Just shy of a month into this parent-of-two gig and, whew, things are so different this time already. For starters, the boy eats! He nurses without and cajoling or compression or nip.ple shields! I haven’t even had any pain since like day 4! I absolutely feel like I have hit the breastfeeding jackpot. I read this article today with much head-nodding. Particularly her opinion that “breastfeeding is an extraordinary privilege.” Yes, it is. I am so glad to be having a different experience this time.
Jelly is a fast and efficient nurser, usually feeding from just one side for anywhere from 5-10 minutes. He does cluster feed some in the evenings and sometimes in the mornings as well but it’s pretty manageable. Usually after 4-6 feeds in a row he’ll conk out for a couple of hours so I don’t mind the cluster feeding so much if I can keep that in mind.
These days Juju is sleeping in her room, Jelly and I are sleeping in my room and poor C is on the fold out couch. I am trying to keep Jelly mostly in the cosleeper but he’s a good little cuddler and I don’t have much willpower at 2:00 a.m. so it’s been a little tricky to stand by my principles. We did great last night however. Down at 7:30, dream feed at 10:00, nurse at 1:30 and straight back into the cosleeper (after vomit and poopy diaper change, of course), nurse at 4:30 then back into the cosleeper even though he was the cutest little cuddly thing ever, up for the day at 6:30. Not bad for a 26 day old baby.
I started pumping once a day around 2 weeks. It is amazing the difference in building a supply with a pump and building one with a nursing baby! I am getting 5-6 ounces in a 10 minute pump! That would have taken me a half hour with Juju, if I even was so lucky as to get that much. C is doing one 2 ounce bottle per day which frees me up to shower or pick Juju up from day camp, and I hope ensures that Jelly won’t have any problems with the bottle when I go back to work in early August. (Crap. So freaking soon.) I have already been able to freeze a decent amount too. I doubt my supply will be as good pumping at work without my sweet baby nearby but I’ll take it while I can. I will probably add in a second pumping time in a couple of weeks to build up more of a stash. I don’t want a ton of oversupply but I do like the security of a stocked freezer.
OK, both of the kids seem primed to wake up so I’d better cut this off. Before I do: Jelly is amazing and wonderful and sweet and squishy and just covered in baby acne, poor thing. Juju is precocious and smart and really testing us these days but is starting to come around some, we hope. She loves Jelly very much but is definitely taking some frustration out on C and me. Which is OK and expected, but exhausting. We’re happy and tired and overwhelmed, just like all parents of newborns everywhere. The end.
Disclaimer: We are, of course, thrilled to have had another complication-free and fairly easy birth. Some of this is due to our provider choice and our own preparation for birth, but of course much of our birth circumstances is due to chance. I fully understand that things could have easily gone differently for us, as they have for others. We were fortunate to have an experience free of complications and are incredibly grateful for that.
Monday, June 2nd
C was in a hurry to get our flowers planted. She even went to buy more flowers after Juju went to sleep, and was outside planting them until almost 9:00 p.m. I had been having what I thought were just strongish Braxton Hicks all day, and continued to have contractions through the evening. The became strong enough that I did have to breathe through them, but there was no pattern so I thought that we were still a few days away from the birth.
Tuesday, June 3rd
I woke up at about 3:00 a.m. with some pretty strong contractions. I took my ipod and headphones downstairs and listened to my hypnosis on the couch. For a while I was having contractions 5 minutes apart and I thought, “Yeah, something is going to happen here!” I got really tired around 6:00 a.m. and went to lie down in bed, though I wasn’t able to rest much. Around 6:30 I heard Juju waking up and elbowed C to go get her. I explained that I was having pretty strong contractions and that this was probably it. I told her to call her parents to pick Juju up for the day.
C packed the rest of Juju’s overnight bag with her toothbrush and favorite stuffed animal and pajamas. I didn’t know how fast things would progress so I decided to dress and come downstairs. I had a few strong contractions while I was brushing my teeth and getting dressed– at one point I was crouching on the floor of the bathroom. I thought this meant that things would go fast.
Grandma and Grandpa picked Juju up at about 8:30 a.m. I sat on the couch for most of the morning listening to my hypnosis and timing the contractions. The intensity and feeling of this birth was very different from Juju’s. I had a much harder time breathing through the contractions and didn’t feel that the hypnosis was as effective. I also had a lot more back pain than I did with Juju. I didn’t practice my hypnosis as consistently as I did with Juju, which I think is part of the reason it wasn’t as successful for me. I also think this birth was just different! Jelly must have been positioned differently.
Around 11:30 I decided we should go for a walk to try to get things moving. My contractions continued to be super irregular with no discernible pattern. We’d agreed to wait until I was having contractions 5 minutes apart before going to the birthing center, and that seemed many hours away. We drove over to a nearby school and walked a few laps around the track. C used the contraction app on my phone, and I leaned against her each time I had a contraction. Lucky for us there was no one watching, and there weren’t many bugs either.
When we got home C made me some ramen noodles and I continued to sit on the couch and listen to my hypnosis. By this point I was feeling pretty disheartened that things were taking so long and that the contractions were so intense but with no real pattern. I had C call the birthing center and talk to the nurse midwife. She suggested rest and then trying nipple stimulation or acupressure.
Around 3:00 we went upstairs to lie down. C looked for suggestions on coping with back labor and I lay on my side and breathed and clutched alternately at C or pillows or my own arms. The contractions began to feel as strong and intense as they had when I was in transition with Juju, which was a bummer given that they were fluctuating between 15 and 5 minutes apart. By 4:00 I was really having to concentrate to get through them and was starting to moan as well– something I never did during Juju’s birth.
C suggested I put my hypnosis back on so I went downstairs and got my ipod. The only position I could bear at this point was being on hands and knees clutching at the ottoman. My contractions started to come between 2 and 3 minutes apart and I was really vocalizing through them– C was worried about the neighbors hearing but I was way beyond caring about that. At about 4:45 I realized I was pushing and managed to croak out, “Pushing!” between contractions. “Jesus Christ!” is what I think C said. “Do you need me to call an ambulance?” I said no and we grabbed our bags and headed for the car. C drove pretty fast to the birthing center. On the way she called to tell them we were coming, but both of their lines were busy so the call went to the answering service. I don’t think they understood the seriousness of the situation because they just said they’d have someone get back to us.
Our midwife called when we were maybe 5 minutes away. She couldn’t even hear C because I was moaning so loudly. (It is HARD to not push. I don’t recommend it.) She told C she would run the water for the tub in the Lake Room. We arrived at the birthing center to find the parking lot totally full of cars. We parked in the “reserved for mothers in labor” spot by the front door and I got out and walked straight through the waiting area to the Lake Room. The tub was maybe 1/3 full of water. I asked if I could get in even though it wasn’t full and the midwife said I could.
I dropped my pants and underwear right on the floor and held my arms up for C to take off my shirt. I had a contraction almost immediately in the tub. The midwife used the doppler to check the baby’s heartrate– the only time she was able to do so before his birth. The labor notes say his head was visible at 5:01. The midwife commented that she could see the membrane. At 5:04 he was born. I noticed that I felt his birth as three distinct parts– what I think must have been the membrane, his head, and then his body. C picked him up (with no prompting from the midwife this time– now she’s an expert) and put him on my chest.
He was pretty blue but yelling his little head off so we knew he was fine. I sat in the tub and held him for maybe 15 minutes or so. I could see the remains of the amniotic sac floating in the water. It’s supposed to be good luck to be born “in the caul.” Jelly’s ruptured as he was being born so it wasn’t a complete caul birth– it’s even more rare for a baby to be born without rupturing the sac at all.
I delivered the placenta in the tub and then got out to lie on the bed. We kept the placenta attached for quite a while– perhaps 45 minutes or so. Jelly nursed for the first time even before the cord was cut. I was elated that he nursed easily and well within the first hour– such a change from Juju!
We had left the house in such a hurry we hadn’t had time to bring some of the meals we had in the fridge and freezer. We did have a bag of snack foods, but no lasagna like we planned. The student midwife offered to make me some scrambled eggs and toast and then brought it to me on a bed tray which was very nice of her.
Jelly had his newborn exam around 8:00 p.m. and weighed in at 7 lbs 1 oz– just a bit larger than his sister. We spent a while taking pictures and texting our friends, and then left to go home around 10:00 p.m., 5 hours after the birth.
Jelly has been such a sweet and easy baby so far. He nurses so well! Nursing has been easy and almost pain-free for me this time. Boy, do I have the perspective to really appreciate that after exclusively pumping with Juju! He is really a champ eater and was easily back over his birth weight by 8 days old. It is such a relief to have a baby who nurses when he’s hungry and gains weight easily. We are so thankful.
He is a good sleeper as well, though he wants to be held and doesn’t seem to care for swaddling. I can generally get a 3 hour stretch out of him in the cosleeper before he ends up next to me for most of the night. He nurses about every 2 hours through the night with minimal fussing in between, and does well nursing side-lying. He is super sweet and cuddly and mellow, and I hope it continues! Juju is an amazing kid but can be sort of…intense. I can already see that Jelly will be his own wonderful little person, and of course we are totally smitten with him.
[Here is Juju's birth story if you're interested.]