This post is about my nipples. If you got here searching for porn, you’re out of luck. In part it’s a cautionary tale to ask for antifungals the minute a doctor puts you on antibiotics. But if you manage to get to the end it’s also me whining about food. Fun!
When I was in labor (and for several days afterward) both Hatch and I got a mess of antibiotics due to my fever and their fear that my uterus was infecting us both. Those of you who’ve had broad spectrum antibiotics for days on end are probably familiar with the yeast infection that often follows (and if not, count yourself lucky). If you don’t have kids, what you may not know is that it’s very common to get yeast on your nipples and in your baby’s mouth if you’ve had antibiotics and are breastfeeding. It has a fancy name (thrush), and it’s a bitch.
The symptoms can vary, but for me it has mostly involved a combination of itchy, uncomfortable nipples and burning shooting pain in my breasts, along with gunky white patches all over Hatch’s mouth and raging diaper rask. Getting rid of it involves a crazy dance of sanitizing everything that touches you or the baby on a daily basis, washing your hands constantly, eating massive amounts of probiotics, and antifungals of various sorts. We started treatment when Hatch was two weeks old and while Hatch’s mouth and diaper rash cleared up right away, and the pain was mostly gone, my nipples are still in a funk months later.
Being a lactation consultant myself, and having talked to several that I know, we figured that it was just a really persistent case and that I probably needed more of the big-gun oral antifungals (which my NP refused to prescribe). Those of you who find this and think you have the magic thrush cure, please let me know! We tried (in this order, but many in combination): nystatin, grapefruit seed extract, probiotic powder sprinkled on my nipples, gentian violet, diflucan, triple nipple cream, and coconut oil.
Anyway, before we left on vacation I ended up seeing a few of the lactation consultants I know in person and we have an new hypothesis. I’m pretty sure I have some combination of thrush and psoriasis on my nipples. Since we’ve tried everything else under the sun for the thrush, I’m now on a crazy gluten and sugar-free diet. That includes all dairy, fruit, vegetables that might be confused for fruit (carrots, root veggies, squash), and pretty much anything that tastes good. Guys, I have been living off chocolate since Hatch was born. While I fully admit that my sugar intake is probably part of the problem, I’m getting to the point where I’m not 100 percent convinced that it’s better to have funk-free nipples than it is to eat cake.
Cake helps me forget about the boob issues and the crying baby and the husband who just cooked himself a pizza after eating my gluten-free snack that I’d made this morning during the one time of day where Hatch will let me set him down without flipping out. I’m reading Bringing up Bebe right now, and I’m pretty sure that if I were French I’d 1) not be breastfeeding anymore and 2) I’d eat the damn cake (and then probably not eat anything else for a week…but I’d eat the cake).
I love breastfeeding, don’t get me wrong. But, I am so looking forward to the day I’m not under the tyrannical rule of my nipples.
P, Hatch, and I spent last week with my family in Sunriver, Oregon. Sunriver is a strange little town in eastern Oregon, built around a resort, but is perfect for families as you can get everywhere on their extensive bike paths and there are tons of outdoor activities. It’s also about 20 minutes away from Bend, which is near the top of my list of cool midsized towns.
While Sunriver normally has perfect summer weather, like everywhere else it was experiencing a crazy heat wave last week. Hatch doesn’t do very well in hot weather, and while I love our Ergo carrier it makes us both a sweaty mess when it’s hot out, so I was somewhat limited in what I could do. I also realized after booking the trip that babies can’t ride on bikes (why this didn’t occur to me sooner, I’m not sure), which meant less bike-riding than normal for me. Despite that, we managed to fit in a lot of fun and with all the hands around to help with Hatch, P and I actually got to go on a few solo bike rides and trips into Bend.
One of my favorite things we did was a beautiful hike near Sisters, OR along the Metolius River. We started upstream and hiked past these springs coming out of the side of the hill, rapids, and ended up at a funky old fish hatchery. It was a relatively easy hike, but five miles on a hot day carrying a sweaty baby and I was pretty beat afterward. We’d planned to hike to a waterfall later that day and instead we ended up getting lunch and stopping at a distillery (my sisters drank, and P and I had little sips and got a bottle of gin to take home).
The other favorite thing we did (besides lots of quality time with family), was checking out the Bend breweries and BrewFest. The last time I went to Sunriver I was in high school, and either the quantity of breweries has drastically increased in the last 12 or so years, or I’m just paying more attention now. Either way, we had a good time checking out a few of them. Besides Deschutes, which is always great, we loved 10 Barrel. If I had to pick, I’d go to 10 Barrel, if only because we can’t get their beer home.
I should also mention that after drinking at the BeerFest, I ran a 5k. I’m not sure why I thought that it was a good idea that the first time I ran in nine months should be a race after drinking for several hours, but that’s what I did. Towards the end I walked for a minute and sent P a text telling him I was dying. His auto-corrected response: “Hatch is cheating you on,” which I read as “Hatch is cheating on you.” Exactly the motivation I needed to finish (my cousin’s four-year-old running the last quarter mile or so with me also helped).
On the way home we stopped at Crater Lake and the Rogue River for short hikes. Both are beautiful and highly recommended, although Crater Lake gave me major vertigo.
The place we stopped along the Rogue was strange, but fun. It’s actually a paved path that starts by a really pretty small waterfall, goes along the river for about a half-mile, and ends up at an ice cream stand in the middle of the woods.
This is going to be another photo heavy post to get us caught up. July absolutely flew by. I took the NCLEX (the test to become a nurse), at the end of July, so we spent several weekends in early July up at my parents house so that we could get help with childcare while I attempted to study. Generally, there was a lot of studying, a lot of breastfeeding, and a little bit more of a return to normal life (plus baby).
My parents live right by a lake, so we also took him for his first lake adventure. You can see he was really happy about it. It was over 100 one of the weekends we were up there, so he spent a lot of time passed out in the air conditioned house.
I’m not going to lie. I posted those last two pictures in part because my boobs look good. As someone who never had boobs pre baby their existence is kind of exciting. I’m pretty sure Hatch is going for them in the first picture (notice the hand on my shirt).
This is Hatch getting weighed at his last midwifery appointment. He was 11#2oz at the appointment, but I was really nervous before she saw us because P thought it was really fun to weigh Hatch at my parents house on their scale, which said he was somewhere around 10 pounds. While I know better than to trust a home scale, if he’d only been ten pounds that would have indicated that something was either wrong with him or with breastfeeding, so I was holding my breath for a good number. Of course he seemed perfectly healthy the whole time, so everyone thought I was being crazy.
My mom watched Hatch while I was taking NCLEX (which I passed!). After the craziness of the test, we went out to lunch at Fish in Marin, had wine by the water, and went to the Heath Ceramics factory, where I bought a few small bowls (my first Heath items), as a post-NCLEX gift to myself.
One of my favorite bay area things that we’ve taken advantage of this summer is all of the food trucks. The creme brulee above is from a food truck that serves only that. While going out to eat with a baby is a little overwhelming right now, eating at food trucks is perfect. We don’t have to cook, we can get out of the house, but nobody can really complain too much if your baby is crying in a parking lot. We’ve been going to Off the Grid (a group of food trucks) in Alameda every Saturday for lunch and then taking a long walk on the beach.
One of the best things that happened in the second month is that Hatch actually smiles now. Real smiles in response to things like: having Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” sung to him, dancing, and seeing P and I first thing in the morning (although we sleep with him so it’s not like a novelty to see us, he is a very happy boy at around 6 am).
In the spirit of catching this blog up with my life, this post is going to be a photo dump of Hatch’s first month. I know most of you are reading this off of Facebook, and have already seen most of these pictures, but for those of you who are blog-only readers, get ready for a whole lot of adorable baby.
These pictures were taken right after we got home from the hospital, when Hatch was two days old. In the bottom one you can still kind of see the marks on his face from all of the stickies that were holding the NICU tubing to his face. That night was really rough because my milk hadn’t come in yet, he was a hungry boy, and I had to go to school the next day. I will spare you the pictures from day three, but there is nothing pretty about taking a four day old infant to school when you’ve had 12 hours of sleep in the last six days. Also, my milk literally came in while I was in class (my midwifey friends got the pleasure of feeling up my super engorged self). If you ever happen to be in the position where you are teaching a new mom, cut her a break and don’t threaten to fail her if she doesn’t show up for the final class.
So this isn’t really a cute baby picture, but to get me into further trouble with my midwife (who would have liked me to stay in bed for a few weeks), when he was a week old we went to my graduation ceremony from nursing school. You can barely see this in the picture, but I wore him on stage during the ceremony and they pinned my sling. Also, I curled my hair in this picture. That never, ever happens, but if I’m going to go out in front of a large crowd one week after giving birth and having hemorrhaged and am now anemic and look like death, I’m going to curl my damn hair. I will say that after the ceremony, I bolted. Large crowds plus a newborn baby is really overwhelming. You’d think I would have learned my lesson, but you’ll see in a few pictures that I didn’t…
He’s a little over a week old here. Adorable, right?
More of the same. But since his really amazing hair is covered up here, you can focus on how cute his cheeks are. He’s actually exactly two weeks old in this picture.
Hatch with P, just over two weeks old. His face was puffy for a few weeks after he was born. As soon as it stopped looking so puffy, I feel like he suddenly looked sooo old. I think that’s about the point I started telling P I wanted to have ten kids so I could do the newborn thing again. It’s probably a blessing that we’re totally infertile (besides random fluke babies).
Remember how I said going into a crowd with a newborn is very overwhelming? Well instead of going with that and staying inside like a good postpartum mama, we went to a baseball game with our two and a half week old. My camera decided to die when we were at the game so I don’t have any pictures, but here he is in his “I’m a Giant’s baby” onesie. The game was a battle of the bay (Giants vs A’s) and while the Giant’s were ahead the entire game, the A’s came back and won in the 9th inning, right after Hatch and I called it and left a bit early to avoid sitting in post-game traffic. I can’t decide if that means he was a good luck charm for the Giants or if my Oakland-born son might be a traitor.
Hatch is three weeks old here. He’s wearing a way too big outfit for the picture because I saw something like it on Pinterest, and when you are up all night nursing and only have one hand free to surf the internet on your phone, there are a lot of things on Pinterest that seem like an excellent idea.
Cute cloth diaper butt above, thumb-sucking and a very milk-drunk baby, below.
And finally, here he is one his one-month birthday. While he was pretty mellow in the first few weeks, as he got closer to a month he seemed to suddenly realize he could move his arms and legs. He’s now a huge wiggler so you’ll notice when I post the second month of pictures there are a lot more with blurred hands and feet.
When I left off the birth story, we were on our way to the hospital on Monday afternoon (June 4th). We arrived and waited in triage for what felt like ages. As a midwifery student I always thought the whole theory that more babies are born on a full moon to be ridiculous, but this was a full moon and the hospital was slammed.
If you are a birth purist and think any and all medications are bad news, this story is about to get really bothersome to you right about now. There was a point in my life when I might have joined you in that judgement, but no more. Once we went into the hospital, I was clear in my thinking that I was going in because they’d be able to provide me with something I couldn’t get at home (drugs). Because they were so busy I spent about an hour in triage. After some insisting that I really, truly wanted meds (something I’d normally be happy to see in a nurse, but in the moment not so much), I was given a dose of IV pain medications. While I think they might have cut the pain a tiny bit, they mostly made me not give a crap because I was soooo exhausted. But, they did make it tolerable to be in my tiny curtained space in the triage area without access to any of the other things that had helped with pain so far.
Finally we were moved to a labor room where I was set up with an epidural by the nicest anesthesiologist I’ve never met. Hell, he was one of the nicest doctors I’ve ever met. And this isn’t just a reflection on his ability to effectively numb my labor pain; he was solidly a good person. He talked me through the procedure step by step, in a sort of obsessive way that I totally appreciated. It sounded something like this:
“Okay, I’m going to touch your back now.” (touches my back) “That’s my hand you feel on your back” (starts pulling tape off tape dispenser) “That sound you hear is tape. I’m going to pull some off and stick it to your back.” (Sticks tape to my back).
Serious attention to detail folks.
So at that point I’m pretty numbed up, but only on the side I’m lying on. It sort went like that for the next few hours…me sleeping, but having to switch sides every half hour or so to keep the epidural somewhat even. For the birthy people out there, I also got a low level of pitocin started since my contractions had been regular but not very strong up until this point, and IV antibiotics for my fever. A few hours later an OB resident came in to check me and discovered I was completely dilated! Right after this, one of my friends called me and because I was totally loopy at this point (from lack of sleep, not the meds), I answered the phone and was chatting until she realized I was 10 centimeters and made me get off the phone because nobody should be casually chatting with friends at that point, epidural or not.
While I was totally dilated, Hatch was still way up there so they decided to have me “labor down” for an hour. The idea behind this is that if you chill for a bit without pushing, your body and the baby will do the work of getting the baby in a better position to start pushing. Because things were so busy the doctors disappeared for a few hours, during which time I ended up getting a wonderful L&D nurse (she’s actually a nurse midwife working as an L&D nurse). She set up the room so that my midwife could continue to be very involved in my care and got me started with pushing. When the doctors reappeared, it was clear they wanted me to go to a c-section since they were convinced he was too big for me to push out, even though I’d only started pushing twenty minutes earlier!
Let me just say this about pushing. Even with an epidural, it hurt. At that point my epidural had worn off to a point where I couldn’t really tell when I was having a contraction, but I could feel Hatch moving (turning, pushing on my tailbone, everything…). Since I had the epidural I couldn’t get up, but it literally felt like my sacrum was going to crack every time I pushed. My midwife and my nurse had to be very creative in getting me into positions where I could push effectively without me losing my shit because it hurt so badly. For the first two hours of pushing we tried all sorts of things, but I finally realized that one of the more painful positions was the one that seemed to work best so I sucked it up and went with it. “It” involved pulling my entire upper body up into a crunch using a sheet hanging from a bar over the bed. If that sounds like an insane amount of work, it was. Besides being extremely physical, I literally caused nerve damage to several of my fingers pulling on the sheet that made it so I couldn’t feel those fingers for about a month after giving birth.
While I was in labor my dad was in the waiting area scoping out gossip. Apparently for most of the time I was pushing (almost four hours!), the doctors were going between c-sections, pissed that I wasn’t consenting to a c-section. My nurse did an amazing job of buying us extra time, allowing my midwife to be unusually hands on, and generally making the best of the hospital situation. Without the hours and hours of work that they put in, there is no way I would have had Hatch without surgery. Instead, I ended up pushing him out with the resident barely making it into the room (I’m pretty sure they didn’t believe I was actually having him when my nurse called…).
Everything after he was born was sort of a mess. Hatch wasn’t looking so hot when he was first born, so there was about five minutes of scary stuff that I will spare you the pictures from (nobody likes to look at pictures of babies getting resuscitated, right?). During that time, the doctor freaked out about getting my placenta out and actually managed to rip the cord mostly off of the placenta. For those of you who don’t know, that is bad news and meant she had to stick her arm up into my uterus and literally pull out the placenta. While I was pretty preoccupied with what was going on with Hatch, this still hurt about 100 times worse than pushing him out.
Then we learned that because I’d had a fever in labor, they wanted to take Hatch to the NICU for 48 hours for antibiotics and observation (since they assume I had a uterine infection). This is where P and I figured out exactly how rough it is to make decisions as a parent. While it felt like the most unnatural thing to have Hatch stay somewhere else not directly attached to me for two days, there is something about the thought that your baby might be septic that makes you agree to things you might not otherwise think are totally necessary.
Once we’d made the decision not to refuse the NICU (which was absolutely heartbreaking, but seemed like the right thing to do), we had about an hour in the room to hang out with Hatch, let my family meet him, and try to breastfeed. To their credit, they really honored that hour, and even gave us a little extra time by bringing all the equipment into the room to do the newborn exam there instead of in the nursery. The silliest thing is that during that entire time Hatch never opened his eyes once and I was secretly totally freaked out that something was wrong with his eyes (like maybe he didn’t have any). Totally rational. When I told P this later, he said he’d opened them very briefly when they were resuscitating him under the uber bright lights, slammed them shut, and decided that it was unnecessary to open them again. I was not convinced until I got to see him again in the NICU several hours later and he finally squinted them open at me.
This picture of P and Hatch being wheeled away is pretty much the saddest picture ever, and is a good reminder why I will absolutely try to have a homebirth again. Having a baby in the NICU is a story for another day, but was absolutely horrible, heartbreaking, totally scary, and exhausting beyond belief. I feel pretty confident navigating the medical system and I was extremely overwhelmed by it. I can’t even imagine if you didn’t have medical background or if your baby actually had a serious medical issue (instead of whatever the pediatric resident dreamed up to keep your baby there that day).
So that’s the story! I guess some of you might also want the numbers…Hatch was 9 pounds 1.3 oz and 20 1/2 inches when he was born. I’m 5’1″. He was a big old baby. As I told my midwife after the birth, I might want to lay off of the ice cream next time around (she agreed).
Augie (aka Hatch aka August) and I are now seven weeks postpartum. It’s been sort of a blur, with all of the new baby ups and downs along with studying for the NCLEX. I took the test last week, and hopefully I passed so we can put that behind us! I’m hoping to spend the rest of the summer relaxing as much as possible, while still getting done the enormous amount of paperwork and completing the numerous hoops that need to be jumped through before starting the Masters program in September.
So on with the birth…
Several weeks before I went into labor, I reached the point in my pregnancy where I felt Done. It was getting increasingly hot outside, I had my psychiatric clinical rotation four days a week, along with lecture for eight hours on my one “off” day, and even driving to and from San Francisco to get to class and clincials felt taxing. But I also knew I had to get through enough of my class before I went into labor to make sure I’d pass, so I think my body was getting a lot of mixed messages about whether I was ready or not. The last week of May I had several nights of contractions that made me wonder if I was starting labor, only to have them fizzle out after a night of interrupted, crappy sleep.
Friday night, the weekend before my due date, I was up throughout the night with irregular contractions. I’d been monitoring my own blood pressure because I have crazy white coat hypertension, but even my own numbers were starting to go up, so on Saturday my midwife came over and we decided that I should go get some acupuncture to see if we could either a) get my BP’s lower or b) get labor going and get the baby out to avoid a whole preeclampsia mess. We’d also done a 24-hour urine collection the day before (basically I peed in a jug for 24 hours as further proof I didn’t have preeclampsia), but they kept telling us they didn’t know when the results would be ready so there was that little bit of worry that although everything seemed a-okay, we couldn’t really be 100 percent positive.
The acupuncture did make my contractions closer together, so from Saturday afternoon on, they were somewhere between 5-8 minutes apart, but not incredibly strong. Just strong enough that it was near impossible to sleep throughout Saturday night and into Sunday. I tried to rest as much as possible, but spent a lot of time going back and forth between the shower, where I actually felt comfortable, and my bed which felt horrible to be in. On Sunday, after checking in with my midwife and not much progress on the labor front, we decided I’d go back in for more acupuncture. My blood pressures were still not stellar, but weren’t going up anymore, but after I got home from the acupuncture appointment I was feeling sort of crappy and ended up taking my temperature. I had a pretty solid fever (101 something), but Tylenol seemed to knock it out. While my midwife had been coming and going , she decided that at that point she needed to be with me, strong contractions or not, so she arrived later in the day on Sunday. Because of the fever, and not really knowing 100 percent what was going on since we hadn’t gotten lab work back, we decided to go into the hospital to get stat (super fast) lab work done and to make sure they couldn’t find something she was missing.
I realllllllly didn’t want to go to the hospital. I knew in my midwifey mind that if I was my own client I would have wanted me to go, but that knowledge was basically all that kept me from throwing a tantrum and refusing. I had visions of them wheeling me in for a c-section the minute I got there, but that was not at all what happened. Instead, we showed up and got incredibly chill nurses who checked us, confirmed that I had a weird, not really active labor pattern going, determined that my baby was incredibly healthy acting, and did lab work that was as vague and non-specific as everything else. Basically, it seemed like everything was okay, but nobody could figure out exactly what was up. So we signed out against medical advice and went home to “sleep”.
I actually did get about an hour of really crappy sleep when we got home, and woke up at 3 or so in the morning extremely nauseous. That’s generally a good sign in labor, so we were all hoping for the best when the nausea was accompanied by more regular, every 3-5 minute contractions that were slightly more painful. I spent the next ten hours or so in the same pattern…have a few contractions, throw up, try to drink something so as not to get totally dehydrated. My midwife ended up giving me several bags of fluids to try and keep the dehydration to a minimum because I was really, really not keeping anything down. To be honest, the constant throwing up was almost worse than the contractions.
Monday afternoon my midwife checked me again and I was at 6 cm. Not bad, but certainly not as far along as I’d hoped for almost two days of labor. I’m not sure if I said this out loud, but I basically decided at that point that I was going to get in the birth tub, which we hadn’t used yet, and if that didn’t either make the contractions and nausea manageable, or help me dilate within a few hours, I was done.
The tub was a strange beast. On the one hand, it felt really nice to be floating in the water between contractions. On the other hand, the actual contractions in the tub were MUCH more painful than they had been at any other point in my labor. We actually took that as a good sign, but after (at least?) three hours in the tub and lots more vomiting, I asked to be checked again and had dilated to 7 (and I’m pretty sure that was being generous).
We’d had a few conversations prior to that point about whether or not I wanted to go to the hospital (because of the fever, vomiting, and BP’s), but after informed consent discussions, up until then I’d decided against it and felt good about those decisions. But I knew when I got out of the tub that we were headed to the hospital. I still wasn’t happy about it, I felt really disappointed in myself, and was really worried that other people were going to be disappointed in me, but I have to admit I was hugely relieved. And it was 100 percent my decision. I was exhausted and needed a sleep like nobody’s business. There was no way that was going to happen without an epidural at that point. Once we were out the door, I have to say I was almost excited to be going in. I’ve heard labor referred to as a marathon, and at that point I felt like I’d already done the marathon and was going into the hospital to get the really nice post-marathon nap.
So we headed off to Kaiser. I managed to contain my nausea until the hospital was in sight, at which point I threw up all over the inside of our brand new car. Note to others! If you are throwing up every 20 minutes or so, bring a barf bag with you in the car! Besides the exhaustion, I have no idea why that didn’t occur to us.
….to be continued…
(Pictures by my friend Carina, who also took our wonderful maternity pictures)
Augie Hatch was born June 5th after a long, long, long labor and almost 4 hours of pushing. He was 9 pounds 1.3 oz, and 20 1/2″ long. He’s been a champion breastfeeder (despite us having a raging case of thrush for the last several days), never did the first week weight loss thing, and is already weighing in at around 9#8oz (give or take a few oz depending on the scale he’s weighed on). Sumo baby. Do you see those cheeks?
He’s made up for his crazy birth by being an incredibly mellow baby. I don’t want to jinx anything, but thus far he seems to only cry when he needs something (dirty diaper, boob), and it’s been fairly easy to figure out what that thing is.
We are completely, entirely obsessed with him.