Saturday, March 1, 2008

Back to work and off to daycare

I have always prided myself in being an independent, career oriented, self starting brass ovaried woman that could take the world by storm without breaking a sweat. I would have it all - the career, family, home & even a few four legged children. Choose? I scoff at the notion! I can do and have it all!! When I had Cameron I knew that I had done the most amazing thing in the universe. I brought a wonderful little life into the world. A little ray of sunshine that changed who I was and who I wanted to be in a matter of seconds. I am a mommy - the most important job there is.

I have was brought up in a household in which hard work was a way of life. Education was paramount, and my mother instilled a strong work ethic into my sisters and me. I got a job when I was 17 years old and have had one since, sometimes working 90 hours a week. Prior to having Cameron, I had not given any thought on not going back to work. My idea of a stay at home mom consisted of the 1950's June Cleaver type with perfectly placed hair while preparing meals in pumps and a freshly starched apron. Me in a starched apron? Please! I hate to iron!

As horrible as this may sound, but I always felt bad for stay at home moms. The idea of spending every moment at home taking care of a little one had NO appeal to me. I mean I have never been more depressed as I was when I was an at home wife. After just a few weeks I felt the four walls of our home closing in like a pack of wolves. I felt alone with nothing of my own. Women that stayed at home were "lost" in the daily trimmings of the needs of their family. I never understood the appeal.

After the monsoon of visits from family, friends and loved ones subsided a bit, I began to settle in the groove of being a mom. Cameron and I spent the days eating, nursing, sleeping, reading, and talking (Our conversations are a bit one sided, but that is sure to change - she is a Poston). We got to get to know each other. It was wonderful. Sometimes I would just lay her on my chest, lay down on the couch, put on some music and just listen to her little baby noises. Then I knew why women stayed at home. In just a few weeks she had changed, and the thought of missing one moment was heartbreaking.

Then the countdown began. The end of my maternity leave was fast approaching. It was so bitter sweet. Spending every day with my little sugar pig was wonderful, but my career was so important to me as well. I work for an organization that I believe in and love. To find a job that you like is one thing, but to find one that you LOVE is rare. The Epilepsy Foundation was not something that I plan to step away from. I decided the date that I would return to work. Cameron was 8 weeks old, and we took the plunge.

The night before going back to work I packed for my first day back. It was akin to packing for your first day of school (which I have been told will elicit another crying jag). I was phobic that something would be left out. Everything that had to go to daycare had to have her name on it. Momma and I spent over an hour writing her names on bottles, blankets, and wipe box. Momma lovingly illustrated some things with flowers and ladybugs. I walked myself through my day over and over in my head to be sure that nothing was forgotten. Laptop, breast pump, diapers, wipes, crib sheet, a few clean outfits for Cameron, bottles, milk, purse, ..... I put everything by the door and realized that I needed to rent a mule to carry it all. I broke down in tears several times while packing.

Then it came. The alarm clock. I looked over at Cameron (who is sleeping in our bed to make midnight breastfeeding easier) who was awake and happy, and picked her up to nurse her. The waterworks started. I cried through breakfast; I cried in the shower; I cried getting dressed. We loaded up the car and hit the road. I was amazed that there were no tears in the car. We got to the daycare (its at a church) got her all unpacked. Rebecca and I walked into her room and there were little babies and toddlers everywhere. There were some in their cribs, a few in the floor playing with one another, and the two daycare ladies each had a baby in their laps. All of the kids (who are from ages 8 weeks [Cameron is the youngest] to 2 years/or walking) seemed to be having a really good time. None of them were crying. As I filled out paperwork, Rebecca squealed with delight. There was one little girl playing with a few toys on the floor. She looked at Becca, looked at her toys, and tried to share them with Rebecca. Again Becca squealed with delight. The fact that the babies were so content and seemed to be having a good time, my mind and heart was put at ease. I filled her little cubbie, put the sheet and her little heartbeat bear on her crib (which was labeled with her name on it), and headed off to work. No tears!

Thanks to the loving support of the staff of the Epilepsy Foundation, I am nursing Cameron midday. When I went to have lunch with Cameron, there were two babies crying. Cameron was lying in her crib wide awake as happy as a clam. I started to well up. I picked her up and we went to a private classroom. It was so nice to get to spend that time with her. Once lunch was over I took her back to the baby room and there were three babies crying. Now I know that babies cry. That is what they do, and Cameron is no exception. Martha (one of the nursery workers) said "Crying is contagious." Cameron seemed unphased by the unhappy little ones. I on the other hand was infected. I managed to get into the hall, and I started to cry. What if Cameron is unhappy like those little ones? What if as soon as I walk out of the door she cries like that? WHAAAAA!

I couldn't wait to get off work and pick up my baby. When I got back to the day care again she seemed as right as rain. I grabbed her up and kissed her all over. The ladies said that she had done really well, especially for her first day. I could tell that the ladies in there really cared about the kids that she was working with, and just as much cared for the women that were leaving their most precious possessions in their hands. Starting back to work on a Wednesday was a great decision because it gave me the opportunity to get my head and heart abound leaving Cameron with strangers, and then have her all to myself on the weekend.

Well I am off to give our little super star a bath and pack her bag for her first full week at school. Keep the good vibes coming.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Cameron's first few weeks: The good, the bad, and the smelly

Cameron is a few days shy of her 1 month birthday, and boy has it been a whirlwind. They say that babies change your life, and boy do they ever.

This month one of the biggest change has been my sleep patterns. Anyone that knows me, knows that a) I love to sleep, and b) I hate mornings (at least the first 30 min. out of the bed). Sleeping is a pass time for me. I find a great deal of pleasure in looking at the clock, slapping that snooze button, and dozing like a lion in the sun. Get up? HA! To hell with make up and fancy hair. It is possible to brush your teeth and put your pants on at the same time, and I have it down to a fine art. Seeping 10 or 12 hours at the time on a lazy Saturday mornings is for me like Belgian chocolate to others - relaxing, delicious, and an indulgent guilty pleasure. Unlike chocolate, a good lazy morning won't go straight to my hips!

Not surprisingly for a woman that made her entrance on New Year's Eve, Cameron "love(s) the nightlife, (shes) got to boogie on the disco 'round, oh yea." This she does on 2 to 3 hour intervals both day and night. As previously mentioned, I am breastfeeding which you have to do every 2 hours or so, and unlike her mother, after a big meal she doesn't want to nap. Oh no, shes got to boogie! During the day this is no problem, but waking every 3 hours at night, feeding her, and then rocking/singing/reading/walking the halls with her can be exhausting. This is not a complaint, it is just a fact. As soon as I get good and asleep, the "dance party/buffet" starts over again.

This has done two things. 1) Appreciate lazy moments, not matter how short and 2) Made me a much more efficient sleeper. I only thought I could fall asleep fast before, now I can sit down for a mere moment ... ZZZZZZzzzz... OH, sorry about that! See what I mean. This goes for Patrick to as demonstrated below.

Bringing Cameron home from the hospital was the beginning of a complete unknown. Thank goodness my mom stayed with us for 2 weeks. She was the most amazing support. Unlike the nightmares I have heard from some of my friends who have had kids, my mom didn't take over and bark directions. She helped me do things that I would have never been able to do. She helped with the laundry, cooked, and gave me loving instructions on baby 101. Without her I think I would have been totally lost. There was nothing more wonderful than having 3 generations of Poston women in the same house. Patrick agreed. Three cheers for Grandma!!!

Another aspect of baby care that is an inevatible are the numerous diaper changes. I will NEVER give another cute little outfit at a baby shower, I will give the biggest pack of diapers I can find in newborn size. Cameron goes through diapers like a fat kid through a cake. Breast fed babies go through more diapers than bottle fed babies. The advantage of that is that they don't stink nearly as badly. So our little stinker is less stinker than her peers. This is one of the only times I am excited that she is less "productive" than her classmates.

Stinkers must get un-stinky, which is a great segway to Cameron's baths. You can't give a baby a real bath until her belly button stump falls off. Until then you are limited to sponge baths. Babies get cold so easily you have to keep them super warm during baths. In a tub bath you can do this with the water and washcloths, but sponge baths must be done in a super warm room. Cameron being the size that she is, fit very comfortably on the top of my laundry basket. For her first "bath" we put a space heater in my bathroom, and got it nice and warm. I was sweating like a pig, but she was nice and cozy. The Cook family was visiting at the time, so their little girl Kimmy (who has declared herself Cameron's big sister) was my wing girl. This bath was not super difficult. She didn't like it at all, but she didn't completely freak out. Once we got her all cleaned up, she stopped crying and seemed to enjoy being clean and warm. I on the other hand was covered in sweat and in desperate need of a shower myself.

A tub bath on the other hand was a different story. Cameron HATED it!!! She was a slippery screaming ball of angry. One of my coworkers, Angie, gave us a baby tub, and it was great. It had a little hammock in it for infants. Aunt Leigh Ann, Patrick, and I worked on getting together all the supplies: baby wash, little wash cloths, clean outfit, diaper, hooded towel, etc. We put the tub over the sink in the kitchen, and filled it with nice warm water. We stripped Cameron down, and she frumped up her little face. She hit the water, and she started SCREAMING at the top of her lungs.

Trying to wash the back of a little wiggler while making sure to keep her up out of the water and the soap out of her eyes. She started to get a little chilled so I covered her with little wash cloths and seemed to calm down a little.

When I took her out of the tub, I wrapped her up in a towel, and held her over the tub to wash her hair.

Then we dried her off. More hating (but that may stem from the duck outfit):

Cameron is still a tiny little thing, but she has lots of sass! She is trying to hold her head up, and is stretching and strengthing her arms, legs and lungs. She is staying awake longer and longer periods of times. She is so alert and she LOVES to have her head rubbed. She smiles and smiles when Daddy rocks her and gives her a good head rub. According to Patrick, she giggled a little!

Much like her mommy, Cameron loves music. So far her favorite is Motown. When she gets super fussy, I can sing a little Aretha Franklin, and she will stop crying and look around. I keep singing, and she will drift off to sleep. She is my child for sure. She loves the Queen of Soul.

Patrick and I are looking forward to the months to come.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Breastfeeding: It is harder than it looks

All mothers say that their babies are the best, cutest, sweetest, most wonderful creatures that ever graced the face of the earth. I am sure they feel that way, but they are wrong because that child lives in my house. But there is a butt. Anything worth having is worth working for, and wonderful babies are no exception. They don't call it labor for nothing that is for sure.

I decided to breastfeed very early on in my pregnancy. I did all the reading I could stand, took the class, and asked women I knew that had breastfeed. I heard wonderful stories of women who stepped into their Earth Mother roll, stories of women that equated breastfeeding to having their nipples shaved off with a rusty cheese grater, and then women who gave me warnings of "It is so good for your baby, but can do horrible things to your boobs." (Clearly these women had never paid any attention to my boobs, because I could have a litter of kids, and my risk of looking like someone from a National Geographic special would still be little to none.)

My mother didn't breastfeed, and the few friends that I have that have kids had poor success, which was a bit discouraging, but I was/am committed to doing it. I am very lucky to have an AWESOME boss, and she breast fed all of her kids. She gave me the most valuable piece of advice - "If you can just hang in there through the first two weeks, you can do it."

Why breastfeed you may ask. There are a number of reasons. Like all women who breastfeed "It is better for the baby" was number one on the list. It was followed very closely by it is CHEAP and very convenient. I didn't realize how much so until I made my first solo outing with Cameron. We were off to the pediatrician and ended up waiting longer than I expected. I had to run by my office so that Cameron could see her Grandma Barbara and then I had to go to Aunt Becca's office to show her off to Becca's coworkers. To say the least this took longer than my 2.5 hour threshold between feedings. I pulled over into the parking lot at WalMart, turned on some good tunes, and Cameron had lunch. No bottle warming!


It is hard. When we first started, it was the blind leading the blind. She cried, I cried, and then a nurse at the hospital came in and gave me some hands on help. When I was "feeding" her, I would stop when she would start to cry, wait for her to calm down, and then try again. Carolyn (my nurse) came in, and Cameron was crying like crazy. She had me sit up, put Cameron in my arms, grabbed the back of her head, and when she gave a good screaming cry Carolyn SMUSHED her into my boob. I was shocked! Carolyn said "Honey, if her mouth is open with a yawn, cry, scream, or whatever take advantage of it. You are not going to hurt her! Boobs are a soft place to land." We kinda got on our feet in the hospital, but I still had "pre-milk."

I had finally gotten what I thought was on the right track, and then on my birthday the milk fairy came a calling and my true milk came in. Overnight I went from little boobs to a little bigger, hard as rocks, feverish, and PAINFUL!!! It was just as big a shock to Cameron because she didn't know what to do. She cried and cried and CRIED!! She screamed until her little face was red, nose was snotty, and she could barely catch her breath.

Cameron being so upset got me upset, and before I knew it we were both squalling our eyes out. She could sense my frustrations, and babies (like dogs and bees) can smell fear a mile away. It was a horrible cycle, and we were both at our wits end.

Like I said before, I was committed to this process, but I know why people quit. My boobs hurt, Cameron was freaking out, I was freaking out, and the list went on and on. Nursing Cameron was the one job that NOBODY could step in and give me a break. Patrick can walk the floors with her at 3:00am if I need him to. Aunt Becca can change a stinky diaper. Aunt Juice can pick Cameron up from daycare, but there is nobody that can take this load off of me. This was my one job, and I couldn't do it!

I held strong to the advice of my Columbia momma, Grandma Barbara, and I stuck it out. Day by day it got easier and easier. Cameron learned to latch, and she could suck start a leaf blower. I figured out the best ways to hold her so that it would be comfortable for the both of us, and we both learned to relax and enjoy it.

We still have our ups and downs, but more ups than downs. Having to feed her every 2 hours is hard, but now that we both know what to do, I enjoy it very much. The current plan is to nurse her for a year or until she gets teeth.

Cameron's first few days...

Cameron and I were in the hospital from Monday (December 31) until Wednesday (January 2). The night she was born there were SO many people at the hospital, but as the night wore on, the visitors headed their separate ways, and Patrick and I got some alone time with our new family member. She spent time both in our room and the nursery. I got lots of practice of only sleeping in one to two hour increments with constant monitoring for both Cameron and me. Even with the steady in and out of nurses, all three of us managed to get some rest. And boy would we need it.

On Tuesday we started our year off right! We had lots of wonderful visitors. They started very early with an unexpected visit from Granddaddy Larry. He came to the hospital around 8:00am. Patrick, Cameron, and I were all asleep, and I could tell that he felt bad about waking us up. He came in and sat down and the three grown ups started chatting. Patrick asked Mr. Larry if he wanted to hold Cameron, to which he replied "No, that's OK." I encouraged Mr. Larry to hold her. At this point he revealed to us that he had never held a baby. Patrick replied by saying "Well Mr. Larry, you better get used to it! You are a Granddaddy now." In a moment that was so wonderful and heartwarming, Mr. Larry sat in the rocking chair in our room, held, rocked and really bonded with our little pumpkin. I feel like it really made a powerful impact on him. Cameron's birth was the biggest thing that had happened to our family in a very long time. It is amazing what a wonderful impact Cameron had and she wasn't even a whole day old. I mean look at this face:

I found out later that Mr. Larry had left our house (where all the grandparents were staying) super early. Momma and Mrs. Noonie thought that he had gone to pick up breakfast. He didn't tell anyone that he was coming to the hospital!! I am so glad that he did. It was nice to have Mr. Larry there to get to spend time with Cameron and the two of us. I know that if he had waited and come with the rest of the family he wouldn't have taken the opportunity to just sit and rock her in order to let other people get to spend time with her. Normally I hate the unannounced pop-over visit, but Mr. Larry's unannounced hospital visit was one of the best things I could have wished for on such a special day.

The rest of the day was filled with grandparents, friends, aunts, uncles and loved ones. I couldn't be prouder! Cameron was such a polite little girl. She was happy to be held and passed from arm to arm of the people that had been waiting on her for so long.

Cameron and Papa.
Cameron & Aunt Becca

Cameron and Grandma

Cameron & Aunt Leigh Ann

GaGa and Cameron

Cameron, Aunt Krista and Uncle Wes

Cameron and the Cooks

Cameron, Patrick and I checked out of the hospital on Jan 2, and excitedly went home to Cameron's adoring fans. Here are a few more pictures of Cameron, Mommy and Daddy. I AM SOMEONES MOMMY!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cameron's big entrance...

My nine months of pregnancy were, as far as pregnancies go, wonderful. Like most women I had mornings (and afternoons and nights) of yacking my guts up, living on crackers and Tums, and sleeping like the dead. I also had to fight various problems with my hips during the last 8 or 9 weeks. During that entire time the fear and uncertainty of labor and delivery loomed like a freight train that you know is coming but you ignore until the whistle blows.

And then it happened...

Around 4:30 in the morning on December 31st 2007 I went into labor. Being the comatose sleeper that I am, I thought I was dreaming! I would wake up about the end of a contraction and think "What was that?? Stupid pizza before bedtime" and then just roll back over. About 6:58ish my water broke. It was not this dramatic thing that you see on TV where a woman is in the produce section and then a monsoon sized puddle apears on the floor between the fruit table and the bags-o-salad. It was more like a strange popping sensation. No gush, but rather I thought that Patrick had somehow kicked me in the tail. I closed my eyes, and then my alarm clock went off at 7:00. I rolled over to hit the snooze, and when I moved it came. Again, no gush, but more like I had peed the bed. I knew that the time that I had been looking forward to and dreading all at the same time was here. I was much calmer than I expected. I gave Patrick a little nudge and said "Honey get up and grab a towel; my water just broke." Patrick, who had taken the day off to have a super long weekend since New Year's Day was on a Tuesday went from dead to the world, to leaping out of the bed like a gazelle. He ran to the closet in the hall, grabbed a towel and then he began cleaning the house! You never know how you will react in situations like your wife going into labor, but nesting was not what I expected Patrick to do.

I called the doctor, and she said that I should head into the hospital. I got in the shower, gave my hair a good scrub, got dressed and prepared myself as best I could for what I knew was going to be a very long day. As soon as Patrick finished packing a few things we hit the road. I called Rebecca, she made the calls to "the list" and then I called my mom.

We arrived at the hospital and I checked in at 9:00. They got me into a room while Patrick moved the car and brought in our bags. My nurse Tara (pictured here, who I was FAR from thrilled with) hooked me up to lots of monitors and started my IV. And by starting, I mean stabbing me in the arm with a huge hot needle and then digging around for a while. After her failed attempt, she got another nurse to come and start in IV in the other arm. That nurse (who's name I have forgotten) came in and PRESTO!

The first of my two doctors, Doctor Jennifer Linfert (right) came in and checked my cervix. I was dilated to 3cm, and well on my way to having a baby. My contractions were like clockwork, and as the crowd grew, everyone monitored them on the computer screen beside my bed.

Now every woman has expectations of labor that are based on the experiences of other women in their lives, things they have seen and read, and the occasional warning from the old lady at the bank, but once you go into labor you realize that it is just as individual as fingerprints. I thought I would scream or cry or cuss, but as my labor progressed I did none of those things. With each contraction I closed my eyes, turned my head to the left (away from the visitors in the room), focused on whatever song Becca was playing on my laptop, and took huge deep breaths. This went on until about 3:00 in the afternoon.

I knew from the get go that I would get an epidural, but up until that point I was OK. Then it hit. The most blinding pain I ever dreamed possible. Cameron must have changed positions, and my labor pains went into my back. Pain is such a small word for such a dramatic feeling. I looked at Patrick and begged him to go get the anesthesiologist. In the meantime the nurse gave me some IV pain meds to "take the edge off." It was about as effective as putting a Band Aid on a severed leg (with about the same pain control). It was a little more than an hour before the epidural. It felt like forever, but as with the start of labor, I just grabbed the side of the bed and silently held on tight. How tight you might ask. Well it wasn't until a few days later that I realized how hard I was holding on the arm of the bed. My hand hurt and was so swollen that I couldn't get my wedding ring off! Two weeks later it was still puffy!

Right before they administered it, they had shift change. My second doctor, Dr. Lauren Painter, came in and checked my progression, and to my utter terror the words "You are dilated to 3 cm." WHAT!!!! I had been in labor for 12 hours and I hadn't progressed ANY!! I nearly lost it. I had this overwhelming urge to run. I looked at my mom and I had the first notion that I couldn't do this. I look at my mom and said just that. "Momma, I don't think I can do this," and then for the first time I began to cry. My mom looked at me and with loving kindness said "Yes you can baby. You are doing it now."

As if from a white steed, the anesthesiologist (who is pictured to the right as I remember him) came in and gave me the most wonderful thing that was ever known to woman. As soon as it kicked in I went from unbelievable pain to back to the world of the living. At this point the Nubane (IV pain med) kicked in and I fell asleep. I woke up about an hour later when Dr. Painter came and checked me again. She asked "How are you feeling?" to which I replied "I am doing much better after the epidural." She said, "You are not kidding! You are at 10 cm!" I could hardly believe it. Twelve hours of HARD labor and nothing, and in one hour I was at the finish line. If I had only known that, I would have had them do the epidural as soon as I walked in the door.

They sat me up in the bed, and I "labored down" (fancy for sitting up and letting gravity do its work). About 9:00 the epidural began to wear off, and the back pain was back. They gave me a little extra juice. It worked (sort of) because I couldn't feel my feet, but my back was still on fire. Dr. Painter said that pushing might help with the pain, so we got the big show on the road. The room was cleared of the loving supporters (My mom, Patrick's mom, Faye, Becca, and Leigh Ann are the ones I really remember being in there, but I knew that Mr. Bill, Mr. Luther, and Mr. Larry were in the waiting room) and Cameron's troops came in. I really thought about it ahead of time on how I was going to push. "Keep the energy in your bottom and not your head" I kept telling myself. I pushed through 3 or 4 contractions with Patrick and Stacy counting "1,2,3 ... 10." Dr. Painter and the delivery room nurse Stacy said "Honey, you are doing so good." I replied "I bet you tell that to all the girls." Stacy looked at me and said, "No I don't! We are about to have this baby in the next few minutes!" They broke the bed the rest of the way down, and 3 contractions later Cameron made her big entrance at 9:54pm on December 31st. That's right, New Year's Eve! She stretched her little lungs as she gave us her first solo. There is nothing sweeter than a baby's first cry, but when it is your little girl's cry, there is nothing like it. Patrick did a wonderful job cutting the cord, and then she was whisked away and Dr. Painter and Stacy finished up with me. The gory details I will leave out.

According to those that were watching Cameron (and thank God not me) told me that she passed all of her tests with flying colors (did you have any doubt?).

The next few hours seemed surreal. Rebecca and Leigh Ann came in, Rebecca snapping pictures left and right (thank goodness!). I remember lots of flashbulbs and then Leigh Ann handed Cameron to me, and it was overwhelming. Then the rest of the family came in. Momma, Mr. Larry, Mrs. Noonie, Mr. Bill, Faye, and Mr. Luther got to welcome our little wonder in the world. I couldn't believe that this little person who we had been waiting on for nearly a year was finally here. When they handed her to me she wasn't crying, and was SO alert. Her eyes were a slate gray color, and she was soaking in everything around her. It was amazing. I could have held her forever. We were allowed to keep her in the labor room for about an hour or so. I tried to breastfeed her (it was the blind leading the blind!), and then the nurses came and took her to the nursery. Patrick and the crowd went with her. Dr. Painter and Stacy helped me get ready to move to the postpartum room, and while Cameron was in the nursery I was able to take a long awaited and much needed rest. The hardest work I have ever done had paid off more than I could have ever dreamed, and she was only a few moments old. She is my magnum opus - my great work.