Thursday, July 30, 2009

Part of the Family

Working at a special needs children’s hospital brings with it a set of challenges most jobs don’t. I often work with children with very complicated medical conditions. And I often deal with parents at their most vulnerable, when they’ve just been through a huge life changing experience, good or bad.

What I never expected was that I would be a parent of one of our patients.

Let me start by saying Dominick is perfectly fine.

We had his four month check up last week and our pediatrician suggested we get Dominick evaluated by a physical therapist because he has some tight muscles in his neck. The tightness is minimally limiting his range of motion, but we caught this at the right time. The official “diagnosis” for this condition is called torticollis. There are varying degrees and some babies have it so bad they have tilted heads or can only look in one direction.

What causes this? Many things, but mainly it stems back from the baby’s position in-utero. I was assured it was nothing that I had done, or not done. I was worried that I had caused this in some way, but both my pediatrician and PT assured me that this is perfectly normal and can easily be fixed.

We had our physical therapy evaluation today with a very wonderful therapist. She was very sweet and explained everything as she would if I didn’t work there. Dominick was very cooperative as she measured and stretched and tried to get him to look each way. Our PT found his torticollis to be mild and had us practice a few special stretches. A little stretching twice a day should fix the problem. We will probably also come in for outpatient therapy once a week, to check his progress.

Frank was nice enough to bring him in and as we walked through the halls to our PT apt, you’d think we were walking through with a celebrity! Everyone wanted to hold him, touch him, oogle him. All the employees here are like family and are very welcoming to new additions!

We also had one of our car seat checks move my car seat base from the middle to the side. We chose a car seat that can hold a baby up until 32 pounds in a rear facing position. Rear facing is much safer and we only want the safest for little Dominick! Problem is this car seat is larger than most to accommodate the extra poundage and it doesn’t fit exactly right in my car. We were jockeying it from passenger side, to middle, to passenger side again. It’s staying put now. I’m so thank full that we have such experienced staff who are willing to help when ever we need them.

Just like family.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Six Pregnancy-Child Birth Lessons This Mama Learned

You can be warned, you can be educated, but until you go through it yourself, you cannot fully understand or appreciate what it's like to be pregnant and have a baby. Here are my six life lessons this mama learned first hand through the pregnancy and child birth process...

1. Pregnancy was not all butterflies and roses. It was hard work. For almost the entire ten months, yes TEN!, I was exhausted, uncomfortable, nauseous, swollen, having gall bladder attacks, had high blood pressure and let’s not forget moody! Frank, and my entire family for that matter, deserve a service medal for putting up with me! The ONLY thing I liked about being pregnant was feeling the baby move inside me – that was a miraculous feeling I will never forget.

2. Bring on the water works. You will be extremely emotional for the first week or so after you have the baby. Not post partum depression like they warn you about, but just emotional in general. I cried at the drop of a hat. And I’m not normally a crier, that’s why this was so strange to me. I remember I couldn’t even look at the pictures Frank took of the delivery without bawling! When the baby started crying, I would cry too. It eventually cleared up – but don’t be alarmed if you start weeping without reason.

3. Mass exodus. (TMI warning) Everyone tells you if you have a c-section you won’t bleed nearly as much. They’re lying. I will never forget when the nurse’s aid came in to “clean me up…” I was horrified at the amount of fluids exiting my body. Poor Frank, asleep next to my bed, laid their helpless… keeping his eyes shut for the entire process. I don’t blame him. It’s not something I’d ever want to see… ever.

4. Pain is manageable. Recovery from a c-section isn’t so bad, as long as you keep up with your pain meds. No one’s giving out medals to mama’s that tough out the pain. I’m a huge believer in pain management. When the nurses came to get me out of bed the next morning, they said I handled it better than most!

5. Gas anyone? I was warned about the post op gas pains. But not enough; not nearly enough. Holy cow that was awful! When they open you up, they let all sorts of air in and it needs to work its way out. The nurses encouraged me to take my gas pills and get up and walk around, so I did, slowly – waddling really. When I asked the nurse for something stronger, because this medicine obviously wasn’t working, she threatened me with a suppository. Needless to say, the gas found a way out, but after several hours of being very uncomfortable. You know you’re at your ropes end when you start celebrating every little toot.

6. You loose your hair. You will become semi-bald several weeks after you have your baby. Don’t be alarmed at the clumps of hair on the floor, or after you comb it – I’ve been assured it will grow back. But I no longer have the luscious, full locks I had when I was pregnant.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Catching Up May 2009

Here Dominick meets his older cousin, Christopher. Christopher is exactly three weeks older than Dominick. Dominick's checking him out from head to toe. May 3, 2009

So peaceful sleeping with his "lovey" blanket. May 5, 2009

Boppy pillow phenomenon - we're not sure why, but everyone seems to love the boppy - Hastings and Ozzie included!

Hi mom! I love to smile.

Around six weeks old, most babies get really fussy. So true for Dominick! This sling was a life saver. He loved to cuddle so close and just snooze away.

First trip to Turtle Back Zoo and this is pretty much what he did the entire time. May 19, 2009

Two months old - check out the fluffy hair! Power to the People. May 24, 2009

Guess who found their thumb? And he loves it! May 28, 2009

The New Mazzarella Family May 7, 2009

Catching Up - April 2009

Dominick's first full bath - April 8, 2009

Dominick at Easter. We went to both sets of parents for family get togethers. He was such a trooper! April 11, 2009

Dominick also met his new cousin, Samantha. She arrived exactly one week after he did.

Here's Dominick's first real smile. Too bad the camera wasn't in focus, but at leaste I got it! April 14, 2009

There's no denying who Dominick looks like - he's a carbon copy of his dad! Here, Frank is practicing the colic football hold. Not sure if Dominick thinks it's comfy. Can you see Dominick's thinning hair? Looks like a little old man.

Dominick at one month old - he's changed so much already! April 24, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Long Over Due…

This post is exactly four months over due. I have thought about posting many times. I’d think, well, it’s been so long, why even bother. Then I’d think, but it’ll be a great way to close the pregnancy chapter and begin a new motherhood chapter. My life when I was home with the babe was so much different. I’d go days without turning on the computer, and I loved it! Now, I’m back at work and sitting in front of one for eight hours a day and I feel like something’s missing. So I’m going to play catch up – I’m going to just do it quick, like removing a Band-Aid and move forward.

Welcome to the world:
Dominick Frank Mazzarella arrived at 10:29 a.m., on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, NJ. Dominick weighed in at 8 pounds 13 ounces and measured 20 ½ inches long. Our lives are forever changed. Our hearts have so much love for our new little guy and we truly feel blessed to have him.

The birth:
The docs were concerned that he would be too big to fit the natural way, so I reluctantly agreed to have a c-section. And in hindsight, I’m rather glad I did. It was pretty much painless, accept for the recovery. Dr. Crane himself walked me into the OR – I liked his take charge mentality! No need to wait for a nurse to escort me! He grabbed my IV bag and off we went. The spinal was so easy! I didn’t feel a thing, hardly a pinch and all of the sudden; I couldn’t feel anything below my chest. Frank was waiting anxiously outside in his hospital supplied scrubs. He was so excited to wear his scrubs, to see an actual surgery and of course meet his new son! The c-section went as planned and within 15 minutes, out pops Dominick – chewing on the doc’s finger while he suctioned and screaming when they lifted him out.

I’ll never forget my first sight of him under the surgery lights, this very clean I might add, beautiful baby boy. I started tearing up and all I could manage to say was, “He’s so beautiful.” Frank followed him over to the warmer, taking pictures all the way while Dominick proceeded to pee on the nurses while they cleaned him up. Frank followed Dominick into the nursery to get weighed and measured. And of course our ecstatic family was waiting anxiously. My mom, step-dad and Frank’s parents and sister were all there with cameras ready. They were peaking through the blinds trying to figure out if the new baby that came into the nursery was theirs. When Frank came in, they figured it out! My favorite picture is one the nurse took of them all peering into the glass. I missed the entire show since I was in recovery.

There, I received an extra shot of something to take the edge off the pain. There I stayed through the shakes, which is NO FUN! A rotation of our family came in and out to wish their congratulations. We didn’t get back into our room for quite some time. And we got stuck in the old wing, right across the hall from the family kitchen and nurse’s station. My room didn’t even have a shower! But at least it was private. We didn’t really seem to care we got shafted on the room, because we were flying pretty high on the birth of our little boy.

I couldn’t help but think about what I’d just been through and the best way to describe it was, surreal. A life just came out of me – a living being with fingers and toes and lots of hair. I know it happens every day, but it truly felt like a miracle to me.

Hospital stay:
Frank was an absolute ANGEL in the hospital! He took care of me as if I was the Queen of England! After seeing what I went through with the surgery, Frank was more than willing to help. I could get used to this! He stepped right up when ever I needed anything, or when ever Dominick needed a diaper change. I don’t think I changed more than a few diapers in the hospital. And Frank instantly became a wiz at swaddling. My mom came up one morning to help so Frank could get a break. Dominick was still so new and slept a lot. We had to wake him for feedings and we did send him to the nursery at night. It was fun just staring at him, taking in every little bit of his wrinkled little body. We were ready to head home on Friday. We could have stayed an extra day, but we were ready to bring our new family home.

Home Coming:
My parents and Frank’s parents were so great in helping get the house ready. My mom cleaned the house from top to bottom to make sure it was spick and span for the little guy. Frank’s parents were there to greet us and had decorated the house with “it’s a boy” banners! They also went to the drug store to get my medicine and a few necessities for us. Ozzie welcomed little Dominick into the family immediately with a nice wet kiss in his ear and hasn’t left his side since.

The first few days were a blur. But having everything ready, washed and all the prep was definitely worth the time and effort.

I was exclusively breast feeding and Dominick would eat every two hours. We started to supplement when he lost more than ten percent of his birth weight. It was a very tough decision for me to start supplementing. I was 100 percent dedicated to exclusively breastfeeding, but my body had other ideas. I never produced enough milk for Dominick and I was devastated. I would pump every two hours and nada. I did this for over twelve weeks and I’d get maybe an ounce between feedings. A full day of pumping would give me about 5 ounces and that was not enough for our little guy who was taking two ounces at each feeding. We even tried breast feeding him first, and then giving him the formula. But he wanted to eat so badly, he would get so frustrated because there wasn’t enough breast milk. He’d scream, and scream. Why put him through this if he’s getting so upset? That’s when we decided to use formula. As Frank was giving him his first bottle of formula, I was bawling! It definitely was a mix of postpartum hormones and disappointment. We’ll try again next time – that’s for sure!

That’s the story in a nut shell. I’ll add some posts chronicling his first four months. A blog name change is in order.
We refer to the above picture as "baby drunk." He's very satisfied after a nice feeding from mom.
It’s nice to be back. It’s nice to have a place to document all that life throws at me. And, my apologies again! Sorry this took so long!