Friday, November 30, 2007

Poor Pup? Correction: Bad Dog!

Warning: This blog may contain content not comfortable to all readers. If you do not have a strong stomach, I recommend closing this blog NOW!

Zeus is not a dumb dog. He likes to play dumb, but the fact of the matter is that he's a devious, mischevious, devilish dog who, above all, loves trash. There's no trash can that can keep him out. Once a trash bag is half full, the only options are to lock the trash can behind a door or just go ahead and take the trash bag out. He also loves digging thought purses and attempting to get things off of counters, but his true passion is dumpster diving. He seems to love the thrill of the hunt as much as the victory of capture.

And there's nothing too disgusting for Zeus. Keep in mind, this is a dog who, as a puppy, ate his own, errrm...mess. I used to laugh at pet products that advertised that they could make a dog's feces less appealing to its owner. Tell me: what is less appealing than crap itself? In my book, nothing. Nothing trumps the nastiness of poo. If a dog is content to make a snack of it, there is nothing you can do to make it taste any less gross than it must already.

Fortunately, Zeus has outgrown the foul habit of removing his own waste from the scene of the crime. But no amount of yelling, can shaking, and chasing around the house has discouraged his trash habit. It's actually one of many areas in which he has trained me better than I have trained him. I know to push all of my trash as far down in the bag as possible. I know if it's too high, he'll get into it, so I better deter those efforts by just removing the temptation. I know the only safe trash can to throw food away in is the kitchen trash, and again, that's only until it's about 3/4 full.

But this week, Zeus has surpassed even my lowest expectations. Not once, but twice the little devil has broken into the bathroom on the 2nd floor to tear apart the worst of all trash...dirty diapers. And he skips right past the wet ones for the really nasty ones. Then he proceeds to rip it to shreds. Twice I've opened the bathroom door and unexpectedly encountered a very guilty dog and bits of diaper and poo all over the floor. I can't begin to tell you how disgusting this discovery is.

Now you should know that I've been trying to avoid this since the baby was born! I was worried Zeus would be attracted to such little treasure troves, so for the most part, all diapers go into a Diaper Genie diaper pail. Diaper Genies are so wonderful they not only keep the smell of poo in the pail, they are also so cleverly designed that Zeus can not break into them! But since we live in a three story town house and the Diaper Genie is currently on the top floor, occasionally a diaper makes it into the bathroom trash can on the 2nd floor. But I'm wise to his ways! So I close the bathroom door every time!

Until this week, I had no idea that the bathroom door doesn't latch properly. It closes, but will not latch. So with enough pushing from a long nose, the forbidden room becomes a diaper harem for a sick little dog. That little trash can becomes a candy store, full of horrid delights that make me sick to my stomach. And I end up cleaning up the mess.

Honestly! What' s a girl to do? I can't fix the door! I guess that trash can will just now be permanently off limits for diapers. All diapers must be secured in an approved diaper pail. No diaper is safe.

The fact of the matter is, this dog has me trained. And it's not just a little embarrassing. Now that I'm not working, I'm really hoping to spend some time reenforcing what little training they had as puppies, and hopefully giving them a few new lessons as well. They've had it good around here...too good. It's about time I became the alpha dog in these parts again. If not, I shudder to think what Zeus may graduate to after he gets bored with dirty diapers.

Bad Dog!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Poor Pup

The good news is, I found a vet I like and it's really close to home. After a couple of less-than-impressive trips to a vet in Mildenhall, I found Eastgate Vet here in Thetford. It's a very nice facility, and the vet I met with today was very friendly and knowledgable. It's only about five minutes from home, too, which is very convenient.

The bad news is, it looks like Zeus has epilepsy. Prior to last month, he had never had a seizure in his life (that I'm aware of.) In the last seven weeks, he's had four. They are so scary, and I feel so helpless when it happens. The worst of it is how long they are. They last around ten minutes, and that's usually followed by about five minutes where he's somewhat more of himself, but still too wobbly to really stand up.

So I took him to the new vet today, and we've put him on Phenobarbital twice a day. We'll be going back to the vet in two weeks to see how he's doing, and then a few weeks later to check his blood levels. Hopefully the Phenobarbital will reduce the frequency and intensity of the seizures. I just feel so terrible for my poor pup. I want to reach inside his poor little body and just fix whatever is off. But since I can't do that, I'll just hope the medication with help with whatever is causing this.

Other than the seizures, he's just fine. Loves to get into trouble, loves to get into trash. He and Zoey have taken really well to Caleb. I have to discourage them from trying to kiss him, but other than that, they are really gentle with him. I'm so glad that they aren't acting out because of his arrival. I hate that we don't go on as many walks now, but maybe when the weather warms up in the spring we can all go out again.

Monday, November 19, 2007

the end. again.

this time it's inevitable. it's not an act of letting go, of finally giving into the nursing difficulties. it's the act of my body shutting down. the act of my body making the decision for me. my milk production has seriously declined over the last week, and as much as it pains me to give in, i can't force this.

i can try and try again to teach this sweet boy to latch, to teach him that milk is just as good from the source as from a bottle. i can give myself pep talks, i can imagine a future where he eats at the source. i've tried herbal supplements, prescription drugs, and every type of medela-made breast feeding accoutrement sold. at the end of the day, though, i can't force my body to make milk.

it's been an emotional journey, to say the least. while my head KNOWS that i've done my best and then some, my heart aches at the thought that his sweet little face will never nurse from me. i can look back and quanitfy all of my attempts and tell myself, "you've tried. that's all you could do." but there's still a space inside that is still mourning this loss.

on the one hand, it's a releif to have my body make that decision for me. it's been exhausting, both emotionally and physically. i've been pumping about 8 times a day using a medical grade pump on loan from WIC. let me tell you, that pump is not gentle. but because my milk supply never fully came in, pumping has never been enough. so each feed invovles not only pumping and feeding him breast milk, but topping him off with formula. then my poor mom washes all the bottles and pump supplies so we can try again in a couple of hours.

so while it's nice to know things are going to get easier once i wean myself off the pumping (to avoid engorgement), it's hard to let go of something you've tried so hard to overcome. in the end, i'm proud to say i didn't give up, and that caleb got more than six weeks of partial breast milk. in the end, i know i did my best and gave caleb my best. i know my heart will catch up wth my brain. but in the mean time, i mourn the end of this effort.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Well, on the nursing front, not a lot has changed. In fact, on Thursday, I decided to hang up the burp rag, as it were. I spent that day and the next pretty much mourning the end of the nursing efforts. It was a very hard decision, but I really felt like I was at the end of my rope. However, by Sunday I was already starting to wonder if there was still hope.

I met with a lactation consultant last week who had told me as long as I have milk, it's not too late. I kept thinking about that over the weekend, but didn't want to get my hopes up. I still don't want to get them up. But something about quitting gave me me a bit of freedom. I am no longer reporting to the pediatric nurse every week, and I feel I have the freedom to try without any expectations. It's hard to explain, but there's releif in knowing I don't have to report any success or lack there of to anyone but me. It's just between me and Caleb now. We still haven't turned the corner, but I feel like I can finally see the corner out ahead of us on the horizon. It is possible.

Caleb began smiling during his fourth week, which absolutely melts my heart. In fact, he even smiled for his daddy during a webcamming session last night! I was so happy to share that with Tommy. He also began rolling over from his belly to his back unassisted today! Very exciting stuff!

The dogs are doing well with him. I don't know if I've blogged about it yet, but Zeus started having seizures the week I brought Caleb home. It's absolutely terrifying and heart breaking, but because they are happening so infrequently (Thank God!) the vet did not recommend medicating him at this point. Hopefully they will continue to be infrequent...or just disappear! He's only had three so far. It's just so awful to be able to do nothing to help him. I hate it.

Tommy should be home in about a month. Because of the hard time I've been having with nursing, mom decided to stay a little longer. YAY! She was scheduled to leave December 5th, but now she'll be leaving on Christmas Eve. I'm so grateful for her support. I don't know what I'd do without her. Now she'll get to spend Christmas with both of her grandsons! :)

I'm doing well. I have my final post-partum check up this week, which makes me kind of sad. I LOVE the OB/GYN clinic here, and I hate that after months and months of regular care I'm now spit back to Family Practice. It was nice to be so well looked after during my pregnancy.

Emotionally, the last five and a half weeks have been a roller coaster. As overjoyed as I am to have Caleb, it's also very overwhelming. The nursing issues have made me a real mess more than once. I thought pregnancy hormones were difficult! Boy, they are nothing compared to post-partum hormones! That is one cocktail of crazy sauce!

Anyway, I'm feeling more and more like myself every day, and I'm loving this little booger more and more. I'm so happy he's here, and I can't wait to share him with my husband! :)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Caleb's Birth Story

First and foremost, this will officially be my longest blog EVER. Second, although I will try and keep is as clean and free from gore as possible, there may be some specifics and details that might make the average reader uncomfortable. I just wanted to give my honest experience. If you don’t think you’ll be comfortable reading this, I completely understand.

In the days leading up to Caleb’s birth, I began to get so jealous of any other women I saw (or heard) in labor on the Labor & Delivery ward. I was having mild Braxton Hicks contractions, and other than my swollen belly, I had no signs that labor was imminent. My now weekly appointments were anti-climatic, as every exam showed I hadn’t dilated even half a centimeter yet. I felt desperate to meet the kicking baby who had taken over my life and helpless to kick start the event.

The morning before my due date, October 3rd (my mom’s birthday!), I discovered I was beginning to lose my mucus plug. It was very exciting to think we were finally starting the process! I knew it could still be days, but at least there was some indication that we were on our way.

I had an appointment that afternoon with a new doctor. I dropped mom off at the base gym on Lakenheath and decided to drive to Mildenhall to check my mail. I had a feeling that it was going to go down, if not today, very soon. So I wanted to check my mail because I knew it may be a while before I’d have the chance to do it again. Before I left Lakenheath, I decided to eat lunch at Popeye’s. I hoped it would be my last pregnant meal, and it was! I was already beginning to experience more contractions.

On the drive over to Mildenhall, my contractions got stronger and more frequent. Because I was driving, and because I didn’t want to get my hopes up, I didn’t pay close attention to how frequent or how long, but I’d say I probably had about 5 or 6 in an hour. I checked my mail, and drove back to Lakenheath to pick up mom.

By the time we got to the appointment at 2:40 pm, my contractions were a little less frequent. My blood pressure had been slightly above the normal range for the last three weeks. However, each time I went to L & D for a half-hour BP screening, and everything would be fine. My BP was again high, and because I was only one day shy of my due date, the doctor started talking about inducing. It was pretty scary. I really didn’t want any medical interventions this early in my labor because I knew once you start down that path, it’s hard to get off it. I had an idea that I’d like to try to do my labor naturally (without meds) if possible, but with the doctor talking of C-Section possibilities, it seemed less likely. When he left the room, I began crying and was so relieved that my mom was with me.

The doctor came back and said that they were going to go ahead and admit me and induce me, so I walked from the OB/GYN clinic over to the Labor & Delivery ward down the hall. This was a little after 3 pm. First thing they asked me to do was strip down and get into one of those super-sexy hospital gowns. I wasn’t even allowed to leave my wedding ring on! Then they hooked me up to a few different monitors. The doctor from my appointment had been talking about a type of suppository pill they would place inside of me to ripen my cervix and get my labor going. But the monitors indicated that I was having regular contractions, so it was too late for that plan of action.

Instead they decided to go ahead and give me Petocin (a medicine designed to increase the frequency and intensity of contractions) and to give me a Foley catheter bulb. The later is something they inserted to mechanically dilate my cervix. Sounds awful, right? Well, it was about as fun as you’d expect. My contractions instantly got much worse. Mom and I were doing our Lamaze breathing, and I had her put out a picture of my husband and my nephew Ben as my focal points.

I continued trying my best to stick to my plan of natural child birth. The staff let me use a stability ball, which helps to ease joint pain and encourage the baby to come down the birth canal. They also brought in a rocking chair for me to rock on. The problem was that my monitors wouldn’t stay put when I used either of those. I didn’t care much about my monitors at that point, and was beginning to care less and less about decorum and modesty. Just about everyone had seen bits and pieces of me.

At about 6 or 7 pm, Dr Adams came in to check the progress of the catheter bulb and did an exam. I had dilated to 4 centimeters, so she broke my water to encourage my labor to progress further. The contractions really kicked it up a notch then, and the “hee hee hoo”s were plentiful! Mom was a great labor partner. She really kept her cool and didn’t nag me at all.

By 9:30 pm, it was all I could do to keep breathing through the contractions. I had already asked for IV drugs (I think they gave me Stadol, which helped me sleep between contractions but really didn’t do much to ease the pain.) I finally asked for the epidural. The anesthesiologist arrived at about 10:00 or 10:30 and I finally received the first epidural around 11 pm.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well. The right side of my body could effectively feel very little. But the left side of my body was still feeling the full strength of the contractions. The anesthesiologist monitored me for about an hour and made minor adjustments to the epidural before deciding he needed to do it again. Great! So I sat back up on the bed, hunched over mom’s shoulder so he could take the first needle out of my spine and stick the next one in. It was so hard to remain still during contractions so he could do his job, but I guess I did alright, because the next epidural took just fine! After that, I could barely feel the contractions at all. It was such a relief! I was able to get some sleep, which I really needed. I was so tired by that point.

Dr. Adams came back in around 1 am to do an exam, and I was almost fully dilated. By 2 am, I was fully dilated and ready to go. That’s when the real fun began!

The first labor position she had me try was on my side. I laid on my left side with my right leg up in the air supported by mom. Dr. Adams told me to push like I was having a bowel movement when the contractions came, so I did just that. Both she and the tech told me how great I was pushing, so I kept it up. Every time a contraction came, I pushed like I was on the toilet, and they would get so excited and tell me what good job I was doing and that this baby would be out in no time!

Unfortunately, that was not the case! I don’t know how long I had been pushing when Dr. Adams discovered that the baby was sunny-side-up. Instead of being face down, which allows the narrowest part of the baby’s head to push through the canal, the baby was face up, so that the widest part of his head was trying to make an entrance, but it was stuck behind my pubic bone.

I rotated to my right side and pushed from that side for a while. Even though I was pushing correctly and using all my strength, the baby still wouldn’t budge. Dr. Adams suggested that I get on my hands and knees and push that way. I had read that this position could sometimes encourage a sunny-side-up baby to turn just enough to come out. I pushed this way for a while, but no luck.

After I don’t know how long, she asked if I had the strength to squat, and I said I’d try. So they brought out what looked like a small jungle gym bar that they put into the bed. They took off the very end of the bed, and when the contractions came I would literally pull myself up (with help from mom and the nurse) from the bed and hang from this bar while squatting on the lower part of the bed. It actually felt like it was doing some good and I was progressing. But still Caleb wouldn’t come.

After two hours of pushing, Dr. Adams recommended a vacuum extractor (a suction-cup type device they attach to the baby’s head. A tech provides vacuum suction while I push through a contraction.) I had already lost my minimal medical intervention labor, and I knew that I myself had been delivered with the help of vacuum extraction, so we decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, two vacuum attempts later, Caleb was no closer to being out.

Dr. Adams said at this point I could either keep pushing, she could try forceps, or soon we’d have to think about a C-Section. I really didn’t want a C-Section or forceps, so I thought I’d just bear down and get that baby out! I kept pushing and pushing and pushing. When the nurse said I’d been pushing for three hours, I knew I had to make a decision. I still wanted to avoid a C-Section if at all possible, but I knew I couldn’t push for much longer. I finally caved to forceps.

Dr. Adams prepared the forceps, and I kept pushing just hoping maybe we’d get lucky and Caleb would pop right out! When I saw the cold metal forceps, I began to thank God for the epidural! Yikes! Well, once everything was ready and Dr. Adams got the forceps in place, I pushed with all my might at my next contraction and she pulled with all her might, and next thing you know, Caleb had popped right out! I was so relieved I began laughing and crying and just felt overwhelmed to finally be done. It was just before 6 am. Mom cut the umbilical cord.

The techs took Caleb to the warming table and began aspirating his nose and doing their work. Mom was keeping an eye on him, and I was trying my best to see him from where I was. A minute later, the phone in my room rang, and it was my husband! He had been calling periodically throughout the night to check on me, and his timing was perfect now. He was within minutes of Caleb’s arrival.

The techs had to take Caleb to the nursery because of his rough journey out to make sure all was well. In the mean time, I remember Dr. Adams telling the anesthesiologist to numb me up good so I could feel nothing from the waist down. She began working to repair the tears, and I chatted on the phone with Tommy. I was so tired, though, that I kept falling asleep. Finally I told him I had to get some rest and slept through the rest of the repair, which took about an hour.

Mom had followed Caleb to the nursery to keep an eye on him. His poor head was so misshapen from the forceps! Because his breathing was a little labored and erratic, they kept him in the nursery for most of the morning, which was so hard for me. Because I had received so many drugs at the end for my repair, I couldn’t leave the ward for a few hours. I kept begging for them to bring me my baby, but he had to be cleared by the pediatrician first.

I was bound and determined to get off the L & D ward and into the maternity ward, so when they asked if I could stand, I said, “Yes!” I followed a nurse into the bathroom to go over cleaning and care, but I felt really woozy and strange. When I got up off the toilet to leave the bathroom, I passed out! Next thing I knew, I had three doctors and a nurse picking me up off the toilet and helping me walk to my bed. So much for getting off the ward! Finally the pediatrician cleared Caleb and a nurse brought him to my delivery room until we could leave the ward. It was so wonderful to see his little face! He was so tiny and perfect, aside from his poor misshapen head! I was so relieved to finally have him out of my belly and in my arms.

It was a long night, and one I hope I don’t have to relive again. But it had the best end result: a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Caleb Hunter Kazmierski was born on October 4th, 2007 at 5:48 am. He weighed 6 lbs 12 oz and was 19 ½ inches long.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

nursing envy

Not all that long ago, I blogged about labor envy. In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I got pangs of jealousy every time I heard about another woman going into labor or another baby being born. It's one of those bizarre emotions that I'm sure makes no sense until you've experienced it.

Likewise, I am now suffering from nursing envy. After a difficult labor that introduced a series of problems, Caleb and I have been having the hardest time with breastfeeding. In some ways, I feel like we are still at square one, four weeks into this mess. I've had to supplement him with formula just to get him back up to his birth weight and to wake him up. (He was an abnormally sleepy baby at first.) My milk supply still really hasn't come in fully, and it's been a struggle.

Now I get pangs of jealousy when I hear other women talk about breast feeding, see them nursing, or read about a woman who has SO much extra milk that she's selling it! I can't explain why this is so important to me, but I really want this to work. Normally, I'm a easy quitter. I hate being bad at something, so I'll just call it quits. And at least once a night (usually about 3 am or so), I give serious thoughts to bringing an end to it all. But for some reason, I can't give up...not just yet.

So I've been meeting at least once a week with a nurse at the pediatric office who is training to be a lactation consultant. Much like my experience without internet, it's taking quite a bit of troube shooting to try and get us on the right track. Every week brings new challenges, and new ways of approaching those challenges. I'd like to say each week brings hope and promise, but really, we're just circling around the same territory...a fussy, ineffective eater and an insufficient milk supply.

I hope that we'll be able to eliminate these problems and finally turn a corner in this journey. But I have to be honest with myself. Even if my milk supply jumps up over night, is it too late to really build a working nursing relationship? Has he had too much from the bottle? Do I have any stamina left?

I don't know. I do know that I've given this my all, and I hope to do so for a little longer at least. I have hope that if I just persist long enough, we'll have a break through, and it will have all been worth it. But if that day never comes, I know that there is nothing I haven't tried and it was certainly not for a lack of effort.