Friday, March 26, 2010

Weighing in

Peter Ambrose has finally regained his birth weight. Or rather, he’s on the verge of doing do (he was born at 7 lbs. 4 oz., and today he weighed in at 7 lbs. 3oz.).

PA’s weight has been a source of struggle for us. We dutifully reported in for our one-week appointment with pride and a sense of accomplishment, emotions that were soon dashed as the nurse practitioner told us that PA was dangerously underweight.

When he left the hospital, PA weighed 6 lbs. 12 oz. This seemed to be a normal loss. However, when we got home, PA refused to eat the first day. Or rather, he had so much trouble maintaining his latch that he kept Bethany and I up all night with little to show for it. Finally in the early hours, he latched on and ate and ate … and then threw up.

He ate sporadically the next few days, but slept long stretches. We decided to let him dictate the schedule, which turned out to be a terrible mistake.

So, on PA’s first official post-hospital weigh-in, he weighed 6lbs. 11 oz. – less than his hospital departure weight, to say nothing about how far he was from his birth weight.

So we immediately acquired a pump, began using lactation tea, started Bethany on a Fenugreek regiment, put PA on a stricter eating regiment and returned to the strenuous schedule of feeding every 2-3 hours followed by 20 minutes of pumping after each session. The first few days were miserable, much more than the first days home from the hospital. And so we went in the second time sure he’d put on weight, only to have our parental confidence dashed yet again when we found he’d LOST weight (6 lbs. 9.5 oz.).

The nurses began to push us towards using formula, something we had tried very hard not to pursue (for a variety of reasons). I finally made a deal with Bethany: we were going to push at least one ounce of fluid into PA through a bottle (with a special breast-like nipple, very cool, btw). If that ounce could be breast milk, great. If not, I was going to start supplementing with formula.

She agreed, and we both settled in to a long series of feedings, pumping, bottles, etc. (Poor Bethany would lose so much sleep, that we eventually moved to a schedule that had me staying up most of the night and a good chunk of the day so that she could sleep in between. Thank God this all happened over my spring break).

Then on Wednesday we had the moment of truth: if PA weighed low again, the nurses were going to have to become more involved and we were going to have to start coming in daily for weight checks. But the work had paid off: PA weighed in at 6 lbs. 14 oz. That reading meant he had gained five ounces in 48 hours, and we were so relieved to see his weight headed in the right direction.

So we kept it up, and today we found out he weighs one ounce less than his birth weight, meaning he once again gained five ounces in 48 hours.

So we’re relieved. We know we still have a ways to go, but we’ve also been told that once we get to the 7.5-to-8 lb. range, that he’ll begin to take over more.

But at the rate we’re going, that’s sometime early next week. We’re already sleeping more and are much more calm about his ability to grow and survive.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My Amazing Wife

I know it’s passé for a new father to wax poetic about his wife immediately after the birth of their first child, but after watching my wife in action, I simply cannot deny the fact that she’s the strongest and most amazing person I’ve ever known.

Things turned out well, but we had a mighty struggle bringing Peter Ambrose out. There were times I was frightened out my mind, and I simply wanted to relieve my wife’s suffering no matter the cost (looking back, she was never in any mortal danger, but that’s a rationale understanding).

Soon after Bethany began hard labor, Peter Ambrose turned posterior. And then he refused to move for several hours. Bethany went from 4 cm (100% effacement) to 7 in just 3 hours, but stayed at 9 for about six hours.

The midwives tried turning him in many different ways, but he was stubborn. In the end, he made a dramatic 270-degree turn, and Bethany was able to push him out in about 6 pushes. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen. After 12 hours of constant contractions, Bethany still had the strength to push him out.

She did take oxygen, and towards the end she had an IV, but hers was still an otherwise unassisted and natural birth.

But let me say this about our birthing class: double-pelvic squeezes and counter pressure saved us. We tried lots of positions and techniques, but those were the only two things that brought consistent relief and having Bethany be able to call out for them by name (and have me understand immediately what she needed) were just worth gold to us. Though I feel sheepish even admitting this considering how much trauma Bethany and Peter Ambrose endured that day, my wrists, arms and shoulders were sore the next morning. I can't count how many we did, but I know we'd have to measure them in hundreds.

Peter Ambrose is doing well, healthy in every way. He ate a lot right after the birth, but was slow to eat much for the next few days. He was extremely alert and bright-eyed from the moment he was born (the video below was shot roughly 45 minutes after delivery).

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Bethany didn't tear much at all and required no sutures. She's been a bit shaky on her feet, but the pain and bleeding were greatly diminished after 24 hours and she appears to be on the mend. We're getting more sleep than expected, but still not enough.

Peter Ambrose is a very quiet baby. Compared to our neighbors in the birthing center, he just didn’t cry very much at all. And when he does cry, he's easily comforted with a pat or sometimes just by hearing our voices.

We'll come home Sunday afternoon, and after that we'll see how the adjustment goes. But right now, we couldn't he happier with how things turned out.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Introducing Peter Ambrose Stevens

Bethany and I are pleased and proud to introduce you to the newest family member: Peter Ambrose Stevens.

Peter Ambrose’s birthday is March 12, 2010, and he was born at 1:32 p.m. He weighed 7 lbs. and 4 oz. and measured 20 inches in length.

Both Bethany and Peter Ambrose are recovering from their struggle, and both are in good health.

Of course, we already have many pictures and a few videos, but rather than clog everyone’s email with media, we’d like to point you to Peter Ambrose’s new Web site:

This site will contains a news blog for information updates, a photo and video gallery, and several other opportunities to learn about our son. Please feel free to forward the link and any content on to whomever you think will be interested.

Sent with great(er) love,

-Rick and Bethany Stevens
Copyright 2009 Mile High Baby.