Tuesday, September 24, 2013

System Failure

I can do it. I swear, I can. I just can't yet...

I was moving along at a super fast pace, in general, since about 6 weeks post-pardum with Samara until the end of January this year. Since January, I was on bed rest for months, then took it easy for the rest of the pregnancy. I had a full time helper. I had my mom or in-laws in town for much of the time. I didn't do any of the cleaning, little shopping, only the cooking that I wanted. I had a lot of time with Samara, but most of it was when it was convenient for me, and not during difficult times like meal times and sleep time. I had it easier than I have ever had it and will ever have it...in my whole life (and I recognized it at the time). Yes, I was scared for most of the time that I was going to lose the pregnancy so I wasn't super stress-free, but I did not DO much of anything at all. For a really really long time.

Then the helper quit (remember - don't forget - she quit when I was 39 weeks pregnant, and she flew out the night I gave birth - no I'm not bitter). Then my parents left. Then the in-laws left. Then it was me. And I was committed to doing it ALL. And I CAN! I promise!! But not yet.

I made it a week. Eight days in, last Thursday, my throat started to get scratchy. That night it REALLY hurt, and I woke up the next day with super dark snot but nothing major. Friday I was ok. Saturday I was ok. But each of those nights I felt SUPER exhausted. In bed by 7:30 and nearly asleep by 8. EXHAUSTED. The system was shutting down. I said I didn't think I could handle when Matt went away next week. I didn't think I could do it in general, because my body was EXHAUSTED. But then Sunday I woke up with a fever, and I realized that I had felt so bad the last few nights because I really was getting sick.

Sunday night my fever was super high and I was a disaster. I didn't think I could handle Sam on Monday. Hell, I didn't think I could open my eyes and get out of bed. I was SUPER sick. Monday I woke up with 102.5 fever, but I pushed through. I showered and got myself moving. I was delirious, but I got Sam fed, dressed and walked her to school, immediately came back and did nothing. I didn't do any dishes. Didn't sweep from breakfast. Didn't pick up. Just rested until I had to get her again. And I realized that I had a super sore spot on my breast, and when I looked in the mirror it was maroon in color. A little bit of googling told me that it was either a plugged milk duct or mastitis. Shit. Called the doctor at 10am. All day I iced the spot, and I fed mostly from that side and massaged it when Elie ate. I got Sam, somehow got lunch into her and got her to sleep, and when she woke up we watched TV...basically the whole afternoon, from four until her dinner at six. She loved me being sick. "Mommy, you're sick? You want to watch the Wiggles? I watch the Wiggles when I sick." Matt came home early to give her dinner and get her bathed and in bed (the second two he does every night anyway). I followed up with the doctor's office three times but I never quite got an answer if I should come in or not. I finally spoke to the doctor at 7pm and he said I needed to see a lactation consultant asap. Awesome, every place I knew of was closed, and there was small chance they would be able to see me before 11 the next morning, if I could only call them when they open at 9. After that I would have to bring two kids, which I'm not ready to do yet (two carseats? I still can't lift from the c-section). So I activated my breastfeeding mommies network and got the mobile numbers of two lactation consultants. One was a woman I had gone to on Saturday for another breastfeeding issue, so I asked her to PLEASE squeeze me in (so to speak!) the next morning. She said she could at 9:30. BOY was I grateful. So I pumped as much as I could and Matt strongly massaged the spot to get the duct free. Asleep by 9 with a lower fever...perhaps improving? Though Elie had decided to change his sleeping pattern to waking up every two hours (after having slept 4-6 hours a few times each night until then), he last night slept 5 hours and then 5 hours, so we both slept a lot.

When I woke up I was still sore, but less sore and the maroon had turned to red. I also had a much lower fever. I got Sam to school and got a taxi to see the lactation consultant who said that the plug had been pulled out already and it was getting better. She said I needed to boost my immune system and rest. Guess I need to take it a wee bit slower. So, now I have no fever. No voice. But I feel WAAAAAAY better and I think my boob is on the mend.

I CAN do this, I just need to build my strength. I think the rest took a lot out of my body - like a lot of energy and strength - that I have to get back. Hopefully in our month in the US I can fully heal from the c-section, rest a lot, but also get myself moving and build my strength so that by the time we're back here I will be able to do it. I'm counting on it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Real Life

We had visitors...I mean helpers for six weeks straight. My mom came when I was 39 weeks pregnant and stayed until Elie was a week old. (Remember our helper's last day was the day I gave birth!) My in-laws came when Elie was a week old and stayed until this past Wednesday, early morning, when Elie was nearly four weeks old. This means that Wednesday was my first day of "real life" with no helper and no helping in-laws. I had one month between helpers when Samara was three months old, but otherwise, I have had a helper since I had a child. And boy did they help.

Real life includes things like laundry, dishes, cooking, shopping, packing school bag, cleaning the house and other duties that I have not done (or not done very much - I have continued to shop and cook since I like those tasks) in THREE YEARS. Yeah, I was super spoiled for those three years, I fully admit it. And a lot of why we're not getting a new helper is because I recognize that this wasn't how I expected life to be with kids, and I wanted...needed to know that I can do it. I can be a mom and take care of our home without someone doing all of the dirty work. Mind you, I'm not one of those housewives who does it all - Matt is a super cleaning machine. He does MANY dishes, sweeps, mops, cleans bathrooms, launders, etc. much more than I do. But still - I wanted to know that WE could do it.

So Wednesday was busy - getting Sam to school was the hardest part for me, because she takes an hour of hands-on care to be fed, dressed, teeth brushed, cleaned, hair-done and taken to school. During this time I cannot feed the baby. And this baby does not like to be put down. Like ever. Once she went to school I had 3.5 hours of baby-only bliss, which included as many household duties as I could do with the baby in the ergo. Her afternoon routine usually takes about a half hour - home from school, wash hands, eat, go for a nap. This day it took an hour and five minutes, but we did it. And she has to sleep on her mattress on the floor since I can't lift (c-section...) her into her crib yet. (By the way, I know she's nearly three, but I have no intention of taking her out of a crib until she makes me. Having a kid in a cage at night and in the early morning makes my life so much easier - why mess with that?). The first day on her mattress on the floor I had to lead her back into her room probably about 20 times. I followed Weisbluth's advice of leading her back without engaging her - i.e. not giving her attention, and just closing the door. After being led back 20 times she danced and sang around her room for about an hour and finally went to sleep. All of the days since then she went straight to bed with no issue. In the afternoon on Wednesday we made it to a playground and had a little walk around the neighborhood. I would say it was a full success.

Thursday Samara woke up with a fever, so I had 11 hours of both kids at home without leaving the house. Sam watched a lot of TV, we played a little bit, we baked, she slept for about four hours and the day passed. Friday Matt took the day off (he had thought it was Yom Kippur so had taken it off earlier - good for me!), so we had a great day and two extra hands.

So far I have learned a few things:

  • Household stuff can wait - like the laundry can sit for a few hours in the washing machine, and it won't explode. Dishes can sit in the sink. Kids come first.
  • When the baby needs to eat, he really needs to eat - he has NO patience. 
  • The ergo is a god send (which I already knew from Samara, but I never used it at home before). You can do almost anything with a baby in the ergo.
  • Samara is a champ. She's just a super sweet, good kid, and she's so fun to hang out with. It's such a privilege to have this time with her. And so far she seems to be adjusting REALLY well - other than the Cheerios episode in my last post (she is also on her third day of potty training, which she's also doing like a champ).
As long as we have no commitments out of the house and no extra obligations...ever...I think we can do this!

In other news, Elie is overall doing great. He is pretty kvetchy during the day, but he can be soothed so I know it's not that serious. He just likes to be carried. In the last few days, after he falls asleep I can swaddle him and get him into his bed for a little while, but mostly he wakes up pretty quickly, so ergo works best. He sleeps at night from about 8:30 until 7, waking up once to eat for about five minutes (he must be really efficient - it used to take Samara 20 minutes), sometimes taking a loud poo, and that's about it. Since he's sleeping (and therefore I'm sleeping) so well at night, I feel like we can handle whatever the day brings, so I can't complain too much. He's growing a LOT, out of newborn clothes and diapers already. We will weigh him on Friday, but I'm guessing he's near 5 kgs. He lost all of the hair on the top of his head and the rest is pretty wispy. He looks a little like a creepy old man with a comb-over on the top of his head. I have decided to try two weeks dairy-free to see if that helps make him less kvetchy. I am on my fifth day, so we'll see how it goes.

As mentioned above, Samara is now wearing underpants (Dora and Hello Kitty of course - she chose them). I woke up in a fit of anxiety three nights ago and realized that there will never be a convenient time - I was on bed rest, then I was SUPER pregnant, then the baby was born...but then we will be going to the US and I thought it might not be fair to potty train while on my parents' wood floor and Matt's parents' carpeted house. Then we're back for only a month, and then we're traveling again. So, yes, it will NEVER be convenient - so we needed to just do it. I told Matt that morning that Sam was just gonna wear underpants and figure it out. So far so good! She had one meltdown today when she had to poo and wanted a diaper, but we talked about it, read potty books, and I sat with her (and Matt sat with her other times...) and she went! I said, "Sam, I'm so proud of you." She said, "Mommy, I'm proud of myself!" I'm still not sure what we will do for the plane ride home, but hopefully we will be ok and not cause permanent damage.

We got tickets to come to Michigan for the month of October, basically. We can't wait. I haven't left Singapore since JANUARY. This is not my usual travel behavior, though the thought of travel exhausts me already...luckily we have our helpers back when we get to the US!!
Until I can lift and move properly, Matt gets to sit between two carseats in the back of taxis! Lucky guy! (note his Hello Kitty hat)

I had to cut the head and hands off of my chickens for Rosh Hashana dinner. My helper has always done this so well...such that I didn't even know that they came with them!!

Elie's creepy hair

Beautiful baby at about 3+ weeks

Samara stylin' it up and bouncing her baby

Sam, Matt and Piggy on the bus to pizza pre-fast YK dinner

Matt and Elie on Sunday afternoon (Elie doesn't care what position the ergo is in, as long as he's in it)

Elie, meet Froggy!

Not relevant to blog post, but this is Samara last night at our friends' house. It's just too cute to not share.