Paxton’s Third Month

Blogged while baby naps and husband cleans (he has his moments!)

Let’s start with a photo array, shall we? This is a fraction of what was on my phone – it’s amazing how many photos can pile up over 30 days when you have a baby.

Paxton’s third month was such a turning point. It all slowly seemed to get more doable and manageable. By no means easy, just less impossible. We also started getting back into real life again: out to dinner for Father’s Day and our birthdays, hosted a party, celebrated my birthday – and I went back to work, too. June was a good month.

The biggest focus for us was having 40 of our nearby family and friends over to our house to meet baby Paxton and enjoy delicious food cooked on our Big Green Egg. Remember my mom’s Christmas gift to us? Chef Todd Ginsberg (The General Muir, The Canteen) and Chef Terry Koval (Wrecking Bar) came over and grilled the most delicious chicken – there was a chicken mole, beer can chicken, chicken with chow-chow. I personally didn’t get to have any (too many people to talk to, plus dealing with the baby/pumping). But everyone said the food was yummy. The plan was to have the chefs demo and teach us how to grill on the Egg, but it was just too chaotic, and they just ended up grilling everything. Todd and Terry were so incredibly generous with their time and expertise – I will be forever grateful! Some photos from the party (wish I had more, but alas, the chaos):

After the house party, things got really hectic. First off, Minnie’s birthday! She turned 9, and we celebrated with squirrel chases at Piedmont Park.

We scheduled an at-home photoshoot with a talented photographer K2 worked with before: Anne Simone. Anne was amazing and so lovely to work with. She said that Paxton was such a smiley, happy baby (I love any and all compliments) and I don’t think she was pandering. Plus, she really seemed to take to Minnie, which of course, is the fastest way to my heart. I’d highly recommend Anne to anyone who needs a lifestyle photographer in Atlanta! Oh and if you haven’t gotten enough photos of Paxton and Minnie so far, click here to see everything from the shoot. (Enter your own email address and the password is kelly).

We did our photo session in the morning, and that afternoon was Paxton’s first drop-off at Bright Horizons daycare. Jason (who had taken the day off of work) and I went together, thankfully, because I bawled my eyes out. I will be forever grateful to the sweet teachers and staff at Bright Horizons who were so kind to me when they saw me losing it over leaving Paxton behind. Thank goodness a smart mommy friend recommended trial runs of day care drop-off before actually going back to the office (thanks Jenn Z!). It took 3 more drop-offs before I could do it without crying.

Why the tears? (Besides the fact that it’s all I seem to bring to the table lately.) The obvious is that I’m leaving my baby with a bunch of strangers that he doesn’t know, and who don’t know him. But it’s also the guilt – he deserves better than this, wish once of us could stop working (not me) and stay at home. Add on the internal dialogue that keeps circling: Am I a bad mom because I literally cannot be a stay-at-mom home? Should we have paid a small fortune for a nanny instead of daycare? Will Paxton forget who I am, since he won’t see me all day anymore? Is he going to be sick all of the time from the daycare germs? If he cries, will they love on him or will he be ignored? It’s exhausting.

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One of my birthday gifts from Jason – a stacker in honor of having a baby! Conveniently, April’s birthstone is a diamond. 🙂

Starting back to work wasn’t bad at all. I am fortunate to have a boss who is also a mom, and very understanding of the limitations of a working mom (who is also pumping). Us moms can still get our job done, and our job done well – but the format of working hours may look a little different than it was pre-baby.

Before we knew it, Paxton turned 4 months old! Here’s a slideshow of all of the takes it took to get the one 4-month picture:

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Paxton’s Third Month Milestones and Noteables:

  • Held his head up during tummy time without encouragement. Also eventually lifted head and chest up on his own, like a mini push-up.
  • June 3: played in my first mixed doubles tennis match after having the baby. It was fun and good to get back on the courts.
  • Starting to see spit bubbles now.
  • Likes this book of red, black and white shapes with crinkly pages. Paxton likes to punch the pages and crinkle them.
  • June 4: I swear he recognized himself in the mirror!
  • When I eat broccoli, it may give him gas?
  • June 6: took the newborn insert out of the car seat.
  • Started holding on to his bottle.
  • Sucks on his arm a lot, when being held over a shoulder.
  • I finally figured out the Solly baby wrap thing, but of COURSE, Paxton refuses to be held in it. Oh my poor, aching back.
  • June 16: SLEPT 10 HOURS IN A ROW!!! I got 7 hours. Hallelujah!
  • June 18: Really pushing off with his legs during tummy time.
  • Started grabbing and holding to stuffed animals…and my hair.
  • Lots of grabbing things with his little baby hands.
  • As Paxton is starting to wear clothes more frequently (per daycare), he tends to giggle when getting dressed or undressed. Pretty adorable.
  • Consistently holding his head up during tummy time.
  • June 26: Woke up crying from a bad dream, we think. Poor little guy.
  • Jason falls asleep while feeding him a bottle. How..? Why..?
  • June 28: Grammi said he grabbed his weenie and pulled it during a diaper change, and then started crying. Delicate parts there, baby boy!
  • Loves to have us help him stand up and sit down, stand up and sit down, stand up and sit down (thanks for the find, Grammi!)
  • June 30: held head up for 10 whole seconds while on elbows and tummy.
  • Loves the mobile Grammi got him in his crib.
  • Officially dropped the swaddle on during naps, the week of June 26 because daycare will not swaddle.
  • July 1: cried real tears while waiting on a bottle to heat up.
  • July 4: adorable baby giggles while “walking” up dad’s chest.

Paxton’s Second Month

Blogged while Paxton is at day care, practicing for going back to work. Rip my heart out, y’all.

Some photos of the little guy:

4 weeks old, May 5: Parents First Outing! Chris Stapleton at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater while Grammi babysat. Jason bought these tickets as a pick-me-up during the end of my pregnancy when I thought that was rough (HA, joke’s on me).

Paxton slept through the night before the concert, so we were feeling great. The show was outside, it was rainy and freezing – but had such a good time. Even without a drink in my hand! I made us leave before Chris Stapleton played Tennessee Whiskey because I was anxious about not being able to pump/nurse for 4ish hours. We heard him play the song on the walk to the parking lot, sigh.

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Waiting for Staci, with leg warmers on!

The next day, we had another appointment with Staci to continue addressing the jaw asymmetry.

Something went haywire with my milk production the next days/week following the concert. I was nursing exclusively the week prior to the concert (using shields). I didn’t know at the time that Paxton wasn’t getting enough milk by nursing. Anne/the LC thinks it was a combination of him not being able to generate enough suction (from the asymmetrical jaw and tongue ties) and the nipple shields. So my body stopped making milk (because it wasn’t being removed) thinking the baby didn’t need it. Ugh! I was despondent about this turn of events, especially because I thought we had been doing better with the nursing. Anne/the LC talked me off a ledge and helped with a plan to re-increase milk supply. Bless that woman!

5 weeks old, May 10: Pediatrician visit. Paxton was underweight at 8 lbs, 14 oz. So the doctor told us to supplement with formula after every feeding. I had started supplementing with formula before the doctor’s visit…mama instincts knew he wasn’t getting enough. I just wish I had figured it out sooner. Because the guilt of finding out that I wasn’t feeding my baby enough – that’s a killer.

Fortunately, Elizabeth connected me with her boss/friend Allison, who also had breastfeeding issues with her son (but not her daughter!). We had a long conversation two days before this doctor’s visit, and Allison finally convinced me that giving your baby formula will not hurt him and that formula-fed babies are FINE. Other people in my life told me the same thing too, but for some reason, I couldn’t accept it until Allison said it to me one evening. After our conversation, I felt this huge flood of relief that if Paxton had to have some formula, he was still going to be ok.

Two days later, we had another visit with Staci for more asymmetry therapy. This would turn out to be our last visit. She thought Paxton showed about a 50% improvement, not a 100%, but some. Due to Atlanta traffic, it ended up taking 2 hours to get there, the 45-min appointment (shortened because we were so late), and 2 hours to get home. I was so frazzled and Paxton was completely upset too – I can’t handle being away from home base for that long again.

One highlight of this rough week: I went back to OrangeTheory, but that was brutal too. Well, here are some cute photos of Paxton at (give or take) 5 weeks old!

We are still working on the at-home massages and stretches that Staci recommended. Paxton makes the cutest faces when we do the stretches – until he decides that he’s over it. Loves having the top of his head rubbed.

Mornings are my favorite times with Paxton. His tummy is full and he’s so sweet and full of smiles. The photos above were taken during one of our mornings together, as he sits with his back against my upright knees. (One of his favorite positions – thanks for the tip, Grammi!) Swoon!

My very first Mother’s Day was this week. Jason took my mom, Paxton, Minnie and I to a picnic at Emory’s park. It was a beautiful day, but man, we had a lot of stuff to shlep from the car. Might have to post-pone any future picnics until Paxton can carry his own weight. 🙂 I was hoping for some type of trinket that I could keep to remember my very first Mother’s Day, but Jason says I’m too hard to shop for. No gift for me!

6 weeks old: Another in-home appointment with Anne/the LC. It didn’t go well, Paxton was really fussy. She performed an exam and weight check (9 lbs, 4 oz, gaining weight, whew!). She thought Paxton’s jaw asymmetry was resolved enough to move forward with seeing a specialist about “revising” Paxton’s tongue and lip ties.  I called immediately, but couldn’t get an appointment with the one doctor (Dr. Bauer) in Atlanta that does the procedure until 2 weeks before I go back to work. I proceed to call every day to see if he has any openings we can squeeze into.

We also had back to the Piedmont Pediatrics for a weight check: 9 lbs, 10 oz. Still gaining!

Paxton got his second lifetime bath this month! He didn’t seem dirty enough to have one sooner, and I was exhausted. Go ahead, judge me. But isn’t Paxton adorable in his hoodie towel?

Paxton pooped on me twice in one day this week. He also got his first baby boogie! A couple of days later, I accidentally sprayed Paxton in face with breastmilk. Haha.

Elizabeth and Aiden came over this week – and brought me presents and lunch!

Look at how Paxton looks at Aiden! He is always captivated by pretty girls. And what good foreshadowing of how Elizabeth will look in a couple of months when her second baby arrives! (Doesn’t even look pregnant, does she?)

More “day-in-the-life” photos above. And yes, that’s Vann doing Paxton’s nails!

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This dump truck of mulch would require days of back-breaking work for Jason, and lots of marital strain on us. Freaking mulch.

More day-in-the-life photos above. Look at P’s old-man hairline in the bottom right. And we should start a “where’s Waldo? (Minnie) game, because she’s hidden in the background of so many photos – which I adore.

Nana came for a visit! She made us a delicious lobster and steak dinner, per Jason’s request after a day of mulching. Thanks Nana!

7 weeks old: Parent’s Second Outing! Thanks SEY, for inviting us to Wild Heaven‘s Seventh Anni party!

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I told you he likes pretty ladies!

We also had lunch with the ladies from Piece of Cake this week:

On Saturday, per Vann’s recommendation, I had a reflexology + AMI session at SoHA. Something about those sound waves must have triggered something loose – I started pumping about 2-3 oz more per day afterwards. Thank you Vann and Evie!

Most notable for me this week: Paxton starts smiling when he sees me!! Melt my heart.

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Lunch with Aunt Tishie!

More day-in-the-life photos below:

8 weeks old: Jason’s 39th birthday! We spent the a celebration day in Athens, with Nana and great-grandma:

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On the medical front, after numerous calls to Dr. Bauer’s receptionist, I finally determined that there is another doc in the practice that can evaluate and revise tongue and lip ties. We attended an appointment with her (Dr. Harmon) this week. After an hour wait (resulting in withholding food from P for two hours – per the doctor’s request), he was screaming bloody murder by the time we were able to see the doctor. Paxton was screaming so hard that capillaries burst in his legs. Awful. Never again will I follow “doctor’s orders” like that again. Lesson learned! Anyway, Dr. Harmon said that Paxton does have a moderate lip and tongue tie. But since I’m going back to work so soon – and breastfeeding will be only mornings, nights and weekends – we decided the procedure/recovery process wasn’t worth it. There it is. I really did try everything to get breastfeeding working smoothly, but it isn’t in the cards for Paxton and I. So, I continue to pump and supplement with formula.

Paxton’s Second Month Milestones and Noteables:

  • At about the one-month point, we moved Paxton to sleeping in his crib, instead of our bedroom.
  • He has a charming (?) ability to kick his heels into poops, as soon as you try to change him out the poopy diaper.
  • Poops turned green for a week or so this month. I guess because of the galactagogues I started taking to increase milk production.
  • We are seeing lots of smiles and – the best – open mouth smiles!
  • When we do nurse, Paxton crosses his legs at the ankle and looks completely chilled out and casual.
  • This is going to sound weird, but when I hold him with no shirt on, Paxton wiggles his big toe into my belly button.
  • Sticks out tongue.
  • Waves arms around a LOT.
  • When presented with a pacifier, bottle or nipple, Paxton shakes his head quickly from side-to-side and aggressively sucks it in.
  • He cries after every feeding, no matter how full. Paxton is taking 30 oz a day in bottles of breast milk + formula.
  • Pouts with lower lip out – my mom says I did (still do) this.
  • Paxton’s fontanelle pulses visibly. And you can see his skull molding together. Weird!
  • He bit down on my nipple once – so hard, I almost saw stars.
  • Paxton loves to look at ceiling fans.
  • He makes a funny cry-noise, sounds like a baby pterodactyl (not a typo – did you know it was spelled that way?).
  • Loves to try to shove his entire fist in his mouth.
  • Very vocal during tummy time.
  • Watches animals that dangle from activity gym. Later on the month, starts playing with the animals that dangle. And by playing, I mean punching them with his little baby fists.
  • From the shower’s freezer stash, we ate: chicken tetrazzini, Gena’s corn chowder, mom’s pasta sauce, Jason’s mom’s sausage and kale soup, baked ziti. All were yummmy!
  • May 25: starting to sleep through the night! Well, if you call sleeping 5 or 6 hours in a row “sleeping through the night.”
  • Minnie now demands a water cup be kept on our bedside tables, so she can have us give her water from the cup when requested.

Paxton’s Second Two Weeks

Blogged while baby naps.

3 weeks old, April 19-25: Our first choice for infant care after I return to work, the Suzuki School, requested a family interview this week. We must have failed it because there is “no availability” for the summer session and “it’s too soon to tell” if Paxton will be accepted to the the fall session. Hrmph.

Had my third appointment with the lactation consultant, Julie. We can’t figure out why Paxton’s latches are still painful. She reviews all options outside of breastfeeding with me. I appreciate that, but it seems like Julie has given up, and maybe I should too. Still dealing with painful nipples.

Went to a dermatology appointment to remove and biopsy a suspicious-looking freckle that was found while I was pregnant. I fell asleep on the table!

I call my dad, who is supposed to stay with us for 10 days, and try to ask him not to come. I’m a hot mess with this breastfeeding, plus sleep deprived, depressed and cannot deal with him and our strained relationship on top of all of that. I chicken out and he promises that he will help and I won’t have to entertain him. Dad arrives on Monday, April 24.

On Dad’s third day, I snap at him for eating food brought to us by friends and family who have visited – making a remark like “every one else who has been here has brought us food. You’re the only one who shows up and eats our food instead!” Am I petty? Yes. Keep in mind that I’m hanging on to my sanity by a thread and if you’ve had a baby, then you know how difficult it is to keep yourselves fed. Also, Jason and Dad went grocery shopping the day before and only came home with stuff for one dinner. Why wouldn’t he get whatever food he needed for himself, instead of draining our limited supplies?! Dad doesn’t respond to my comment, but walks out of the house later on that day, saying he’s going for drinks with a friend. No word from him until hours later, when he sends me a text saying that he gathered from my “lecture” that I don’t want him to stay and he’s changed his ticket to go home early. And he’s spending the night out with this “friend.” This sends me down a spiral – sobbing uncontrollably and unable to sleep even though it’s late and Paxton is sleeping (so I should have been). As much anger and resentment that I feel towards my Dad, I don’t want our parting to be on such terms. What if it ends up being the last time I see him?

Jason ends up taking an emergency personal day from work the next day, because I am such a disaster. My mom comes over the next morning, worried about me, and Dad strolls in sometime around lunch. He acts as though nothing is wrong, and starts talking to Mom and I about all he struggles with, per Parkinson’s. After Mom suggests (again) that he go to support groups and while I’m out of the room, she basically tells Dad that I’m really struggling and to cut me some slack. (Love you, Mom!! For dealing with him in the first place and for always being there when I need you.) After that, Dad doesn’t go home early, but doesn’t bring the matter up again. He goes to the store again and grills out for us twice. I could tell he was trying his best, but totally baffled on how to handle me. One of the worst nights with Paxton happened during Dad’s stay. Dad was out on a date (?) with some woman, and Jason and I were hoping to watch a movie and not be mad at each other. Instead, Paxton screamed bloody murder for about 4 hours. No relaxation for us.

I’m glad my dad got to meet Paxton and spend time with him. Without a doubt, Dad was helpful holding Paxton and watching him, while I could do other things and have a break. But the timing of the visit wasn’t good, and I have to have all my energy to work through the emotions of dealing with my dad – and I just couldn’t do it.

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Grandpa and Paxton (under Minnie’s watchful eye)

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Paxton and Grandpa

Back to the breastfeeding saga…Gayle, who may be my guardian angel, suggested another lactation consultant, Anne Grider, who came highly recommended by a friend of hers. I was able to book Anne’s time quickly and she came to our house to spend almost three hours with Paxton and I. Anne was very thorough and explained everything from feeding positions (bottle and boob) to newborn care to milk supply and how to better use a breast pump. One thing both Anne and Julie did was weigh Paxton before a breastfeeding and after. Anne’s weighted measurement showed Paxton was able to get some milk on his own, which was encouraging. But the pain was still present. Anne diagnosed Paxton with having mandibular asymmetry. That’s basically a misaligned jaw, which was preventing Paxton from nursing correctly (and causing pain for me). If you tilt your head down so that your ear touches your shoulder – we think that’s how Paxton was positioned in utero, for long enough to for his jaw and mouth to be misaligned. Anne said that 80% of her patients (moms who have pain breastfeeding) are dealing with mandibular asymmetry. I was skeptical (and so was our pediatrician). Why would a misaligned jaw cause all these problems? But, I trusted Anne and was also out of other options, and dutifully scheduled an appointment with Anne’s recommended oral motor specialist, Staci Copses. I’m still pumping mostly, and nursing barely at all.

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Gayle working her mommy-magic on a crying Paxton

 

4 weeks old, April 26-May 2: I discovered these nipple shield things – a piece of flexible plastic you use when nursing, which offered enough pain relief to breastfeed. A small victory!

I was stressed with driving an hour to Cumming and an hour back for our first appointment with Staci, but thankfully, my mom went with us to help. Why is it stressful? Paxton was eating about every 1.5-2.5 hours. Even if he ate right before we got in the car (unlikely that I could manage that), he’d be hungry/grumpy right in the middle of the appointment, OR in the car on the way back home. Stressssssss. Anyway, Staci ended up being incredible, and well worth the journey. She massaged Paxton’s face, neck and jaw – Mom and I were both amazed at how she calmed his cries and how Paxton let her put fingers in his mouth and try to loosen up the tightness on his right side. Staci sent me home with lots of notes and exercises to do at home. I felt a little relief from the pain, but not enough to skip the shields. I start exclusively breastfeeding on May 1, and feeling like things are going in the right direction.

I had a post-birth check-up with Dr. Zertuche at four weeks. She’s so great, and I realized that she’s the first person Paxton met when he entered this world! I am happy the timing worked out that way. She spoke with me about postpartum depression (a multiple choice test indicated I had a high likelihood for it). While I was in the thick of the depression, those first 4-5 weeks, I was aware that I was struggling, but thought it was all related to breastfeeding issues. I wouldn’t have ever thought I had postpartum depression – until I read this summary of what it feels like. I experienced almost all of those bullet points. I remember my mom saying to me, “if you don’t get better by Monday, we are calling a doctor to deal with this.” I was in really bad shape.

Jason and I were having a hard time with each other too. Every feeding session was a nightmare for me, and they were frequent. Paxton would squirm and flail his arms around, making it extremely difficult to latch. And then once we did get a latch, it was all pain for 30-40 min a boob. I was beyond exhausted, stressed, frustrated and hurting. So what do I do? Take it out on Jason, who would try to help me, but didn’t know how.

The 3am feedings were the worst. Jason would wake up and try to help with the latches, but would fall asleep a few minutes into it. Irrationally, I would get so mad at him – sleeping peacefully while I am in a literal hell. I yelled at him a lot. I also found myself getting resentful, particularly when Jason was busy with freelance work. Jason was having a hard time adjusting to this new life too, and seemed to need to escape it as well. One afternoon, Paxton was being so difficult and as a result, I was (yet again) crying.  Jason was sitting next to me playing a video game on his iPad. I asked him why he didn’t care that I’m sitting next to him sobbing, and he said that he couldn’t soothe both of us (meaning, me and Paxton) all the time. Good thing we were simply too tired to get divorced! (kidding)

[I’m slow writing these posts, but rest assured that things did eventually get better and I/we am/are fine. So don’t worry!]

I had turned away most people who had asked to visit us, being the hot mess that I was, but my sweet friends Vann and Sarah C. insisted on coming by – with food, treats, magazines and an orchid. I was a mess for most of their visit, but it was so good for me to see them and be reminded that there is a life outside of feedings and diapers. I think Vann cleaned a bathroom while she was here and Sarah’s food keep us fed for days. Love y’all!

Also, we finally broke into the freezer stash of meals from my shower…SEY’s vegetable lasagna was the first thing we ate – delicious!

Paxton’s Milestones and Notables

  • Snorts like a piggy when crying.
  • I became obsessed with Paxton’s little feet. They are just SO cute. Especially the scrunched big toe on his left foot.
  • Still smiling a lot in his sleep. On May 2, he really did smile at me!
  • Classic Paxton move is to poop or pee a clean diaper 10 seconds after it’s changed.
  • Puts index finger, while straightened, all the way in his mouth. (No gag reflex?)
  • Baby acne for about two weeks.
  • Paxton’s feet are always cold. Good thing he has cute socks to wear!
  • Still scratches himself quite a bit, particularly during a crying fit. Those baby fingernails are daggers!
  • Waves arms around like he’s swinging punches.
  • Seems like Paxton is trying to say words already – making verbal noises.
  • Quickest way to stop a cry fest: put Paxton upright over my shoulder and bounce on a stability ball. Like this:
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  • Grammi has a few tricks of her own, but the funniest is when she growls back at Paxton – he’s shocked to get a taste of his own medicine!
  • Around May 1, Paxton is MUCH more alert. It’s nice to see a little more humanity instead of a crying, pooping baby-blob.
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Hanging with daddy 

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Minnie overseeing Paxton’s nap

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After Jason gets home from work, I practically sprint out of the house with Minnie for a walk (and a break!). Sometimes Paxton and Jason join us. And yes, we walk in a graveyard!

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Pee pads follow Paxton where ever he goes…

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A mouse in a Boppy

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Paxton meets Great-Grandma!

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Snuggles with Grammi

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Those eyes!

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My favorites

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Another favorite position: sitting down, with your knees up, baby resting against your knees. 

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Oh yeah. Jason and Steve flew to Dallas to check out a new car for Jason. Here he is in the XJ L Supercharged, a few weeks later.

 

Public Service Announcement

Hi everybody,

First of all, thank you for caring enough to take the time to read this blog. Jason and I created it 6 years ago as a way to document our wedding, which seemed like SUCH a big deal at the time. After our wedding, this site spiraled into a diary of sorts, where I mainly post photos, with commentary, allowing us to reminisce on our past experiences as the years go by.

This week,  I (via Jason) was asked to remove a fairly innocuous sentence written in a post that went live almost exactly 3 months ago. I am disgusted to succumb to the request, which in effect, glosses over a situation that had a huge impact on me. It feels like lying. Or presenting only the happy and none of the bad – like so many people do on social media.

So let me be clear about my intentions for this blog:

I do not write posts to air dirty laundry or shame others for their behavior.

I don’t even really write these posts for you, dear readers.

I write these blog posts as a digital diary of my life, Jason’s life, Minnie’s life, and now Paxton’s life as he grows up.

As you could see in my recent post about Paxton’s first two weeks, I intend to report what really happened to me – good, bad or embarrassing. I aim to be truthful, not hurtful, in my recounting of memories. I am simply stating the facts.

If you have an issue with me stating facts in any of my posts, I – with all due respect – simply ask you not to read them.

Sincerely,

Kelly

Paxton’s First Two Weeks

Blogged on a rainy Sunday, with Grammi and honey.

1 day old, April 5: We settled into our new room in the Mom & Baby Unit. We had a parade of more amazing nurses: Judy, Miranda, Lindsey and Cheryl. These women were all so considerate, kind and helpful. And their expertise was incredibly helpful to Jason and I as new parents! Paxton was circumcised today (sorry buddy!) and also had his first sponge bath (which he appeared to scream throughout). Paxton also had a hearing test, where they attached some type of electrodes to his head to check for brain waves in reaction to sound. I met with a second lactation consultant at the hospital, because I was still feeling pain when Paxton latched. No progress other than being told the latch looked correct. Awakened frequently throughout the day and night with people coming into check my vitals or for more tests. An exhausting night, trying to breastfeed with no success. Cheryl, one of the nurses, was so patient, and stayed with us most of the night as we struggled to latch. She also set me up with a breast pump and pump kit (which would come in handy later). I was still feeling strong afterpains when nursing/pumping – as strong as early labor contractions. Besides that, the painkillers I was given kept the nether region pains away.

2 days old, April 6:  Jason and I are exhausted from regularly interrupted sleep, and poor Jason had to sleep two nights on this very uncomfortable cot – right next to the air conditioner, which was jacked down low because I was so hot (hormones). Met with a different lactation consultant, Becky, who was very sweet and patient with my non-stop crying spells from frustration with having unbearably painful latches breastfeeding. She was the one who advised to simply take a break from nursing to let my poor nipples heal (they were already cracked and bleeding 2 days in). She advised renting a hospital-grade breast pump and supplementing with formula when needed. It was such a huge relief to get a break from the pain. After watching the required video about baby care, and seeing Dr. Z one more time, we checked out of the hospital at 4pm. It was freezing cold outside, we were totally exhausted but looking forward to going home. I did feel pretty overwhelmed going home with a new baby and no guard rails. Jason and I were up all night trying to handle this cranky, hungry baby. It was really tough.

3 days old, April 7: Had an appointment with Paxton’s pediatrician to check his jaundice (bilirubin) levels, which were “intermediate to high” while in the hospital, at level 11. After checking his blood, Paxton had a bilirubin level of 15 (20 is the highest). It was awful watching his foot be pricked and blood drawn. We both cried. Later that afternoon, we had our first visit to an external lactation consultant, Julie Duncan. She was so kind and understanding about how difficult the first week is. She advised an ointment for my cracked, bleeding and sore nipples – and understood that we’d be feeding Paxton formula until the jaundice was controlled. We also picked up the LED light that poor Paxton had to sleep on to help the jaundice. It was like an iPad with a glowing light – very uncomfortable looking and we had to swaddle the light under him, otherwise he’d roll off of it. He was so pitiful and yellow and lethargic. It was so sad to see. Weight check: 7 lbs, 8oz

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Poor sweet baby sleeping on the LED light.

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4 days old, April 8: Back to the pediatrician to check on the jaundice levels. Stayed flat at 15, meaning we stopped the progression (good news). This was a hellish night. Paxton was miserable, either from the jaundice/LED light, his circumcision or who knows what. He would not stop crying no matter what we did. Thank God for Grammi (my mom) who spent the night with us – and literally held Paxton in her arms the entire night. That’s the only way he wouldn’t cry. She is a saint!!! Jason and I finally caught a few hours of uninterrupted sleep – crucial, we were both zombies.

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Speaking of my mom being a saint, she cooked and served us every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner – that first week. Jason and I could barely function and certainly would not have eaten, if mom hadn’t been there to cook for us. Seriously, even microwaving a frozen meal felt like an impossible task. That, plus all of that been-there-done-that mom-pertise, was so helpful. Mom, we absolutely could not have survived that first week without you!! I love you more than words can describe.

5 days old, April 9: Umbilical cord stump fell off during the day. We were feeding Paxton pretty heavily. The best was to reduce bilirubin levels is to pee and poop a lot, so if he cried, we fed him. This ended up being a hellish night for me. Up every 2-3 hours with a crying Paxton or pumping breast milk (still feeling those afterpains). I somehow wrenched my back which made picking up or holding the baby pretty painful. Really bad timing on that. Cried my eyes out most of the day, and days prior. Feeling pretty sore in the nether region since leaving the hospital.

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Daddy loves baby

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6 days old, April 10: Jason went back to work today. I bawled my eyes out that morning; from exhaustion from literally no sleep the night before and pure terror that I would be alone (Mom went back to work also) with the baby – and that I didn’t know what to do with him. Thank goodness, Mom came back after a couple of hours at work to take us all to the pediatrician. Bilirubin level: 9. Yay! We could stop with the LED light! Weight check: 8 lbs, 2oz.

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Twins! I absolutely could not imagine having two. Warming up the foot for yet another blood draw 😦

7 days old, April 11: Paxton is one week old! Went on our first park outing at Tanyard Creek with mom! A little painful to walk but was good for my mental health, overall.

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One week old!

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Getting some fresh air at the park felt really good.

8 days old, April 12: Anne, my mother-in-law, arrives from Athens in the morning. She is not supportive of us feeding Paxton formula, as I’m waiting on my milk to come in and struggling to breastfeed. On second visit to Julie, the lactation consultant, we confirm that I still have raw spots on nipples. We think we make progress with a better latch, although I continue to feel pain, I think it’s from the rawness of past latching damage. Circumcision is healed. Weight check: 8 lbs, 1oz (with clothes on).

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Nana and Paxton

9 days old, April 13: Breastfeeding is chugging along since leaving Julie the day before. I still feel pain but am committed to get through it for Paxton. Still crying regularly. Still exhausted. Jason’s cousins (Sarah and Jennifer) are visiting from New Jersey, and I finally get to meet baby August! They come over for dinner, and I watch Jen easily breastfeed her son and try not to cry. Per Julie’s advice, Anne convinces Jason to set up a crib in our bedroom so Paxton can sleep near us. I feel so much better having him close by!

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Jason, Paxton, Derek and August

10 days old, April 14: Anne leaves. I’m still exhausted, frustrated and crying regularly. Still breastfeeding though.

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Snuggles with mom

11 days old, April 15: Start to nurse Paxton in the morning, and cannot get past the toe-curling pain. Remove him from the breast and find out that my nipples are bleeding AGAIN. Completely lose it, and bawl my eyes out. Agree with Jason to take a break from nursing in order to heal again. Back to pumping every three hours. It’s better pain-wise, but a different kind of hell for sure. Jason gives me the day off, and I putter around while Jason feeds, changes and soothes Paxton (since it’s Saturday). I didn’t hold my baby all day long. This was a very dark day.

12 days old, April 16: Easter Sunday. My godmother, aunt Susan, is in town and comes over to see our house and meet the baby with Tish. We go over to Tish and Clay’s house for Easter dinner that afternoon (after dealing with a flat tire – of course). It was a nice change of scene to be away from home, and having others hold Paxton. He still fussed a good bit though. I had to pump while at T&C’s – annoying. Still exhausted.

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Great-Aunt Susan and Paxton

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The MacCaughern girls and Paxton

13 days old, April 17: Not as terrified about Jason going to work as I was the previous Monday, but still having high anxiety. Still crying regularly. Still exhausted. Grammi came over and we gave Paxton his first tub bath!

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He tolerated it for the most part.

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Is there anything cuter than a baby in a hoodie towel?

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Minnie being a good big sister.

14 days old, April 18: Paxton is two weeks old! Picked up a rented hospital-grade breast pump. I’m considering the strategy of “exclusively pumping,” where you don’t nurse your baby, but pump breast milk, to be fed from a bottle. From what I’ve read online, EPing is very difficult to maintain and pretty exhausting too. I do find comfort in knowing there is an alternative (to formula feeding) if we can’t make nursing work.

Paxton’s Milestones and Noteables:

  • Has a mysterious ability to pee outside of his diaper – soaking his crib sheets – while the diaper remains dry. We’ve learned to always put Paxton on a pee pad (like you use for puppy training) or else be doing a lot of laundry.
  • He smiles regularly, in his sleep. I saw him smile for the first time in the hospital.
  • Likes to sleep on his side. Will fall asleep on his back. Doesn’t really care for being on his tummy.
  • Per our latching difficulties, Paxton loves to put his hands in his mouth or flail his arms around like an orchestra conductor. Trying to get the little guy’s mouth on a nipple can require two adults. There’s a lot of flailing, squirming and arms and hands everywhere.
  • His eyes are now pretty focused, and he will watch your face intently, if you’re close enough to him. They are dark blue in color, but look like they are turning brown.
  • Paxton makes the funniest faces when pooping in his diaper or pooting.
  • My mom has been calling him “squeaker” because he squeaks.
  • Minnie has been very sweet to the baby – amazingly! She licks the top of his head sometimes. She appears to be confused as to why he cries and why we are always getting up in the middle of the night. I hear ya, girlfriend.

As you may have guessed from this diary, the first two weeks of Paxton’s life were incredibly trying and difficult for me. The sleep deprivation, learning how to take care of a baby and recovering from childbirth is a LOT for any new mom to handle. But the struggles I’ve experienced with breastfeeding have really been debilitating. I cry pretty regularly, and I know my mom and Jason are starting to think it’s depression. But it’s more me beating myself up about not being able to get this breastfeeding going. It’s seems like the most natural thing in the world, something I didn’t worry about during pregnancy (and I worried about EVERYTHING). There’s no way to describe how painful, frustrating and mentally taxing it is, knowing that I can’t feed my baby, unless you’ve been there too.

On a more positive note, here are some cute photos!

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Working on a poop

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Sweet family photo

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Sleepy face

Paxton’s Birth Story

Blogged while Paxton naps and Grammi is here to help <whew>.

Jason and I woke up around 5am on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 to get ready to have a baby. It felt strange to not apply any of the early labor knowledge that I memorized from childbirth class. I was definitely nervous and anxious the night before and all morning. Jason made me eggs and toast, we packed up the car, said good-bye to Minnie and headed to Piedmont Hospital.
This is what my belly looked like the morning before we went to the hospital:
Weighed in at exactly 200 lbs – the most I wanted to weigh this pregnancy. Now to the action:
7:05am: Check-in at labor and delivery. It was very quiet, not a lot of hustle and bustle in the halls, like you see on TV or in the movies.
7:10-7:20am: Get into the hospital gown, meet Joanna, my labor and delivery nurse (who would turn out to be amazing).
7:23am: Fetal heart rate monitor set-up, clocking in at 145 bpm. Feeling very anxious.
8:00am: Mom and Gayle arrive.
8:15am: Initial dose of Pitocin administered.
8:20am: Dr. Zertuche comes by to check on me. I start crying when I see her. Probably a combination of relief that she’s there, complete anxiety and terror about what is to come. Both Dr. Z and Joanna reassure me that we can put in the epidural whenever I feel like the contractions are too much, and not to worry about the pain. Cervical check: 4 cm dilated. I’m not feeling any contractions yet.
8:25am: Dr. Z broke my “bag of waters.” It was a major gush, way more fluid than what I felt in the elevator lobby at work a couple of weeks before.
Sometime between 8:30am and 10am: Contractions are very strong now. Gayle is helping me with breathing, but it’s still painful. Gayle can tell from the monitor when a contraction is coming on, and preps me for it. Breathing helps me to feel in control but does nothing for the pain.
Around 9:30am: I ask for IV pain meds. Joanna inquires about this and from her questions, I eventually figure out that I need to go all-in with an epidural, not dilly-dally with the IV pain meds. I officially request the epidural.
9:55am: Everyone warned me to expect to wait 20-30 minutes for the anesthesiologist and pain relief to come. He arrived quicker than expected (thankfully). The scariest part was getting the epidural placed while having a contraction. You can’t move at all while the needle is going in, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to control myself, but somehow, with Jason and Joanna’s help, I stayed still through the contraction and the epidural went in without a hitch. (Jason was the only non-medical person allowed to stay in the room.) He sat in front of me and tried to be supportive. The anesthesiologist asked me if I was a runner because my heart rate was so low (I recall someone else asking me this question too). It’s weird because I had clocked a few high heart rates (due to anxiety) so not sure how I calmed down in the throes of labor. I remember Jason looking at my back with the epidural and saying it looked like I-85.
Sometime shortly after 9:55am: Sweet, sweet relief. The monitors showed that I was having contractions, but I couldn’t feel a thing! 
10:45am: Tried to nap, but really just rested my eyes. Too much to think about to sleep!
11:00am: Jason, Mom and Gayle go downstairs for lunch while I rest.
11:30am: Joanna does another cervical check and I’m 8cm dilated. She says we are getting close to go time!
Sometime between 11:30am and 12:30pm: Dr Z comes back, and gets into her scrubs. Joanna asks if anyone wants to hold my legs (I can’t move or feel them at all). Jason holds the left leg, my Mom holds the right. They both are right in the action zone.
12:40pm: I start to push! Dr Z tells me to push with all of my might three times in a row for 10 seconds each. She times the pushing with a contraction and counts to 10 each time. It took a couple of tries for me to figure out what muscles to use to push. I ended up using core muscles which seemed to work. When Paxton was crowning, I remember Joanna asking me if I wanted to touch the head (hell no!) and I also remember a bunch of voices with encouragement (“you’re doing great!”, “keep going, you got this!”).
1:10pm on April 4, 2017: Paxton Edward Cooper was born! Dr. Z told me that we were getting close, and the last three pushes were not timed with a contraction. Jason didn’t say a word, but I remember Mom saying something like “oh my God, oh my God!” in a voice filled with emotion. Mom said that Dr. Z pretty much pulled the baby out at the end, and held him up for me to see. Even after a 41-week pregnancy, and all of the prep for the birth, it STILL felt completely surreal to see that little baby! After Jason cut the cord (good job, honey!), someone put Paxton on my chest for skin-to-skin time while Dr. Z and/or Joanna removed the placenta and Dr. Z stitched me up (I had a second-degree tear, which isn’t that bad!). 
I looked at Paxton’s little face, and he looked at me – we both must have been sizing each other up. The first thing I thought was “why don’t I recognize him?” I don’t think he cried. I’m pretty sure I did.
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Me, Paxton and Dr Z

They left me with Paxton on my chest (skin-to-skin time) for maybe an hour. Anne came in during that time to meet Paxton – the first thing she said was “Oh! I thought he’d be blond!”
Before long, it was time for baby tests. Paxton had an Apgar score of 9 and seemed to do well in the other tests.
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The craziest test was when the nurse put out two fingers, which Paxton gripped with his hands, and she let his whole body dangle from them! Meanwhile, I ate a $45 cheeseburger, with fries, $24 cookies and $4 ketchup. And it was gross, to boot!
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Come to find out, Paxton does this neck-stretching move a lot.

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Paxton’s stats

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Paxton and Daddy

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Woof. I really didn’t want my picture taken after birth, but here it is.

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Grammi and Paxton

Shortly after the delivery, Paxton and I were wheeled into the Family (Mother & Baby) unit. This is where we’d spend most of our time in the hospital.
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Lil P

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Jason popped a bottle of champs to celebrate Paxton’s arrival into this world!

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Uncle Dane came by to meet Paxton

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Pretty, pretty flowers sent by the lovely Erikaa!

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Poor Jason’s sleeping arrangements for two nights. And right by the air conditioner…he froze!

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Grammi and Paxton

That Tuesday, we had several more visitors: Uncle Dane, my aunt Tishie and Unkie Steve.
It was a long but happy day. As I’ve mentioned, I did not want to be induced (or augmented) but all of my worries were for naught. It seems like I had a pretty easy labor and delivery, and I am so lucky that my OB, Dr. Zertuche, was the one to deliver Paxton (if you go into labor spontaneously, the doctor you get is whoever is on call that day). Dr. Z was so great – I didn’t get that bad of a tear, Paxton’s circumcision didn’t have any complications, and her supportive and calming presence made all of the difference in the world. Joanna, the labor and delivery nurse, was a gem also. She explained everything that was going to happen, before it did, answered all of my panicky questions thoughtfully and – bless her – told me to get that epidural at the perfect time. Gayle, worth her weight in gold, who so generously spent her day helping me breathe through the contractions so that I didn’t lose it (came close once or twice though). And of course, my two leg-holders, two of the (now three) people that I love and adore most in this world: my mom and Jason. I absolutely could not have done this without this amazing group of people!
p.s. Thanks honey for taking notes on the timeline of events during the big day! I never would have remembered all of that detail.

Third Trimester

Blogged while waiting on the sous vide to heat up. And updated throughout the last few months of this pregnancy!

Week 28: Jason and I took Part 1 of childbirth class (again, offered by Piedmont Hospital) in a two-part series. Very helpful information presented, particularly the 5-1-1 rule, which advises that I don’t go to the hospital until my contractions come every 5 minutes, each lasting a full minute, and have been that way for an hour. Apparently, first-time moms usually show up too soon and are either sent home (gah!) or are stuck at the hospital longer than needed.

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Bumpie at 28 weeks

Also, I started taking a prenatal water aerobics class. It’s definitely not strenuous, but a decent workout with water resistance strength training and laps. I dread really facing my decreased fitness level after Paxton arrives…

Week 29: Part 2 of the childbirth class, including a second tour of the labor & delivery area of Piedmont Hospital. Jason made a Paxton website/app that is the cutest. I think he put notes in there for him to reference when the baby is coming, in case panic sets in.

Week 30: Holy hormones!! Minnie had to have a teeth cleaning, which means she goes under anesthesia. This completely freaks me out normally, but I cried for two days prior to the appointment and was a blubbering mess during the vet consult. A total snotty, crying disaster. The vet was kind enough to say that she used to cry during commercials while pregnant, but I’m sure she thought I was a looney tune. Two of Minnie’s tiny teeth up front had to be pulled, but the snaggletooth lives to see another day!

Week 31: Was completely wired and slept for a grand total of 2 hours Sunday night. I’ve been having some trouble sleeping, but this has been the worst yet. Everyone says things like, “sleep now, while you can!” but I can’t seem to. Also, started to see some swelling in my feet, but could have been because I was in the kitchen (hardwoords) doing chores all day.

Week 32: Still making the rounds at daytime infant care facilities. Everything – whether it’s a daycare, a school or even a nanny-share – costs about $1,800 per month. $1,800!! How is that possible?!

Week 33: Insomnia. As in, not sleeping for an entire night. I’m told by other moms that it’s just nature’s way of preparing me for sleep deprivation after Paxton arrives. Still, it’s freaky.

Week 34: Last week of pre-natal water aerobics. I did enjoy this class, but I’m worried that my water will break in the pool, and the whole thing will have to be drained. Gross. Also, Helena isn’t teaching a new session.

Week 35: Took a “Baby Basics with CPR” class at Piedmont. Helpful, but I’m sure that in a real-life choking or non-breathing situation, I’ll just run around crying and flapping my hands instead of remembering the CPR process.

Week 36: We took a bunch of photos in silhouette. Here’s the best one: Bumpie-36w

A common question I’ve gotten is what cravings I have. There hasn’t been anything specific, but I’m definitely letting myself indulge more often than I would normally. Lots of sweets and cheese in particular. 🙂

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Also, I loved this from my Ovia app! Paxton will be larger than Minnie when he’s born. How wild is that?

Week 37: Three birthday celebrations this week! My poor left foot was so puffy and swollen from all the dinners at restaurants (something about the salt levels restaurant chefs employ…all for better-tasting food, I am sure.)

He must have dropped down because I gave a presentation at work without running out of breath. This is new. Speaking of PGi, Jason and two other dads-to-be were showered and toasted by the marketing team this week.

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How perfect is this gift Jenn gave Jason?!?!

Week 38: Minnie has been so exceptionally snuggly lately. She must sense that big changes are coming. I don’t care what anyone says…she’ll be just as important to me after Paxton arrives as she was before! Also, Minnie has been perching on top of my bump which gives her direct access to give me kisses. She doesn’t seem to notice when Paxton moves either.

Had dinner at Mom’s with Gayle, who will be in the delivery room and helping me somehow deliver this baby. As much research as I’ve done about labor and delivery, I was still feeling anxiety about how to manage the pain and what was going to happen. I felt such a sense of relief after talking with Gayle, who has a real no-nonsense approach.

Other milestones this week: insomnia is back and raging. Weighed in at 202 pounds (!). 2cm dilated and starting to efface on 3/17/17.

Bumpie update, awkwardly from the bathroom at the doctor’s office:

Now that the end is near, let’s get into specifics, shall we?

Week 39, 0 Days (3/20/17): Felt a very light contraction in the morning around 8:30am, but then nothing after. Still walking normally (I don’t have the pregnancy waddle for some reason) – even took out the trash (per Jason’s request…jerk. :)). Then, while waiting on the parking deck elevator at work, I felt a gush. Thankfully, I decided to wear Depends for the first time because I was paranoid about my water breaking at work. So I texted Mom and Gayle, who said to call my doctor. After a very long 10 minutes on hold, the receptionist said to come in and they’d check to see if my water broke. It didn’t. But I got another cervical exam (2.5 cm dilated) and a sonogram (to check for too much fluid loss).

The sonogram tech said that Paxton had several indicators that he’s a healthy baby (yay!) and clocked in at 7 lbs and 14 oz (yiiiikes). My fluid was still in the normal (but low) range so back home, I go.

Here’s what the nursery looks like, btw:

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Week 39, 4 Days (3/24/17): No other labor indicators since Monday. At my doctor’s appointment today, Dr. Z says that I’m 3cm dilated, cervix is thinning and he’s very low. She says it really could be any day now! I’m feeling ok. Just really large. 197 lbs!

Week 39, 6 days (3/26/17): Eliza(beth) gave me two passes to an Atlanta Movie Tour for my birthday last year – such a thoughtful gift, because I have always wanted to know what movies/TV shows are filmed where! I took Mom because Jason had to get things done at home before baby. You may be surprised that I scheduled this the day before my due date, but I just knew Paxton would not be arriving on time. I think I made a couple of people on the tour nervous, and Mom was clearly on edge. But it was fine. Wore my Depends, just in case!

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Thank you, Eliza!!

Week 40, 0 days (3/27/17): Due date! But no action at all. It seemed like everyone and their brother texted or called me today to check in. I am amazed that all these people remembered the due date! My sweet boss let me work from home since the fluid gushing incident, so I’ve had time to take Minnie on extra-long walks every day since Week 39/0 Days. I swear, she’s pooped from all of the extra exercise!

Week 40, 1-3 days: Took this unexpected extra time to wrap things up at work. I am grateful to comfortably walk away from everything knowing that I was able to handle all of the heavy lifting on my projects. Hopefully the colleagues covering for me won’t too much of an extra workload.

Week 40, 4 days (3/31/17): When I scheduled this appointment a week prior, my doctor was thinking that I wouldn’t make it because she expected me to go into labor before. Well, surprise! No baby yet. At this appointment, they connected me to a fetal heart rate monitor and gave me a button to push every time I felt Paxton move. It was tracking contractions too – apparently, I had 3 light ones in the 20 minutes that I was hooked up to the machine, which I didn’t feel.

Stats from this visit: 3.5 cm dilated, 80% effaced, baby is at -1 station. Apparently, many women are already at the hospital, in labor, with those stats. Me? Still walking around, cleaning the house and not feeling a thing. Because my cervix is so favorable, my doctor went ahead and scheduled me for an induction on Tuesday. Dr. Z said that sometimes putting the induction on the calendar gets things going.

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Walking out the door to my 40+4 week appointment. Not my best photo but look at Minnie!

Week 40, 5 days (4/1/17): Whew! Paxton wasn’t born today! An April Fool’s birthday would be a tough one to celebrate your whole life. Meanwhile, I am trying every natural induction trick in the book. I’ve read enough about inductions online to know that I don’t want to have one if possible. After thoroughly worrying myself about the possible outcomes of an induction (greater chance of c-section, longer/harder labor, more trouble breastfeeding), I let myself stew about it for a day.

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Our last Saturday park day as a family of 3!

Week 40, 6 days (4/2/17): Mucus plug (gross!) may have fallen out today? None of the old wives tales of natural induction methods worked. I’m really getting nervous about the induction and results, per the internet. Thank goodness for my smart friend, Jen B., a labor and delivery nurse – who has been patiently answering all of my questions the past few months. She said that being 3-4cm/80/-1, is more of an augmentation rather than a full-scale induction. Gayle, another smart (retired) labor and delivery nurse, agreed. So I’m feeling more hope than dread now.

Gayle also explained to me that the tightening in my stomach that I’ve been feeling the past couple of weeks are Braxton-Hicks contractions. I thought it was Paxton stretching!

On this day, I mopped the entire main floor of our house, repainted some base boards, went grocery shopping and took Minnie on a long walk with Mom. This can’t be normal?

Week 41, 0 days (4/3/17): Awake the whole night before with my head spinning. Jason says he was too anxious to sleep also, but the snoring I was subject to all night paints a different picture… Everyone seemed convinced I’d go into labor over the weekend, but no luck! Tomorrow, we go in for an induction at 7am. I hope I can sleep tonight, but I’m scared. I have to keep telling myself that babies are born every day, and mothers in much worse situations than me manage to make it through. I can do it! I must do it.

Signing off now for a few days. The next post will be Paxton’s birth story!