Life With Maise: Get Me Outta Here (Week 4)

By this time, we’re getting a little stir crazy with all the rain in Portland, being cooped up in the house all day every day. The week started with President’s Day weekend, so Sam’s cousin was in town and they came over to meet Maise. Sunday night, Maise had her first meal out of the house – an always exciting trip to Mcmenamins for dinner with grandma and grandpa. Maise was happy as a clam the whole time, even snoozing in her car seat for a little while so we could all eat. That’s when we figured out the loud, busy restaurants are pretty much the best place to take her – it puts her right to sleep!

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We also started going to Baby & Me this week – a local new parent’s group at the hospital; mostly mom’s and littles all under 6 months old. I wasn’t totally sure after the first visit if I would continue going, but I still haven’t missed a week – it’s an awesome way to get out of the house for a few hours each week, Maise can do whatever she wants, and it’s a group of people who are at the same place as us so we can share tips and tricks for sleep, eating, play, etc. It’s been a really fun group!

Maise also took her first trip to the mall – Katy and Charles were coming for the weekend (!!!! YAY!) and Maise needed an outfit for photos. I asked Marissa to join me for moral support (plus the mall is always more fun with a friend :-P) and off we went! Again, Maise was a perfect angel who snoozed the whole time we were at the mall.

Over the weekend, Katy and Charles were here! Maise had another trip out of the house for dinner and her first ever round of family photos.

Sometimes it’s hard sharing Maise with people, but seeing her win people over with her cute smiles and sweet stares is always fun!

I love this silly family photo – Maise is making some weird face, Sam and I are trying to keep from laughing, and Mandy is completely unimpressed with the whole thing. Very typical look for our house those days!

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(photo by Katy – http://www.katherynmoranphotography.com)

**

Dear Maise,

It’s your two month birthday today!! Right now you’re snoozing, as usual when I’m writing about you. You’ve been on a bit of a sleep strike for the last few days but I’m hoping we’re well on our way back to nice long nighttime snoozes. You were so cute when we did pictures with Katy – the whole time you never smiled once, but you were pretty calm for the most part and made all kinds of cute faces – typical Maise at that time of your life! Now you’re much quicker to smile and I often find that you stare directly at my camera, which distracts you from your smiles, which is why I got the camera out in the first place!!

I loved (and still love) taking you to baby and me. You like to look at all the other babies, play with some toys, and have your best tummy times there (probably because of all the distractions!) That first week everyone learned you were late and born out of the hospital, but you slept through the entire meeting. Several people came up to me at the end of the class to say how sweet and adorable you were. I know this is embarrassing, but you also had an enormous poo blowout on our way home – it was only a 10 minute car ride, but it’s the only massive blowout we’ve ever had (knock on wood!). It’s pretty crazy how much conversation circles around poop when you have a newborn.

You also love meeting new people and staring them down, and the older you get the more I love that you’ve got a special kind of snuggle that’s reserved just for mama.

You’re still the sunshine, Maise. I love you. I love you. I love you.

xoxo,

momma

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(photo by Katy – http://www.katherynmoranphotography.com)

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Life With Maise: Enough With the Camera, Lady! (Week 3)

Sam had to go back to work on Monday. I cried several times over the weekend even though my mom was going to be here. Not because I was super worried that Maise and I couldn’t do it on our own or anything, but more because I just didn’t want Sam to leave. My anxiety about him leaving probably made it that much harder for him to leave – Sorry babe. Hindsight and all that.IMG_4131.jpg

Over the weekend, we got a day of sunshine and I was finally OK to do a little activity, so we got out of the house for a walk around the neighborhood. We probably overdressed Maise, but it was just so nice to be outside in the sun! The
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Being back at work was as hard for Sam as it was on us to have him out of the house. Turns out having a teeny, tiny life right in front of you all the time makes it very hard to leave. I can’t even think about my maternity leave ending without getting all sweaty and anxious, and I still have several weeks left! [I could start a whole big rant here about how ridiculous parental leave is in this country, and how painfully obvious it is that our government doesn’t care about the future of our nation because they have such callous disregard for the young… but I won’t. Just know… it’s ridiculous and I have strong opinions. Surprise.]

My mom was here and it was great to have some additional support. Maise was eating out of a bottle pretty well, and I was finally making more milk than just enough to get us to the next feeding, though not by much. She was also nursing much better by the end of the third week, sometimes even without a shield.IMG_4161.jpg

Valentine’s day came and went; Maise had a doctor’s appointment and I had a follow up with them midwives (all unremarkable). Maise wasn’t sure what Valentine’s was all about or why she had to dress up, and I remember Sam being frustrated that Maise had so many clothes on it was hard to undress and redress her for her appointment and diaper changes. But we had such a cute outfit for her to wear!

Maise continued to get more and more expressive, and her faces just cracked us up. If she didn’t have the hiccups, she was probably sneezing – almost always in batches of 2 (like her momma) or 3 (like her grandma) – and occasionally she’ll think there’s one more sneeze coming and make this hilarious face and noise that I can’t even describe – that’s a trait she gets from Sam.

Sam and I went on a date! We left Maise with my mom for just a couple of hours to go to Cinetopia (Sam wanted to do dinner and a movie… I said dinner OR a movie… so we compromised by going somewhere we could get dinner DURING the movie_). I held it together when we left the house, but I do remember saying ‘we need to go now before I change my mind.’ It was weird to be out of the house without Maise and I found myself thinking about her through much of the movie, and itching to get home.IMG_4168.jpg

Week 3 came and went somewhat unremarkably…hard to believe that’s even possible, but now only a few weeks later I’m having trouble remembering many details… must be the sleep deprivation. 🙂 Still, we were trudging along as a family and loving every minute of it.

**

Dear Maise,

You’re snoozing now, though you woke up once while I was writing this and I had to go into your room and rock you back to sleep. You didn’t have the greatest night of sleep last night, and today it’s made you extra snuggly, if overtired. Before this nap we sat in my chair and read books, then you snuggled into my neck and just let me smell you for about ten minutes – that’s how I knew it was nap time, you’re NEVER that still!

I loved having your grandma here and I know you did too, though perhaps grandma loved being here most of all. It was fun having three generations all together. I wonder if you’ll be left-handed like us? You definitely have grandma’s long fingers, perfect for playing piano. I was so relieved when you finally started breastfeeding that week – it’s such a special bond we share now, I can’t explain it but I hope someday you experience it with your own baby, when I’m in your house helping you take care of your newborn – isn’t that crazy to think about? You’re full of crazy faces and often times I felt like you were pleading with me to just put the camera away already – it is a hard balance of being 100% present with you, and wanting to document the adorable memories!! I try to stick the phone in your face much less often now, though I’m sure it doesn’t feel that way to you. You’re still the sunshine, Mais. I love you. I love you. I love you.

xoxo,

momma

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Life With Maise: We’ve Got This (Week 2)

Week 1 went out with a bang – after a visit from the lactation consultant and a trip to the pediatrician, we finally started getting some food in her – and on day six, she finally gained a little weight (thanks to four-handed feedings, a lot of tears, and approximately 100,000 Alexa alarms telling us to wake up and feed).

We still spent this whole week feeding Maise through a syringe, either down a finger, or while she was attempting to nurse. I had so much anxiety about ruining her relationship with breastfeeding, I’m sure I was very short with Sam on multiple occasions when he wanted to feed her off the finger and I just wanted her to LATCH for goodness sakes. He had to keep reminding me that FED is best. I spent a lot of time crying while Maise ate (those post-partum hormones are for REAL!). By the end of the week, we knew Sam was going to have to return to work, and four handed feeding wasn’t really an option. After a couple of faulty attempts, Maise decided she would like to eat from a bottle after all, and life got much easier. I finally had enough milk of my own in the fridge to keep her happy, and it felt like yet another huge weight had been lifted.

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At her two week checkup, SUCCESS! Maise was right back up to her birth weight, and gaining like a champ. She’d even eat off the boob from time to time. She still only slept for a couple of hours at a time, I think the longest snooze stretch was 2.5 hours, MAYBE 3.

At the advice of my midwives and the insistence of my husband, I still spent almost all of week two in bed. While I was going a little stir crazy not being allowed to do anything for myself, I am so thankful for those two weeks of rest and healing, and I felt so much better at the end of it all that I knew staying in bed was absolutely the right thing to do. She’d give us a gassy smile or two every day, and loved snuggling with Daddy on his chest. There were lots of snuggles for mom in there too, but she did love those dad snuggles! She started making those adorable cross-eyed baby faces (seriously, they kill me), and she was SO expressive all the time! People told us all the time (and still do, actually) how surprised they were by how alert Maise was. She’s a little observer, that’s for certain.

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Still, we ate a lot, cried a lot, and spent our nights pumping, pumping, pumping. Sam was going back to work soon and I was very anxious about that -even though my mom would be coming down to spend the week, I hated that Sam wouldn’t be home to complete our little family. I just wanted my people all under one roof!!

**

Dear Maise,

Right now you’re sitting in your bouncer in front of the sliding glass door – you love that spot! It just started to rain, perfect timing since we just got back from a walk around the neighborhood. I was super in love with you from the very beginning, but during your second week of life I finally started to feel like maybe we could do this – though I really didn’t want to take eyes off your daddy so he could go back to work. I just wanted all three of us to snuggle forever, didn’t you? You were such a trooper figuring out all kinds of different ways to eat, and taking each one just as easily as the next. While I was still nervous, every time you looked at me with your deep blue eyes (even if they were crossed), I knew we would be just fine. You’re such a good baby! I love you. I love you. I love you.

xoxo,

momma

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Life With Maise: The Gang’s All Here (Week 1)

IMG_3935We spent two nights in the birth center being loved on and catered to and snuggled up in bed together. I’ll always cherish those memories of just laying in bed with Maise endlessly, and having our parents come give her a quick snuggle and then back to the peacefulness of being in what felt like our home away from home for a few days. The post-partum care team was fantastic and made us so comfortable.

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Tuesday afternoon, we went home and suddenly it was life just the three of us (Mandy went to my in-laws for a few days so we could settle in without worrying what Mandy was getting in to, and knowing she was still getting love and exercise when we didn’t have either one to spare). We got home, and got right in bed. Sam took amazing care of us.

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But don’t be fooled – that first week home is ROUGH. There were a lot of tears. A lot of confusion. A few ill-advised attempts to google things. Trying to figure out how to keep this baby alive on the outside was not the easiest thing I’ve ever done – especially because nursing isn’t the most intuitive and not all babies have that figured out right away. I will never, ever forget when the lactation consultant walked into my house and I immediately burst into tears, only to have her basically tell me that it’s no wonder I feel this way, because Maise isn’t eating and has lost a little too much weight. I’ll never forget the feeling the next day, after we thought we’d turned a corner, when the pediatrician told us Maise was still losing weight. Knowing that it’s your only job to nourish the tiny life you’ve made, and feeling like you can’t do it, is the most defeating thing I have ever experienced. I felt like a failure. I felt like a terrible, horrible mom. My heart physically hurt listening to Maise’s hungry cries, hoarse from screaming for two days, and feeling like I had failed her because I didn’t know that’s what was wrong. Everyone tells you ‘breastfeeding is hard at first’ but no one tells you WHY or HOW it’s hard, so I just assumed this was the hard part – which it was, but for all the wrong reasons.

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After that, my wonderful blessing of a friend brought us some of her expressed milk to supplement while we waited for my milk to come in, and we fed the nugget through a dropper. Another wonderful friend came and sat with me while I pumped and brought me a few books, and tons of stories about her same struggles. I reached out to a few other mom friends and heard so many similar stories. Why don’t we normalize these other, very normal parts of breastfeeding!? Guess what – not everyone has perfect boobs or a baby that was born knowing exactly how to nurse. Sometimes there are physical or environmental factors that keep you from nursing effectively, or even just a long learning curve, but all the literature and all the classes just tell you what ‘ideal’ is. It was very frustrating to feel so alone, only to find out that there were SO many others dealing with these same issues.

But none of this is actually the point. Maise and I got to know each other. We spent a whole week snuggled in bed together, skin to skin, not really effectively breastfeeding but figuring it out together. Sam brought me all of my meals, ran every bath, and changed most of the diapers. Our first night home, I even lost my mind for a few minutes in the middle of the night and shouted at him, ‘can’t you just stay awake and stare at the baby to make sure she keeps breathing so I can get some sleep!?,’ then I promptly rolled over and passed out. When I woke up two hours later, he was riveted to the spot where I left him, exhausted, but staring at the baby as I had asked (well, demanded really). With a little rest in my bank, I realized I was insane and told him to go back to bed. We didn’t invite any visitors to the house until the following weekend, so we had her first 6 days all to ourselves to figure out what life looks like with a babe.

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Life with this babe is beautiful. Mandy came home and gave her one big lick. We struggled, but we sorted it out as a family. We snuggled and we laughed and we cried and we watched a lot of baby TV (you know, where you just stare at the baby endlessly?), and some real TV in the middle of the night while I was pumping, pumping, pumping and while Maise sucked on our fingers endlessly, refusing sleep and demanding more food, always.

**

Dear Maise,

I’m typing this with one hand, holding you in the other and expecting daddy home any minute. Your little fingers are hanging on to me, tight (your nails need clipping!). You’ll never remember your first days with us, but I’ll never forget them and have at least 5845744 pictures of you; naked baby snoozing, a few of you screaming, and one of you getting a Mandy kiss. I felt like your momma right away, even as I was struggling to find our way. Your daddy was a natural and only tried to put your diaper on backward once. I didn’t know much, but I knew I loved you. We got it figured out, didn’t we sweet girl? I love you. I love you. I love you.

xoxo,

momma

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Life With Maise: Birth Story

Now that Maise is almost EIGHT WEEKS OLD (where the heck does the time go!?), I finally feel like maybe I have time during that nap to journal some stuff. Except it’s 2017, so instead of journaling, I’ll blog. Mostly, for myself, and I guess for the 8 people on planet earth who might want to read what I have to say (hi, Papa!) Maise’s napping now, so I probably have 6 minutes to write. Good thing I type fast.

I’m starting with her birth story, which will be long winded because I want to remember it as best I can even though I’m writing it 8 weeks later. I feel like it all got foggy before we even brought Maise home! Maise was born in a beautiful birthing center we selected early on in pregnancy, after much research and soul searching. I basically went to a fancy, specialized B&B to have a baby. Our prenatal care was out of this world, and Sam and I grew to love our midwives like close friends. Our last appointment with them was just the other day and I felt so sad to be closing that chapter of our lives, though I know exactly who to call when and if baby number two ever comes along.

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Maise’s birth story starts two weeks and one day after Facebook expected her her “due date.” Now, I know babies adhere to no schedule, and it’s crazy making to think that they’ll actually show up when we predict they will, but FIFTEEN DAYS!?!? I thought I would go insane. I practically WAS insane. Basically no one could talk to me without getting their head bitten off, and I screened every phone call and text message that came through. I was hormonal and enormous and angry and sad and a little scared, if I’m honest. I ate all the time and did everything within reason to try and make her come out. Sam and I walked through the neighborhood in the rain at midnight. We trespassed into the high school stadium so I could walk stairs while I cried in the pouring down rain and then made Sam get me a Slurpee and french fries. I never slept and I peed all the time and was generally cranky. I texted my midwives all the time. I wept through every prenatal appointment, NST, and car ride to or from. I WAS A CRAZY PERSON. My husband is a saint.

Finally, we evicted her. I went into labor in the middle of the night, feeling contractions starting around 3am. I labored quietly while Sam snoozed, not really believing that I was *actually* in labor. I’d been fooled at least once before. Around 5am, I decided this probably WAS the real thing, and called my midwife. She asked us to check back in with her in a hour, and continue to labor at home. Sam started timing my contractions as things got more serious. At 6am, we decided it was time to go in to the birth center, and met there an hour later. Even though the car ride was only 10 minutes or so, it was SO uncomfortable and I’m glad we didn’t have further to go. Megan, one of our midwives, pulled into the parking lot right behind us. She helped Sam schlep all of our stuff up the stairs; we all had to stop once so I could have a contraction (I remember Megan saying, ‘you’re skipping the elevator, I love it!’).

When we got to the birth center, our room was all set up already and the building was otherwise empty. One of the student midwives, Tara, was there before us to get everything ready. I immediately got back on the bed and continued laboring as I had at home (sitting up on all fours). Everyone kept trying to get me to eat and I kept refusing. They tried to get me to change positions and I fought them at every turn. My M.O. for the day was pretty much “I don’t want to do that.” My mantra in my head was, “Breathing in I feel strong, breathing out I let go. I relax my jaw, open my body, our baby will come.” Around mid-morning, I went into the hall to walk around some and do the stairs a few times. At some point I shouted that I was gonna barf and they brought me a bowl just in time. After that, things slowed way down and I got very discouraged. Tracy, one of my other midwives, kept telling me that it was normal for labor to slow down and I should use this time to try and get some rest, but I was just so frustrated. I felt like I had already worked pretty darn hard, and for things to stall out just meant I would have to do that work AGAIN. I got in my head and asked Sam if maybe we should go to the hospital so I could have the drugs, because I wasn’t sure if I could handle it getting harder. That’s when Sam remembered that we had the Labor of Love book I had everyone fill out at my baby showers. Sam pulled it out of the diaper bag and started reading me the sentiments that my loved ones had shared knowing I wouldn’t read them until baby Tilley was well on her way. Some were funny, making me laugh through my tears as I remembered goofy home videos I made with my best friend when we were 8. Some reminded me to make cookies in my head to distract myself. Some were uplifting, others were cartoon drawings from friends or scribbles from my favorite two year old. The one that stuck with me the most came from my cousin, Tom –

What one woman can do, another woman can do.

Everything turned for me at that point. I knew we could do this. My body was made to do this. My kiddo is strong and healthy and on her way. I needed to refocus and believe in myself. What one woman can do, another woman can do. It stuck with me through the rest of labor, and I still repeat it to myself regularly.

Things picked up after that. We got in the birthing tub and started to labor through some much more difficult contractions. The water wasn’t particularly warm, and the midwives were boiling water like crazy to warm it up for me – at one point I told them through a haze to keep boiling water forever and never stop. Sam was with me every step of the way. Things got progressively harder until I remember shouting to Tara at one point that I felt like I HAD to push, and she said that was OK. I kept talking to my baby, asking her to please come out now because I was kind of over this whole labor thing. Sam kept telling me I could do this. My midwives were crazy encouraging and kept telling me what a great job we were doing. At some point, it got dark outside, though I don’t really remember. I think I broke all the bones in Sam’s hands, plus Tara’s, plus Megan’s. Sorry, friends. I just really needed something to squeeze. I pushed and pushed and pushed, for several hours (three? four? not sure). Tierra, the other student midwife present for our birth, started bringing me ice cold washcloths and putting them on my face, head, neck, chest, back… it was like she could tell exactly where I wanted them, and I never asked. Megan told me that at one point I said I just wasn’t going to push anymore, and then immediately started another pushing contraction.

We weren’t planning to have the baby in the water, but as I stated earlier, my M.O for the day was “I’m not gonna do that” so when Megan told me I should get out of the tub, I said no. There were MANY contractions after that, and then Megan eventually convinced me to get out of the tub to let gravity help our baby come out – good thing she did, because Maise was born VERY quickly after that!

Maise was born on 1.29.17, at 8:32pm, 9 perfect pounds, 22.5 perfect inches long.

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**

Dear Maise,

You just woke up, and I can hear you squaking on the monitor waiting for me to come get you. We worked really hard together for you to get here! You’ll never know the depth of my love for you. If I ever wandered lost through life before, it’s because the moment you were born, and every moment since then, it has been clear to me that you’re the reason I was put on earth. I’m here to be your momma, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. You’re my light, sweet nugget. I can’t wait to know you forever.

xoxo,

momma

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