Saturday, September 3, 2016

Conyer the Baby's Birth Story

Funny how things are so different this time around. In a lot of ways. But for the sake of this post, let me start by saying it's taken me 362 days to sit down and write the story of Conyer's birth. I've thought about writing it almost daily. The weight of such a beautiful story weighing on my mind. And the guilt of not having written it yet weighing on my heart.

But here I am, a few nights before Conyer Edward Kroboth turns one. And this is the story of his perfect arrival into our family.

Pregnancy number three was no joke. I was older, and I felt it. I had two other boys to tend to, and a business to run. And I was tired. I had my usual four months of morning sickness, proceeded several months before by 10 weeks of additional sickness when we had our miscarriage. So, I was very much over being pregnant. And very much anticipating the arrival of our third son.

We had a name picked out. His big brothers were so excited to meet him. And I knew this time around it'd be a different kind of welcome for the newest Kroboth. Asher was only 22 months when Elias was born, and he had no idea what had just happened. But this time, Asher was keenly aware that he was going to have a baby, and Elias followed suit. I couldn't wait for them to meet him. I knew they'd both be the best of big brothers and that the introduction would be a moment to remember.

A few weeks before Conyer was born, my Mema passed away. It wasn't something any of us saw coming, but it also didn't happen super fast. And I found myself again in the heart wrenching position of losing a grandmother, a beautiful life, while bringing another member of the family into the world. When we all last spoke to Mema she told us that she was excited to hold the baby, and that she'd hold him all day long. The boys agreed. And I know she held him. I know she held him each and every day from the moment she passed into heaven until he was in my arms.

In memory and honor of her, we changed our planned name to Conyer. Mema's mother's maiden name was Conyers. I read the obituary and knew instantly that this is who he was meant to be. Conyer. Edward after his dad, Pop Pop and Grandpop. Conyer Edward Kroboth. A name with intense love and meaning.

I quickly learned the term prodomal labor. Very common with subsequent pregnancies said my genius doula. It meant I was going into 'false' labor nightly for about a week before the real labor kicked in. Rusty had long since relocated to the guest room because my snoring was out of control. And each night, I'd go to bed, feel the contractions begin and each morning they would ease off. I remember being frustrated at the time, but I wasn't too terribly uncomfortable. My sleep number bed and extra space helped me stay comfortable. And I had a calmness about me this time around. I knew I could have a vbac again. I knew my body was capable. I was simply waiting.

September 5th, I went to bed wondering if tonight would be the night that things kept going. Somewhere around the middle of the night I knew the answer was yes. I laid in bed a while. Walked around the house quietly for a few hours. I leaned into the contractions. And I even thought that this couldn't be it because it wasn't nearly as intense as it was with Elias. But, really, I think I knew what to expect and I was doing a better job of mentally rolling with each contraction and embracing them.

Around 6 am, I woke Rusty up and told him it was time to go to the hospital. He was in shock. Now? Right now? (I was thinking yes dear, I let you sleep through all this.) We had to call Nini to come stay with the big boys. Of course this was the one night she had concert tickets, didn't hear our 25,000 phone calls and texts and Rusty went and knocked on her door. That got her right up and over, though half asleep.

We arrived to Rex just before the shift change at 7 am. I was sent to triage and still had thoughts of maybe this wasn't active labor because I was entirely too calm and managing things far too well. The contractions seemed too short to me, but the belly monitor said otherwise and I had progressed from my previous OBGYN check up. So, I was admitted.

Labor kicked into high gear pretty quickly. I had some IV meds to take the edge off. Soon after, though, I was ready for my epidural. It took very nicely, but I still felt the intensity of the growing contractions so they upped the meds. Then I felt like a solid log with no ability to move an inch. It took the nurse and Rusty to so much as scoot me. But I was progressing and comfortable so we went with it.

A few times, the charge nurse and the OBGYN would slip into the room with a few others. I would soon realize this meant that Conyer wasn't behaving well on the monitors. An internal monitor was placed and we positioned me in ways that he responded best to. The last time the crowd came in to see what was going on with him, the nurse suggested replacing the internal monitor. The doctor went to do just that and said, "Let's have a baby instead!"

You know, it's been almost a year so the specifics are fuzzy (Sorry, Con!). But I think he was out in literally about three pushes. I was in shock at how fast, calm and easy it all was. I heard him cry. I cried. I was so relieved he was here safely. We spent our time skin to skin and tried nursing. I'd soon learn that his jaw was retracted which presented a whole slough of challenges to come. But in that moment, he was just my sweet, new sleepy big baby. All 9 lbs 1 oz of him! Born before it was even lunchtime!

Big brothers came to visit as soon as we got settled into our room. And boy, they swooned over their Conyer. I can still see so vividly them perched on the end of my bed holding their baby. And just like that, there were three Kroboth boys.

I've heard people talk about how beautiful their labors were and how they'd do it again in a heartbeat. And I thought they were crazy crazy crazy. But truly, I loved loved loved my labor with Conyer. I had my awesome doula friend supporting me through all the false starts. She was by my side at the hospital. Rusty seemed calmer. We all had this unspoken 'we've got this' attitude. And there was just a sense of peace and strength through this labor.

My anxiety doesn't like knowing what not to expect. And this time, I knew how labor felt and I welcomed it with open arms. I breathed. I didn't even do as much timing. I just went with my gut and let my body guide me. I think Ashley and Rusty both would tell you they could tell a difference in my laboring. And I felt it, too. It was an incredible experience. Bringing Conyer into this world with confidence and peace is one of my grandest accomplishments. (And I'd do it again. I'm not going to do it again, but I would.)

I look back on his birth and my heart swells. It was just seriously so exquisitely powerful, wonderful and gave me the best third little boy a mom could ask for. Doesn't get any better than that.

Now excuse me while I go dream of labor and delivery, recalling each moment that brought Conyer the Baby into our lives. Such an awesome, freaking awesome morning was September 6, 2015.

Happy almost birthday, my littlest love.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Try not to think about what might have been.

Whenever I stop and think about where we are at with our family, I feel immeasurably blessed. But also immeasurably overwhelmed, anxious and all kinds of emotions jumbled up into once. Conyer joined us on September 6th. And bless his heart; his little existence thus far hasn't been super pleasant and it's been that way around the clock. In fact, quite the opposite.

As soon as he was born, and had trouble latching onto the breast, I knew something was up. I pumped and sent the little tad bit of milk to the nursery with Conyer. The nursery wrote in his record "disorganized latch". The nurse told me it took them a lot of work, but they finally got it into him. He was not a super happy baby at this point. I was so ready for the lactation consultant to visit our room the next morning and she confirmed what I already knew: he was having trouble nursing for physical reasons.

His lower jaw was pulled in and on the short side (thus not allowing his gums to align to form a good suck) and it was possible he was a bit tongue tied, though it wasn't an obvious or severe tongue tie. Together, though, it seemed the trouble I thought he was having was a reality.

And I was sad.

 I had this vision of nursing my what would likely be my last baby, singing my calm down repertoire of songs, having my husband pass him over after middle of the night diaper changes for my special mommy-baby time and nursing him back to sleep. Rocking and nursing. Snuggling that milk drunk little guy.


All of that was just plain wrong. Silly me for even thinking ahead with these visions.

In reality, we had about a week of screaming. I mean HOURS of screaming. Around the clock. And hours of nursing. Screaming and nursing. My milk came in, the screaming continued. A few visits to the pediatrician confirmed what I suspected (again); he wasn't gaining weight. He wasn't thriving. Everyone in the office felt for me. I came in crying, in pajamas and I'd weigh him and feel defeated. 

I'd post updates to Facebook, asking for prayers and support. Many told me that I may just need to supplement with formula/bottle and that'd be ok. I know that would be ok! I would have LOVED for that to work. But my sweet baby couldn't figure out a bottle nipple either. We all just kind of passed around the screaming baby, each trying to get food in him in some way or another.

After a visit from a lactation consultant, we had this really detailed and long process way of feeding him. It involved us both being topless, walking, holding him vertical, applying weight of the breast on his bottom (short) jaw, etc. etc. He seemed pretty content for a few days, but the pressure I felt personally was so immense. He couldn't handle a bottle, and every feeding with me was either a struggle of him trying to latch or me rejoicing that the walking/vertical/puzzle seemed to pay off that time. It was all on me, and it didn't seem to be going very well. He maintained his weight, but wasn't growing. And I was beyond exhausted. I didn't want it all to be on my shoulders. I felt trapped and scared and sad for him.

At the pediatrician again, I cried again. It was a weekend. The nurse came in and sat with me. She grabbed some pricey allergen-free formula (Oh, and I should note at this point I'm already taken off dairy because his stool showed signs of dairy intolerance at this day three check up.) and a bottle and tried to feed him. It wasn't working. I tried nursing. He gained 2 oz. That made me feel better. She tried the bottle again. I told her some things the lactation consultant mentioned for bottle tips, and I casually mentioned that a friend had a preemie and we had to hold her jaw up for her while eating. Bingo. We got him to eat 1.5 oz of formula. I cried. Happy cried.

Eight varieties of bottles from Babies R Us later, and we are settled into using Dr. Browns at home and giving him pumped milk. It was the only way I could guarantee that he was getting a good volume of food for the time being. I was sad at not nursing, but at that point, I wanted more than anything to see my baby thrive. To see him not cry in hunger. To see him eat without struggling too badly.

We got into a new normal routine. I pumped. Rusty bottle fed overnight. Joni during the day. I didn't really want to bottle feed him at first because I was sad. I just focused on the pump and how I could see that he was getting what he needed. It paid off. He gained weight at the next check up. The office cheered! Hooray!

We had a good week or so of a more 'normal' baby. He slept and ate and slept and ate and fussed in the evenings. I took him to the chiropractor for her to see what she could do maybe with his jaw. She began some stretches. Everyone assured me that his jaw would grow, it would just take time. He was still very disorganized on the bottle, but we worked through it with each feeding and I just decided to see how the next few weeks went.

They went downhill.

He became a screaming miserable baby again. Hoarse. Lots of mucus swallowing and choking noises. Hiccups all day long. All day long. Waking himself up from sleep, screaming. His body stayed in frown mode. His face looked grumpy and tense. His whole body was tense, actually. It was impossible to get any real sleep out of him.

I again knew something was wrong. And it was - reflux or GERD.

Back at the doctor, I was crying again. I told her everything and that I knew it was reflux. This actually went over well with her because she knows us after three kids, and knows this isn't our first rodeo. She said if Rusty, my sister and me couldn't get him soothed then it was definitely something else going on with him. Asher was a hot mess of a colicky baby, but we could get him soothed. Conyer - we could not. It was awful. Just plain awful.

We started Zantac. First day seemed to be somewhat improved. Second and third were rough again. All over again. Rough. I called and asked for something stronger. We were prescribed Prilosec, and a pretty high dose at that. It's tricky to time it right though. At least an hour after eating, and at least thirty minutes before the next feeding. At around the same time each day. Figure that one out, yeah. Day one, improvement. slightly maybe. Day two, more improvement, maybe? Day three, his voice sounded less hoarse. There was less thick mucus swallowing happening. Less screaming. His face relaxed. His body relaxed. He slept. He wasn't rigid. He was a sweet, sleeping, for-the-most-part calm baby. I felt such a weight lifted. One issue solved for now. And so thankful for meds for infants and for a doctor that listened to me right away.

Here we are at 7 weeks old. He's sleeping well at night for the most part. He still has his screaming fits, but what 6-8 week old doesn't, right? He smiles and even coos from time to time. He still spits up, but it doesn't seem to bother him. We have hiccups once every day or so. His belly seems to be adjusting to the meds (after a few weeks of trouble there, too). We must hold him upright for 30 minutes after each feeding. Carseat always equals puke. No bouncing or jiggling allowed. Lots of burping. We observe what positions or activities seem to work and what seem to cause reflux right away, or later in the day. He's high maintenance. Seriously. And he can't help it.

I've tried nursing here or there, and it works pretty well. But I think that's just because he's my third baby and I thankfully have lots of milk flowage. He won't stay latched and still struggles. Pretty much only Rusty, Joni or me can give the bottle with any kind of success. And if he gets too worked up, it's a real battle even for us. He gets so frustrated and can't seem to figure out how to latch and suck and swallow. It's pitiful.

We went to see a feeding specialist this week, and an ENT. We are continuing the chiropractor visits. We now think that while he has a very minor tongue tie, his frenulum (is that the right word?) is very tight. His tongue only just recently has come out past his gum line. And his gum lines are still very mismatched from the jaw. Combine the jaw and the reflux and the tight, tied down tongue and you have struggles. Lots of them. Could his jaw grow? Of course. And we hope it does. It's much looser now, and he's not holding it tight in pain (as he was when reflux was at its worst). Could his tongue sort itself out over time. Of course. But, if we want to give him the best chance at not struggling with every feeding, and give his jaw the best chance at moving forward and growing, and give his tongue the best chance at sucking efficiently, then we need to have his frenulum clipped. I cringe just typing that. But we need to try. We need to try whatever we can. So, we will on November 9 (if I can't beg my way in before then).

So, I try not to think about what might have been. I miss nursing every day. My heart physically hurts every time I see him trying to drink from a bottle and struggling. I am so tired from reading and observing and reading and observing. I don't want to miss a thing, and I want to do right by this kid. But I'm tired. I relish in the milk drunk baby snuggles during our 30 minute upright times. But I am so over this pump. I try not to harp on the fact that we probably won't be having another baby, and this chaotic, screaming, crying (me), sad mess of an experience is going to be our last. So really, this is our reality. But everything happens for a reason. The Lord sees to that. I know that.

I just try not to think about what might have been, that's all.

Monday, July 7, 2014

You know when you're so behind in blogging you don't know how to catch up? Yeah that.

Since I last posted, a lot has happened. To summarize, in brief:

  • Elias got up to 75 mg of peanut flour in OIT!
  • Kids got sick. Elias had to downdose his peanut flour from 75 mg to 25 mg. Bad, bad, bad croup episode for E.
  • We packed up and spent the week at Disney. 
  • Came back and brought some high fever virus with us. Elias had to downdose again to 12 mg. (One more sickness and we would have been back at the beginning.) Asher had a fever at one point of 104.5 with Motrin and Tylenol in his system. It was a wretched, wretched virus and I about had multiple panic attacks.
  • Tried to catch up on work. Got some cool new opportunities.
  • Packed up to go to the beach for the Fourth of July. Rented a boat and the boys swam in the ocean like little fishes.
  • Blogged about OIT on WRAL's Go Ask Mom. (That's where my writing energy has gone lately.) 
Now, since I feel like accomplished something by posted a fast recap, I will get on board with some legitimate updates. Stay tuned (if you're patient enough). 

Happy Monday!
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