Wednesday, May 14, 2008

We Survived the First Month!

The days seem so long but it goes by so fast! Ellie is now 4.5 weeks old... it seems this first month has just flown by! There have been many ups and downs along the way... here is what the past month has entailed:
Ellie came home on Sunday April 13 and it is amazing how much has changed since then. Babies are so sleepy at first, so all she did was eat and sleep. I am breastfeeding her and the first week was a huge struggle given the fact that I am a new mom and I had extremely sore nipples from the hospital. Breastfeeding has been one of the most difficult parts of being a new mom (that and no sleep!) and I can definitely see why so many women give up on it so quickly! Your body is recovering from such a traumatic experience and you have to wake up every few hours to feed and have no clue how to do it right! All the books and videos only can guide you, but I felt like I read it all and watched the best videos and still had a lot to learn... I guess you just have to learn through experience.
Ellie had her first trip to the doctor Monday April 14 where she weighed 6 lbs. and 13.5 ounces... the doctor was content with the weight loss (they don't want your baby to lose more than 7% of their birth weight) and everything else was perfectly healthy! She did look a little jaundice, but the doctors weren't concerned... only me! This doctor visit outing was quite an experience though, Ellie got hungry during the visit because we had to wait quite a long time for the doctor. So I began to feed her while we in the doctor's office, which then was followed by 3 poopy diapers within 30 minutes! We went through so many diapers, luckily I had enough with us! Everybody told us we would be going through a lot of diapers, but I guess you don't realize what that actually means until you have your first baby!
So we had our next check up at 2 weeks on April 25... this visit didn't go as well. First it started with Ellie pooping all over Zach, the floor and I. Then we learned that Ellie was not back up to her birth weight, but instead weighed in at 7 lbs. 3.5 oz. The doctor didn't pressure to supplement then but said by next week if she hadn't gained enough, we would need to go that route. This put a tremendous amount of pressure on me since I am the one providing the milk and feeding her! I had thought breastfeeding had been going so well then (my nipples had healed, she was having plenty of wet diapers and we had a good latch!). They suggested that I try to nurse longer on each side to be sure she was getting the hind milk that makes her gain weight. Everything else looked good though, she was in the 50 percentiles (which means right at average) on her height and head circumference, but she was only in the 14 percentile (which means 96% weigh more than her) for weight since she was still low.
The next day we headed for a long day trip to see my great grandpa, PawPaw Keller. PawPaw is now 98 years old and is not in very good health so we wanted to make sure he could meet Ellie asap. He lives in Hickory, and we picked up my parents and my grandma along the way, so this was a very long day. It is very hard to travel with a newborn since they feed every 2-3 hours... so this was a very challenging task. You cannot feed her while driving since she must be in a car seat, so we had to plan everything out. On top of the challenge of making sure she was fed enough, the feedings were not going well at all that day. Ellie wouldn't go more than 5 minutes on each side, and the doctor had just told us to try to get her to go 15 minutes on each side! This stressed me out tremendously because I was trying to get her to gain weight, not lose it! I learned a lesson though, next time I definitely will wait to travel on a long trip if I can for the next baby until 4 weeks! But this was such a special moment, one that we will cherish for a long time... we had 5 generations together! (My great grandpa, my grandma, my dad, me and Ellie!) I definitely wouldn't give that up especially since it is so rare!
Well the next day (Sunday), nursing was not any better. I basically cried all day because I felt like nursing was failing. Ellie started clamping down and I was starting to have pain again in my nipples. I decided on Monday to call a lactation consultant to come out and help me. I did not want to give up on breastfeeding! I knew this was the best for her and the cheapest for us, so I was very determined! I definitely made the right decision because the consultant weighed her and she was already back at her birth weight, which took a huge amount of pressure off of me, and she seemed to be getting enough milk even though she wasn't staying on very long. Now the other problems with her clamping and my pain we weren't too sure about. There was nothing she could tell that was wrong with Ellie's tongue or mouth, and my latch looked good. So she left and decided just to make sure we have a good latch and that we could see some specialist to relax Ellie's jaw to prevent the clamping. The nursing did improve... and I felt oh so much better.
That week had many ups and downs with nursing, I started having this burning sensation after I fed when I felt cold. I talked to the lactation consultant about some symptoms I had and she thought I could have Raynauds' syndrome. Now after looking this syndrome up online and experiencing the symptoms for a few weeks, I am almost positive I do have it. It is not very painful, so I will continue to breastfeed... but it is something that makes nursing not very enjoyable. I will discuss with my doctor this coming Friday about possible treatments that will hopefully take the pain away. Pray that we will find one that works!
Since Ellie did not weigh enough at her 2 week visit, we went back in when she was 3 weeks to check her weight again. This time she weight 8 lbs. 3/4 oz!!! She had gained over 12 oz. in one week (they only expect babies to gain 1/2 to 1 oz per day). I was so excited and so relieved! It was definitely an answer to prayer, so there won't be another doctor's visit until she's 2 months.
So enough about all this medical stuff, Ellie is just beautiful and is awake a lot more! She still keeps us up every 3-4 hours at night, but I guess this is to be expected. Zach and I feel so blessed by this little one, she truly is a gift from God. Our wedding photographer, Abigail Seymour took some amazing pictures of her last Tuesday (May 6th). You can look at these pictures online by going to http://www.abigailseymour.com/pickpic/gallery/jump.php
and click on Ellie's album then use the password, Hamilton, to view it. It is so wonderful that I can have such beautiful pictures of her at this age.
So we have survived this first month! Being a mom is definitely harder than what Zach and I ever thought it would be (it's even up next to teaching!). Getting married you learn how selfish you are, but you can still get your way and not sacrifice much... but becoming a mom you realize even more how selfish you are, and this time you don't have an option... you must sacrifice almost everything! Moms don't get sleep, they have to do oh so much while recovering, you no longer get to choose when you can eat, shower, read, relax, clean, etc. You always have someone to think about above yourself! Even though this is extremely difficult to come to grips with, it is something that I am so thankful I get to realize and to learn. The Lord is making me a better person by becoming a mom, plus I get such a beautiful daughter to go along with it! I would definitely recommend to all newlyweds to wait a year before getting pregnant, but there's only so much you can do! I would never take back having Ellie, but this has proven to be the most challenging life experience so far. Getting married and having a baby all in the same year is tremendous emotionally, enjoy that first year just as a couple and enjoy your pre-pregnancy body! So much changes after having a baby and most of it is good, but there's just no need to rush each phase of life. Oh but I can't end with that... I have to end with something positive... even though this has been such a challenging time, I don't think I've felt so much love and joy! I don't even know this little person, but I would sacrifice anything and everything for her! This is definitely one of the best experiences of my life and I wouldn't trade her for anything! I mean look how beautiful she is:

4 comments:

kellyjones said...

Laura :-) She is b-e-a-utiful!!! I loved reading your stories... and yes, the pictures are amazing! Your photographer is extremely talented! I've always admired your perseverance and selflessness. I love you Laura! I miss you!

Suzanne Reed said...

Laura, Casey and I have enjoyed reading about Ellie. She is so beautiful. I can't wait for Emily and Steven's baby to arrive. Casey was telling me today about your nursing difficulties, and I told her you need encouragement! I had lots of it from my own mom, and that helped me alot. I am sure thte lactation specialist is helpful, also. My advice is to hang in there...I don't think you will ever regret it. It is such a precious time in Ellie's life, and this experience is so unique. You are providing for her something no one else can. Don't underestimate the value of physical contact. Please make sure you are drinking tons of fluids and eating well. You will get your body back--you already look tiny in the pictures! My mom used to say that haivng a baby was like caring for someone with a long illness. It is very draining, and you can't hardly do anything else...but nothing else much matters. Rick and I did a total attitude adjustment the first year of each of our girls' lives--we did not do much else but care for the baby (and older siblings!)

You are right about how God uses our children to stretch us. Pastor Gilbert says marriage keeps us from being selfish--but parenthood takes that to a new level.

Keep up the hard work--it will be worth it. When you breastfeed a baby, you can eat more and pay less!

Suzanne Reed

SteveEmAck said...

Hey Laura!

Congrats on Ellie. She is adorable....I thought I would post since it is 3-am, and I just finished feeding my little one.

I have really enjoyed reading you and Zachs blog, and my condolences for you and Zach for the loss of his brother.

Its amazing how God can use technology such as this to encourage his family. I also had a lot of struggles breast-feeding my little one Brayden. He is only ten days old and man was is extremely hard the first week. We have finally gotten over a big hump after trying several interventions and supplements. I just think girls assume is it a "natural" process, and it is...It is just not natural to know how to do it. I felt like giving up so many times, but as you know now being a parent you will do anything for your child. I just thought I would let you know that I have had similar struggles with the feeding category of parenthood. There is so much pressure on you when you are the only one who can supply the baby with nourishment. Your entries have encouraged me to stick with and and persevere!! Isn't that what Paul encourages us to do in so many books of the NT???

Anyways, I should get back to bed and get some rest. Hope all is well with your family and hopefully Ellie and Brayden can meet someday! :)

Emily Reed Ackley

Beulah said...

Interesting to know.