Friday, February 3, 2017

Pumping Mama: My Lansinoh Smartpump and Me

As I sit at my desk at work, rehydrating with tea (wait, is tea actually dehydrating?) after pumping, snacking on dry Cheerios like I did as a toddler, I can't help but...wait, what was the rest of that thought? I have no idea. Because I have severe Mom Brain. I need this 15 minute writing break to refocus the thinking parts of my brain before I dive back into work. I thought pumping would provide much needed breaks in my day to rest and recharge (ha!) but it turns out, pumping is draining. Literally and figuratively. I don't leave my pumping sessions feeling rejuvenated and ready for action. I'm often tired and...well, like I said, drained.

I'm using a Lansinoh Smartpump at work, which I generally love. I used the Medela Pump In Style Advanced once and exactly once - the Lansinoh is simpler to use and I find the flanges more comfortable. I was initially excited about the Smartpump because of its tracking features - it has an app that connects to the pump via bluetooth so you can log how long your pumping sessions are and what your output is, among other things. And for the first few months, I found that super useful. Now, however, as I've been pumping for about two months, I find that manually logging my ounces is more trouble than its worth, and I don't track anything else baby-related anymore. I'm not super concerned with tracking output over time because it's relatively stable, and I know how much I'm pumping because it says so right there on the bottle. As long as I fill those bottles over the course of the day, I don't care quite as much how much I get in each session.

Pumping at Work, Working While Pumping
Awkward photos are my specialty.


  • Super easy to use. The digital display makes keeping track of time, pumping strength, and "style" super easy, and the buttons to adjust are great. I hated the Medela's knob-style adjusters, and I felt like I could never get the pressure and speed quite right. I like the different pumping styles, and find it very easy to match one of their pre-set sucking patterns to how my baby typically nurses.
  • The flanges are comfortable. I'm kind of in between sizes with the Medela ones, but the Lansinoh ones fit me great.
  • Pretty quiet. Our conference room walls are pretty thin, and I'm told that it can't be heard in the room next to me.
  • It's a pretty compact little system (the cooler bag it comes with is large enough to hold 4 bottles, and ice pack, and all the pumping parts in a ziplock bag). I can fit the aforementioned cooler bag full of gear, the pump itself, and my hands free pumping bra in the small tote bag that Lansinoh provided. It's a bit more discreet than the Pump in Style backpack for sure, if that's something you care about (I don't), and I find it easier to carry than a backpack, or at least more convenient to carry.
  • My baby likes the Lansinoh mOmma bottles, so it's convenient to pump directly into the bottles she's going to drink from. The wide mouth makes them easy to clean as well.


  • Lots of parts. The Medela is a little more universal; there are substitute parts made by third parties that reduce the number of individual pieces you have to wash. The Lansinoh pump isn't difficult or complicated, but there are 5 separate pieces to wash (times 2) and it would be nice if there was an all-in-one type solution.
  • The rubbery part on the flanges sometimes catch drops of milk that I wish would flow down into the tube/bottle. When I take the flanges off, it's a little bit of a delicate balancing act to try to catch those drops (even though it's only a drop or two, every drop counts, right?) that stick to the rubbery lip.
  • The ice pack it comes with is a standard crappy little ice pack. I prefer the contoured hard pack that came with the Medela, so I use that one in my Lansinoh cooler bag (which is a better size than the Medela cooler bag).


  • I honestly don't find the "smart" elements of the pump to be that useful. If it automatically tracked the quantity of milk I was pumping, that might be better, though I don't know of any pump currently on the market that does that (perhaps the Willow, when it comes out?). The additional step of manually entering my #oz isn't useful enough to justify the extra couple of minutes...especially since the app asks for the quantity in ounces, and the bottle has more ml lines than oz lines, so I end up having to Google conversions to get the amount right when I'm in between whole ounces. The app allows you to track diapers and breastfeeding and bottles and growth and more...and I just find that I don't have the bandwidth to care about so much tracking. For folks who are super into data though, it would be useful to have all your baby-related tracking in one app.

Overall, I like this pump enough that I'm considering selling my Medela and all its accessories and buying an extra Lansinoh pump to keep at work (though I probably wouldn't get the "smart" one unless the price was the same, because eh), just so I don't have to unplug and replug every day. One less thing to carry back and forth, one less thing to do. The Lansinoh Smartpump retails for $174.98 on Amazon (vs $109.99 for the regular double electric pump), so it's competitively priced, as far as I'm concerned. I have a Medela hand pump as well, which I'm considering replacing with a Lansinoh hand pump, just to have uniformity with my bottles - baby is bottle agnostic, but it's kind of a pain to go back and forth and it would be simpler to just have one system to use.

Do you pump at work or at home? Do you have multiple systems or brand uniformity? What kind of pump do you have and why do you like it? Does pumping melt your brain or is it just me? Is it the pumping or the sleep deprivation? Or both? This too shall pass, right?

full disclosure: I received the Lansinoh Smart Pump for free in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own; they did not request a positive review or in any way influence this review.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Oh hey.

I'm alive.

It's amazing how little time I've found to blog lately, but with the rush of returning to work plus the holiday season, time has been somewhat limited.

As I ease back into working (both full time at Disqus and still dedicating part time hours to OrgOrg), I'm finding myself in front of a computer more often, which means more stolen moments at lunchtime or while pumping to blog. So you'll probably see more of me around here again soon.

Motherhood is full of very high highs and some low lows...sleep deprivation is a very real torture, and while I kind of enjoy the middle of the night feedings, for their special bonding time (especially since I'm not breastfeeding all day while at work), waking up 3x/night to feed a baby is exhausting (even if Will gets up to give her a pacifier because I know she's not actually hungry; I still wake up).
We have a great nanny who watches her while we're at work, and I stress about pumping enough milk to get through each day since we haven't tried formula yet, but I'm trying to relax about it. We think she's teething, which will be a whole new ballgame...and I'm just hoping we don't get hit with a major sleep regression (waking up every hour instead of every 2-3 makes a huge difference!). I stress that she's not sleeping enough, that we should be sleep training her, that she doesn't nap well, that I can't get her to nap...there's always something new to worry about. I hear that's just Babies.

I feel like my brain is only partially functional at this point, and I'd like to feel more functional. More like myself, I say, but I don't really even know what that means. I'm in bed by 9:30 most nights, because I try to go to bed when I put Margie to bed to maximize sleep potential. That means the house is an explosion of stuff (hello, two weeks of traveling) and Will and I don't do much hanging out alone (except for the occasional "late night" TV binge, until 10:30pm or so), but this is all a phase, I hear. I'm trying to enjoy the minutes and not wish they'd pass more quickly, as much as I can.

In the meantime, I've been testing out my Lansinoh Smart Pump (review coming soon) and some cute nursing clothes from Bun Maternity (review coming soon), and trying to maintain some modicum of sanity in the few hours I have home and awake with this little nugget of joy before we all go to bed exhausted each night. Her round little smiling face makes up for a lot :)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

More changes. More feelings.

As the days of my parental leave dwindle away, I can't help but feel loads of feelings. Mostly guilt. Some regret. Some hysterical joy when I make Margie giggle or she just wants mama snuggles. But let's go back to the guilt and regret, shall we?

I feel guilty that I'm going back to work after only 12 weeks home with her, when I have 6 more weeks of paid leave left to use. I can use it within the next year, but why not use it all at the beginning? It's a choice I made, and stand behind (when I'm not getting emotional about leaving my baby for 9 hours a day). I love the work I do, and I am looking forward to being back at work. Heck, it's two meals a day where I'll get to sit and eat! I'll probably gain 10 pounds in the first month. I might even get to nap on the bus. But truly, I'm proud to work at Disqus, and I'm looking forward to getting back to business. But I'm sad that that means being away from Margie.

I feel guilty that there's a part of me that's looking forward to not being a stay at home mom. I used to think I wanted that; I thought I'd make a good SAHM and that I'd enjoy it. And I do. I just think I'd do better at 100% Mom Time if I could do that but *also* have a nanny or sitter a few hours a day. It's a long day to be home alone with the baby, and it's really hard. Like, way harder than I thought it would be. And with the whole not-napping-well-anymore thing, being at work might just feel like an escape. And I feel guilty about wanting that escape, and I'll probably feel guilty if I enjoy being gone.

I regret the things I haven't done. I had all these ideas that while on maternity leave, I'd send thank you cards and get the house in order (and keep it that way) and cook fun meals and take walks to visit Will at work and go to baby yoga and music and swim classes. I've done none of those things. I have been busy. So busy. My new parent support groups keep me sane, and I get out of the house every day to at least take a walk. But I haven't made it as far as Will's work (30 min walk from our house). I haven't done a single baby yoga class. I haven't made it to Aquatech baby swim time. I went to one music class because a friend canceled last minute and we were available to take her spot. This morning, we went to an art event to make some handmade gifts. It's not like I've done nothing. But the house is still a mess (my hospital bag is still sitting on the floor full of magazines and books I never read). I can count on one hand the number of times I've cooked anything. Caring for an infant is way more time consuming than I had imagined.

Anyway, I know this is all normal and I know I'll be full of feelings for a while longer. I'm taking a couple weeks off for our holiday travel, and I may take some time off in January or February as well. So I won't lose those 6 weeks I have left. I will make use of them eventually. And I know there will be time for fun things on the weekends, and I'll have a few hours in the evenings with Margie before bed. But man, this is hard. For now, I guess I just have to soak up the time I have and buy stock in Kleenex.

Sleepy snuggles after a long day of art workshop and mom group

Monday, November 28, 2016


As I type this, Margie is napping in her crib. This is not something she does for me; only for the nanny. Oh yeah, the nanny. I never thought I would be a person who hired a nanny; nannies are for celebrities and rich people, right? I thought so. But when Margie was about 9 weeks old, I realized that I was losing my mind a little bit, and I needed someone to watch her for a few hours once or twice a week so that I could write, or do laundry, or take care of myself a little bit. Plus, the thought of going back to work eventually, and going instantly from 24/7 Mom to Working Mom was scaring me a bit, and I thought having someone watch her for a bit might ease the transition. I found a great nanny who was available and affordable and she's been coming 1 day a week for a few weeks now, and it's great. She takes Margie to the park, and plays with her, and they get along swimmingly. Fatima, you are wonderful. And because we can't get into any of the local day cares (protip: listen when people tell you that you need to get on wait lists before the baby is born. make the time to check them out while you're pregnant. just do it.), it looks like we will be full-time nanny people when I go back to work. We're hoping to do a nanny share both to defray costs and to have some built in baby socialization, but yeah. We'll have someone caring for our baby while we're at work, and doing some cooking and cleaning as well. Which feels very bougie, but is actually more affordable than most day cares, and is certainly more convenient. I see a lot of value in both options, but here we are.

Anyway, today I'm treating Fatima Day as if I am working; practicing pumping throughout the day as if I was at work, and having her give Margie bottles, instead of me feeding on demand while I'm home and just giving a bottle if they go out. It's difficult emotionally - more difficult than I imagined it would be, I think. Knowing my baby is here in our (not-large) house and that I'm not taking care of her. Knowing that someone's giving her a bottle when I'm right here, and then pumping the milk out instead of feeding her myself...I didn't expect to be affected so much by this. 

Relatedly, I've been having trouble getting Margie to nap during the day. She'll only nap in a few specific circumstances: 

  1. If she's just eaten and she falls asleep in my lap (and I let her continue sleeping in my lap)
  2. If we're on a walk and she's in the stroller or strapped to me in a carrier (and she was tired when we started out)
  3. If we're on a long car drive (above 30mph and she was tired when we started)
  4. If Fatima puts her down for a nap in her crib
The concept of a Regular Schedule For Naps during the day, where I put her down and she falls asleep for a few hours, seems crazy. I know that at 12 weeks, she's still a bit young for that anyway, but it's still something to aspire to someday. If I try to put her down during the daytime, she wakes right up and cries until I pick her up. But I know she's capable of it because she does it for Fatima! And she goes down easily at night. Maddening.

Here's a fun little anecdote for you: This morning, Fatima fed Margie a bottle, put her in the swing for a few minutes, and then picked up the getting-sleepy baby and put her down in her crib. After a very short amount of fussing, Margie was out. I started pumping, and when I walked into the kitchen (which is connected to the nursery) to put the milk in the fridge, Margie started making little noises in her sleep like she was going to wake up. Fatima said "she smells your milk and she wants to be with mama." I put the milk away and left the room to get dressed and she's been out ever since. She napped for an hour.

So maybe it's good that I'm going back to work. Margie will actually nap during the day, and maybe a nanny can help her establish a regular routine of some sort. But it's strange, during this time, being home and not taking care of her. Listening to someone else soothe her as she cries (which, to be honest, can be both a tremendous relief and completely heartbreaking). Starting to turn my mind to working again, to writing, and thinking, and having conversations that aren't about babies. I am practicing to be gone.

I'm grateful to have had as much time as I've had (with a few weeks saved up for later), and for the opportunity to transition back slowly. I know how lucky I am to be where I am professionally, and knowing that I have a supportive company environment to go back to makes this easier. But not easy. And the guilt that I feel about looking forward to leaving and going to work (I'll get to eat! Twice a day! With both hands!) mingles with the sadness I feel that I won't be with her every day. It's been a special and unique time, and I can't believe it's already been nearly three months.

I look down as I type and see the small scar on my wrist from where I picked at the scab from my IV when I was in labor. I'm sure there's a metaphor here about how she'll always be with me even when I'm away, and of course I'm tearing up as I write this. I'm sure I'll cry a lot over the next few weeks, as I've cried for months from the combination of hormones and responsibility and love and exhaustion. Motherhood is no joke. Parenthood is no joke. I could write a whole lot more about the struggle to balance caregiving and career, and maybe I will. But for now, I'm going to run an errand, do some prep work for OrgOrg, and start putting the house back in order after a whirlwind Thanksgiving while a lovely and loving woman named Fatima takes Margie to the park.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Olive the fun

Ok, that title was a pretty bad pun. I'll just blame mom brain and move on. I'm sorry.

This week, I was invited to attend a cooking class and dinner hosted by Lindsay Olives. I was able to bring a +1, and left my husband home with the baby while I enjoyed a night out on the town in San Francisco...the first time I've gone for a night out with a friend since she was born! Woo hoo, livin large and home by 10!

The event was seriously fun, and I ate so many olives. I mean so many. So. Many. Olives. I love olives. Black ones, green ones, stuffed ones...ever since I was a little girl sticking black olives on my fingers at Sunday brunch at my grandparents' house, I've been fond of these low-calorie, high-sodium delights.

This particular event was to promote their new "Party Picks" - pre-skewered olives, ready for a martini or charcuterie tray. They come in a ton of different varieties from olive stuffed to spicy to "vegetable" (aka onion and pickle), and they are quite convenient in addition to being tasty. Lindsay Olives didn't ask me to write a blog post covering the event, but it was so fun and their team did such a great job, and the olives were so good that I thought I'd share.
Dina selects an olive skewer for her martini 
The "antipasto caesar salad" we made.
It was very good.
Smoked salmon spread on toast.
This might have been my favorite recipe.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Marjorie Louise: A Birth Story

It's taken me a few weeks to get it together to write down Marjorie's birth story. I'm not even sure I'll get it all down right now before she wakes up and needs to eat*, but I figure I might as well start typing. The first two weeks of her little life have been a roller coaster, and I'll write about that another time. For now, I want to get the story of her birth out of my head and onto "paper". Edit: It's long.

I was due on August 29, but I always felt like she was going to be a September baby. I'm not sure why, maybe it's that "motherly intuition" or something. Maybe it was wishful thinking, since I kept feeling like I just wasn't quite ready to be done being pregnant. I had it in my head that it would be funny to go into labor on Labor Day, so I kind of had that as my target for a while.

On Sunday, September 4, I was having regular contractions, but they were about 30 minutes apart. They weren't super strong, more like a bigger Braxton Hicks. Noticeable, but not too painful. This went on all. day. long. We took a walk, and got an order of the "labor-inducing" pesto from our local Italian restaurant. The owners had been telling me to eat it for weeks, but I demurred until I was ready, just in case it worked. Um, it worked. Within an hour or so, I was having full-on contractions.

Pregnant Pesto Produces Possibilities
From around 10pm until midnight, I contracted painfully but easily, every 10-15 minutes. Around midnight, we decided to try to go to bed, for a change of scenery. The contractions were still around 10 minutes apart, nowhere near the 4 minutes apart required to go to the hospital, but they were strong. In bed, I woke up with each contraction, checking the clock to see if they were getting closer, "shit, only 8 minutes." "7 minutes that time!" "ugh, 9 minutes." Time passed slowly and quickly, the beginning of this whole "longest shortest time" of parenting, I'm just now realizing.

Around 1:15am, as I finished a pair of close-ish contractions, I thought it might be good to change positions, so I told Will that I felt good enough to get up and go back to the living room. I stood up and felt liquid dripping down my leg. "Ooh, I think that could be my water breaking!" Sure enough, I went to the bathroom and my underwear was soaked. We called the hospital, who told me to put on a pad, wait an hour, and if the pad was soaked, to call back. So wait we did. And soaked it was. We called back around 2:30am, and they said we could come in.

One last picture leaving the house pre-baby, arms full of pillows.
By 3am we were on the road to the hospital (turns out, packing the car took longer than we thought, plus I was still having contractions) and taking ironic photos in the lobby between contractions.

"Take the picture! Take the picture!"
The super fashionable
pajamas-to-hospital look.
We were checked in and in our room in Triage around 3:30 or so, and contractions sucked while laying reclined in the hospital bed. Turns out, reclining is not the ideal position for unmedicated contractions. I got monitored and measured, and was only 3cm dilated. Thank god my water had broken, or I would not have been allowed to come to the hospital in the first place, much less be admitted. I remember the nurse checking out my vitals, and me just asking how soon I could get the epidural. So much for "I want to labor as long as possible without it, but trust me when I say I want it" -- I wanted it at 1:30am at home, and I wanted it now. I threw up quite a bit from the contractions, which was super fun. I threw up again at some point, was it right before the epidural? Might have been. It's a little hazy. It felt like we waited in Triage forever.

By 5am, I was moved into my sweet sweet labor and delivery room (hello, Kaiser Oakland, your facilities are amazing) and getting an epidural. I was nervous, not because of the needle, but because the anesthesiologist said I would need to remain completely still, even through a contraction, while she was placing it. Will and our nurse Bharti basically held me down as I hunched over at the edge of the bed, and I somehow powered through with very still, deep breathing. I think it took less than the 5 minutes the anesthesiologist said it would take, and contractions were definitely easier in the hunched-forward position, than in the reclined position I was in in Triage. But I also tapped into some sort of tunnel vision for a second, just focusing on the pressure Will and Bharti put on my knees as I hunkered down to breathe for a second. It was exhausting, and that was just one contraction. I never felt more confident in my decision to go for the drugs.

Happy girl with an epidural that has kicked in.
From about 6am until about 9pm or so, I labored so damn peacefully it was ridiculous. I was dilating slowly, which meant I could snack on grapes and peanut butter pretzels to my heart's content (they said I could eat normal food until 5-6cm), and I found the nature videos and spa music available on the TV to be quite soothing. I was in pure, blissed out heaven. I took naps, and hung out with our awesome nurse Bryanna, and was just more relaxed than I've been in a very long time. It's been a busy, stressful and traumatic year so far, and I don't know if I can truly explain how lovely it felt to just be free and relaxed, no discomfort mentally or physically. I hadn't really even pieced that together until today, over two weeks later, that one of the reasons I was ready to be done feeling everything was because I'd been feeling so much for so long. I just wanted to relax. And man. It was so relaxing. You guys, I can't even tell you how awesome this epidural was, but I hope the picture above says enough.

Anyway, by around 9pm I was only at 6cm, and had developed a small fever. The baby's heart rate was slightly elevated, so they wanted to give me Pitocin to speed things along a bit. My only concern was whether my pain would increase, because up until this point, I felt a mild pressure during most contractions, but zero pain. And some contractions had passed without my feeling anything. I didn't really want that to change. I was told that I could get extra doses of the epidural (extra beyond the little bump up doses I could administer to myself every 15 minutes, that is - referred to as "an extra shot of Jaeger at the end of your night at the bar") if needed, but that the Pitocin would make the contractions stronger and closer. Fine. 

They were right, the contractions sped up and intensified. And joy of joys, my sciatica returned. Now I was starting to get uncomfortable -- the sciatica meant that I couldn't really get comfortable even between contractions, and our friend/doula Jenny and Will were giving me massages, and it was the closest we came to doing any of the techniques we learned in all of our classes (aside from the couple of hours pre-hospital). I was ready for that bonus epidural now, thankyouverymuch! Meanwhile, Will was pretty anxious about my fever and the baby's heart rate, so he went to the bathroom after talking to the nurses (who assured him that I and the baby were ok). But by the time he came out, I'd been checked and was fully dilated. I asked if it was too late for the extra epidural, but our nurse Kate said I wouldn't need it at this point. I could start pushing, and she thought that I'd be ok. 

Sidenote: Kate was awesome. Bryanna selected her to take over when her shift ended at 4pm, and as we'd been Bryanna's only patients (apparently not everyone goes into labor on Labor Day?), she wanted us to be taken care of. Apparently we are fun people to labor with. Bryanna was fantastic, and Kate was an excellent replacement. We love them both very much and grew quite attached.

It was about 11:15pm at this point, and Kate's shift ended at midnight. I wanted to get this baby out in time for Kate to help deliver her, and so did Kate. I was surprised at how easy pushing was for the first hour or so. I remember saying something like, "If this is all that pushing is? Dude, this is going to be a piece of cake." and I remember getting laughed at. But the first hour was really not bad at all, thankyouepidural. Kate's shift was set to end, but she took a little longer to finish her charting, and then asked her replacement nurse if it was ok for her to come in and help out. I'm so glad Kaiser allows nurses to do this, and that the replacement nurse wasn't offended or didn't feel like Kate was stepping on her toes...because I don't know if I could have gotten through the end of that pushing without her. I mean, I would have gotten through it. Sure. But Kate was just the perfect cheerleader - while everyone else (nurse, Will, Jenny, and eventually the doctor) was down at my legs, Kate was up in my ear, with encouraging and sometimes hilarious sentiments to help me along. As she later said, "Sometimes you don't need people yelling at your vagina. Sometimes you need someone up by your head." So true, Kate. So true.

Will kept shouting that he saw the baby's head, and I kept looking in the provided mirror to see if I could see anything, but I couldn't, so I just kept pushing along. Pushing was tiring, but not painful, so on we went. Until she started crowning. I got to reach down and touch her head (slimy, totally weird), and finally she started staying put between contractions (instead of her head going back inside like a prairie dog in a hole). Shit was getting real. The nurses said they wanted to wait until the last possible minute to call in the doctor, since when they do that, a whole mess of people come in - the residents (Kaiser is a teaching hospital, which I love) and the doctor and midwife and a NICU nurse and probably some other people. I think it was like 6 new people in addition to our cozy little team of 4. 

When they felt like it was almost time, the crew came in...and then the baby crowned forever. I literally saw a resident checking her phone. Apparently Margie was an "epic crowner". The doctor, bless her, was not one for trying fast and furious methods for getting the baby out (and Kaiser doesn't do routine episiotomies), instead favoring perineal massage and some sort of oil I can't remember, to stretch me out slowly. It was as painful as it sounds. When she said she was going to apply the oil to help stretch things out, I would cringe in anticipation of the stinging and burning...but it was generally over pretty quickly and at this point I just wanted to keep pushing. I looked up into the mirror at one point and saw a big round head, coming out of what was apparently my vagina. Totally cool and weird and something I will probably never forget.

I pushed 3-4 times per contraction, wanting to push over and over until she was out already. Having a baby stuck in your vaginal canal is sort of unpleasant, though she was riding it out like a champ, with steady blood pressure and a calm heartbeat. But at this point, I was ready to push her the heck out. We had several rounds of "this is it, we'll get her out on the next one!" and at one point I had to clarify whether they meant this one push or this one contraction (because girl's gotta set her expectations properly), but eventually, one of the pushes was indeed the final push. I didn't know it would be the last one until I opened my eyes and suddenly there was a baby coming towards my face. I didn't really feel a big sense of release when she came out - I just heard some shouts and exclamations and baby cries while my eyes were still squeezed shut from pushing...and then there she was. I hope I'll never forget the feeling of opening my eyes and seeing this squirmy baby coming towards me. It was intense, and I think I may have just said "oh shit oh shit" over and over until and even after I was holding her. This slimy, wiggly little person was on my chest being patted dry and covered in a blanket. I didn't realize until later that she'd had her first big poop-splosion all over me immediately after coming out. Off to a solid start, kiddo. Nice work! :)

Delivering the placenta was way cooler than I expected. I didn't feel a big release when Margie came out, but I definitely did when I delivered the placenta. It was one big push, and then a whoosh and suddenly I felt empty. It was amazing, and I was shocked at how suddenly done I felt. Like, oh. The delivery is over. I'm empty now. And we got to thoroughly examine the placenta before we left the delivery room - placentas are really cool, you guys. I highly recommend looking at yours up close if you have the opportunity. We took pictures, but they're not on my camera and I don't have them yet. But if you want to see them, well, I can probably share them eventually.

The next few hours are a blur - skin to skin for an hour while they checked her vitals, which I barely noticed. Crying and looking around in a daze. Seeing the look on Will's face as he looked at his daughter, who I'd come to know inside my belly, but who somehow still felt totally new, familiar and strange all at once.

I cry every time I look at this picture.

We were moved pretty quickly, by about 3am, into our postpartum room (apparently a lot of people go into labor in the middle of the night after Labor Day and they needed the room). I was still pretty shell shocked from the whole thing, to be honest, and it was hard for me to adjust to this new world where this little creature who just came out of my body was our daughter. This was our child, holy shit. I wasn't really prepared for the hormone shift - I don't think anyone can really prepare you for what that feels like. But for the first few hours, I didn't really feel connected. It may have been the epidural wearing off (though I didn't have any problems feeling connected while on the epidural all day), or it may have just been the standard trauma of a relatively easy birth, but it took me a few hours to come back down to Earth and feel like I could actualize what had just happened. I felt empty, literally, but I also felt confused and shocked and not totally sure what I was supposed to do. People kept asking what her name was, and I still wasn't sure. I wanted it to be Marjorie Louise, but I wasn't 100% sure that it was right. I didn't quite know her yet. And it felt like it was suddenly all up to me, and I wanted to be sure. And suddenly I wasn't sure of anything. We had a kid? Is that what just happened? I'm not pregnant anymore? That's the baby that was inside me? That one, right next to me in the little crib? Is ours now? And my body is a wreck, and did we remember to tell our families that she was born? A blur, I tell you.

"She's here. This is our baby. Can you believe it?"
But after a few hours, things started settling down. We notified our families, who had been up worried all night, and eventually decided on her name. I ate a little and drank some deliciously cold water, and actually got some sleep. The nurses came in to administer painkillers and check our vitals and help us with diapers and swaddles and breastfeeding. Everyone took such good care of us that I didn't want to leave. We were lucky to get a "bonus" night; because she was born after midnight, that first night didn't count towards our "2-nights post birth" allowance. And I was so glad to take all three nights.

I won't go into epic detail about the amazing care Kaiser Oakland gave us, but I will say that it was wonderful. Margie was born at 12:59am on Tuesday, and we checked out on Thursday afternoon, and in between we had fantastic round the clock care from great nurses and doctors and midwives and pediatricians and food service and janitorial and a photographer and pretty much everyone was just great. The food was plentiful and tasty, the room was comfortable, and we just got to chill out and start getting used to being parents. Nothing can really prepare you for the time when you leave the hospital and take the baby home and realize that uhhhh now this is your life, but man did Kaiser prepare us as best as they could. Except that nobody helped us with the car seat, which I felt was A) not very nice, I was terrified trying to do it for the first time, and B) unsafe, and they probably should make sure you're not lying when you say that yes, you have one in your car bye bye now.

Happy and cozy in our hospital nest.
Right now, as the adorable Margie Lou is crying her little eyes out for no discernable reason, I kind of wish we could go back to the hospital and the care of that cozy little room. But we're parents now, and we'll figure it out. I have plenty more to say about postpartum hormones and adjusting to life as a mom, but that's another long post for another day. 

Me and my lil buddy this morning, very tired
after not so great sleep and a fussy morning.
Will is back to work now, and the days are hard but mostly good. The nights are harder, because psychologically as adults we think we're supposed to sleep at night, and newborn babies don't quite get that concept. But we're working on it, and right now I'm listening to Will try to soothe our crying baby in the other room as I try to recall all the details of her birth before they're lost to the sands of mommy brain. I can't believe she's already 2.5 weeks old. Time has already flown by - her birth seems both infinitely far in the distant past, and like it was just a few days ago. 

If you've written your birth story down, please do share the link in the comments. Or just share in the comments, if you haven't written it down elsewhere. I'd love to read about other people's experiences, now that I'm on the other side. <3

*it took me 2 writing sessions to get it all out, and I only finished in two thanks to Will making dinner and snuggling Margie so I could write. Thanks, Will.

Edit: One thing I forgot to mention was the catheter (thanks, Meldemy for reminding me!) -- I had been totally freaked out by the idea of a catheter, which is a requirement when you have an epidural. Turns out, you don't feel it being put in, and it's really no big deal. And then you don't have to get up to pee. They take it out before you start pushing, and before we went to postpartum, the nurse re-inserted it to empty my bladder for me (thanks! did not know this was a thing you could do manually!) since it was full, and in her words, "I place a lot more catheters than the postpartum nurses. Trust me, you'd rather have me do it now while your epidural is still going than have them do it once you're settled over there." She was right. It was no big deal.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Solo Duet

It's my first day home alone with the baby. Will has gone back to work. In a symbolic turn of events, her umbilical cord stump fell off this morning. I almost cried. Last night I had Will take a picture of her stump because I was feeling nostalgic about the fact that that little jerky stump used to connect us physically, giving her life inside my body, and now it was tiny and shriveled. I didn't know it would fall off this morning, or maybe somehow I did. Motherhood is weird like that. 

And yes, I realize I haven't even posted anything about her being born yet. It's been a whirlwind and I'm just starting to peek my head out of the tunnel that has been the first two weeks of parenthood. I have a lot to say, and I'm hoping over the next week or so I'll have the time and mental capacity to write it all out. But for now, hello from my first day of solo parenting. 

When I got dressed, I chose my magenta yoga pants instead of the black ones because (as I said out loud to baby Margie), if we choose the fun pants then today is a special adventure. We are wearing fun pants to celebrate our first day alone together because we are making it fun and not scary. I think it's working so far. 

It's 10:30am. Daddy left 3 hours ago and we've gotten dressed, eaten a small breakfast, and started a load of laundry. Baby had her first feeding and diaper change and has been sleeping in the wrap I'm wearing for an hour. She just woke up and I'm feeding her while finishing typing this on my phone (a rarity, with many pauses to readjust the nipple shield when a sleepy squirmy baby knocks it loose). I think we're doing ok.