pain. She seemed to be feeling quite uneasy and unsettled at the nature of this new pain, so I went over to see if I could help.  She was contracting every 4-6 minutes. We did some side lunges and yoga ball positioning to try to turn the baby into a more comfortable position. It seemed to help.  However, the contractions also slowed, so I left her house around and nearly stopped by midnight.


March 14, 2012

Mommy called at 7:10am.  She had been experiencing contractions every 5 minutes for one hour.   I arrived at her house around 9:15am.  It was absolutely beautiful outside, so we went for an hour long walk. She was contracting every 7-10 minutes. She had a scheduled doctor appointment at 11am. She called me at noon, after her exam. She was 1cm, 70% effaced.  She continued to have random contractions throughout the day.  Around 7:30 I spoke with Daddy again. Mommy was still contracting about every 5 minutes, but by 9pm- dejectedly- she went to bed.


March 18, 2012

 Sunday- 2:15am-  I spring to life at the sound of the phone ringing. Adrenaline pumping, I answer the phone.  Daddy sounds intense, and informs me that Mommy is bleeding, passing clots, and they are leaving for the hospital. I tell him to call me with info once they’re there. . . . . . Who am I kidding?  There is NO WAY I can fall back asleep.  I call him back and say I’m on my way as well. 

Stay tuned for Part II.

A Disappointing Fluff Experience: A FuzziBunz Review

We’ve now been using cloth diapers in our house for more than three years. Before purchasing our first diaper, I did hours of research trying to look for the best financial option and balancing that with convenience and popularity of products. One name that came up over and over was FuzziBunz. This product is considered to be the first pocket diaper.
According to Kelly’s Closet

The three main components of the pocket diapers are: first, a waterproof outer barrier fabric that is sewn to the second component, an inner moisture-wicking fabric that keeps the skin feeling dry. These two fabrics form a pocket for the third component, an absorbent insert.

While I was impressed by the reviews of FuzziBunz Perfect Size pocket diapers, at the time my concern was the price. FuzziBunz Perfect Size pocket diapers cost $17.95, which was the same as a one-size bumGenius 3.0 pocket diaper. While I had concerns about the fit of a one-size diaper, I couldn’t argue with the potential savings. I dreaded the thought of having to buy pocket diapers that were so pricey in two or three different sizes. So we ultimately chose to go with bumGenius which has been a mostly good, but occasionally frustrating experience. But a few months ago when my father-in-law was visiting after the birth of baby boy, he wanted to buy us more diapers if we needed or wanted them. Always anxious to add new fluff to my stash I found a sale and decided to give FuzziBunz a try, along with a few other new products. I ordered a XS and a Small. I liked the XS very much. These are not the typical perfect sized diapers and not every seller will carry them. They are less expensive and also have fewer snaps on them. Generally I dislike snaps on cloth diapers, whether on fitted diapers, pockets or covers. They have never worked well with my kids. However, I wanted to give this popular product a try. I actually like the XS FuzziBunz. It fit my skinny legged son when his one-size pocket diapers were still way too big. They were as absorbent, perhaps a bit more so than his newborn all-in-ones.  He was also able to wear it longer than I anticipated given that he was born at more than eight pounds. I was looking forward to trying the size small and in the back of my head I was even considering purchasing a few more. Then we started using the size small. It just didn’t work. I couldn’t get a good fit on his skinny legs. He wet through the insert quickly and there wasn’t really much room to add a doubler, though I did try and it did help, but not as much as I would have hoped. At 12 and half pounds, this diaper still doesn’t fit him well. The snaps don’t allow me to customize the kind of fit a need with a tall, skinny baby who has no thighs to speak of. It is still in my rotation, but it isn’t one of my favorites. I’ve very disappointed because of the huge hype surrounding this diaper and while I will keep using it, I definitely won’t be purchasing anymore anytime soon.

Now I realize that currently the price of Perfect Size FuzziBunz has dropped to closer to that of a sized All-In-One pocket diaper and they now also have a One-Size diaper which is comparable in price to other brands like bumGenius, which is also now available in a snap option. My dislike of snaps and mixed results with the Perfect Size diapers is keeping me from adding any FuzziBunz One-Size diapers to my stash. That being said, I did consider purchasing some FuzziBunz Perfect Size in Large last year when my toddler daughter began to out grow her bumGenius 3.0 pocket diapers. Snaps can be better at keeping a clever toddler from taking off her diaper and I would still consider these diapers for that sort of option in the future. But based on my current experience I think I still prefer bumGenius.

Considering Homeschooling: What’s Best for My Kids? What’s Best for Me?

For the last year my husband and I have been discussing and debating education choices for our children, primarily our daughter. By the time she was two, most of my friends and family were asking when we would be sending her to preschool. I thought I had until she was at least four before I had to think about it. I quickly discovered that even the most reasonably preschool programs cost at least $100 a month, which is money that we just don’t have at this time. Registration begins in the spring; most the programs filling within weeks, if not days. While preschool isn’t necessary, this brought up the overall discussion of what kind of education we want to give our children. We both have reservations about public school and we can’t afford private school. Other options include hoping for the best in the lottery for the charter school or homeschooling.

I hadn’t really considered homeschooling much until last year when a friend started having preliminary meetings to form a home school co-op. While the organization hasn’t progressed forward significantly in the last year (our children are all preschool school age or younger and the woman heading it up just had another baby), the idea was one I could get on board with. The co-op would meet a few times a week (number of times per week and amount of time to be determined) allowing parents a break and children more interaction. We have had a few structured play dates that seemed to work well for the kids. Through the process of all of this I realized what it is I really want when it comes to my daughter’s education.

I want to be involved in her education, but I also want her to benefit from the wisdom and abilities of others. Learning a foreign language from a native or high level mathematics from someone with an advanced degree would be of huge benefit to her. I also need periodic breaks from my daughter for my own sanity and she needs the opportunity to interact with other children and adults. But at the same time I’m not willing to put her on the bus at 8 a.m. each morning and not see her again until 3 p.m. I find myself wondering what actually goes on during all of these hours. I know that educating in large groups takes a lot of time simply because of the sheer number of students. This means that, theoretically, a smaller group setting should get more done in less time. This would leave more time for creative pursuits, extra help in areas of weakness and extra challenge in areas of interest. Not to mention actual time outside exploring the world we are supposed to be learning about.

So I’m left with a few options. I can try to scrape the money together for preschool or try and schedule regular play dates with plenty of stimulating learning activities at home. For sure we will at least wait until she’s four before seriously pursuing preschool and in our state, you can home school informally until age 8, when you have to file paperwork with the district and begin providing proof of education. I find the whole process a little intimidating, yet I can’t let it go. The more I think about it, the more I feel that some kind of a home school / co-op hybrid education system is best for my children. Now I just have to figure out how to do it.