Friday, August 28, 2009

New to Our Blog?

If this is your first visit, we recommend you go back and read our June posts (you can do that by clicking on the "June" link on the left or on the following links). These early posts cover the basics of baby behavior including why babies wake up at night, babies' moods (or "states"), how babies communicate with adults, and why babies cry so much. We will continue to build on these basics as we go forward with our blog.

We'd like to thank all of you who have been recommending Secrets of Baby Behavior to others. We encourage you to post questions and comments as they come to mind.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tips for Successful Breastfeeding After a C-Section

Here are a few tips that can help you achieve a positive breastfeeding experience, even if your birth "plan" doesn't include a c-section.

Communicate with the hospital staff about your decision to breastfeed.
Plan ahead by letting hospital staff know that you plan to breastfeed before your baby is born. Ask that no bottles, supplements, or pacifiers be given to your baby unless medically necessary, and ask for your baby to be brought to you as soon as possible after delivery. Inquire if the hospital has a rooming-in policy, meaning they let the baby stay in your room for your entire hospital stay. This will give you time to get to know your baby's cues and let you practice breastfeeding. In case you are not able to be with your baby immediately post partum, be sure that your partner (or other support person) is aware of your feeding choices and ready to talk to hospital staff about them.

As soon as you can, put your baby skin-to-skin.
In most cases, you can start skin-to-skin contact with your baby in the delivery room, while the doctor is completing your procedure. Your partner or a nurse can hold your baby against your bare chest until you are ready to be transported to the recovery room. Keep your baby skin-to-skin as much as possible during the first few days postpartum. Skin-to-skin contact enhances bonding and ensures that your breast is readily available when baby needs to feed. It also helps regulate your baby's temperature and heart rate. If your baby is taken to the nursery, encourage your partner to stay with your baby and practice skin-to-skin contact with him until you are reunited.

Be patient, your milk will come in.
There may be a bit of a delay in your milk "coming in" after a c-section, but that does not mean that you can't breastfeed. Put your baby to the breast soon after delivery and as often as possible to stimulate your milk production. Your newborn needs 8-12 feedings in a 24-hour period. Before you start to produce larger volumes of milk, your body will produce colostrum. Colostrum is produced in very small amounts because your baby's tummy is also small. Colostrum is all that your baby needs in his first days of life. You will notice that things change quickly by day 3-5 after delivery. Your milk will change in consistency and color and the volume will increase. If for some reason you do have to supplement temporarily with formula, you can go back to exclusive breastfeeding. Be sure to talk to your doctor, nurse, or lactation consultant about the steps you'll need to take to reduce the amount of supplementation when your baby is ready.

Get some help. Your incision will make it challenging to position your baby to breastfeed comfortably.
Get help with positioning your baby at the breast to feed. A lactation consultant or nurse can show you the most comfortable positions to breastfeed that won't irritate your incision. Usually the side lying position or football hold puts less pressure on your abdomen. It can also be painful to get out of bed and pick up your baby the first few days postpartum. For the first week or so after delivery, have someone bring your baby to you and help you get into a position that is the most comfortable for you and your baby to breastfeed. Use pillows to protect your incision and keep you comfortable while breastfeeding. Also, you may have received a lot of fluid during and after your surgery. This extra fluid may make it harder in the first few days for your baby to latch onto your breast.

Tell your doctor that you plan to breastfeed, many medications are safe to take while breastfeeding.
After your surgery, your doctor will prescribe medications to control your pain. These days, many pain medications are safe to take while breastfeeding. Ask your doctor about the safety and compatibility of all medications you take while breastfeeding.

Make sure your baby is awake enough to feed. Your baby will be drowsy.
Because of the pain medications given during labor and delivery, your baby will be drowsy. It could take several days for the medication to completely leave your baby's system. A drowsy baby may fall asleep early in a feeding and thus, not feed effectively. See the next section for the best way to wake a sleepy baby to feed. Call your doctor or lactation consultant if your baby is sleeping all of the time and feeding less than 8-12 times per day.

Use a variety of ways to wake your sleepy baby.
In our last post, we told you the best way to wake a sleepy baby is to use a VARIETY of stimulation. Use different positions, touch, or words. Removing your baby's clothing is another way to change his environment (temperature or touch) to help wake him. Keep in mind that sometimes it can take up to 10-15 minutes for sleepy newborns or premature infants to fully awaken enough to feed effectively. Be patient!

With a little extra support and patience, you can successfully breastfeed your baby after a c-section. I did it, along with thousands of other mothers. That's not to say it was easy, but knowing what to expect will give you the confidence you need to achieve your happy (breastfeeding) ending.

Next time: Just when you thought the worst was over, waking up again with an older infant.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yes, You Can Breastfeed After a C-Section!

PART 1: My Story

My beautiful baby girl entered this world after 36-hours of labor and an emergency c-section. There were complications from the surgery that led to my being sedated towards the end of the procedure. I vaguely remember the relief I felt hearing my daughter’s first cry before she was quickly taken to a nearby table where a team of respiratory therapists worked to get her breathing. Then the lights went out. (Note: this is not standard protocol for a c-section! Most c-sections are done with either a spinal block or epidural, during both of which you remain awake the entire time). My husband's instincts drove him to follow our daughter wherever she went that morning so that she would not be alone. He watched her get her first bath and have different tests done while I was still heavily sedated. I really wanted to breastfeed. So it was also important that he stay with her to ensure that she was not given any unnecessary supplements.

I awoke in a daze several hours later in a recovery room before being wheeled into the nursery to meet my daughter for the first time. My first impression was not quite love at first sight. I remember thinking: “That’s my baby? But she’s blonde!” I assumed she would have inherited my own dark hair and eyes. I felt disconnected, as many women do after delivering via c-section, and I felt disappointed that I had missed out on bonding with my daughter the moment after she was born. She wasn’t put on my chest to nuzzle and nurse and I was not the first person to hold her. Not to mention the fact that she didn’t look anything like me!

After I had settled into a postpartum room, my daughter was brought to me from the nursery. She was ravenous and a little fussy by the time she got to me. I had planned to breastfeed from the start, but I hadn’t planned on having a c-section and having to wait several hours after her birth to feed her for the first time. Luckily, I had filled out pre-registration papers at the hospital stating that I was planning to breastfeed and that I didn’t want her given any supplements or pacifiers unless medically necessary. I was so excited to breastfeed, hoping that, even though everything else about my labor and delivery had not gone according to plan, I would get a second chance to bond with my daughter by providing her with the milk that my body had made especially for her.

As my daughter attempted to latch onto my breast for the first time, she seemed almost in a panic to find the nipple. She was bobbing her head (rooting) and making little whimpering sounds. Her whole little body was tense. When my hungry child finally latched onto my breast, she sucked for a minute or two and then fell asleep. I became worried immediately. She needed to eat, and I felt it was solely my responsibility to nourish this helpless human being! No pressure at all. I now know that my expectation for this "perfect" first feeding was unrealistic. Newborns don't follow any rules! My daughter and I had to learn to breastfeed together, and that took a lot of practice.

I had taken a breastfeeding class prenatally where I learned several techniques to help wake a sleepy baby to feed. I undressed her, flicked her feet, rubbed her cheek, talked to her, etc. Luckily I was able to arouse her enough to ensure that she fed frequently. From our research with moms and babies, we've found that the BEST way to wake a sleepy baby is to use a variety of positions, touch, and words. Later, as the effects of the medications from the c-section wore off in her little body, as well as in mine, she became more effective with sucking and fed for longer periods of time.

While it was great that my daughter was more awake and alert to feed, my own pain level peaked as the medications from the delivery wore off. I remember feeling a searing, sharp pain in my abdomen (from the incision) every time I tried to sit up in bed to breastfeed my daughter. I was lucky to have great nurses who kept my pain under control with medication so that I could be comfortable enough to nurse. Still, I needed help getting her out of her bassinet and positioning her for every feeding for the first few days.

There is no doubt that breastfeeding after a c-section is challenging, but with a little help, you can have a positive breastfeeding experience!

Next time: Part 2: Tips for Successfully Breastfeeding After a C-Section

Monday, August 17, 2009

For Babies, A Little Playtime is a Great Workout!

Everyone knows adults and kids need physical activity to stay healthy and strong, but what about infants? It might surprise you, but it is very important for infants to get some kind of physical activity every day.

Babies need to get out of their swings, bouncy seats, car seats, and walkers and be able to move their bodies freely. They need time to play on their tummies and on their backs. Moving freely helps them build the muscles they need to work on motor skills such as rolling over, crawling, and walking. Young infants can be encouraged to move their arms and legs by showing them a colorful toy. They’ll show their interest by squirming, kicking their legs, and moving their arms. Older infants can crawl after toys and roll a ball back to you. They will also want to work on their fine motor skills (fingers, hands) by picking up objects and putting them in boxes or giving them to you.

Since you are your child’s first teacher, it is important to set aside time each day for your baby to play with you. Playtime increases learning skills needed later for talking and reading. Babies love to be able to predict what will happen to them. Your baby will want you to do the same thing over and over again when she plays with you. So go ahead and make the car sound over and over again when you push the toy car along the floor. Your baby will love it!

Playing will also help your baby sleep better at night. Keep in mind that it doesn’t take much physical activity to make a baby tired. Even just a few minutes playing on the floor can tire a newborn. As babies get older, they can spend more time playing and they will be interested in learning about new toys and games. Watch for signs that your baby is tiring so that he doesn’t get over stimulated or overtired. He might look or turn away, arch his back, or yawn. With the right amount of stimulation, your baby will be happy and ready for a good night’s sleep at bedtime!

Here is a list of toys that are safe for babies to play with:
Soft blocks
Plastic bowls and spoons
Soft plush toys
Soft books

Remember: If a toy is small enough to fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not safe for your baby to play with.

Next time: Yes, You Can Breastfeed After a C-Section!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bringing Home Baby Number 2…or 3…or 4

Just 28 days before my daughter turned 5-years-old, her little brother was born. My husband and I already knew our daughter was resistant to change and bringing home a new baby was going to require a huge adjustment for all of us. She had stayed overnight with our friends and would not come to the phone when we called to share the happy news. She came only reluctantly to the hospital, clinging to my friend’s back and peering around her only far enough so that I could see one suspicious eye and a flash of red curls. She was both curious and unsure about what was happening. Sure, we had read some wonderful children’s books about babies during the pregnancy, but just as for parents, books can only go so far in preparing children for a new baby. Here are some tips to help you peacefully introduce your wonderful, but unquestionably disruptive, new baby to your older child.

1. Talk to your child about what’s ahead

During the last few weeks of your pregnancy, tell your child stories about what will happen when the baby comes home, connecting future events and activities with the objects around him. For example, show your child where the baby will sleep, be bathed, fed, and changed. Children feel safer when they can predict what will happen. Books for big brothers and sisters can help, and there are literally hundreds available for children of all ages.

2. Be ready with hugs and reassurance

Reassure your older child that you are still there for her and that you are ready for lots of big hugs and to hold her hand. If possible, have someone else get the baby in the car as you leave the hospital so that you can pay closer attention to your older child. After you get home, do your best each day to spend some one-on-one time with her.

3. Share the baby gifts

Consider giving your child a small gift from the baby and/or letting your child open baby gifts from visitors. Keep in mind gifts might be helpful but they are not necessary. Your love and attention will mean much more to your child than toys.

4. Stick to familiar routines

Just like my daughter, many children are challenged by change but reassured and calmed by predictable routines. Get some help with the baby, especially in those early weeks, so that you can maintain some of your old routines such as at bedtime and meals as much as possible.

5. Let your older child help with baby care

Children respond well to age-appropriate chores and responsibility. Even a very young child can bring a clean diaper to dad when needed. Help your child feel part of the growing family by contributing in some small way to the care of the newest addition.

6. Teach your child about baby behavior

If your child is old enough, teach her about the cues that your newborn uses to communicate (See: Be sure to celebrate a little every time your older child uses cues to discover what the baby needs. Children, like adults, love to feel smart. By helping your older child see and respond appropriately to cues (like stopping play when baby looks away), you’ll cut down on crying and help your older child feel more in control. As a happy side effect, your newborn will get better at giving cues!

7. Set boundaries on your child’s actions but not emotions

Recognize that your child may have strong feelings about sharing your attention. Don’t let anyone tell your child how to feel (e.g., don't say “Never be angry at the baby!”), but make sure your child knows that acting out on anger or other strong emotions is not ok. Help your child come up with solutions to the inevitable problems. For example, if your child is upset about the baby’s crying, help her find positive ways to feel better such as putting her hands over her ears or leaving the room. Children learn how to deal with emotions from their parents, so be sure to stay calm and take the time to talk to your child about her feelings before they get out of control.

When Baby Makes 5 or 6 or 7….

In larger families, siblings often play a larger role in helping with younger children. Helping everyone, especially school-aged and older siblings, understand baby behavior may go a long way in keeping the peace. It is important though, that your older children never feel that they have to act like they are the parents. That's always your job.

My daughter did get over her first concerns about her brother and while my children had the typical ups and downs of siblings, they managed to get along (at least by the time they were in their 20s). Many parents worry about how a new baby will affect their relationships with their older children. By sharing your loving attention and giving your older children baby care tasks they can handle, you can make this challenging transition much easier.

Next Time: For Babies, A Little Playtime is a Great Workout

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

When Motherhood Doesn’t Go According to Plan: Tips for Coping with Your Premature Baby’s Hospitalization (Part 3 of 3)

Now that I have shared my experiences with preterm labor (Part 1) and life with a hospitalized infant (Part 2), I want to share some of the lessons we learned during Olivia’s hospital stay. I am going to be honest; no list of “tips” will make it easy to have a hospitalized child. But I hope that by sharing my experiences, I can help you to deal with some of the challenges ahead and reassure you that you are not alone.

Use the hospital resources
During the months following Olivia’s birth, the hospital seemed like a terrible place to be day after day, yet the hospital staff was a vital source of help and support for my family. The hospital appointed a social worker to assist our family, held support groups every week, and even had some small onsite apartments available for families who lived outside of the area.

Start a blog or appoint a communication liaison
Keeping friends and family informed about your baby’s status is a full-time job. I remember coming out of the hospital one evening, after a 2-hour visit, and having 15 new voicemails. Instead of spending all of your time on the phone, I suggest finding another way to provide updates to friends and family. For us, it was easiest to start a blog. We posted pictures and stories about the baby and let everyone know how we were doing. If you aren’t comfortable starting a blog, you can send out emails, texts, or just ask a friend or family member to share the latest news for you.

Find a nurse with whom you are comfortable
For the first few days of Olivia’s life, she seemed to have dozens of nurses caring for her. Although each one was qualified and very nice, getting to know a new nurse every 12 hours added to our stress. Our hospital let us choose a “primary” nurse to care for Olivia. It was reassuring to have a consistent nurse who knew us and our wishes for our child.

Pump your breast milk
When your baby is in the NICU, it is easy to feel like you don’t have any control over her care. Providing breast milk is something only you can do for your baby. In fact, it is one of the most important things you can do for her. Everyone knows that breast milk is best for babies, but it is even more important for premature and sick infants. Because premature infants don’t have time in the womb to fully develop, the unique composition of breast milk is perfect for reducing the risk of infection and other complications. Let us know if you are interested in a blog entry about pumping!

It is OK to take a break from the hospital
At first, we spent all of our time at the hospital, but being there so often started taking its toll on us. We were torn between wanting and needing to be with our daughter and needing to have some time to ourselves. It is ok, and in my opinion, important to take some time for yourself. That being said, there was never a day that we didn’t go see Olivia, but there were a few days when we stayed only for a short time.

When you have questions, ASK
Nurses and social workers are very knowledgeable, but they may not be able to answer all of your questions. Neonatologists have busy, stressful jobs and sometimes they can forget that you may need some attention. If you have questions for your baby’s doctor, write them down and bring them to the hospital. If you don’t usually see the doctor, ask the nurse to schedule an appointment for you. Talking with the doctor for just a few minutes can make you feel more informed about your baby’s health.

Contact your employer as soon as possible
Depending on your situation, you may run out of maternity leave before your baby is discharged from the hospital. While I think this is a major flaw in US labor law, this is often the case, given that maternity leave is typically only 6-8 weeks long. It is important to contact your employer before you are scheduled to return to work to inform them about your situation and explore options for making the transition easier. You may be able to modify your schedule, telecommute, or even receive donations of paid time off from other employees.

Do all that you can to care for your baby
As your baby gets older and stronger, you will be able to help care for her more and more. You can give your baby baths, change diapers, dress her, and feed her. One of my husband’s favorite things to do was (and still is) to read to Olivia. He bought her first book when she was just a few weeks old and he read to her while I held her. Although, I am sure that she enjoyed the story, just hearing his voice and being close to her mommy helped her relax. Even now, 16 months later, she loves to read books with her daddy!

Help your other children understand what is going on
Helping a young child adjust to the idea of having a new baby brother or sister can be quite a task, and this is especially difficult when the new baby is sick or isn’t coming home right away. Before talking to your older child, it is important to consider how much your child can understand and cope with. The social workers and nurses can help you determine how best to explain what is happening. There are a number of children’s books available to help children understand what is going on (try typing “premature baby” into the search section of your favorite online bookstore).

Educate yourself
There are many resources available for parents of premature infants. My favorite is the March of Dimes. They have an entire web site full of educational materials about premature birth and NICU families at

If I had my wish, all babies would be born healthy at term and no one would ever need to use these tips. Unfortunately, as with “Operation Baby Banuelos,” becoming a parent doesn’t always go according to plan. I found that the process of sitting down, reflecting, and writing about what we went through has been extremely therapeutic for me. I hope that you’ve found these 3 entries helpful and that you will pass them on to other families who would benefit from reading them.

Next time: Bringing home baby number 2…or 3…or 4…

Friday, August 7, 2009

When Motherhood Doesn't Go According to Plan: Life with a Hospitalized Baby (Part 2 of 3)

Looking back, it seems like the next few months flew by, but I know that wasn't how it felt at the time. Olivia continued to breathe on her own and was able to get more and more milk through her feeding tube. Her heart was still weak, but it was getting stronger every day. She was gaining weight and the nurses and doctors were very impressed with her progress! Meanwhile, my husband and I got into a routine. I would go to the hospital for a few hours during the day while he was at work. Then, we would go back together after dinner. I was pumping every 2-3 hours and was making enough milk so that she never had to get formula. By the time she was 1 month old, she had gained almost a pound and 2 inches in length. A few days later, she was moved from the high risk room to the intermediate room! It seemed like everyday we had happy news to share, so we started a blog, where we could post pictures and keep our family and friends informed about her status. It was really helpful to be able to share even the smallest developments.

As time went by, we got to do more and more to care for Olivia. At first we were only able to change her diaper. Then, when she was strong enough to eat from a bottle or from my breast, we were able to feed her. Pretty soon, we were doing all of her care while we were there and the nurses were just watching!

After 8 weeks, my maternity leave was ending and I had to make what seemed like an impossible decision. We were still unsure about when Olivia would be coming home, so I had to choose to either take the rest of my vacation time or to go back to work and save my time off so that I could be with her when she came home. We ultimately decided that I should go back to work while she was still in the hospital. Thankfully, I was able to work from home and from the hospital for most of the following weeks.

Around the same time that I went back to work, we realized that she was rapidly achieving the milestones necessary for her to come home. Each hospital has a list of requirements that must be met before premature infants can be released, and she only had 2 left. She needed to get better at eating from her bottle and she needed to go 7 days without any drops in her heart rate. Time started to slow down. We got the house all ready, had her car seat installed and inspected at the police station, and attended the CPR and infant care classes offered at the hospital. Even though there was so much to do, it felt like we spent most of our time waiting.

All the waiting was worth it!
Just 74 days after she was born, (and 3 weeks before my actual due date) Olivia was ready to come home! Despite her rough start, she was a happy, healthy baby, but we still had to take a lot of precautions. She was still smaller than most newborns, weighing about 5 1/2 pounds. At first, she had doctors' appointments every few weeks and we were instructed to keep her home as much as possible. We had to be very careful about who came over to visit and make sure that she wasn't exposed to any illnesses that her tiny body couldn't handle. All of this seemed so simple compared to having to leave her every night. We were prepared to do whatever it took to have her home with us!

Once we got home, however, reality sunk in. I felt like someone needed to be watching her 24 hours per day. We didn't have the monitors to let us know if she needed us anymore. I constantly worried that she wasn't breathing or that her heart rate would drop and we wouldn't know. Within just a few hours of her homecoming, I was sure that she needed to go back to the hospital. This feeling went away over the next few days as we got used to our new routine. No more driving back and forth to the hospital. No more eating in the car or the hospital cafeteria. No more nurses dictating when she got to eat or when we were allowed to hold her. She finally came home to live happily ever after!

Fast-forward 13 a much better place
Olivia is a normal, silly toddler. She is growing like a weed. She walks. She talks. She does everything a normal toddler does. When people find out that she was born so early, they are shocked. She is extremely social and makes friends everywhere we go. She loves to read books, listen to music, and play ball. If anyone would have told me a year ago that this is what our life would be like now (which I am sure someone probably did) I wouldn't have believed them. Olivia is living proof that miracles do happen. Along the way, so many things could have gone differently, according to my plan, but if they had, we wouldn't be where we are today. I know that sounds cheesy, which isn't usually my style, but it is true. "Operation Baby Banuelos" may have hit some snags along the way, but we have the beautiful, sweet, smart baby girl that we always dreamed of.

Next time: Part 3 - Tips for coping with your premature baby's hospitalization.

Monday, August 3, 2009

When Motherhood Doesn't Go According to Plan (Part 1 of 3)

Operation Baby Banuelos
I am a planner. I plan out the next day at night before I go to bed. I plan out the week's meals on Sundays. I even made a pregnancy plan. I sketched out exactly what becoming a mother would be like. Here is how "Operation Baby Banuelos" worked in my mind:
  1. Decide to have a baby
  2. After only 1 month of "trying," see 2 blue lines!
  3. Look and feel great for 9 months
  4. Have an easy, fast labor at 40 weeks
  5. Bring beautiful, healthy baby home and live happily ever after!
I soon discovered that being a parent rarely goes according to plan. Here is what "Operation Baby Banuelos" taught me:
  1. Deciding to get pregnant is the easiest part!
  2. Getting pregnant right away isn't always as easy
  3. Being pregnant isn't always fun
  4. You can't plan when labor will start
  5. Newborns don't always get to come home right away
Looking back, I realize I was more than a little idealistic. But for me, being a mother was something I had always dreamed about. Sure, I knew about morning sickness, premature labor, and the increasing prevalence of infertility. I was pursuing a Master's Degree in Maternal and Child Nutrition, so I knew more than most people about pregnancy and all of the possible risks. I just never considered that complications would be part of my story. They weren't part of my plan.

In this post, I will share my experience with early labor and the birth of my daughter. Next time I will describe what it was like leaving the hospital without my baby. Finally, in Part 3, I will share tips for coping and making the best of a difficult situation.

Briefly: Steps 1-4 of my story
For us, step 1, deciding to have a baby, was the easiest part. But it took 2 years to get to step 2. Once I finally got pregnant, I was determined to do everything right. I stopped moving heavy boxes; I left the house when my husband was painting; I bought more fruits and vegetables; I planned (there is that word again!) to go for walks in the evenings. Unfortunately, following a plan is hard when you can't even keep water down. I was so sick that I lost 10 pounds during the first 3 months of my pregnancy and I struggled to get to work each day. Just as I thought step 3 was a lost cause, I started to feel better. I had more energy, could eat real food, and I started to enjoy being pregnant. I began to feel my baby move and we found out we were having a girl!

Unfortunately, step 4 came much earlier than we expected. At 24 weeks, I noticed a little spotting and even though my doctor assured me that it was nothing to worry about, I made an appointment. What started out as a quick check-up over my lunch hour, turned into immediate admission into the hospital. At first, everything happened so quickly that there wasn't much explanation about what was going on. All we knew was that I was already dilated to 3 centimeters and we had to stop the labor. I was taken to a hospital equipped for high risk pregnancies and things improved. I wasn't having contractions, the labor didn't seem to be progressing, and I came to terms with the fact that the best thing for my baby was for me to stay in the hospital for as long as possible. But, on my 6th day in the hospital, my baby flipped over and started kicking downward. We couldn't wait any longer. Olivia was born 15 weeks early, at 25 weeks gestation. She weighed only 1 pound 15 ounces and was 13 inches long.

Step 5: Bring beautiful, healthy baby home and live happily ever after
Needless to say, with step 4 going so wrong, step 5 was thrown out the window. We knew that babies born so early faced an uphill battle and that our daughter would struggle just to survive. According to the March of Dimes, 1% of babies in the United States are born before 28 weeks and of those born at 26 weeks, 80% survive. Olivia was born at a time when research shows that things could go either way.

There are 2 things I remember clearly about those first few days. First, I remember how excited I was to take a shower! It had been 8 days since I was allowed to shower and it felt so good! The other thing, even better than the shower, was the first time I was able to take some of my breast milk to the NICU! I started pumping just a few hours after getting back from the recovery room because I knew how important my milk would be to Olivia. Since she was too small and weak to nurse, I needed to pump frequently to stimulate my the milk to come in. By day 3, the doctors had decided to start feeding her through an OG-tube, which is a tiny tube that went into her mouth and down to her stomach. I remember the first time I got any milk out, I had less than 1 milliliter of colostrum to take to her, but I was so excited. I carried it over to the NICU in a tiny syringe. It was the first time I felt like I could do something to care for my baby, and that was the best feeling I had had in days!

Just a few days after Olivia was born, it was time for me to be discharged from the hospital. I had mixed emotions about going home. On the one hand, I was glad to be leaving the hospital. I had been in bed for over a week, so the idea of being able to go outside (or even to the kitchen to get something for myself) was thrilling. On the other hand, I knew that I would be leaving my baby in the hospital and home was 30 miles away. Because I had a C-section, I was not allowed to drive for a few weeks after the surgery. My friends and family were very supportive and worked out a system to make sure I always had someone to take me back and forth. But, even though all of their support was appreciated, they couldn't make me feel any less helpless.

Next time I will continue the story about Olivia's time in the hospital and what it was like when we were finally able to bring her home.