Friday, November 13, 2015

Postpartum Style

Wow!  Look at this, an outfit post! It seems like it has been so long. These days my life is all about simplicity and it shows in my personal style.  For right now gone are the days of bouffants, cat eye liner, and mini dresses.  To be honest, this outfit is even a bit extravagant compared to most days.  I pretty much have been living in leggings and over-sized sweaters. My hair is always in a messy ponytail and I rarely have time for make-up.  Learning how to leave the house without make-up on a daily basis has been a challenge for me.  I still wear minimal make-up at work, but when it's 3:30am and you have to choose between 30 more minutes of sleep or putting your face on for the day what would you chose?  Exactly. 
Even more of a challenge has been learning how to dress my postpartum body.  I have already lost around 35 lbs, but my body shape is still so dramatically different than it was before giving birth. I just went through my wardrobe and donated 4 bags of clothes that I knew I wasn't going to be wearing anymore.  Just for fun I thought I would try on my pre-pregnancy jeans just to see how they fit.  I figured that I just wouldn't be able to button them yet, but I was so way off...I could't even get them over my thighs!  Seriously, everything is different after birth...even my feet are bigger! Since I'm exclusively breastfeeding my style has also been effected by ease of accessibility.  I don't have money to go out and buy a whole bunch of fancy pants nursing clothes so I have to make do with what I have.  For undershirts I use the extra long tanks that they sell at h&m.  I was using them while I was pregnant as well and they are just so perfect.  Other than that it's usually a low cut t-shirt or button up shirt to go over the tank top.  I've made the mistake a few times of wearing something that completely covers me up and takes time to's all well and good while you're out but once you're back inside and you have a screaming baby that needs to eat RIGHT THAT me, you will never make that mistake again.

We have been having the best Autumn here in Chicago.  It has been really warm and I have been so grateful for it because it makes park trips such as these possible.  Roibeard works 7 days a week, so he is never home in the evenings.  It makes our days together extra special and we always try our best to take advantage of the daylight.  Micheal loves going to the park and getting a chance to feel the wind in his hair.  I think it's a good change of pace for everyone because sometimes it's easy to feel so trapped in the apartment.  I'm dreading the winter because I fear we are all going to get so bored being inside all of the time.  For now though I am going to try to focus on the good and enjoy the sunshine.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Zero to Three Months Old


I fully intended to post a bit sooner, but as I've discovered first hand, life with an infant can be a bit overwhelming.  Don't get me wrong, I love the little guy like nothing else in this world -- but he sure is a lot of work.
The first two weeks were definitely the most difficult.  Roibeard and I were both off work during that time which helped, but it still felt like an endurance test designed to push us to our limits and explore what happens when we hit that breaking point.  There were A LOT of tears shed during this time.  Micheal insisted on being held 24 hrs/day.  It is insane that an 8 lb infant can dictate when you can eat or even use the toilet.  Of course there were other obstacles to deal with as well, such as feeding the cats, making sure they were loved, constant diaper/nappy runs, phone calls to insurance companies, and the biggest one of all...sleep.
We've all been sleep deprived at some point.  If you've ever had to suffer through finals week in college or have lived through a week of imsomnia you have some idea of how terrible it can be at times.  As for myself, I've had plenty of sleepless nights over the course of my life, but nothing could have ever prepared me for the type of sleepless night there is with an infant involved. It's not just lack of sleep where you're a little delirious but a cup of coffee can perk you up for a few hours before you go back to bed.  This is having the tiniest most delicate creature depend on you to take care of him and meet all of his needs when he wants them met.  Roibeard and I worked in shifts for the first two weeks and averaged about 2 hrs of sleep per day.
Once week 3 started Roibeard went back to work and for a few days I was completely on my own with the little one.  It was scary.  Just taking him on the bus alone or even strapping him in the pram alone for the first time caused my anxiety to shoot through the roof.  About halfway through week 3 I started back at work as well, though only for about 12 hrs/week.

Going back to work was terribly difficult.  I hated leaving the little guy each time.  As difficult as it was I really think that working on such a part time basis was the best thing to do though.  I had just started a new job, which I why I had to start before my 4 weeks of leave were up.  It taught me how to be away from him and I have to admit that even though I missed him terribly...for those 4 hours away I felt like a (somewhat) normal person again. Also since I was only working part-time I was able to go to a few mommy and me sessions offered to new moms by the hospital.  It was helpful for me to be around other sleep-deprived parents and good for Micheal to hear the coos of all the other babies. 
Once mid-September hit I began working full time again...or mostly full time.  Over the past month we have settled into a schedule where I work in the morning and Roibeard works in the evenings.  It has been very difficult because we never see each other, but this way one of us is always home with the baby. 


He has grown so much over the past 12 weeks.  He is already 15 lbs and 25 inches long.  I have a feeling he is going to be tall like his dad.  Right now he is at a really fun age because he is curious, he smiles, he laughs, he coos, and even has his little nonsense words that he says.  He is still incredibly clingy, which makes every day tasks a challenge.  He also has reflux so he is constantly spitting up his milk and he has days where he cries and cries for hours on end. Overall though he is turning out to be a really sweet little baby.  We just love him so much and we are really trying to treat each day as a blessing and really enjoy it the the fullest.  I feel like the #1 thing I hear from anyone who has been a parent is that you really need to cherish every moment because it just goes by way too fast.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Birth Story of Micheal Sean

Before I begin, I just wanted to add a bit of a disclaimer -- if you know me personally and don't want to picture me along with the "miracle of birth" I am going to suggest that you skip this blog post and stick to the adorable baby photos to come.  When I was pregnant I read through sooooo many birth stories.  Reading what other women went through really helped to prepare me for what was to come.  I hope that perhaps I can do the same for another new mom-to-be out there!
Around 5:45 am on August 5th it all started with the cats.  I feed them around 6:00 am every morning, but they usually start bothering me for food a bit early.
Okay, wait, sorry...I guess I should actually start with the day before  -  August 4th.  I woke up quite early on August 4th feeling very under the weather.  It felt like I had the flu along with the worst period I had ever experienced.  I also had a terrible headache that I just couldn't shake.  My contractions were still irregular,  so I didn't quite think that I was in labour.  I was having a ton of really dull back pain though, so I thought maybe it could be labour and I just didn't know it.  I decided to take the day off of work and I called my doctor.  My doctor wasn't too concerned with the pain and discomfort, but did seem very concerned about the headache.  She told me to wait an hour and if my head still hurt then I was to go straight to the hospital.  Near the end of my pregnancy I was becoming very high risk of developing pre-eclampsia.  So my doctor was worried that I had developed high blood pressure.  I was somehow able to fall asleep for an hour and when I woke up, the headache was gone, so I ended up not rushing to the hospital after all.  Instead I spent most of my day miserable and counting contractions that never got anywhere near regular. By early evening I was feeling better and suggested to Roibeard that we go see a film.  By the end of the night I was feeling really good and even felt that I was up for working my shift the next day.

Okay, so back to August 5th and the cats...the little ones woke me up around 5:45 begging for their breakfast.  As I sat up in bed I felt a trickle...down there.  At first I didn't think too much of it as the same thing happened about a week earlier and it turned out to be nothing more than a dream.  Still, I went to the toilet to check things out and all of the sudden I have a huge, massive, gargantuan gush of liquid pouring out of me (my birth classes claimed this sort of thing only happens in the movies...they lied).  I tried to remain calm as Roibeard was still sleeping.  I came up with a plan - feed the cats, get washed up, and climb back into bed to wake Roibeard up.  As I was getting ready my plan failed as I dropped my deodorant on the floor and it broke and I couldn't find the top half.  Of course this woke Roibeard up and he was asking what was going on.  I wanted to get find the top as I didn't want it to be left on the floor for the cats to lick if we were heading to the hospital.  Then it happened...another huge, massive, gargantuan gush of liquid...this time all over the floor of our spare room.  Roibeard was getting really angry that I wasn't telling him what was going on.  But I couldn't!  This was supposed to be a wonderful exciting thing and instead I was looking for a deodorant top and gushing fluid everywhere.  Finally the gushing stopped and I fast forwarded my plan a bit to tell Roibeard.  I gently nudged him and reassured him that everything was okay...but that he did need to wake up and get dressed because we needed to head to the hospital.  I explained that my water had broken and that I was going to take a quick bath while he got things ready.  I let him know that I wasn't in much pain and didn't have any contractions.  I am so grateful that he just got up and was calm and completely understanding.  I soaked in the tub for a bit while he got ready himself and set out extra cat food dishes and water for the wee ones. We said goodbye to the kitties and headed off on our journey.  Since I wasn't in much pain we actually just took the bus to the hospital.  It was a peaceful early morning trip. 

We made it to the hospital just before 7am and I was immediately taken to triage where they began their assessment.  They had to double check to make sure my water had actually broken and I wasn't just making it up.  Of course, as they checked...whoosh...another gush of fluid came pouring out.  And so I was admitted to the hospital around 7:30am.  I was still only 2cm dilated, so I had a ways to go before anything was going to happen.  Because I was losing so much amniotic fluid so quickly they wanted to start me on Pitocin right away to induce labour. 

And so began all of the ways that my birth plan failed.  I really would have liked to have had either an all natural home water birth or an all natural birth center birth with a certified midwife.  However, those options aren't covered under my insurance.  Also, since I have a previous history of back problems Roibeard and I agreed that it would be best for me to deliver in a hospital in case anything went wrong.  I still had a clear vision of how I wanted my birth to proceed and shared this plan with my doctors and the hospital.  I wanted everything to be all natural without any medication to speed up labour or manage the pain.  I wanted to be able to walk around as much as possible.  I wanted to be able to change positions to help manage the pain.  I also wanted to breastfeed right after birth.  I did try to keep an open mind and understood that a few of these things I may have to compromise on...however, I wasn't planning on all of them changing and so fast.

I refused to let them give me Pitocin to induce labour.  I told them to at least give me awhile to see how things progressed on their own.  I was still only 2cm and my contractions were very irregular.  They agreed to give me a little time.  Roibeard and I got some light rest.  We had the "zen radio station" playing in the background on Pandora to keep the room a calm environment.  I did my best to keep in touch with my family periodically during this time.  (They are all in Michigan, so I didn't have any one there in the hospital).  I tried to change positions a few times so that gravity would help drop the baby down.  This ended up being a huge no no as anytime I moved around the fetal heart rate monitor would slide down and I'd have 10 nurses running to my room to see what was wrong.  So...being able to change positions...out the window.

Once afternoon hit the doctor and nurses came back in and told me they needed to start the Pitocin as I had only progressed to 4cm.  They explained that it was dangerous to keep losing fluid because the baby needed it for when the big moment came. Also, because my blood pressure had been really high all day they had no choice but to treat the situation as if I had developed pre-eclampsia.  They also forbid me from walking and tried to get me to go both number 1 and number 2 in a bed pan.  I had a toilet right there in my room and reminded them that being able to walk around was in my birth plan. Ever since being admitted in the morning I had the feeling of having to poop with no progress.  I didn't want that feeling in the bed.  Also, just sitting on the toilet, even if nothing was happening was really helpful with any feelings of discomfort.  The nurses had to consult with a higher up, but I ended up being cleared to use the toilet on my own.  I had to promise them I wouldn't walk anywhere other than to the bathroom and back though.  Soooo....being able to walk around...that part of my birth plan was gone.  As far as the Pitocin went, I held my own on that.  I had to agree to get Pitocin right after delivery though due to a risk of bleeding out.  Also, as far as inducing labour -- doing nothing was no longer an option at this point.  One of the nurses said that she knew of a midwife who would sometimes use a breast pump to get contractions started.  The doctor made it clear he really didn't approve of this method.  Once the contractions started there was no way to control their intensity.  Whereas with Pitocin they can give me more or less and control them at an artificially perfect level.  I went with the breast pump.

This was the point of no return.  They brought me the breast pump and I was instructed to pump for 15 minutes then take a 30 minute break and repeat.  And it worked.  I was feeling really strong contractions at this point and the feeling like I had to poop was worse than ever and no matter what I did, I couldn't go!!  Roibeard was helping me get through the contractions by massaging and applying pressure to my back.  Most of the pain was felt in my back and it really was quite awful. 

By the time we hit 6pm (12 hours of labour) I was so miserable but kept hoping it would be over soon and I'd be holding the little one in my arms.  At 8pm I was a mess.  The pain had become too intense and when I found out I still wasn't dilating fast enough I gave in and asked them to give me the IV meds.  I felt crushed.  This birth wasn't going as planned at all.  I figured the meds would be enough to get me through until it was time to push.  Wrong.  They did completely take the edge off the pain but also made me incredibly tired.  I managed to sneak in a nap, but woke up as the meds were wearing off...around 10PM.  I agreed to one more dose, which lasted until midnight.  At this point the pain was so bad that I was swearing like a sailor and really upset.  I didn't want another dose of IV meds because I didn't want to be so sleepy when it came time to push.  Things were still progressing very slowly at this point and I knew it was still going to be hours until we had a baby.  I gave in and asked for the epidural...pretty much throwing my whole birth plan out the window.  I feel like if I had been able to walk around and change positions I would have been able to manage the pain.  However, because I was stuck on my back unable to move without 10 nurses running into the room I just couldn't handle the pain.  It was so awful and with no idea of how much longer it would be it was just too much.  I was completely beyond crushed at this point.  I was so worried that the medication would effect the breastfeeding and the bonding. 

I ended up having to get through an entire bag of IV fluids before they could give me the epidural.  The nurse told me it should only take 10-15 min...I knew she was full of it. It took an hour to get through that bag.  That hour between midnight and 1AM seemed to last a lifetime.  I was trying so hard to keep it together, but I was just miserable.  The contractions were coming so fast and were so intense at this point that I didn't have much of a break in between.  I was swearing and shouting and straight up out of my mind.  I felt so bad for Roibeard who wanted nothing more than to help comfort me.

Finally around 1AM the anaesthesiologist came in to start my epidural.  I had never been more excited about being poked with a needle in my entire life.  At the same time though I was still feeling like a complete failure for giving in and going through with it.  I was one huge mixed bag of emotions.  Luckily my epidural was done really well.  I could still feel everything but the pain was really taken down quite a bit.

By this point I was around 6cm dilated.  Not baby time yet.  So once my pain was at a manageable level Roibeard and I both tried to get a little bit of rest. 

At 4am the nurse came in to check me again....BABY TIME!  I was finally, finally, finally fully dilated.  This baby was coming!  Only...nothing happened.  I was told that I was ready but then everyone left the room. Back to nap time it was.  They came in again at 5 to check on me and told me it was almost time. Almost time?  I was ready!  Dilated!  What is with this almost time nonsense? 

Around 6am it was finally time for some practice pushes.  I wasn't expecting so many people in the room...a doctor, a few nurses, and a medical student.  They taught me how to hold my legs and gave me instructions on how and when to push. I wasn't expecting it to feel like a had to take a massive poop.  I guess that's normal. I mean...everyone told me that I probably was going to poop.  But no one told me the pushing would feel like the worst case of constipation ever. The practice pushes weren't too bad, but the discomfort was quite unpleasant.  Roibeard did well to encourage me and keep me in good spirits the best he could.  Around 7am the staff did a shift change, so we stopped and I was instructed to use the pump again to keep the contractions coming.
Once 7:45 hit I had a new staff and we started pushing again.  I did pretty well.  The staff weren't entirely use to having someone push who wasn't on Pitocin.  They had to explain to the medical students that my contractions were the real thing and since they were being regulated by my body and not by medication it was taking a lot longer.  My body was built that way to give me a rest between them. After about 2 hrs of pushing my doctor came in to see how well I was progressing. She noticed that the baby's head was not in the right position.  He was facing sideways.  She told us that she would give us an hour to get the baby's head to turn.  If it was still stuck when she came back then I needed to understand that they were going to take me in for an emergency C-section.  I couldn't believe it.  After being in the hospital for over 24 hrs by this point and spending all of this time pushing and all of the pain I went through before the was all going to come down to a C-section. I felt awful.  Nothing about the birth had gone as planned.  I always knew some things would probably change, but I didn't expect for everything to go wrong!

Luckily the doctor was able to reach up and manually move the head into the correct position.  Phew.  I kept pushing and pushing and pushing...until...finally they could see a head!  I had such a rush of adrenaline knowing that he was right there.  I asked to touch him and they guided my hand...and it was soooooooo goopy....and gross...but oh my gosh it didn't matter because he was RIGHT THERE. The discomfort at this point was indescribable. Still, knowing he was close gave me the strength to go on. 

Then the birth happened.  Around noon I did my second to last push...and then everything went to hell. You have to push on a contraction, right? Well, my second to last contraction wasn't quite enough to get him all of the way out...but it was enough to get his head halfway out....oh my gosh.  Never have I experienced anything more unpleasant or painful in my life.  My contractions were still unpredictable and I had half a head sticking out of my who-ha.  That is when I just lost my mind. I am so embarrassed, but I just panicked.  I started screaming and screaming as loud as I could.  I wasn't controlling my breathing.  I wasn't listening to anyone.  I was shouting.  And I'm pretty certain that I kicked either a nurse or a medical student.  My doctor finally was able to talk some sense into me.  It was tough love, but it worked.  She told me that the reality of the situation was that I had half of baby's head delivered.  This was not good.  The birth was no longer about me.  It was all about him now and I needed to concentrate, be strong, and push.  As out of my mind as I was at that point, what she said got through to me.  I took a deep breath and finally started to feel that contraction coming.  I knew that this was going to be it. One more push then sweet relief.  I let the staff know that I was ready and I gave it everything I had and it worked!  Micheal Sean was born at 12:06 pm on August 6th, 2015. I was expecting a feeling of relief like all of my books had said, but what it really felt like was being gutted alive.  I mean everything just came pouring out.  Baby and fluid and gross stuff.

BUT...once that moment ended I was just so thrilled that Micheal was finally here.  I was smiling and mumbling about how wonderful it was, but I couldn't really see him because Roibeard and all of the medical staff were blocking my view.  I was looking around and I was so confused as to why no one else was smiling.  I had just given birth!  We had a baby boy!  How come no one thought this was amazing?!  Then all of the sudden without any warning the doctor and nurses started pressing as hard as they could on my abdomen.  There was much blood.  Too much blood.  It was awful.  I was screaming.  Finally they told me that the placenta didn't come out so they had to deliver it for me.  Ugh. It was awful.  Remember how just 2 seconds ago I mentioned that there was blood?  Well once they got the placenta out it wouldn't stop.  The nurses were rushing the baby to the NICU and Roibeard went with them.  He later told me that when he left that room he really thought that I was going to die in there and that he would never see me again.

It was a really frightening experience, but I made it through and so did the baby.  It turned out that he wasn't breathing right away when he was born.  He also had a fever, so that's why they took him away. 

Micheal stayed in the NICU the first night and then on and off for the next two days.  I was kept in the hospital for three days as well because I also had a fever when he was born, so they were also monitoring me.

We went home on Saturday, August 8th and were greeted by three wonderful kitties.

And that's our story.  As crazy and awful as it was....(30 hrs of labor with 4 hrs of pushing) I wouldn't change it for the world.  I love the little guy too much.  And what they say is true -- you do forget the pain.  I know it happened.  I can visualize myself in that hospital bed screaming like a banshee, but I really can't remember the pain -- cheese ball alert -- maybe because there's just too much joy now. <3


Monday, August 17, 2015


Our very last stop in Ireland was to Dublin.  We only spent one day there and it wasn't even a full day, more like an afternoon/evening.  Once we reached our b&b and were able to set all of our luggage down we headed out without any real plan in mind. We saw St. Patrick's Cathedral and spent a lot of time in the Temple Bar neighbourhood, but mostly we just walked around the streets and took it all in.  We found a cute little artsy cinema that is exactly what I want our cinema to be like.  They were showing independent films, had a cute little cafĂ©, and they also had a little store where they sold film books and dvds.  It was the perfect little community space.  We also discovered an American 1950s style late-night diner where we treated ourselves to ice cream.
Sometimes not having a plan is the best way to discover a new place.
I had so much fun during this trip last year and I cannot wait to return!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

IRELAND! A Day in the North



This post is a little photo heavy, so I'm just going to pop in with a quick word so that you have some context.  After Doolin (the Cliffs of Moher) we returned back to Belfast to spend a little more time with Roibeard's family.  The delicious cake was made by Roibeard's sister to celebrate our recent engagement.  We had a party at a local pub in the evening.  During the day we took a guided trip up to The Giant's Causeway with Roibeard's brother and mum.  There were a few stops along the tour that included a castle, whiskey distillery, and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
The story of The Giant's Causeway involves two giants, Fionn MacCumhaill (the Irish giant) and Benandonner (the Scottish giant).  Fionn lived on the Antrim coast and one day gazed across the sea where he saw Benadonner.  The two challenged each other to a fight but neither had any way to get across the sea.  So Fionn began building a pathway that went from Ireland to Scotland.  Once it was complete and he finally got a glimpse of Benandonner up close he freaked out and feared his massive size.  Fionn retreated to Ireland with Benandonner following behind him.  Fionn convinced his wife, Oonagh to quickly disguise him as a baby.  When Benadonner barged in, he was terrified.  He saw the baby and thought, if that's just the size of the baby, what must the full grown giant look like?!  Benandonner raced back to Scotland and tore up the pathway as he went.  What is left of the path is now known as The Giant's Causeway.






Monday, August 10, 2015

Welcome Micheal Sean!!

Born August 6th, 2015.  Weight: 8 lb 2.5 oz.  Length: 21".

Welcome to the family little dude!

IRELAND! Cliffs of Moher


I figured that I would schedule the remainder of my Ireland posts for while I'm recovering from giving birth and spending time bonding with the babe.  Today's post is from when we visited the Cliffs of Moher.  This is one of the things that I was looking forward to the most during our trip to Ireland.
The Cliffs of Moher are 700 feet high and stretch 5 miles long across the western coast of the country.  If you look up photos of them, you'll see why I wanted to go - they are beautiful, mystical, and magical.  Perfect for an adventure on the sea.
If you scroll down, you'll see that only the last two photos are of the cliffs themselves.  All of the other photos were taken while we were killing time before we got on the boat (and while I was still in good spirits).  I have never been one to get sea sickness - ever.  I love boat rides.  This experience however changed all of that very quickly.
Once we got on the boat I made my first mistake:  I dragged Roibeard and I down to the bottom floor of the ship.  There was no one down there, everyone else had all taken spots up top.  I thought it was only because they thought they would have a better view.  Haha, suckers (or so I thought).  Then I made my second mistake (which is the one that finally did me in) - I started going through my camera so I could delete some photos to make more room on my memory card.  Awful  idea.  The waves were really rough and with the combination of the boat rocking so much and me staring at a fixed screen while everything around me was moving was too much.  It took only a few minutes for me to start turning green.  I went to sit down, hoping it would pass after a few minutes, but it only got worse.  I ended up barfing all over the tiny boat toilet several times.  The remainder of the one hour journey I spent on one of the benches curled up in the fetal position with my eyes shut as tight as I could make them.  Every second I just kept hoping that it was over. 
I couldn't even so much as lift my head once we actually made it to the cliffs.  I never actually saw them.  Roibeard took a few photos and that's the only way I was able to experience them. 
If I ever go back I think I'll skip the boat ride and just hike them instead. ;)