Back To Work With A Baby At Home

It’s 5:30 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and here I am back in the WHNT News 19 newsroom! Today is my second day back on my “normal shift” after maternity leave (although I don’t begin anchoring again until tomorrow.) I’m off to a great start… and by great start I mean… slept right through TWO alarms this morning. lol. Welcome to motherhood, right?

Something from home to remind mom of the little one...

Something from home to remind mom of the little one…

I knew the transition back would be hard but I must say it’s hitting harder than I expected in some ways. Physically I feel pretty good, even though I fit into only about 1/4 of my pre-pregnancy work wardrobe and had to drop some serious cash on “transitional” items that will be nice for on-air. On the other hand, I’m still exhausted from lack of sleep. Little Jane is sleeping pretty well through the night (despite her reflux issues) but I still have to get up every 3-4 hours to pump breastmilk for her.

The emotional transition back has probably been the hardest thing so far. I’m starting back at half-days for a week or two, just to help ease into the daily newsroom grind. That means I’ll only be anchoring the a.m. show for now and will pick back up with technology reporting later. Even with those reduced hours, I was surprised at how I felt on that first day… when I had to kiss her fat little cheek goodbye. It just felt… so sad.

It’s hard not to be a little envious of moms (or dads) who get to stay at home full-time with little ones. On the other hand, I really do love my job and I find some comfort in the fact that I’m leaving baby with my husband when I head in to work such strange hours… (Single mamas how do you do it? I have a whole new respect for you!)

A couple of pre-return preparations have made the logistics of my transition back run more smoothly. I thought I’d take a minute to list those out, just in case they can help other pregnant mommas (or dads.)

1. Getting Organized

Dealing with a new baby’s basic needs (eating, pooping and of course snuggling) takes up a lot of time. I thought it was important though to make time to “get organized” before my return to work. For my job, that meant cleaning out my entire closet – getting rid of anything that was dated or unflattering – and only keeping the “best of the best” items (even if it will take me a while to get back into them.) From there I made a list of “must have” items for on-air in larger sizes and asked my husband to watch the baby as I made a trip to the mall or two.

I also spent a lot of time catching up on the big local news stories I may have missed – I admit, news was the last thing on my mind those first few weeks after baby. Sleep was number one! Just that little bit of prep made me feel much more confident and less like a frazzled new momma.

2. Get A Routine Down

Hahahahahahaha. Yeah right! Ok, ok. I know that’s what you’re all thinking. If you’ve had a baby to care for you know “getting into a routine” is kind of impossible. All the books say so too. That might be true for baby but I found it less true for me. Three weeks ago, I started practicing a “bedtime routine” and trying to put her down for a nap at a similar time each day. It didn’t always work but it has helped my day feel more structured.

3. Start pumping early

If you plan to breastfeed, this is essential. Due to baby’s reflux issues… we had to bottle feed her pumped milk from early on. That meant buying a quality breast pump and learning to use it the day after we left the hospital. We bought one of the most expensive pumps out there – a Medela brand. I cringed at the $350.00 price tag but my girlfriends with babies had warned me that if I planned to work and continue giving Jane milk, I would need to have a good pump, or risk a big drop off in supply. Now, months after giving birth, I feel very comfortable using a pump and don’t feel overwhelmed at the idea of having to do it during the work day at all.

Ok, that’s it for now. I’ll check in soon with another post.

Mommas and dads, don’t forget to leave your return-to-work stories and tips in the comments section!

Thanks again to everyone who has been following along with my pregnancy and birth! Can’t wait to see you all Thursday on WHNT News 19 This Morning!

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A Labor And Delivery Story

Late last month, our baby girl finally arrived! If you’ve been following my pregnancy story you know that she was a full week late… so I was anxious to get the ball rolling. I was also feeling extra huge. lol. If you’ve been following my blog, you also know that I was hoping for a natural birth. Here’s how it all turned out…

Baby's Big Day!

Baby’s Big Day!

My water broke on a Monday afternoon and I was thrilled. I called my husband right away to say, “It’s happening!” The original plan was to labor at home before going into the hospital, even with my water broken. I wanted to see if contractions would establish on their own. Turns out that was not going to be so easy (as you’ll read later…)

I’ll spare the details but after several hours at home, I was still having only mild, inconsistent contractions – not really even painful. I did however have some “alarming” signs that made me think we should head to the hospital. After talking with my doula we agreed to head in to Huntsville Hospital.

We checked in, distributed birth plans, etc. and luckily had an amazing labor and delivery nurse with a “natural” mindset. I was feeling pretty good at this point. The alarming signals I had been afraid of turned out to be nothing to worry about… and contractions were finally picking up in intensity and frequency.

I spent the time walking the halls, breathing through the pain and leaning on my husband for support. Brittany, my doula, offered encouragement and relaxation techniques.  Hours and hours and hours passed. lol. Every so often I was checked for dilation, which as it turned out, was happening at a snail’s pace. More hours passed… and by Tuesday midday I was exhausted. I was also only dilated to 5 cm.

We’d switched shifts by now, to another wonderful nurse who was supportive of my “original plan” – except now we were getting to 24 hours from the initial water breaking. The risk of infection was going up. I was starting to feel a little desperate. I opted for a mild drug via IV to help me get some rest. I thought, if I can sleep a little, maybe I can keep going.

Fast forward several more hours. I was up and laboring again. My contractions just did not want to establish a consistent pattern. Dilation was stalled. I was starting to fear a C-section, since my waters had broken so long ago and things were moving so slowly. I was also, to be totally honest, doubting I’d have the energy to push her out! After talking with my OB (who happened to be on-call that day) I decided to labor with Pitocin – gradually increasing the dosage to see how I’d handle it.

They are NOT kidding when they say Pitocin contractions are harder to get through than natural contractions. I only made it a few hours (with dilation not progressing despite increased Pitocin) before opting for the epidural. I just knew, in my heart, if I didn’t get something to cut the pain, I wouldn’t be able to manage the rest of the labor. It was almost Wednesday.

Once I got the epi, they cranked the Pitocin up slowly – eventually getting to almost the max allowed (not joking) before my contractions established enough of a pattern to finish dilation. It was only a few hours from the time I got the epidural (which I was terrified of but turned out to be blissful) to the time I was ready to push. Pushing was fast and honestly, the easiest part after such a long slow labor. She came out with no trouble and minimal discomfort for me at 9 lbs. 0 oz. even. It was the happiest moment of my life.

Looking back, I feel very happy with the choices I made. I had a wonderful labor and delivery experience – in large part thanks to the nurses at Huntsville Hospital who let me set my own pace until it became apparent that a change in plans might really be needed. I also had a great OB and my doula Brittany Berghammer made me feel secure and supported through the entire rollercoaster.

I do also think that I probably avoided a C-section by trying so hard to stay natural until I was at least past the half-way point – until I was in active labor. In my research on labor and delivery I often read or heard people describe how epidurals and Pitocin can stall a labor or even stop it. I really think, if I had opted for drugs early on, due to my body’s slow pace of establishing labor, I probably would have ended up with surgery.

In the end, I didn’t… and was up and feeling pretty good within 24 hours. That was a blessing, since my daughter ended up in the NICU for several days with a bad case of reflux. Once discharged we were back-and-forth to the hospital every few hours to feed her and help with her cares until she was finally keeping food down and ready to come home.

Moms, how did your “birth plans” change once your labor began? Did you not have a plan at all? If so, how do you feel about your birth experience? Share your comments below! I’d love to hear them!

Also, a quick note. I want to thank all of our WHNT News 19 friends and fans, especially those who have followed my pregnancy and reporting on Birth Options in the Tennessee Valley, for the support and well wishes these last few m

onths. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this blog as well, which I plan to continue updating as my transition to mommyhood continues!

Waiting On Baby: When A Due Date Comes & Goes…

Depending on how you calculate the due date, I am 40.2 weeks pregnant or exactly 40 weeks today.

Truth be told, I never expected to make it to my due date. I know that for many first-time moms, going over a due date is common. I’ve measured several weeks ahead in tummy height though for most of the 3rd trimester. Baby is also measuring on the larger end – estimated to be about 8.5 pounds!

Waiting On Baby...

Waiting On Baby…

So now here we are… waiting on baby girl. I’m so incredibly anxious. Every day that creeps by I worry about not being able to have a natural birth the way I’d hoped. I worry that we’ll have to induce if she stays in there much longer and that it could fail and I’ll end up with a c-section because my body just isn’t ready.

From what I’ve read, there are some real increased risks of letting a baby go to 42 weeks or longer – like increased risk of meconium aspiration. Bigger babies also have an increased risk of shoulder dystocia (a very serious obstetrical complication). Oh, and we have family coming in around the 41.5 week mark, so I feel a little bit of self-imposed pressure there to have a baby in arms by the time they arrive.

On the other hand, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not recommend induction for suspected macrosomia (also known as “big” baby) in large part because fetal size is very hard to predict:

“In cases of term patients with suspected fetal macrosomia, current evidence does not support early induction of labor. Results from recent reports indicate that induction of labor at least doubles the risk of cesarean delivery without reducing the risk of shoulder dystocia or newborn morbidity…” – ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 22, November 2000 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

In the hope of avoiding an induction or other interventions, I’m doing everything I can think of to encourage baby to join us on her own – walking, shoveling down whole pineapples, etc. Braxton Hicks-like contractions and low back pain have really picked up recently, so I’m hopeful that means labor isn’t far off. It’s just so hard waiting.

We’re supposed to get snow tomorrow (Friday morning) and I’m hopeful that will be the boost baby needs to come out and meet her family! lol. It sounds crazy to buy into an old wives tale about stormy weather sparking labor but at this point, I’m a little desperate.

Ladies, if your baby was overdue, how long did you have to wait? How did you manage to relax? Was there any one technique you think finally kicked off labor? Share your comments here! I could use some advice! :o)

Michelle

 

Your Baby & The Web: Where To Draw The Line?

We live in an increasingly digital world. Our children are no exception. In fact, in many homes, kids are exposed to the Internet and emerging technologies earlier than ever before.

I know of babies that can navigate a parent’s mobile device with ease. Moms and dads freely share photos of children online through social media. Our executive producer’s little two-year-old even figured out how to call him one morning! All by herself!

As WHNT News 19’s technology reporter and new mommy-to-be, I find myself thinking a lot about this. Where should parents draw the line when it comes to their babies and technology? And with the Web in particular?

Where To Draw The Line?

How Much Exposure Is Too Much?

I totally recommend using Google to look up prospective baby names. I mean, you don’t want to name your little one something and find out a porn star shares that namesake *after* the fact, right? I’m less sure about taking steps to protect your child’s “reputation” on the Web before they are born. Is it really necessary?

I’ve read many reports suggesting that you should reserve your child’s domain name (i.e. sallysmith.com) as soon as they are born. That way, if they ever want to start a business or use a website for self-promotion they won’t have to hope the domain is available. It’s a nice idea I guess but it typically costs money and you’ll be holding onto that domain for years.

Figuring out how a new baby and social media fit together is even more complicated. For example, I’ve heard of parents creating Facebook or Twitter accounts for a child (despite age restriction policies from those outlets) before they are even born! Sure, social networks can be great for sharing photos and updates but how safe is the information really?

Facebook has long struggled with privacy issues and if there’s one thing we know about the Internet, it’s that anything you put there – photos, videos, etc. – is more than likely out there forever.

Will your kids, once grown, regret having bathtime photos shared with others? If they already have a social media account set up by parents, will they be lured into using it perhaps earlier than they should?

There’s also a real security risk. Uploading a smartphone picture for example, of your child at a local park or a local street, could potentially make them a target for sophisticated predators.

Parents, how do you feel about exposing your baby on the web? Do you limit the way you share images or updates about them? Do you embrace baby’s presence online whole-heartedly?

Sound off here!

 

 

 

 

What To Read For Pregnancy And Baby

I am now just two weeks away from my due date and anxiously awaiting the arrival of my baby girl. Most of the “prep work” has been done. Nursery is mostly ready. Central areas are baby-proofed. My husband and I have been working with our doula to prepare for delivery.

Really, there’s not much left for me to do now but wait, try to relax despite an enormous tummy… and read.

If you’ve been following my journey through pregnancy, you know already that I’ve spent a LOT of time with books and various web resources in the last nine months. Not just to educate myself for WHNT News 19’s special Birth Options series of reports but also for my own knowledge.

To save you and your lovedones the trouble of trying to suss out the best books on pregnancy and baby, I’d like to take some time to recommend a couple of my favorites. Some I found on my own, others were recommended to me. So, without further ado, here are the texts I found most valuable:

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

Mayo Clinic Guide To Healthy Pregnancy

Mayo Clinic Guide To Healthy Pregnancy

A great book walking you through all the aspects of pregnancy from the well-respected Mayo Clinic. There are week-by-week breakdowns of what’s happening to your body and baby, as well as tips for preparing your home and work-life for a child. You’ll also find monthly exercise tips. Written from a medical perspective, from doctors who are also parents, I found this book very helpful in explaining some of the terms I encountered in talking with my OBGYN and understanding routine procedures like induction, c-section, etc.

Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth

A wonderful book written by one of the world’s most respected midwives, Ina May Gaskin. You’ll read stories of women who chose to birth without drugs and interventions and learn about a more holistic approach to the labor and delivery process. You’ll also learn what defines the midwifery model of care and how it differs from a modern hospital experience, which typically involves various medical interventions. I found this book a nice, more spiritually focused contrast to the medical texts I encountered.

Baby 411

Baby 411

Baby 411

My good friend got me this book shortly after I learned I was pregnant and I’m just now getting around to reading it. I can sum it up in one word: practical. It’s packed with cut-through-the-jargon advice on feeding, sleeping, sickness, playtime – you name it. Written by a pediatrician, the book has a sort of “reference” feel too it, so you can look up answers to any questions you have once baby arrives, in a snap. There’s also an Expecting 411 book for the pregnant mom.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is an easy way to search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across disciplines and sources. I used this web resource occasionally to see if I could find evidence-based studies on various medical interventions and complications in childbirth (i.e. how induction can impact the rate of c-sections in first time mothers.)

Momtastic’s Baby and Bump

A great online forum where you can connect with other moms and parents on all aspects of pregnancy – trying to conceive, laboring and of course delivery. If you’re looking for specific advice you can browse the many existing discussion threads or start your own. I found this to be a really nice way to get anecdotal perspective from other mommies on a whole range of issues. Sometimes the best advice is from those who’ve been there!

What were your favorite resources to prepare for pregnancy and baby? Did you have favorite books? Did your husband or partner read any? Share your insights below!

Michelle

Tough Task: Choosing A Baby Name

Of all the preparation my husband and I have done for the arrival of our first child, choosing a name has been, by far, one of the hardest things to accomplish.

Early in the pregnancy, when I was convinced I was having a little boy, we were mostly in agreement on our top choices. It was easy to come up with a short list. Once we learned we were having a girl, it was sort a deer-in-the-headlights moment. There just weren’t any names that stood out to me that also stood out to him.

It seemed like every time I would suggest a name I really liked, my husband would respond with, “Meh.” When he’d throw out a name he really liked, my reaction was usually the same. Around Week 25 or so, we finally sat down and spent and afternoon creating a list – going through every possible baby name we could find or think of. I was drawn to fancier names like Genevieve and Vivian. He liked simpler names, like Brooke and Kelly. Eventually, we found a perfect fit (which we’ll reveal once she’s born.)

The thing is, I felt real pressure to make the “right” choice on a baby name. I mean, it’s going to stay with her for her entire life! There’s also real evidence that what name you choose for baby can impact how others perceive them as well as how successful they will be.

One study found badly chosen baby names can lead to low self-esteem, low education and even more smoking. Polls show classmates, teachers and job recruiters judge individuals based on their names. A recent trend favoring exotic spellings of names like Rian (instead of Ryan) or Aeryn (instead of Erin) may also not be such a good idea since it forces a child to have to “defend” the spelling of their name.

Given all that, my husband and I used the following criteria to make our pick…

1. Does it flow well?

First, middle and last names all need to sound nice together.

2. Can we include family names somehow?

We looked for ways to incorporate family names in honor of lovedones.

3. Is it classically pretty but still unique?

We sought out names from older generations that would hopefully have positive connotations but not be overly popular – thus giving our daughter a bit of individuality without having to give her an alternate spelling or “reach” for a name that is too wacky.

Moms and dads, what criteria did you use to pick a name for your little one? Was it hard or easy to come to consensus? For those with older kids, how do you think the name you chose fits your child as they’ve grown?

Share your thoughts below! Can’t wait to hear from everyone.

Oh, and you can also vote (for fun) in our baby names poll! BabyNamePollPick your fave out of some of the top contenders my husband and I liked… and we’ll reveal the results live on-air Wednesday, Feb. 27th on WHNT News 19 This Morning!

Birth Options Recap: How Should Your Baby Be Born?

Last week on WHNT News 19 This Morning, we aired a special series of reports called “Birth Options” with the goal of helping moms-to-be and families across the Tennessee Valley learn about various methods of labor and birth available to them.

Birth Options: A Recap

Birth Options: A Recap

I began researching for this series a few months after I learned I was pregnant. Like any first time mom, I was overjoyed. I also had a LOT of questions. What should I eat? What exercises are appropriate? What should we register for? How do pregnancy and labor develop? What can go wrong during both?

As I read and talked with people, I found myself facing a very fundamental question: How should a baby be born? The obvious, easy answer, is safely. That’s what all parents hope for. How families achieve a “safe” birth though is actually more varied than you might realize. There are several different ways of birthing a child in the United States – including at a hospital, with a Certified Professional Midwife at home, or in a specialized birth center. You can go without drugs, opt for a C-Section, or experience a mix of natural labor and interventions.

Deciding which of the above experiences are right for you is a big deal. So if you missed any of our special Birth Options reports, you can click on the links below to watch each one and learn more:

The Farm Midwifery Center – Nestled to the southwest of Nashville, Tennessee, in a rural community dedicated to sustainable living, The Farm Midwifery Center is run by highly-trained midwives. These women care for pregnant moms who come from around the world for a natural, drug free labor and to birth in cabins among the trees.

Home birth with a CPM – A certified professional midwife – or CPM – is trained to attend out-of-hospital home births and provide care to pregnant women. Many women desire a home birth to avoid medical interventions in a hospital, as well as to feel comfortable in familiar surroundings. Home births with a CPM are an option in Tennessee but illegal in Alabama and some women would like to see the law changed.

A modern hospital experience – The modern hospital experience offers epidurals and other pain-relief medications, as well as instant access to the latest technologies and physicians. For many women, this is a great comfort and in rare cases when an unexpected emergency arises, can be life-saving.

Having a baby is a miraculous and complicated experience and this series of reports was in no way intended to be a comprehensive guide to birthing. Instead, it should serve as a springboard for moms hoping to learn more and motivate them to research medical and natural options in consultation with a care provider.

Feel free to share your Birth Options experiences with us below! Only 5 weeks left until my own little one’s due!