What happened to your hair?

I keep meaning to sit down and write but then something else always seems to demand my attention.  I realize I’ve barely written anything since I went back to work and I’ve been particularly bad in the past couple of months.  I certainly haven’t stopped reading everyone else’s stuff, but I just can’t get my act together to spend any time in my own space.  I don’t know what that means for this blog…

But, I do have something new to talk about right now.  My hair!

I’ve always known that pregnancies can cause crazy things to happen to women’s bodies.  I’ve heard about a lot of people whose feet grew (ugh, imagine having to replace all your shoes!)  And, of course, after months of breastfeeding, many of us will never have full, perky breasts again (at least without some serious help).  But what I never expected was the most recent change that just happened to me.

Ever since I was a pre-teen, I’ve always envied girls with curly hair.  In the ’80s, my mom would spend hours painstakingly crimping my waist-length, pin-straight hair.  Much to my dismay, my hair generally refused to hold a curl, so the crimped look didn’t last long.  I tried braiding damp hair.  I tried hot rollers.  I even remember sleeping with my hair wrapped around some awful, foam-covered, bendy things in an attempt to have something other than perfectly straight hair.

By high school, I had given up and accepted that my hair was straight.  One benefit of the absolute straightness, was that I didn’t even need a blowdryer to get it straight.  I could wash my hair and let it dry naturally.  It was still straight.

As I got older, things slowly began to change.  My hair got a little frizzier and needed to be blow-dried in order to look smooth.  After my first son was born, I noticed a bit of a kink (or one giant wave?) had appeared at the very back of my head.  Kind of annoying, but relatively easy to deal with when blowdrying my hair.  After my second son, I noticed the kink was more pronounced.  When I’d finish drying my hair, it would never lie flat.  There was always a bit of a zig-zag there.  Kind of like this… 

 I wasn’t super excited about adding more time to my morning hair routine, but off I went to purchase a straightening iron.  After washing and blow drying, a quick straighten was all I needed and my hair was good for a couple of days.  Excellent.  Everything was under control. 

 But wait!  September arrived and it was the first week of school.  I had to drop both kids off at their respective daycares one morning and it was a very hot and humid day.  I had washed, blow dried and straightened that morning, right before we set off down the street.  I was pushing the stroller and Littleman was scurrying along beside me in an attempt to beat the imminent rain.  No such luck.   A misty rain began to fall.  I did my best to push the stroller with one hand while I held an umbrella with the other, but my hair got a bit exposed to the elements.  When I arrived at work that morning and popped into the ladies room, I was greeted with a surprise.  The whole top layer of my hair was wavy.  The underside was still pretty straight because it had remained relatively dry, so I looked pretty weird.  But, ignoring the weirdness, this was a bit of a breakthrough.  Wavy hair?!  Could it be possible?

I got some advice from my curly-haired friends and decided to play around with my hair to see what was really going on.  I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty shocked with the results.  It turns out my hair has COMPLETELY CHANGED since having kids.  I’m now the proud owner of full-blown wavy hair. 

 That’s right folks.  I’m the girl whose hairdresser couldn’t even get her hair to hold a curl.  Now, I actually have some texture to my hair without using any type of curling device.

I know I have a lot of experimenting and learning to do when it comes to styling my wavy hair.  I still haven’t actually figured out how to make this newly-discovered hair look nice.  I’ve purchased a couple of products (I’ve never used any products before so this feels so crazy) and I’m still trying to figure out what is the best combination of products and/or techniques to use.  I want something that will hold the wave without making my hair super-crunchy and wet looking.  I’ve tried to scrunch it to get rid of the crunchiness, but the more I touch it, the frizzier it gets.  This will take some practice.

I definitely don’t see myself as someone who will wear her hair wavy all the time, but it’s kind of fun to finally have some hairstyle options (beyond down or ponytail).

Anyone else discover any weird changes after having kids?  And, most importantly, any advice for styling wavy hair??

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Preventative measures

About five-and-a-half years ago, I tossed out my birth control pills as we prepared to begin trying to start a family.  It took longer than expected to conceive our first son and, knowing that it could take a while again, I didn’t go back on birth control between pregnancies.  After a miscarriage and then another successful pregnancy, we are pretty certain that our family is now complete.

At my eight-weeks-postpartum check-up (way back in May!), my OB asked me what my birth control plans were.  He went through all the options and recommended Mirena (an intrauterine system).  I accepted the prescription from him, figuring I’d think about and talk to my husband and then make the appointment to get it inserted.

Then I procrastinated.

It feels weird.  After all these years of thinking about having babies, planning for babies, trying for babies, being pregnant with babies, losing a baby, birthing babies and nursing babies, it feels really, really weird to be focusing on not having babies.

While we don’t intend to have any more children, I still don’t feel 100% ready to make a permanent commitment to being finished.  D is a little more certain (OK, a lot more certain).  We both agree, though, that having another child just doesn’t make sense for us financially.  Daycare is expensive.  Our house is too small.  If we were to win the lottery, then, sure, we’d likely have a larger family.  But, given our current situation, our family of four is just right.

So, that leaves us needing birth control.  I’m still breastfeeding and my period hasn’t returned, although I know that doesn’t mean I can’t get pregnant.  We’ve been using condoms since Bo was born, but that’s not our favourite solution.  I really don’t want to go on the pill again, after being off it for so long.  Plus, after two kids, my memory isn’t what it used to be.  I don’t love the idea of having to remember to take it everyday (something I was excellent at before having kids!)

I had coffee with a friend this week who is having her second baby by a scheduled c-section a few days from now.  She’s trying to decide if she should get her tubes tied at the same time.  That wasn’t an option for me, having a vaginal delivery, but it made me wonder what I would have chosen to do if I was in her situation.

We’ve talked about D having a vasectomy and it is something we’ll probably look at more seriously in the future but, for now, I bit the bullet and called the OB.  I scheduled an appointment to have the Mirena inserted.  I have an appointment for January.  When the receptionist was booking the appointment, she told me that I’ll need to take a pregnancy test the morning of my appointment to ensure I’m not pregnant.  Just the thought of that makes me feel strange.  I’ve never taken a pregnancy test hoping it would be negative.

For many reasons, I know that I’ll need that test to be negative. But, I also know that a little part of me will feel disappointed to see only one line.

 

Postpartum body update: love it or hate it?

It could be that it’s bathing suit season and we have a pool. Or perhaps it’s because my pre-pregnancy clothes are not of the loose or baggy variety. Likely it’s a combination of both that is making me realize that I’m not a big fan of my body these days.

I had a pretty decent body before I had kids. Sure it wasn’t perfect, but at 5’6″ and 130lbs, I looked ok.

I gained about 30 lbs with my first pregnancy and lost it all (and more) pretty quickly after giving birth. I was more fit than I’d ever been in my life during my maternity leave and felt pretty good about how I looked once I went back to work.

My body hasn’t been so forgiving this time around. I gained an extra 10 lbs with this pregnancy and it’s those 10 lbs that are being stubborn. Besides my breasts, which have to be storing some of the weight, I seem to have a rather unsightly bulge in my tummy area. I can fit into most of my clothes, but my muffin-top looks unattractive when I wear any of my more fitted tops.

I’m doing a weekly fitness class and going on tons of walks with the stroller, but my pre-baby body alludes me.

I am trying, I really am, but it seems that I’m losing the battle against my sweet tooth. In fact, as I type this, I’m waiting for some chocolate chip cookies to bake. You see, breastfeeding makes me crave sugar. I mean, I need it. Like ALL THE TIME.

Since I don’t think I’ll be able to stop myself from eating treats right now, I’m just going to try to do it in moderation. That’s the best I can hope for right now! (Does 6 chocolate chip cookies count as moderation?  They’re small.  Really small.)

In an attempt to motivate myself to move more, I bought myself a fitbit.  I’ve been using it for about a month now. It definitely helps, although it frustrates me because I don’t think it’s totally accurate. I bought the fitbit flex, which you wear on your wrist. I thought this was the best option for me because I can keep it on all the time. I’ve used pedometers in the past but wouldn’t always remember to clip them on before heading out. With the wrist version, it’s always on me.

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The problem I’ve discovered? My stroller. I don’t think the fitbit flex tracks my steps accurately when I’m pushing my stroller. My mom and I have gone on a few walks together and she always ends up with a lot more steps than me, even though we walk the same distance and would have similar strides. It’s annoying, although I suppose it’s better to underestimate rather than overestimate my step count.

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That being said, I generally really like it.  Some of the things I enjoy are:

  • It’s always on my wrist, so no fear of forgetting it or running it through the wash (although it is water resistant!)
  • It tracks sleep, so it’s interesting to see how shitty I’m sleeping these days (as if I don’t already know!).  I think I’ll like this feature better once Bo stops waking so much in the night.
  • The ability to have friends (who I secretly compete with).  I only have my mom and my brother-in-law right now, but I sure love it when my weekly step count is higher than theirs!  I’m terribly competitive so this helps motivate me, for sure.
  • The fitbit app, which lets me check my steps and distance on my iphone.  I’ve been known to do laps of my main floor when I’m close to 10,000 steps so that I can hit my goal before I go to bed.
  • The fact that it vibrates to let me know that I’ve reached my goal. There is nothing more satisfying than a little buzz on my wrist to remind me of how far I’ve walked (ok, maybe chocolate chip cookies are a little more satisfying!)

As I strolled through the neighborhood this afternoon, I ended up walking behind three teenage girls. They all had long, lean legs clad in tiny jean shorts. They had minuscule waists. There was barely an ounce of fat on any of them, and they certainly didn’t have belly flab or love handles.

I used to look like that. About 20 years ago. But still.

As my fitbit buzzed to tell me I’d walked my 10,000 steps, I thought to myself, would I like to trade with them? Would I give up my flabby belly, and all that goes along with it, for a body like that? I looked at my baby, asleep in his stroller, and I knew the answer. This belly gave me my two amazing boys. It might not look as good as it used to, but I refuse to hate it. This body, muffin top and all, has done amazing things.

I know there is a good chance that I’ll never look the way I did before. I may never love my body. And I know it certainly won’t happen while I keep eating sugary treats. So for now, I will try my best to eat better and work out more, while quietly thanking the fashion gods that loose flowy tops seem to be in style right now.

Postpartum check-up

I had my postpartum check-up with my OB last week. It always feels a bit weird to be back at that office and NOT be pregnant. I noticed that none of the other patients in the waiting room were noticeably pregnant, so I’m guessing the gynecological appointments are scheduled on a separate day. Makes sense, I guess. After my miscarriage, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to see a bunch of pregnant ladies at the doctor’s office…

Although I’m happy to not be pregnant anymore, the one part I used to love about my regular pre-natal check ups was listening to the heartbeat. So, I think I’ll kind of miss this stuff:

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Anyway, back to my appointment. Everything checked out just fine and I got the “all clear” to resume exercising and sexual activity. Good thing, because Bo and I have signed up for mommy and baby fitness, which starts tomorrow! (And the sex. Of course, there’s that. Maybe when I’m not so tired. Or flabby. Huh.)

We talked about my birth control options going forward. D and I don’t plan to have anymore kids and we’ve discussed vasectomy at some point, but we just aren’t really there yet. I’m not super keen on going back on the pill at this point in my life so I’m considering IUS (Mirena). My doc gave me a prescription to fill whenever I feel ready and then I can make an appointment to have it inserted. It sounds like the best option for me right now but I’ll probably do a bit more research before I make a decision.

I’m glad that everything checked out ok and that I’m feeling good physically. I’m pumped to be ready to start working out again because it feels like ages since I’ve done so. I was in the best shape of my life during my last mat leave so hoping I can get close to that again!

Finally healing

Baby Bo is now more than two weeks old and I’m finally starting to feel like a normal new mom (i.e. sleep deprived, slightly dirty, forgetful, etc.)

I finished my antibiotics.  I saw Dr. P for a check up and, based on his exam, he doesn’t think my uterus is infected.  My urine showed a bit of infection, so it’s possible that the issue was a UTI all along. The follow-up urine culture was clear. I’m scheduled for a follow-up ultrasound soon, just to be sure that there is nothing left to be concerned about.

My nipples are healing nicely.  I haven’t bled in over a week and my cracks are pretty much gone.  There are moments when Bo still doesn’t latch perfectly or when he adjusts his latch so that he’s not on properly, so I’m not totally pain-free.  I still feel pain in between feedings, which is mainly just annoying. But, I’m not in excruciating pain anymore, so I know that we can work through this.

Now that I’m feeling so much better, I’m really looking forward to enjoying time with my boys.  Littleman has been such a good big brother so far.  Although it wasn’t our original plan, there is something to be said for the fact that he is three years older than his baby brother.  He’s much more mature than he was a year ago, or even six months ago.  He’s helpful and is able to do so much on his own.  Of course, he’s also used to being an only child so he still wants someone to play with him all the time.  We’re doing our best to give him some one-on-one attention whenever we can.

And Bo is such a good baby.  So far, he’s definitely calmer and more laid back than his big brother was.  Although he generally needs to be held to fall asleep, he’s perfectly happy to be put down after that.  He’ll sleep in his bouncy chair during the day and in his bassinet in our room at night.  Speaking of night, he’s slept a couple of 3-4 hour stretches at a time overnight, which is quite lovely.  My boobs are still adjusting to the longer stretches between feedings, but I’ll take it!

All in all, aside from feeling so crappy during the first week, the adjustment to a family of four has gone very well.  I’m sure there will be some blips along the way (especially once D returns to work!) but I feel very lucky for now.

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Trying out my play mat!

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Lounging on daddy!

Bo’s birth story – part two

A little while later, the on call OB and resident arrived to check things out.  They decided to break my water and I remember glancing at the long, crochet hook thing in the resident’s hand.  At that moment, I was sure glad I’d had the epidural because I didn’t feel a thing.  They noticed that there was a bit of meconium in the fluid so they decided that a respirologist would be present for the delivery in case Bo breathed any in.

I think I was about 8cm shortly after that.  The nurse told me to let her know when I started to feel pressure or the urge to push.  Then, I could start pushing any time.  I was definitely feeling a bit of pressure down below but not an urgent need to push so we decided I would rest a bit longer.

Finally, a little before 4am, we decided to give it a go.  I did a couple of practice pushes with the nurse and then the OB and resident came in.  I did about 3 pushes with each contraction.  It’s funny because, although it wasn’t easy, it felt a lot less intense than my first birth experience.

The resident said I was pushing really well and that she expected the baby to come pretty quickly.  I didn’t believe that for a second.  With Littleman, I pushed for 2.5 hours, so I assumed this one would be tough too.

After a few more pushes, the doctors stopped me and said that they could tell I was going to tear in the same spot where I had torn last time.  They asked if they could make a small cut to help it along.  Since it was going to tear anyway (and I couldn’t feel anything at that point!) I said sure.  We moved on and kept pushing.  Shortly after, they stopped me again.  He was coming!  A couple more short pushes and he was out!  His cord was around his neck, but the OB stepped in and sorted that out quickly.

They had warned me that Bo may not cry right away if he aspirated any meconium.  The respirologist was on standby across the room.  But, as soon as Bo was out, we heard his cry immediately.  What a great sound!  I watched as D cut the cord and then the respirologist checked Bo quickly before he was wiped down and placed on my chest.

It really was amazing.  After pushing for so long during Littleman’s birth, I feel like I was too exhausted to pay attention to a lot of things that happened immediately after. He didn’t cry right away and had to have some oxygen.  Also, since he had some heart issues in utero, he was whisked over to a NICU team to be fully checked before I was able to really see or hold him.

With Bo, it seemed a lot calmer.  There were fewer people in the room and I felt a little more “present.”  I actually saw him right when the doctor pulled him out.  And it was amazing to have him in my arms so quickly.

I delivered the placenta and then got all stitched up (from the episiotomy and tearing).

One thing I’m really happy about was the chance to try breastfeeding right away after Bo was born.  We were skin-to-skin and the little guy latched immediately.  It was so cool to see him eating so soon after being born and I felt good that I could actually see that there was colostrum there.  With Littleman, we didn’t try until a bit later, he was reluctant to eat and I struggled to even hand express any colostrum.  It felt so much less stressful to be getting off to a decent start with feeding.

D and I spent the first couple of hours after delivery getting to know Bo and trying to decide what his name would be.  We had narrowed it down to three names but wanted to see him before we made a final decision.  It turns out it was harder than we thought it would be.  We wavered between two names for a while and finally gave ourselves a deadline of 6:30am.  We knew our families would be (anxiously) awaiting news about our status and we didn’t want to make any birth announcements without a name.  Once we decided on his name, we shared our exciting news with our families.

So that’s it.  The story of how little Bo arrived on his own on his induction date, instead of waiting to be evicted!  (For part one of Bo’s birth story – click here).

Bo’s birth story – part one

I’ve finally had a bit of time to start writing down the story of how Baby Bo came into this world.  When I left off two weeks ago, I was at home waiting for a call from the hospital so I could go in to be induced.  I was 41 weeks pregnant and 3cm dilated.  My OB said that I probably just needed a little “nudge” so the plan was for them to break my water to try to get things going.

Of course, that was a busy day in the birthing unit and by the evening, I still hadn’t been called in.  I tried calling triage around 8pm to find out whether I should expect a call anytime soon or if I should just go to bed as usual.  The nurse said that I should go to bed and try to rest and that they’d call me in the night if any space became available.

So off I went to bed.

I didn’t have much luck sleeping, though.  Shortly after getting into bed, I started having contractions.  And not just the uncomfortable, tightening contractions that I’d been having off and on for weeks.  But full-blown, painful, don’t-touch-me-or-talk-to-me contractions.  I started timing them and they were pretty consistently 10 minutes apart, lasting for just over a minute.  I tried to stay in bed, but it hurt so much.  I tried hanging out on the couch, but that hurt too.  I tried standing.  No way.  It all sucked.  Around 11pm, the contractions got closer together and were 4-5 minutes apart.  I told D that it was time to go to the hospital and jumped in the shower.

The hospital – luckily – is only a couple of minutes away so it was a very quick drive at that time of night.  I knew I didn’t want to suffer through too many contractions in the car.  So uncomfortable.  It was also handy that Littleman was already sleeping at Nana and Nonno’s house because of the planned induction.  We didn’t have to worry about calling someone to come and watch him.

We made it to triage and checked in.  I was a bit worried that they would think I was being a drama queen, given that I was supposed to be induced.  Instead, the staff were all pretty impressed that “the induction” had arrived in labour!

The nurse hooked me up to the monitor right away and the baby’s heart sounded good.  Contractions were pretty strong and still around 5 minutes apart.  The on-call OB checked me out and I was 5cm dilated and 100% effaced.  She told me they’d be admitting me and asked me my feelings about pain relief.  I answered, “I want it.”

We had to hang out in triage for a bit while they found me a delivery room and called the anesthesiologist.

When our labour/delivery nurse came for us, I was in the middle of a contraction.  I heard her ask D if I could walk to my room or if I would need a wheelchair.  He answered that I could walk.  I remember grunting and shaking my head: no way.  When the contraction ended, I jumped into the wheelchair and off we went.  It was probably around midnight by then and it took until 1am before the anesthesiologist was available to do my epidural.  The nurse was great and kept having me “breathe through the contractions” which was kind of like hell.  I’m actually not sure how people manage without any pain relief.  After 4ish hours of horrible contractions, I was miserable and was pretty darn relieved when it was time to get the epidural.

The squeamish fainter in me totally disappears when it comes to epidurals.  I guess my intolerance for pain outweighs my fear of needles!  I got into position on the edge of the bed and the doctor started his business.  They told me to warn them if I was getting a contraction, which, of course, happened exactly in the middle of getting it done.  I had to stay perfectly still and “breathe” which was very hard.  Finally, it was in and a couple of contractions later, I was pain free.

Now we just had to wait for me to dilate a bit more and we’d be ready to go.  I felt pretty good at this point, other than the fact that the epidural made me extremely itchy.  Like all over my entire body.  It was rather annoying but better than pain!

Stay tuned for the rest of the story – coming soon!