Sunday, June 28, 2015

Reunited with my Flip-Flops

I have been reunited with my flip-flops and it feels awesome.

We moved here at the end of December, and I didn't sit down for two days. I was about 16 weeks pregnant, and apparently that wasn't good for me. I ended up having to go to urgent care and then the ER to have my legs scanned to look for clots (I didn't have any)- and for the rest of my pregnancy I had AWFUL and super painful varicose veins. The backs of my legs were purple and bulgy. They hurt and throbbed if I stood up - even for five seconds. I kept my legs up as much as I could, and I got a prescription for super strength compression tights. I had to wear them every second of the day - from when I woke until bed. Showers hurt my legs. When I tried to not put them on - like to go get coffee before I got dressed, I was extremely uncomfortable. Putting on the tights took at least five minutes. I got cuts all over my fingers. There are far worse things in the world, but they sucked. The weather got nice, and I still had to wear the tights. No flip-flops. No shorts. Always had to wear pants and shoes. I got lighter slip-ons, which helped, but it was kinda depressing. People said they may go away when the baby comes, and they may not. I didn't (and don't) care too much if they go away - if you can still see them - but I was SOOO hoping they wouldn't hurt once the baby came out. I couldn't imagine putting those tights on after a c-section. Or in the hot days of summer. Or never wearing flip-flops.

Then the baby came out, and the veins are still there - though probably only about 30% of the intensity - and they don't hurt AT ALL! I can wear anything I want! It might not look amazing, but it doesn't hurt me! And I can wear my flip-flops again, and it is awesome. Hurray!!!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Babysitter Pay REVEALED!

As we just moved to America last summer - but really only in December, since we were living with our parents from August until December - we knew nothing about paying babysitters and nannies. I know it's different in different places too. Newton, apparently, is a high-paying babysitter city. Well, lucky for me, our full time "nanny" didn't work out this summer, so I have had the privilege of testing out lots of people, at varied hourly pay levels, and this is what I have:

$5-8 Mother's helper - this person can come and play with kids, but cannot be left along with them. They will make a mess, but they will keep your kids occupied. (We haven't tried this option yet. I needed for real help since I was so pregnant and so out of it with a newborn...)

$10 High school babysitter - this person will watch and play with two kids. They are great evening options, since they are the cheapest of the safe options. They will not do dishes unless specifically asked (and still might not), but they are great role models for the kids and way fun. They will come up with games and guide play with the kids, but it may be a bit less sophisticated than the higher pay options.

$15 College babysitter - this person will watch and play with the kids and will be super fun for them. They will come up with games, new ideas and guide them and there may even be some educational content. They can feed the kids and will clean up the dishes and also the toys. They can be left alone for a long period of time with the kids and are trustworthy.

$20 Nanny - this person can do all of the above, but will also clean up the house, kitchen, toys, do laundry, ironing and generally just see ways to be helpful that the others (and I!) are not even aware of.

They are all great for different scenarios. Now that I'm feeling really good physically, but I still have two children that require full one-on-one care, I can really have any help that is available to me, but today was my first day with the nanny option, and it was AMAZING. Without asking she unloaded the dishwasher, put groceries away, played really well with Elie, put him to bed, took him to the park, tidied up the entire house and anticipated a million things I didn't even realize I needed. Hooray for Martha!

The crazy part is that we essentially had that in Singapore (plus she made dinner, cleaned that up, did our shopping, ironing, etc...) FOR A SICK AMOUNT OF MONEY. Literally sick. Like, unethical sick. But that was for another post.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The third newborn

Full disclosure: I haven't experienced reality yet. My mom is still here until Wednesday, and when she has been gone on the weekends, Matt is around. She has left the house twice, leaving me with all three kids. Both times all three kids have been sleeping.


Common advice says:
Sleep when the baby sleeps. When exactly is that? At 7am when the newborn finally is ready to go back to sleep and the 1.5 year old and 4.5 year old wake up, need to get dressed and fed? Or is it when they're awake and running around the house like crazy? Perhaps it's during their nap time, the only time to have two hands to do laundry, dinner prep or clean up? I can sleep when the baby sleeps...starting at 9pm, but so far that has added up to between 4-7 hours per night. Seven is awesome. Four is hard.

Eat healthy - you're breastfeeding. Right. Bananas and granola bars are where it's at for me. I'm also eating an insane amount of fruit and cheese, because those seem super easy. Not much healthy stuff is going in my body, but that's mostly because it takes more effort, and that I do not have. Unfortunately we had a lot of cookies that appeared in our house after the baby was born. I ate all of those also, singlehandedly.

Luckily - even though we really just moved here, we have such an amazingly supportive community. Samara's class made a dinner for us (most of it is frozen and should last us four nights!), a friend (with a two year old and 6 month old TWINS!!) ordered us an amazing dinner, a friend from Sam's school made us a whole dinner on her own, our cousin, Nancy made us a dinner that lasted for three days and some is still frozen, and we have two coming in the next week. That is AMAZING, and I so appreciate every bite.

Don't take a newborn out - definitely not around germy pre-schoolers. Ok - so tell Samara that she can't go to all of the birthday parties? Don't go to the fair in our little town (with face painting, bouncy houses, a fire truck to go on, etc.) where all of her friends are going? Well, Koby went to two birthday parties and he did go to the fair (all just this past weekend), but we're trying to not take him to too many indoor places with germy preschoolers. Does that count?

Don't let a newborn cry. Well, if I'm in the middle of feeding a kid (or myself), upstairs with a kid when the baby is downstairs, or if we're in a time crunch to get somewhere...sorry, dude. You're gonna have to wait too. Is that bad for his brain development? Let's hope not. I would have been stressed listening to the crying of the other two when they were this little. At least I hear Koby's crying, but it doesn't really stress me out. He'll be ok.

For the first two I was very aware of where they were, what they were doing, when they might want to eat again, the number of poops, pees, how long they were feeding, etc. From day one with this guy I haven't kept track of any of it. He seems like he's growing. That should be good. Three mornings ago Matt was with Elie, and he was talking. Sam was with me, brushing teeth in the bathroom, and then I heard someone cry, and for about 20 seconds I could not figure out who that might be. The neighbors had a baby? How can Elie talk and cry at the same time? Who is that?'s our other baby.

Overall, Koby has fit into the family amazingly. Sam is a super double big sister. She takes care of Elie and she takes care of Koby - most of it without me even asking her. Elie did throw some baby toys on Koby's head today - which is a step above "hit baby," which was about where he was at last week. Elie seems pleased with the baby, but mostly he doesn't notice him. He very much enjoys the buckle on his car seat, though. Matt is amazing with all three, and I'm just trying to get out of as much as I can with the bigger two - until I HAVE to do it all, starting in two days.

The two things I can't figure out are dinner and Elie. Will people bring us dinner forever? Please? No - I will have to figure out how to make food for the kids and for us (they don't eat our food - I know...I'm sure it's my fault, but I'm not dealing with that right now). Matt will likely have a lot of bagels and peanut butter as well as cereal, and I will likely have a lot of frozen Trader Joe's delicacies. And Elie...I will try to Elie-proof our house as much as possible in the next few days, but mostly I think I will lock us on the ground floor, and we will not attempt to go anywhere - unless we have a babysitter or Matt is home. I'm not sure when that will end...I will likely be able to go to a (safe) playground with them all, and I will be able to go for a walk with them all (if Elie stays in a stroller) soon - but play dates at other people's houses, the beach alone, a quick trip for a cup of coffee...not gonna happen for a while.

In the meantime, after my mom leaves, we have a lot of help set up. Though I have had very bad luck with babysitters canceling - I'm hoping this doesn't happen in the next few weeks! I have 2 weeks where I have help coming about 60% of the time, and I will really appreciate it. Step by step.

At least they're all cute.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Welcome Baby Koby!

Since my last post (ages ago...sorry), we mostly settled into life in Newton and continued gestating. The weather got nice. Sam took off her training wheels (inspired by Torsten, the four year old three houses down). Elie learned to scoot on the mini micro. We are outside just about all hours possible every day. We LOVE our street - nicest people in the world. Sam has continued LOVING her experience at Temple Shalom. Elie loves taking her to school and his class at My Gym. We haven't met too many new people in the last few months, but we're continuing to develop relationships to some extent.

Last Wednesday, we had a scheduled c-section, at 39 weeks + 2 days. As my doctor here put it, "You have a really complicated situation. You have attempted two vaginal deliveries, had two c-sections, had two additional uterine surgeries (see this post which explains my fun journey), had two "sticky" placentas, bled through your last pregnancy...We can pretend that you will attempt a VBAC, and we both know you will end up with a c-section, or we can just schedule a c-section." So we did.

It is kinda weird to know the day that your baby will be born, and it's also quite convenient. I got to sleep the night before, we woke up, and we were at the hospital by 7am, with the c-section scheduled for 8:30. Overall, it was a fantastic experience (considering I was cut open, anxious about all of it, given my last deliveries, etc.), and it was SO different to the ones in Singapore.

Everything was explained to me - multiple times - and they were ready for EVERYTHING. Some of the risks were that there would be so much scar tissue that it would be hard to get to the baby, the placenta might stick to my uterus, leading to lots of bleeding, a mess of tubes leading them to not bei able to complete the tubal ligation (NO MORE BABIES, please!! Though we are very thankful for our three beautiful and healthy children...). All in all, it went completely smoothly, there was limited scar tissue, baby came out relatively easily (and the only of the three that didn't require a vacuum - even w a c section!), and I did smell the sweet smell of cauterizing my future potential spawn.

The baby, Koby (Jacob A), was 8.4 pounds, 374 grams and 21". BOTH other kids were 21" and Sam was 374 grams, and Elie was 371 grams. Sam was born at 40 weeks, Elie born at 41+4 and Koby born at 39+2...and ALL exactly the same weight! Crazy. He has all of his fingers, toes (and they're not webbed like his "big" brother). His hair is part blonde and part light brown. We thought he looked a bit funny the first day, but man he has gotten cuter, and he is a legit beautiful baby.

Our stay in the Newton Wellesley Hospital was generally very positive. We stayed five days, four nights, though we could have opted to leave at four days. Since I have two demanding kids at home, and I wanted to rest and also get help breastfeeding, we stayed. The nurses were excellent and super responsive. The food was fine (though five days was the limit). 

Koby has been a super spitty baby - which I guess is common with c-section babies, and both of our other two were also like this. He spent his first three days spitting up / puking up amniotic fluid. This didn't make him happy, but he seems to have gotten it all out. Now he seems to be spitting up like a normal spitty-uppy baby. He has had about two total hours of awake and alert time in his life - he is EXTREMELY sleepy, but as long as he's eating and gaining weight, this seems fine. 

Sam and Elie are doing great. Sam is very interested in the baby, wants to keep looking at him, explore his whole body, has a million questions...Elie says "HIT. BABY." every time we bring him up. Last night Koby was on my bed, and Elie went up to him and said "PATCH. BABY." and patched him on the tush. Then he realized he had a duck on his tush and got super excited and then danced around, pointing to Koby's tush, saying "GUCK!!! GUCK!!!" Elie doesn't understand what's going on, but he's having a great time with his "Hata" (Savta, my mom), and he started talking in the last few weeks, so he's having fun with that too.

Matt is a super star - running between helping my mom with the kids and me and the baby, taking care of everything at home, just doing what he can in every way. And thank the lord for my mom, yet again. The kids LOVE her, she is able to keep up their routine in a way that I so appreciate, and they do too, and now she has me at home too.

I wanted to explain some of the differences I experienced with this birth, since my first two were born in Singapore, though with different doctors and at different hospitals. In Singapore the experience with the second was WORLDS beyond the first (especially given the fact that it wasn't a successful birth - in so many ways - other than the fact that we got the healthy baby), yet this one was just so much better for me, even than that.

  • The surgery was different. My first had retained placenta, so I bled like crazy, I couldn't get up for three days, I don't even remember life for about a week after Sam was born. The second was a great experience, but the c-section pain was crazy. There were apparently two stitches that he put in, on either side of my abdomen, that KILLED when I tried to stand up or sit up, for WEEKS. This one seems like not that big of a deal. I can sit up already, and it's not even that painful NOW, only five days out. I can stand up straight. I went upstairs about four times yesterday, and it was hard, but it was ok. Feels SO much easier.
  • The doctors and nurses are more flexible in my experience, here. In Singapore I couldn't eat or drink for HOURS after the procedure, and it was some prescribed period of time. It was not flexible. Here, I said I am not a pukey person, I did not feel nauseous, and once I was out of recovery, I could have ice chips, and at 3pm they said that if I genuinely felt fine I could eat. They said I probably shouldn't eat just ANYTHING, but easy foods should be fine, and it was life changing. I don't do well without food and water, and it made my recovery so much easier. Also, there I had no access to narcotics. After 18 hours, when the IV was out, I was on Aleeve and Tylenol. There were a few times that I asked for something more, because I was in so much pain, and I was refused. Here I was offered oxycodon, which I did take the first morning after, and I haven't needed it since (I'm on ibuprophen and seem to be ok with it), but I knew I COULD take it, which made a big difference for me. Another example is kinda gross, but after you have your catheter removed, you have to be able to pee. In Singapore they absolutely required that I pee into this pan, which fit in the toilet but was not comfortable to sit on. While they preferred it in NWH, they said if it bothered me I could remove it. It made all the difference. 
  • The quality of materials seems to be different too. In Singapore I was covered in hives from everything sticky, from the plastic sheet/pad that they made me keep under me, from the plastic mattress and non-cotton sheets. I was so utterly uncomfortable, and Matt and I spent days after putting calamine all over me to try to make it better. I mean seriously - I just had surgery, breastfeeding KILLS, I happened to be super sick and have no voice, I had fallen and my whole left leg was a giant, painful scab...I was a mess...did I really need to ALSO be covered in SUPER itchy bumps? Ugh. At NWH I told them that the plastic pad thing bothered me, so they removed it right away. And other than a bit of a reaction to the sticky stuff that was covering my incision for the first 18 hours, I got no hives at all and found all of the materials so much more comfortable.
  • In Singapore you can order different "ethnicities" of food. The Western Diet is nasty, so I ordered the Chinese confinement diet. It was overall good, but again, for so many days, I had no control over what I was eating, and I was over it. I also only got food during meal times, and there were cookies available otherwise. At NWH I had a menu that I could order from ANY TIME between 6:30am and 7pm. Some days I had two breakfasts. I totally chose what I ate. In a circumstance where you have NO control over so many things (and you're a control freak...), this helped!
  • In Singapore I wanted ice water all the time. The nurses told me I shouldn't have anything cold. Like different nurses told me this multiple times a day. It will give me arthritis later. It's not good for healing. Whatever. I don't care - I want it, and while I respect that it's not the Asian thing to do, I still want it. Here the norm is ice water, and you get this huge cup/pitcher-like thing that the nurses make sure is constantly filled with ice water. Bliss.
  • In Singapore I felt a lot of pressure to put the baby in the nursery. When I wanted help with something, they would say, "we will just take the baby to the nursery," and I felt that I was constantly trying to keep the baby with me. At NWH they completely push rooming-in, though when I was alone at night with the baby and he was gagging and choking on his gunk, they respectfully suggested that the baby go to the nursery while I slept. It just wasn't a big deal, and I did sent him there for a few nights.
  • At NWH, nurses talked to me in a way that I felt was respectful. The tone of the nurses in Singapore, and how they call me "Mummy" instead of Melanie felt really condescending and bizarre. I understand this is purely a cultural thing - they weren't meaning to be condescending, and the care was actually very similar, but the tone made it FEEL so yucky. Here I felt respected in a way I hadn't experienced before.
So, overall, a great experience, and now we get to learn what it's like to have three kids. But before that, I will just focus on healing, feeding the baby and relaxing.