Kenneth at five months…

Jun 8th 2015 03:23:40 pm

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So much fun! That is how I would describe Kenneth at five months old. He loves playing with toys (especially new ones!) and moving all around. He loves for us to read him books, looking astounded at each new colorful page. (He even seems to be attempting to turn the pages himself, but maybe I’m reading too much into his grabbing reflex.) He likes his dad and me to sing him to sleep, that or talk to each other about something very boring. He doesn’t have any teeth yet, but he definitely wants to put everything in his mouth to chew on. And he drools. A lot. Sometimes he is very serious, observing the world around him intently. But overall he is just a sweet, easy-going, happy baby.

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I know that I can’t really be objective, but to me he is absolutely perfect. I love him so much.

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Some Fun Facts…

  • Kenneth weighs 17.5 lbs and is somewhere over 27 inches tall. He went into the doctor’s for an extra 5-month weight check last week since his weight hadn’t been increasing as quickly as his height. The doctors were pleased with his gain and didn’t even check his height… so I guess that means all is good.
  • Kenneth’s two passions lately seem to be blowing spit bubbles and doing backbends out of mom or dad’s arms. Both of which I don’t love. But I try to support him in his interests…
  • In addition to the backbends, Kenneth is much more rolly-polly and movement-focused lately. He loves to try to sit, and stand, and roll, and even attempt to crawl. He sort of throws himself out of our arms in an attempt to get places, which makes him somewhat difficult to wrangle. He is a boy who loves to move!!
  • He can sit unassisted for a few seconds at a time… and he is very proud of himself when he does!
  • He giggles when I kiss his neck and pretend to munch on his fingers or toes, and he LOVES “flying” around as Super Baby with his dad.
  • We started feeding Kenneth a bit of solid (ish) food just after his four month birthday on the advice of his pediatrician. So far he has had rice cereal, mashed bananas, a little steamed and mashed carrot, sweet potatoes, and a little avocado.
  • Ken went on his first plan ride to Kansas City on May 22nd to visit his grandparents and aunts and uncles. He was an awesome travel baby, sleeping for the majority of the flights and barely fussing. The entire trip went well. Ken went to his first Royals game on the 23rd, spent a lot of quality time with his grandparents and great Grammy, and got to meet most of his aunts and uncles for the first time.
  • Nearly all of Ken’s brownish-red baby hair has fallen out and fine, white-blonde hair is taking its place. He looks like such a different baby than he did at one month!

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I read somewhere that the only thing more profound than the love you have for your child is your fear of losing them. That thought has stuck with me. I am a defiantly optimistic person and try hard not to dwell on fear and worry, but Kenneth is so precious to me that it is scary. I just hope and pray that I can give him the love and support he needs to have an incredible, rewarding, happy, long life.

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Also, check out Kenneth at one month, Kenneth at two months, Kenneth at three months, and Kenneth at four months.

3 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Kenneth

Kenneth at four months…

May 14th 2015 08:54:09 am

Time is going more and more quickly and I’m starting to panic about not keeping a diligent record of all the cute things Ken has been doing. Turns out that blogging takes a lot of time, computer time that I don’t really have these days…

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Last week Kenneth turned fourth months old, and he just keeps getting more and more fun. He is more like a little person and less like a hungry little crying creature. He has likes and dislikes, and he loves interacting with his mom and dad.

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Things I don’t want to forget:

  • At his four month doctor check up he weighed 16 lbs and was 27 inches tall. His height is off the charts (greater than the 98th percentile), but his weight is a little low (75th percentile). The doctor suggested we start him on a little solid food to supplement. I am very grateful that breast feeding has gotten less painful and I am proud of myself for breastfeeding him exclusively for these last four months, but I welcome any relief in the feeding department.
  • He is so cheery (and wiggly) when he wakes up in the morning. All smiles and giggles.
  • When Travis and I read and sing to him in our bed while getting him ready for sleep, he reaches his arms out to either side to make sure he is touching us both.
  • The way he strokes my hand while he is eating.
  • How excited he gets when I lean in to give him kisses on his face. He looks at me with such adoration. It is such a sweet feeling.
  • He is working on rolling, but hasn’t quite made the back-to-front roll totally by himself yet. He rolls side to side often to grab toys and he is able to wiggle himself all over the floor by throwing his legs in the air repeatedly.
  • He loves trying to sit and stand with assistance ALL THE TIME… which can get tiring for mom and dad.
  • He visited the Brooklyn Museum for the first time this month, and got his very own passport!
  • He had his tongue tie treated with a laser on April 17th. He recovered quickly and seems to enjoy his new tongue mobility.
  • He went to his first baseball game on May 8th at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees were playing the Orioles, and he slept through most of it despite the noise.

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Travis and I were and are so thrilled to be parents and we couldn’t have hoped for a better baby… But for a while it was was hard to admit that the pain and difficulty of the first few months was worth it. Motherhood is the most difficult challenge I’ve ever embarked on. But at the same time, Ken is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Maybe that sounds like something that parents HAVE to say, but it is actually exactly how I feel. My love for him just keeps growing. To me, he is perfect and precious. He is so amazing that it borders on magical. It boggles my mind to think of what a unique person he is — someone we never could have predicted before meeting him. It may sound cliche, but his smiles and little advancements really are immensely rewarding. Parenthood just keeps getting better and better.

A few more cute pics:

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Want more cute pics? I have almost 3,500 photos of Ken in his Flickr album.

Also, check out Ken at one month, Ken at two months, and Kenneth at three months.

5 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Kenneth

kenneth at three months…

Apr 9th 2015 08:05:51 pm

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Yesterday was Kenneth’s three month birthday! Wow. He is a growing boy! Ken and I are close and inseparable friends these days. He and I have been going on a lot more adventures this month, heading into Manhattan at least once a week and running errands all around Brooklyn. He is a fun baby who loves to interact, babble, and trade smiles. We spend a lot of time adoringly staring into each others eyes and grinning.

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Facts about Kenneth at three months…

  • I’m not exactly sure what his measurements are because we don’t go back to the doctor until next month, but he definitely weighs more than 14 pounds and is over 25 inches long. He is wearing some of his 6-month clothes already!
  • We are blessed in that he is a great sleeper at night. He sleeps in an initial eight-hour chunk, wakes for a feeding around 4 am, and then sleeps another three hours. We all feel pretty well rested.
  • He loves the mornings and is a cheerful little early bird.
  • He lights up when you smile or talk to him. He has been trying out all sorts of new sounds and loves conversing back and forth.
  • He is getting much stronger at tummy time, and even enjoys it. He is also working on arching his back and swinging his legs in preparation for rolling over. He loves trying to “stand” with assistance from mom or dad.
  • He loves his toy mirrors and holds intricate conversations with the baby he sees in them.
  • He still hasn’t quite figured out his thumb, but he loves sucking on his hands and fingers. He also loves clasping his hands together and admiring his feat of dexterity.
  • Sometimes his hair looks brown, sometimes red, but it seems to be growing in light blonde at the roots.
  • He has seen the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building, and last weekend he went on his first big train trip to Philadelphia. He did great riding in his stroller all over town and he loved the art museum and the Liberty Bell.

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Mama Update:

I want to show no weakness and tell you that everything is going well… and it certainly is in the sense that Ken is an awesome and healthy baby… BUT I am in pain. Unrelenting, endless pain and discomfort. All of the new baby things you worry about before the baby is born — sleepless nights, poop explosions, spit-up, their constant need for attention — all of those things are minuscule inconveniences when compared to being in pain all of the time. I feel like if I could just feel comfortable in my body again, I could really kick butt at this mom thing. This is how you’ll know things are serious: I really don’t even care about losing weight or ever running again, I just want to feel less pain. It sounds dramatic and I wish it wasn’t the truth, but it is.

Breastfeeding is still very painful. We are working on getting Ken’s severe tongue tie treated, which may end up being the solution, but the process has been frustrating. The pediatricians have been dismissive of tongue tie in general, but I finally insisted on a referral to a specialist. The specialist saw him and agreed that he should be treated, but now we are stuck in limbo waiting for insurance to approve the procedure. Which is ridiculous, because the “procedure” will literally take 30 seconds. But at this point I am worried that there may be more problems going on in addition to the tongue tie… my breasts are always tender and in pain, during and in between feedings. After reading what seems like every breastfeeding resource on the planet, I’ve started every possible homeopathic treatment for breast infections while I wait to see my doctor in two weeks.

Competing with breastfeeding for first place in the pain and discomfort category is my entire hip and pelvic region. Walking while wearing Ken in the baby carrier is hard on my body, which isn’t good because it is a necessity if I want to leave the house. The good news is that physical therapy does seem to be helping. It is slow going and I still need to avoid high impact activity, but I think I will eventually make some progress. And my therapist, Justine, at Renew is so professional, kind, and helpful. I am grateful to have access to the therapy… and that they let me bring Ken to my sessions.

Minus the pain, everything is going so well. Travis and Ken are wonderful. (Crusher is a bit of a stinker these days, but he is wonderful, too.) I just keep trying to stay strong and get through this tough time. I try to remind myself that in a year I will have gotten through all of this and I probably won’t even remember why it was so tough. And I can honestly say from the heart that it is worth it.

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Want more cute pics? I have almost 3,000 photos of Ken in his Flickr album.

Also, check out Ken at one month & Ken at two months.

3 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Kenneth

Kenneth at two months…

Mar 10th 2015 03:22:44 pm

month2ken

On Sunday, Kenneth turned two months old. He seems so big and so old now! It has been fun to watch him awaken to the world and start interacting with us a bit more. What else has he been up to? Practicing his smiles, discovering toys, requesting kisses, and of course, sleeping quite a bit.

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Facts about Kenneth at two months:

  • At his two-month doctor appointment last week he weighed 12 lbs 10 ozs and was 24.25 inches long! Very tall (99th percentile!) and a bit skinny, but the doctor was pleased with his weight gain.
  • He has been sleeping longer at night, which is amazing. On Sunday night he slept for eight full hours straight! That was a big deal, but on most nights he gets in at least one 4-6 hour chunk. Not bad at all on his parents. We are feeling good!
  • He has started smiling a lot more and even initiates smile conversations. He giggles a bit, but we can’t wait for more!
  • He is not a big fan of sleeping in his crib and isn’t really on a strict nap schedule. But he does like looking at his play mirror in his crib.
  • He likes blowing drool bubbles. Bibs have become a necessity.
  • He loves getting kisses on his face and even “asks” for them by putting his mouth up in the air. Very cute.
  • He still likes being swaddled at night and loves riding in his baby carriers during the day.
  • He seems to have noticed Crusher and sometimes watches him walk around. Crusher has attempted to “play” with Ken by barking at him and teasing him, but Ken doesn’t seem to understand the game.
  • All four of us have really started to get to know one another and become a more cohesive family. It is a fun time!

month2kenandcrusher

Mama Update:

You guys, things are getting SO MUCH BETTER. (I had real coffee for the first time today, which may be positively affecting my mood.)

Breastfeeding can still be uncomfortable and demanding, but Ken seems to be eating less frequently and my boobs are feeling much better. Feeding him feels more natural now, even if it is still time consuming. I am proud of myself for making it for more than eight weeks of exclusively breastfeeding. I plan to try to make it a year, but whatever happens, I am happy that I have stuck it out as long as I have.

Over the last two weeks I have started working out again. It feels great. I am out of shape and running is still nearly impossible with my wonky hips, but I really like my video workouts and can already notice strength improvements. And I have lost two pounds! Thank goodness for progress!

The weather is finally better this week and I have actually been getting stuff done. Ken and I have met up with a few friends for food, we’ve gone to mom & baby yoga, and we’ve even gone to the grocery store AND fixed dinner on the same day! I didn’t know if that last thing would ever be possible again. I feel confident taking Ken out and even feeding him in public.

Sunday was a down day after attempting to run and then attempting to buy new workout clothes. Neither attempt was very successful and I started feeling sorry for myself again… but I am having many more good days than down days lately and I feel like I am coming into my own in this new mommy life. Hooray!

And that is all I can post for now because Ken just started crying for his afternoon snack…

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10 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Kenneth

Kenneth at one month…

Feb 9th 2015 03:29:56 pm

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Little Ken is one month old! We are extremely fortunate and grateful that he is healthy and sweet and progressing perfectly. It is amazing that he is a miniature human made of equal parts Travis and me. He is not quite what I expected, but instead a unique individual with a distinct personality starting to emerge. He is a lot of fun. He looks like Travis, my brothers, my dad, my father-in-law, and myself all at once. The last month has flown by and dragged on. I hope Kenneth has enjoyed getting to know us as much as we’ve loved meeting him.

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Facts about Kenneth at one month:

  • He weighed 9 lbs 10.5 oz at his four week doctor appointment. Two pounds more than at birth!
  • He sleeps in 3-4 hour chunks at night… which isn’t too bad on his mom.
  • He is a champion eater and has been meeting all of his dirty diaper quotas.
  • It took a few weeks, but he has been making eye contact, making lots of cute noises, and even cracking a few adorable smiles.
  • He loves riding in his baby carriers and being swaddled at night.
  • He makes endless funny faces, especially when I give him kisses on his face.
  • He has had lots of visitors and he has been on trips to Shake Shack, Ample Hills, Calexico, and Prospect Park.
  • He is the best baby in the world!

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Postpartum Update:

I was ready for a lot of the things that come with bringing home a new baby — sleepless nights, getting little accomplished except baby care, dealing with a flabby, out-of-shape, recovering body, emotional highs and lows — but you add it all together and this new life can feel TOUGH sometimes. Thankfully, Travis has been a huge help. He has done the grocery shopping and much of the cooking. And despite being back at work full time now, he stays up with the baby when I desperately need to sleep. We are adults and I know we will get through this early baby time just as billions of other parents have. Hopefully, we will even remember it fondly. I try to keep things in perspective and remember that everything is actually going very smoothly…

BUT I need to vent about one major challenge… breast feeding. Ugh. Overall, Ken and I have had a lot of success and I am going to stick with it, but I am sad to admit that I don’t really like it. I had high hopes in the first week, but then the pain set in. It was excruciating for about a week. There was blood and blisters and a lot of tears. It felt terrible to dread feeding him. But as all of the lactation resources predicted, things have gotten better. (These nipple pads and this lanolin help.) I no longer dread it, but it is still uncomfortable, time-consuming, and utterly (udderly?) draining. I have a low level dehydration headache at all times despite my best hydration efforts. Also, my boobs are unmanageably huge and sore and stretched to the max. I know Ken is getting plenty to eat (he makes lots of dirty diapers and is gaining weight) but his feeding schedule is still unpredictable, and he can be quite demanding! Oh, and my weight is absolutely NOT “falling off” as everyone said it would if I breast fed…

It has only been a month and I know things will continue to get easier, but even compared to my fertility struggles, the pregnancy, and childbirth, I consider breast feeding during this postpartum period to be my least favorite and most difficult challenge. Of course, maybe my feelings will change once I get through it…

10 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Kenneth, Pregnancy

Kenneth’s birth story

Jan 29th 2015 09:12:08 pm

It has been three weeks since Kenneth arrived on January 8th. I have been thinking a lot about his birth and have wanted to write it all down before I forget all of the details. I know that I am already revising the experience in my mind and underestimating the pain and intensity of the day…. but hopefully, I can get as close to the reality as possible. I will try to be somewhat discreet about the medical stuff, but proceed with caution if you don’t want to read the details of labor and birth!

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THE SHORT VERSION:

My labor and Kenneth’s birth was fast, intense, mind-blowing, painful, overwhelming and amazing. It was my dream birth situation, but it was not what I was expecting and it caught me off guard. Ken was born nine days before his due date at NYU Langone hospital in Manhattan. I was in “real” labor for just six hours and we barely made it to the hospital in time! The labor and vaginal delivery were totally natural and medication-free. They were also scary and all-consuming. Travis was the perfect husband, dad, and birth companion, and Ken and I both made it through the experience totally healthy and happy. January 8th was a very good day!

THE SUPER LONG VERSION…

The Day Before:

On January 7th, I had what turned out to be my final prenatal doctor appointment. The doctor checked my cervix and said I was about one centimeter dilated, but not efaced very far. She didn’t think it meant much and told me that if I hadn’t gone into labor by the next week’s appointment, she would strip my membranes then. She also discussed what would happen if I went past my due date.

So… I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about BabyJ arriving early. I was a little bummed to think that I still had a long time to wait, so despite the very cold weather, Travis took me out on a date to Stone Park Cafe to cheer me up. We shared a really delicious meal (not too big or rich, which turned out to be a very good thing) and had a great night together.

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Labor:

After going to bed around midnight, I woke up with some minor cramping at about 3:00 am. Being woken up by contractions is a definite sign of labor, but I really didn’t think much of it. The cramps didn’t hurt much and they were really sporadic. I had maybe four or five of them between 3 and 4 am, and then I sort of fell asleep on the couch until Travis woke up at 7. I told him I was having some light contractions, but that they had pretty much dissipated and that it was probably just Braxton Hicks or practice labor. I think we ate breakfast. I told him to go to work.

I thought that even if it was early labor, I had hours and hours until the real deal. In our Prepared Childbirth class our instructor really reinforced the fact that first baby labor can last a REALLY long time, on average 18-22 hours. We spent a LOT of time in class discussing all of the things a woman can do while in early labor — get her nails done, make cookies, go out to eat, watch movies, etc. I figured that I was NOT even in early labor yet, since there wasn’t much pain, and once I was, I would still have tons of time.

I did some computer work, took Crusher for a walk, vacuumed, texted with some friends, and started thinking about what I wanted to get done before going to the hospital IF I really was in labor. My list included going to get a pedicure, cleaning the bathroom, baking cookies, and showering. I actually texted Travis and asked if he thought I should try to make an appointment to get my hair highlighted, too. ha! But I was feeling a little worn out and decided to nap before tackling my list…

This will be too much info for most, but another sign of labor that I sort of ignored? I had three bowel movements during the course of the morning, which is three times what is normal for me. Clearing your system out can be a sign of early labor, which I knew, but didn’t think much about at the time.

At about 12:30 I woke up from my nap to a really painful contraction. I tried to get up during it, but couldn’t walk until it passed. I think it was actually when my water broke. There was some liquid, but not much, so I wasn’t sure. I also might have lost my mucus plug then. All of a sudden, I got worried. It was real pain. I actually thought, “this whole labor thing isn’t going to be easy.” I started texting Travis even though he was in a meeting…

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The contractions started at about three minutes apart before 1 pm, but quickly sped up. I tried using my app, but I couldn’t really time them. I was still thinking that once Travis got home maybe he could time them while I watched a movie (I was thinking Aliens)… but the contractions just kept coming faster and were getting more intense. I got through a shower, but had to stop to lean against the wall for each contraction. The pain was intense. It is hard to be objective about it, but it was definitely white-knuckle, stop-what-you-are-doing, focus-on-getting-through-it pain. Sitting on the toilet or being on all fours on the bed helped.

Our hospital bag was already packed, but I managed to round up a few extra things in between contractions (including snacks — thank goodness!). Then, I called my mom at 2:30 pm. She says I didn’t sound like I was in pain, but I was. I thought I sounded terrible. I was on all fours in bed with wet hair and I finally admitted to her (and myself) that I thought the baby was coming that day. She said that if I thought he was coming, he was!

Travis got home shortly after that at about 2:45. I think my water sort of broke again then. More liquid came out, anyway. At some point I called my doctor’s office. I talked to a nurse and told her my water had broken and that the contractions were a minute a part. She clarified that they weren’t actually AN HOUR a part and when I said no, she told us to come in to the hospital asap.

Getting to the Hospital:

Travis stayed calm, took Crusher out, and rounded up all of our things while I worked on drying my hair. (It was very cold that day and I didn’t want to go out with wet hair.) We called an Uber car at around 3:20 and I quickly made it down the stairs from our apartment in between contractions.

The car ride was one of the most difficult things I have ever withstood. It was a bumpy ride and the contractions seemed to be coming less than 30 seconds apart. There weren’t really any breaks, just waves of pain. I think I might have held Travis’ hand, but I also remember worrying about hurting him. I was grasping the car door with white knuckles and just trying my best not to make too much noise. The driver was really nervous and asked us whether we needed an ambulance instead. I was definitely getting worried and was in focused survival mode, but I still didn’t really know how deep into labor I was. I certainly didn’t want to show up to the hospital in an ambulance and then be told that I was barely even dilated!! Despite the intensity of the contractions, I was still afraid that I might show up and they would tell me I had hours and hours of labor left…

A natural, medication and intervention-free delivery was my goal, but during the car ride I decided to ask for an epidural if my labor was not very far progressed. I felt weak for mentally giving up on my plan, but I couldn’t have handled hours more of those extreme contractions.

It turns out that I should have been a little more worried about not making it to the hospital in time…

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Delivery:

We made it to the hospital at around 4 pm. I thought I could make it up to the Mother and Baby unit on foot, but as soon as I walked into the hospital, I doubled over a trash can to get through a contraction. A woman in the lobby scolded Travis and told him to get me a wheel chair. I was so focused on getting through the pain that I didn’t totally know what was happening, but somehow I got in the wheel chair and they got me into an elevator and up to the check in desk. Travis checked me in — i think — and they took me to triage.

I had been dreading triage because it is in a more public area and you have to stay there while they monitor the baby and your contractions for 20 minutes. I was thinking of this when we arrived, but really, I wasn’t thinking of much but getting through the pain. I don’t even know if my vision was working. I don’t know how my clothes were removed. I do sort of remember the nurses putting the monitors on me, and me saying that I couldn’t lay on my back for 20 minutes. I asked if I could be on all fours instead. The resident doctor (I think) did an internal exam and… OMG guys… I was fully dilated!!

In retrospect, I think I was in transition while we were arriving at the hospital. My body was doing what I described as “convulsing” but I think it was actually pushing. They quickly transported me to a delivery room.

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The doctor excitedly said, “You are going to have a baby today!” There was no time for an epidural, and I am glad that I didn’t have to make a decision about getting one. I think the nurses and doctors thought I would have the baby within a few minutes, and maybe I would have, but once I transferred to the delivery room at 4:25 things seemed to slow down. (How did I get in the new bed? I don’t know.)

I was scared. Much more scared than I thought I would be. I needed a mental break. I hadn’t anticipated the labor progressing so quickly and I felt like I had to catch my breath. I had more time in between each contraction during the pushing stage, like 2-3 minutes, to rest. Maybe my own anxiety slowed things down. I know that it decreased the efficiency of my pushing. I had thought I was going to be really good at pushing — empowered and strong — but I felt weak and scared. I felt bad for wanting a way out. If I had been given a way out, I would have taken it, which is humbling. I even thought about asking for a c-section, but I don’t think I said it out loud. Travis tried to remind me that I would be meeting our baby soon, but even that didn’t feel like sufficient motivation. I didn’t really care. I just wanted the pain to stop. But I kept going.

The nurses and Doctor Erin Conroy (who I loved — she was wearing a NYRR race t-shirt under her scrubs) coached me through pushing during each contraction. The last book I had read was Hypnobirthing, which describes labor as “breathing your baby out” and advises against coached, forced pushing. So I was confused about whether I needed to follow the pushing instructions. I felt a little annoyed at the doctors and nurses for telling me what to do. I wanted to do things my way… but thank goodness I listened to them instead. I pushed for two and half hours, which isn’t a short time period, but it would have been way longer if I had been left up to my own devices. I think I would have just held the baby in indefinitely. I really hadn’t anticipated being so scared of the actual birth.

I was half sitting up in the hospital bed and pushed while pulling on a bar over the bed, on handles by the side of the bed, and even while pulling on a sheet held by the doctor. Eventually a nurse and Travis started holding my legs while I pushed and they set up a mirror for me to watch my progress. I was fine with having the mirror, but it definitely was not an attractive sight!

The two+ hours passed quickly with what seemed like little progress. The doctor was a little concerned about Ken being in distress during contractions and they encouraged me to keep working hard. I think I asked the doctor how long it would take. They wanted me to hold my breath while pushing and do two or three per contraction. Many of my pushes were ineffective. They only seemed to work when I could push in conjunction with my body’s natural pushing action. The doctor suggested Pitocin to get things moving faster, which I didn’t want. I was a little frustrated but tried to muster up my courage and determination to just GET THE BABY OUT!

Ken is here:

Finally, at 6:41 pm, Ken’s head was crowning and he was born quickly after that! They had moved the mirror, but I looked down and could mostly see him being born. Following his head, he had his little hand up under his chin. “He’s waving at you!” the doctor said and she helped pull him the rest of the way out. It all happened so quickly that I couldn’t tell you the exact details. They quickly put him up on my chest. I was very happy and relieved and in love with our new little baby.

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I got to hold Ken for a bit. I did not cry, which is a little strange. I was just so happy and overwhelmed. Ken cried a bit, but not loudly. Travis cut the cord at some point. Time passed quickly. The nurses rubbed Ken clean — he had a lot of vernix on his body. The nurses called him “cheesy” — yum. He also had a lot of mucus in his nose, mouth, and lungs, so a nurse had to take him for a bit to suction it out, but she did it right by my bed. He also got foot printed and “tagged” with all his hospital bands.

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Unfortunately, I did have a second degree perineum tear, but I couldn’t tell you when it happened. It didn’t hurt as far as I could tell. Maybe my anxiety (and all those Kegels I had been doing) prevented me from relaxing my pelvic floor during the birth, but who knows. While Ken was cleaned up, I had to get a few stitches. That was NOT fun. I wanted a break from all the discomfort, but I was also really happy and excited, so I got through it. Another pre-birth fear that I really didn’t need to worry about? Pooping during labor. I do not think I did, but I really couldn’t tell you, and no one in the room would have cared at all either way. I was so focused on getting through the pain and getting out the baby, that I was not worried about much of anything else. I also didn’t care that I had an IV in my hand or the fetal monitor around my waist — two things that I had anticipated not wanting. Everything happened so quickly and I was very happy with the help that the hospital staff gave me during labor and the birth.

After Ken was suctioned and cleaned, he was put on my bare chest. I am so glad Travis took photos because the time went so quickly. I just enjoyed holding him. Travis and I ate some of the snacks we had brought, and Ken nursed a bit while we waited for his eye ointment and Vitamin K shot. I think this is also when they gave me the Pitocin drip, but I am not sure. I had been suspicious of the hospital for requiring Pitocin after every delivery, but in the end, I did not care at all and I had no side effects from it. If anything, I was just insanely happy, excited, and at peace.

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Hospital Stay:

Staying at the hospital was not something I was looking forward to, but despite my anxiety, I was very happy with my stay and care at NYU Langone hospital. The nurses were all fantastic. I saw two lactation consultants, two pediatricians, and took a breast feeding class and baby care class all within my 40 hours at the hospital. The nurses helped me breastfeed and taught me how to use a breast pump.

I ended up with a private room, but only because the other bed in the room was broken. Despite the privacy, we decided Travis should go home to sleep at night and to take care of Crusher. The hospital food actually wasn’t bad, but Travis also brought me Doughnut Plant donuts the day after the delivery. Our friends, Joel and Amanda, came to visit on Friday evening.

It must have been the hormones, but I just felt thrilled and at peace in the hospital. I felt like I had accomplished something big and I was just so pleased that Kenneth had arrived.

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Bringing Ken home:

On Saturday morning we got discharged really quickly. We were out of our room by about 10 am. They require that you sit whenever you carry your baby in the hospital, so I got to take another wheel chair ride down to the hospital exit. You can tell by my goofy smile, I was just deliriously happy and excited.

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Travis had borrowed Joel’s car and had already installed our car seat. He went to go get the car while I waited in the lobby. (Side note: as far as we can tell, you do NOT officially need a car seat to leave the hospital in NYC. No one checked us or asked us how we were getting home. Of course, you SHOULD use a car seat.)

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There wasn’t much traffic on our way home. Travis says he wasn’t very nervous while driving. I sat in back with Ken and told him all about his home borough of Brooklyn.

Crusher was very excited to meet his new brother when we got home. He went a little crazy and both wanted to get close to Ken, but also was a little nervous. He has since warmed up to him, but he doesn’t like his crying.

The four of us have spent the last three weeks getting used to the very literal blood, sweat, and tears of caring for a brand new baby. We are having fun together and slowly finding our rhythm. My recovery has gone well, but between that and breast feeding, there has been a lot of pain and discomfort. But things are getting better. I had felt so proud and pleased to have gotten through the pregnancy and birth, but bringing home a newborn is a fresh new challenge that may be the hardest yet.

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Childbirth vs Marathoning:

I was very interested to learn how the experience of labor and birth compared to running a marathon. Prepping for childbirth was not my main motivation for running marathons, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of my reasons.

I AM very glad to have had nine marathons under my belt before giving birth because it gave me a lot of self confidence and knowledge that I could endure pain and hard physical work. BUT, childbirth was MUCH more difficult than running a marathon.

I was lucky in that my labor was super-short, but even so, it was six hours of intense pain. Some marathons are six hours long, but you aren’t in pain that full time. Labor pain is like the last hour of the marathon, but for a much longer period of time.

Other differences: In a marathon you can adjust your pace or even stop if needed. You don’t have much control over labor. And you don’t know how long it is going to be. During my marathons, I’ve definitely thought, “I’m never doing one of these again.” But I’ve never thought about quitting. Labor was much scarier. I am sad to say that I think I would have quit if I had been given the opportunity. It is definitely hard to remember and compare pain, but I do know that I was thinking I would much rather be running a marathon than trying to push out a baby. But of course, a sweet, little baby is a much better prize than a medal!

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Don’t worry. I don’t actually sleep with the baby like this. We were just lounging.

————

You can see LOTS more photos of Kenneth in his Flickr album.

12 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Kenneth, love, Pregnancy

Introducing…

Jan 13th 2015 05:44:05 pm


Kenneth Gunner Johnson!

January 8th, 2015 – 6:41 pm

7 pounds, 8.6 ounces

20 inches long

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Wow. We are in love. Ken is already five days old an we’ve been having a magical time with him. (It is going too fast!) His birth was early, fast, and intense, but I’ll save that story for a future post. He is healthy and sweet and adorable. We are amazed and thrilled that he is ours.

If you want even more photos, you can see LOTS in Ken’s Flickr album.

6 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Feeling Happy, Kenneth, Pregnancy

Merry Christmas 2014

Dec 24th 2014 04:55:05 pm

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the soon-to-be FOUR Johnsons! (Rachel, Travis, Crusher, and BabyJ)

We are laying low this year in Brooklyn, just patiently waiting for our little New Year’s gift to arrive in a few weeks. 2015 should be the best year yet!

xoxo

No Comments » Categories: Christmas, Family, Feeling Happy, holidays, Pregnancy

Rivers Edge International Film Festival

Nov 30th 2014 10:20:44 am

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About three weeks ago, I traveled with my mom to Paducah, Kentucky, to attend the River’s Edge Film Festival with my grandma and aunts. This was the 10th year of the event. My grandma and aunts who live in Paducah have attended every year! Wow! This was my first time.

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My mom and I missed the opening night (Thursday) of the festival, but it turns out that the premier screening of the big horror feature was sold out! There was a line to get in and my family didn’t even get seats with their full access passes. We also missed most of the first day of films since we were on the road driving into town… but don’t worry, we still saw a LOT of films!!

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In total, I think we saw 27 different films over the course of Saturday and Sunday. Most of them were shorts, about 10-15 minutes in length, but many were features that ran over an hour. There were animated films, narrative fiction films, experimental films, a good amount of horror, and documentaries. Overall, the quality of the films exceeded my expectations. My favorites were the documentaries.

My top three film picks were:

  • Out of the Fire – A documentary about wood-firing potter, Kevin Crowe, working in rural Virginia. I love art documentaries, and this was particularly interesting to me because I got to do a tiny bit of wood-fired ceramics in high school. The film made the entire firing process seem like a party!
  • Wicker Kittens – A funny documentary all about competitive jigsaw puzzle teams competing at a winter festival in Minnesota. Who knew people were so into puzzles?!
  • Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall – This was a documentary about a hospice program at the Iowa State Penitentiary. I am always intrigued by prison documentaries. Even though I know that the inmates are there for a reason, I can’t help but feel compassion toward them. Maybe I am a sucker. This film followed the final days of one inmate and the care he received from his fellow prisoners. This film won Best Documentary Short for the festival.

Check out all of the festival winners here.

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It was a great trip. I basically just relaxed and enjoyed the time with family. Paducah is a really nice small city. I definitely suggest a visit if you are in the area. I didn’t get to visit the National Quilt Museum like I did during my last trip there, but I highly recommend it. There seems to be some type of art or culture event happening at any given time in Paducah. And of course, if you are there in early November, you’ve got to check out the Film Festival! (Despite the big sell-out on the first night, they could use a few more attendees throughout the event.)

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2 Comments » Categories: Family, Movies, Travel

infertility

Oct 7th 2014 12:44:48 pm

(or, Making a Baby is Harder than I’d Hoped)

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My background:

I guess I already had a feeling that I wasn’t the most fertile woman in the world. Travis and I have been having sex… for a long time. (We’ve been together for 16+ years.) We are smart and careful, so we doubled up on birth control (bc pill & condoms) for a long time. No reason why we should have gotten pregnant and we didn’t want to. We both went to grad school, moved across the country, bought a tiny house, had jobs, started a business. I went off the pill when I was 27. We kept using condoms most of the time and sort of decided to see what happened. Maybe I should have been more concerned that nothing happened. But then we moved to NY, lived (and ran a business) in a tiny apartment, trained for marathons, had fun. I don’t want to be the cliched “modern” woman, but even though I really want children, I thought I had more time. I probably should have been more concerned when my cycles shortened to 25 days, but the doctors said it was normal. I’ve never missed a period in my life. I’ve never been underweight. My body has never failed me. I thought I was as healthy as possible. But I guess I also knew I was pressing my luck. We all think we can wait forever.

In the end, my fertility struggles were very minimal compared to what many other women face, but I want to share my experience just in case it helps any other women to be proactive about their own fertility. Plus, it is so easy to forget things and I want to have my thoughts written down for my own personal record.

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Starting the process:

So… 2012 was a huge running year for me… no time for pregnancy! But after completing the Goofy Challenge and Bermuda Triangle Challenge in January 2013, Travis and I decided to get down to the business of trying to make a baby. We weren’t entirely diligent at first, but by April I was tracking my cycles and focusing on fertile days. I started using ovulation kits in July to pinpoint my most fertile days. Still nothing was happening. I hated taking the pregnancy tests just to get a negative result and I also hated not knowing what I could plan for the future. Could I run a marathon in November? Or should I not sign up? Could I train for an IronMan? Or should I devote more of my energy to focusing on baby making? Should I apply for a new job? Should we plan that big trip to Europe? It felt like everything needed to be put on hold until we knew whether or not a baby would be coming in the near future…

Fertility check-up:

Since I wasn’t getting pregnant as quickly as I had assumed it would happen, I decided I should go get things checked out. On September 11th, 2013, I had my first appointment with a new Ob/Gyn, Dr. Flagg at Spring OB/Gyn. I really liked her (she graduated from KU Med just like my brother and sister-in-law!) and she suggested I start a “Fertility Check-list” of tests and screenings. It consisted of blood tests looking at my hormone levels at different times during my cycle (FSH, AMH, TSH, Prolactin, and Progesterone), a genetic screening, a pap smear looking for any STDs or other problems, and multiple ultrasounds at different parts of my cycle to observe ovulation. (Plus, a sperm check for Travis.) In all, I think it consisted of five or six separate doctor’s appointments over two months. Looking back now it doesn’t feel like it was so bad… BUT at the time I felt like it was a HUGE hassle and very invasive. Luckily, I have not experienced many health problems in my life, so any type of medical procedure seemed very tough at first. Blood draws and trans-vaginal ultrasounds are not exactly fun, especially when you are doing them nearly every week. Not to mention the time I had to take away from work to get to all of the appointments. My work and life schedule is very flexible, but I remember thinking that anyone with a high powered job would never be able to fit in all the tests!

Every one of the tests came back with great results… except the AMH (Anti-Müllerian Hormone) or “egg timer” test. It is supposed to help doctors determine the size of your egg supply. (It also could indicate a possibility for early menopause. Great.) My number (.72) came back so low for my age that Dr. Flagg suggested I make an appointment with a fertility specialist. Her high level of concern made me worried. But she also told me not to stress over it too much. Ha! She also suggested acupuncture. Yuck. I was not interested in acupuncture, but I took her advice anyway. There are some medical studies that show some correlations between acupuncture and increased fertility, so I felt I should give it a try. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything possible to increase my fertility chances. I didn’t want there to be any one thing that I could look back on and say “if I had just tried that maybe things would have worked.”

I took any and all fertility advice… some of the things I tried:
(FYI: I 100% believe in modern medicine and believe it is the #1 thing that ultimately allowed me to get pregnant… these other things were just supplements to my medical care.)

  • accupuncture – I went to multiple appointments at two well-reviewed (and expensive) places, here and here. I know many people find acupuncture helpful, but I did not enjoy it. I also couldn’t shake the feeling that it was a scam when they were constantly trying to up-sell me herbs. I stopped going when the practitioner told me my surgery would probably not work and that I needed to increase my acupuncture visits to supplement it.
  • reduce running and strenuous exercise – My doctors told me that running was fine as long as I kept it under 45 minutes, 3 times a week. My medical chart was marked “excessive exerciser” since I had been doing much more than that. I cut back considerably, but had a hard time giving up such a huge hobby. I still ran the Brooklyn Marathon in November. (The acupuncturists told me to cut out all exercise except yoga and let my body focus its energies on reproduction.)
  • yoga – Everyone suggested yoga to help with stress. I made a point to start going, but it is not my favorite…
  • rich foods – Both the acupuncturists and the doctors suggested eating whole milk and full-fat dairy products, eggs, organ meats, bone broth, and dark green leafy vegetables — anything with lots of iron and/or nutrients. I think that the dietary recommendations didn’t hurt, but they would probably be more beneficial to someone who is malnourished or underweight. That being said, I am still drinking whole milk!
  • no more toxins, i.e. coffee & alcohol – it was hard to give these two up and it took a while for me to reduce them to zero…
  • vitamins & supplements – I started taking CoQ10, Royal Jelly, and a DHA/Omega3 vitamin in addition to my regular pre-natal.
  • voodoo fertility ring – Ok, so no one actually suggested this, but I bought a glass ring in New Orleans that claimed to enhance fertility. At best, it is a benign tourist trinket. At worst, I am co-opting a religion that I know little about… but still… I haven’t taken it off for over a year!
  • “baby make-cation” – So many fertility guides recommend reducing stress as a fertility tip, and taking a “baby making vacation” is the ultimate step! I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but this one actually worked for us!

Fertility specialist help:

I have already talked about the difficulties of finding a doctor in NYC here. This is a huge city where many women put off having children for a long time… which means that fertility doctors are in HIGH demand. In November, I called one of Dr. Flagg’s recommended fertility doctors, Dr. Noyes at the NYU Fertility Center. Her office told me she didn’t have ANY appointments until March of 2014!! That was almost another six months of waiting! Gah. But in a miracle of miracles, the office called me back and said they had had a cancelation in early December and could I take the appointment? YES!

In the mean time, I had a final appointment and ultrasound at Spring Ob/Gyn… and they found a “structure” in my uterus. I guess it was something that they had noticed before that they thought would go away within a normal cycle, but it didn’t. They couldn’t tell me what it might be, but they suggested I make an appointment for sonohysterogram after I met with the fertility specialist. So many appointments! I was feeling overwhelmed, isolated, and sad. Thank goodness I had a close friend going through similar struggles at the same time. We would meet weekly to discuss our updates.

surgerySurgery:

Thankfully, this is where the story starts getting good pretty fast… The fertility specialist, Dr. Noyes, immediately diagnosed me with a small uterine polyp at my first appointment. She said that even though it had mostly been too small to see in ultrasounds previously, it was probably preventing pregnancy for over a year. She booked me for surgery to remove it on January 14th, 2014.

I had never had surgery in a hospital before, so I was a little nervous about the general anesthesia… but it all went exceedingly well. I had almost no pain during or after. My period in January was a long and tough one, but otherwise I had no major side effects. At my check up appointment in February, Dr. Noyes said that my “fertility was enhanced” and that despite my low AMH number I should continue trying to get pregnant naturally until the summer. If it didn’t work she wanted me to start on a hormone protocol in May or June. I really didn’t want to do the hormones! Technically, I was diagnosed with infertility since I had been actively trying to get pregnant for a year without success. Boo.

Making a baby in Europe:

A lot of things lined up that allowed Travis and I to take our amazing month-long European vacation in April. It was an awesome experience. We had a wonderful, very romantic time… BabyJ was made the old-fashioned way somewhere in Italy. It almost feels too good to be true. I had decided not to track my cycles or use any type of ovulation kit while we were on the trip… we’d just have fun and see what happened! We had a lot of fun. I really can’t believe it worked. I feel very fortunate and thankful.

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Thoughts:

Reciting the facts of my brief, but scary encounter with fertility problems makes it all seem quick and matter-of-fact… but when I was actually going through it, it was all very upsetting and difficult. Going in for medical tests and then waiting for the results (which for all you know could be really bad news!) is very stressful. I felt isolated, uncertain, scared, and sad for a lot of 2013. I talked (and cried) with Travis and a few of my close friends a lot, but otherwise, I guess I didn’t want anyone to know I was struggling. For my family, I didn’t want them to worry. And I kept thinking, “Hopefully, I’ll have good news next month. I’ll tell them the whole story then.” I guess I was also afraid of being judged for making what felt like the terrible decision of waiting too long to start a family.

Despite all the tears and fear, from my current perspective, I actually feel thankful to have gone through the experience. It greatly reinforced my desire to have children, and it has made me very mindful of and grateful for my current pregnancy experience. It also gave me some insight and compassion for the major struggles women can face when trying to start a family.

I wanted to share my experience for two reasons:

1- To prompt women who might be concerned about their fertility to be really proactive and go see their doctor asap. Medical stuff can be sucky, but it can also fix most problems! The sooner you start investigating the problems, the sooner they can be fixed! I was pregnant within seven months of first going to see my doctor.

2 - To show that people go through tough stuff, even if you don’t know it is happening at the time. During the last year I’ve known friends who have had major surgeries, lost loved ones, received a cancer diagnosis, had their children receive a cancer diagnosis, etc… so many things that are so much more difficult than what I experienced. And yet, many of them didn’t want to share their struggles with the world either. Don’t assume that anyone’s life is perfect. Everyone is facing tough stuff of some sort and could use some kindness.

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I am so thankful and thrilled that my pregnancy is going well so far. BabyJ seems strong and healthy and I can’t wait to meet him! I don’t want to take anything for granted.

If you are going through fertility struggles, let me know if you have any questions. I am happy to discuss any details!

3 Comments » Categories: Family, Feeling Sad, Health, Pregnancy

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Hello.

I'm Rachel. I run websites and run marathons. I live in Brooklyn and write about art, crafts, design, food, fitness, fashion, my daily life, and New York City.

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