The 4th Trimester

For those of you that don’t know me well, I’m a big fan of body positivity. I am plus-sized and proud, and not embarrassed of my body. Some time ago, I saw the 4th Trimester Bodies Project linked to on Facebook. I was pregnant at the time and intrigued by the project. It celebrates mothers’ bodies without shame or hiding of flaws.

Eventually they posted tour dates, and I realized they’d be in Boston 2-4 weeks after Inara would be born. I signed up for their emails, and as soon as the Boston dates opened up, I purchased a slot. It’s a good thing I was on top of it, because they sold out quickly!

As Inara came a little early, she was exactly one month old yesterday for our photo shoot. We drove into Cambridge, nearly late due to traffic, and thankfully arrived just in time (I HATE being late!). Ashlee, the photographer and founder, and Laura, the hair and makeup artist, were absolute dolls. It was so nice to chat and work with body-positive moms. Laura beautified me, and I felt lovelier than I have since my wedding day. Ashlee took my headshot and did a video interview to get my info for my bio. Then it was time to strip.

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4th Trimester Body Project photos are taken in a black bra and underwear (bra optional, breastfeeding encouraged). Honestly, I had no qualms about it at all. I was very comfortable with the women and the only other people there were my husband and baby. Then we stripped down said baby and took our photos. Inara promptly peed on me, which obviously happens a lot and we quickly toweled it up. Otherwise it went by quickly, while I just cuddled and played with my sweet daughter, who obliged with adorably open, wide eyes. Then I got to choose which photo would be used for the project. There were so many good ones, but this one just spoke to me. I’m just so happy to be holding her.

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So here I am, post-baby body in my skivvies for the world to see. I’m not nervous about it at all, honestly. It took a long time for me to get to a place where I can say that, and it took a lot of mental work. I wasn’t always heavy. I started gaining weight in college then gained a lot more through my mother’s illness and death. I’ve never been able to keep off what I lose, and I finally had to give myself a break from it before my mental health deteriorated further. Now that we have Inara, we both want to try to get healthier, but I’ll be going a lot easier on myself this time. I love my body no matter what. It has done amazing things for me.

Thank you Ashlee for an amazing experience. This project is something the mothers of the world desperately need.

Catching Up

Here’s some irony for you: I finally get the baby to sleep by midnight, but I had a good nap on the couch this evening and now I’m not sleepy. Every. Single. Night. I’ve been begging her to sleep. Now she is and I can’t!

So, since I’m awake, I’ll blog! ;) I can’t believe Inara is almost 4 weeks old. I’m woefully behind on blogging, but things have been crazy. Not unusually so, just newborn-level crazy. I’m getting by on a LOT less sleep, though I’ve been sleeping longer stretches than I ever did pregnant. It’s awesome to have my body back. So much less pain and less going to the bathroom.

Breastfeeding has been a challenge. My nipples are apparently a little flat so we need to use a nipple shield. She often screams and flails instead of latching, but she’s getting better. One night she fed almost constantly for five hours. That was exhausting. We’re trying to keep her awake more during the day now so she sleeps better at night.

Otherwise, she’s a complete joy. She’s gorgeous and hilarious and snuggly. We can’t even believe we made her. We are so completely in love with her and our new life.

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Parenting day 12

My little one was due today, so it only seems fit that I try to catch up on the first 12 days of her life while she naps. :) I’ll try to summarize, but there’s so much to talk about.

Once she was born and I was stitched up, she was placed in my arms and I was wheeled into recovery. There we finally had skin-to-skin, and I was in bliss. My husband snapped some photos…

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She was so completely perfect. I let go of her briefly to be weighed and measured: 7 lbs., 18 3/4 in. So tiny! I started getting feeling back in my toes and wiggling them. They put wraps around my calves that inflated at intervals to prevent blood clots. I still had my catheter in from when I got my epidural. I had IV fluids and pain meds. I was hooked up to a million things and I didn’t care one bit. We were parents.

My aunt and uncle briefly visited us in recovery. They couldn’t believe how adorable she was, and said I looked amazing. They left, and we were taken to my new room for the next few days. Then Inara was taken for her exam and shots and such. It was around midnight at this point. Hubby and I passed out for a bit and awoke around 3 am, wondering where our daughter was. Thankfully she was brought back soon after. She slept pretty well that night, exhausted from her ordeal.

The next few days are a little fuzzy at this point. We attempted breastfeeding. It didn’t go well. She wouldn’t latch and would just cry or fall asleep. They got me pumping and syringe-feeding her my colostrum, but I wasn’t producing much. She was always still acting hungry and it would take forever to calm her back down to sleep. I attempted solid food for breakfast and threw it up. The pain kicked in big time. Then that night, NO ONE slept. My baby was starving and I couldn’t feed her. I cried so much.

Over the next couple days, I pumped more and more, and a lactation consultant hooked me up with a nipple shield and Inara FINALLY latched. She still fought it because she was impatient for the milk to start flowing, but eventually it worked. I got my catheter taken out, my IV removed, I took a shower. Life started feeling a little more normal. We had gone in Thursday night, and got to leave on Tuesday. I was so relieved. Every morning, no matter how badly we had slept, a steady parade of nurses, doctors, food, etc. started at 7 am and didn’t let up. The hospital pediatrician basically yelled at me for letting my daughter sleep instead of waking her up to feed, even when I didn’t have any milk. She tried to force formula on us. Thankfully no one else there did. The LCs were a great help.

Going home!

10478186_10100531906711826_2999175316841289053_nSince then, we’ve had good days and bad. I was supposed to wake her up every 2-3 hours to feed, but if she wasn’t ready, she just WOULDN’T. It was frustrating me to tears. She had lost 11% of her birth weight in the hospital and they were really hard on me about it. Finally I gave in to Inara and let her sleep till she was hungry. Life got SO much easier. Not easy, but easier. She still fights the latch, still falls asleep while feeding, but we get enough in her eventually. I also pump and top her off with a bottle because she takes that so much more easily. I’ve been going to the lactation support group at the hospital and weighing her there, and as of Monday she was 6 lbs. 13 oz. so almost back to birth weight! She’s also been cluster-feeding lately and has likely gained more.

I’m trying to pump more often, like while she’s sleeping, to keep up my supply and have bottles ready for her. That way hubby can also feed her sometimes. I wake up with her 2-3 times a night and usually end up falling asleep with her on my chest in the recliner after. We’re very cozy and safe, don’t worry. I’ll try to do it less eventually, but I love the closeness now while she’s tiny. I didn’t even nap yesterday or today so I think I’m getting a decent amount of sleep overall. Heck, I’m sleeping longer in a row than I ever did while pregnant!

I got my C-section staples out today, which was much easier than I’d expected. A month from today I have my follow-up OB appointment. Inara had a check-up the day after we got home and she’s basically perfect. The doc was very impressed. :) Now, we’re just spending our days taking care of her and gazing at her, amazed that we created something so completely perfect. <3

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Birth Story

That’s right! No week 39 post today; Inara is here! This post will probably be very long and detailed. Medically detailed. Feel free to skip to the last paragraph for the summary if you’d prefer. ;)

On Thursday of last week (June 12), hubby and I headed to my aunt’s house for dinner. As I got out of the car, I felt a tiny trickle in my underwear and yelled “Gotta potty!” and ran inside (I know, I’m so mature). I sat down and peed but it didn’t seem like enough to warrant sudden leakage, and I’d just gone before I left my house. I finished and stood up, and felt a couple more drops leak. I realized what it could be, but wasn’t convinced. I went out into the kitchen to talk to my aunt and husband, and felt more wetness. I informed them and asked hubs to get me some incontinence pads (my aunt is in her 60s and doesn’t have pads in her house, obviously, lol).

While he was gone, I put toilet paper in my underwear and tried to just chat with my aunt, but I got too wet and excused myself to go sit on the toilet till he returned. He got back and brought them in for me, I put one on, stood up, and felt a gush. No question now. I told them and they told me to call the OB, and I did. While I waited for a call back, I ate dinner. I figured, might as well! It’s probably going to be a long time before I do again. Got a call back and was given the go-ahead to go to the hospital. I was eerily calm. I finished my meal, changed my pad, and noticed I’d lost some or all of my mucus plug as well. My aunt and uncle excitedly bade us farewell, and we went home to switch to the car with the hospital bags. We were only 15 min. away.

At home, we fed the cats extra, grabbed a couple last-minute items, gassed up the car (which of course was almost empty for the first time in weeks), and headed to the hospital. No real traffic to worry about, though hubby of course stressed about each slow car in front of us. Got there at 8, just about 2 hours after my water started breaking. Checked in, got examined, and nurse confirmed my water had indeed broken. By then, the fluid on my pad was pink-tinged instead of clear, so that was the bloody show. I was on my way!

After that I got a regular labor and delivery room. We settled in. We had called and texted some people so everyone knew what had happened. My doula arrived soon after. We told my sister, who was out with her wife, not to rush, it would probably be a long night, and we’d let her know when to come. I changed into my birthing gown from Pretty Pushers and put on my birth goddess necklace. Contractions were getting stronger and closer together. My half-hearted idea of a natural birth was quickly fading, and I was okay with that. I bounced on a birthing ball and that helped.

Around midnight, I had reached 3 cm dilatation and I asked for the epidural. Unfortunately, it takes a while to set up. I wasn’t done till 1:30 am. Getting the epidural might have been worse than the contractions. It HURT. Totally worth it though. After that, it was much easier. I couldn’t get up, but I didn’t have to. Hubby, doula, and I all got some much-needed rest. Unfortunately, a few hours later I unexpectedly threw up the dinner I’d eaten almost 12 hours earlier. A good portion went down my cleavage before someone got a basin in front of me. It sucked pretty hard.

My sister arrived at about 8 am. I got checked every so often, and the contractions had slowed down so they put me on Pitocin. Then I started dilating a little better. I threw up three more times, until it was only stomach acid. At 9 cm dilation, she was still at -1 station. Same once I was fully dilated. After a while with her not moving down any more, they started me pushing. That wasn’t fun, though at least I was still pain-free. I definitely pooped at least once (I asked my sister when I smelled something, and she was all “I’m not telling!”) and threw up again while pushing. We tried for an hour and she never got past 0 station. She was getting a conehead from my narrow pelvis. It was exhausting. I’d been in labor for over 24 hours.

At that point, the doctor gently suggested a C-section. I cried with both relief and fear and agreed. I just wanted it over with. I wanted to meet my baby. The next hour was a blur. Hubby changed into scrubs, sister and doula hugged me and went home, I was prepped. I was wheeled into the OR while hubby transferred our stuff to my post-recovery room, while the docs and anesthesiologist swirled around me in a flurry of preparation. I had like 15 people doing things to me. I was shaking with adrenaline and painkillers, so hard my teeth were chattering. I threw up AGAIN. Hubby was brought in when I was “ready,” but he told me later they’d already made the first cut and he totally saw it. I hope he’s not scarred for life. He held my hand and tried to calm me down. My shaking was out of control and big surprise, I threw up one more time for good measure. The anesthesiologist was my puke-catcher and he talked to me the whole time and was SO nice. I wish I remembered his name.

After a few minutes, I heard a cry. I immediately started bawling and hubby might’ve even teared up a bit. ;) I called out over the sheet “Please tell me it’s a girl!” I had been paranoid the ultrasounds were wrong and I’d have a lot of dresses to return, lol. They confirmed it, and then I asked “Does she have hair?” That was confirmed as well, as I’d expected. Just like her mama. I’ll get into all the post-birth details later in subsequent posts, so I’ll leave you with this:

Inara Willow was born via C-section on Friday, June 13 at 9:45 pm. She weighed 7 lbs. and was 18 3/4 inches long.

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Pregnancy week 38

How far along: 38 weeks

Baby is the size of: A pumpkin

Maternity clothes: Nothing new, I’m all set.

Stretch marks: Lots

Sleep: Not sleeping well at all. Awake once an hour. On and off insomnia.

Best moment this week: Date weekend :)

Miss anything: Sleep. Being able to move. Booze.

Movement: Slowing down a little but still moving.

Food cravings: Nothing really

Anything making you queasy or sick: Only extreme hunger.

Have you started to show yet: Same

Gender: Girl

Labor signs: Maybe a Braxton Hicks contraction or two, and she started dropping today.

Belly button in or out: In

Wedding rings on or off: Off

Happy or moody most of the time: Moody. In so much pain.

Waist: 51″ (11″ growth)

Comments: We went out for spicy wings last night to try and get things going. ;) The ones I had were a little hotter than my usual comfort zone, but not by a lot. If I’m still pregnant next Monday, we’ll go back for 50-cent wing night and I’ll try pineapple habanero (mmmm). They might have helped a little though, as I woke up to find she has dropped, or at least started to. The lump that was under my ribs is now at mid-belly. My pelvic floor has been killing me for three days now. Let’s go baby! :) We went to an LLL meeting for expectant parents on Monday night and it was great, and I went to another one this morning about the benefits of breastfeeding. LOTS of babies there today, including 12-week-old twin girls, and I got to hold one! The next time I go to a meeting, I’ll have my own baby. Whoa.

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Pregnancy 37w5d

Wow, what a weekend! I feel like we just tried to cram a month of dates into two days since we won’t be doing much more of it soon. ;) Saturday we slept in deliciously late (well, average for me, but late for him, and it was nice to have him there). That night, we went out for dinner and a play (The Secret Garden). Sunday we went to the beach, then hubby grilled burgers, then we went to the movies (Maleficent). It was pretty much one of the best weekends I’ve had with just the two of us. It was awesome.

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My adorable beach cover-up. Also, my not-so-adorable fat pregnancy ankles.

Today was my second non stress test. As usual, something stressed me out on the way there, lol. I got a call that I had missed my 11 am appointment, when I had made it for 1 pm. Luckily they still took me at 1. I got there right at 1 and there was no parking and I had to wait for valet (which is free, yay!). They never run on time in L&D though so it wasn’t a problem. She set me up with my monitors and I just rested in the dark for an hour, sleepy as usual. Inara did fine. I think she wasn’t moving as much in the beginning so the nurse gave me ice water to drink, and she did fine after that. Heart rate was 140-160. My BP was surprisingly low; top number was 98.

Tonight we’re going to a La Leche League meeting for expecting parents. I’m very excited. :)

Pregnancy 37w2d

Yesterday was my 37-week OB check-up. She told me I’m group B strep negative (yay!) and my 24-hour urine test came back free of protein (yay!). Buuut my urine that day still had some glucose in it (boo). She took my blood yet again and we’ll check back in next week.

Next week is an ultrasound and cervical exam. I’m really excited to see how things are going. She definitely hasn’t dropped yet and I’ve had no signs of losing my mucus plug (sorry for the imagery) so she’s apparently in no hurry. I asked my OB about induction or C-section based on her size (not that I want either) and she said they won’t induce for size, and she wouldn’t plan a C-section unless the baby was HUGE. She mainly wants her size information so they know going into labor what to expect. For example, they won’t use forceps or vacuum with a big baby if she gets stuck, they’ll just go to a C-section. Very good to know. I just hope now that I don’t give birth to a 10-pound baby in July. >.<

I’m leaving in about 15 minutes for my third and last prenatal massage. Can’t wait! I spent like two hours today shaving, clipping nails, etc. Basic beautification takes SO much more work at 9 months pregnant. It’s so worth it though. I feel like a person again. We’re also seeing a play tomorrow night so I wanted to be pretty for that too. ;)