Tuesday, December 13, 2011

OMG, we have a REAL baby!

I don't know if this happens to all new moms, but lately the fact that we have a real live baby, and yes we are really living this life, hits me like cold water to the face.  He does all of these famous baby things, like sitting up, shaking rattles, smiling and babbling, grabbing my face, hugging/kissing, etc.  He's starting to show preferences and opinion.  Sometimes he doesn't want to play in his jumper, he'd rather roll around on the floor.  And sometimes he wants be held and bounced.  Sometimes he is thrilled to be kissed on, and other times he just wants that object 6 inches out of reach and could care less about me. 

All of these things make him more and more of a real person to me.  Our relationship is awakening by leaps and bounds this month.  As Gail put it, my heart is "tied to his."  I miss him when he goes down for the night and it will be hours before I see him again (I don't miss him much during his 30 minute daytime naps...).  I love seeing him hold a toy close to his face, analyzing and calculating.  Then just a second later, wave his arms wildly and suddenly topple sideways. 

Despite the many times he's given me hope of his naps lengthening, he still takes only 30 minute naps for the most part.  He usually wakes up smiling, so I am assuming he's getting enough rest.  So it may be til he's 12-18 months til he starts taking long ones.  I'm finally beginning to accept it and realize that the occasional 2 hour nap does not indicate the breaking of a new normal.  Sheesh.

Nighttime sleep is mostly good.  We have improvements to make, and we've started using that darned ol' sleep training to get there.  After cereal, a bath, and one last feeding, he is either zonked and I can put him in his crib immediately or I rock him for a few minutes first.  We shoot for between 7:00 and 7:30 bedtime.  He goes down really easy, and life would be a dream, but 45 minutes later he winds up.  Ryan would go in there and burp him and calm him down for a second, and then we'd let him cry himself back to sleep.  It is tortuous.  The first night was an hour and a half, with Ryan going in there periodically to turn him over, rewrap him, and give him back his pacifier.  The second night we were encouraged when he cried only 45 minutes.  The third night, he cried for 6 minutes.  Fourth night, for 2 minutes.  We thought we were home free on the 5th night, but he cried for an hour and a half again.  We realized I had forgotten to give him his acid reflux medicine, so we got him up and let him stay up so we could wait the allotted amount of time and then feed him one more time and put him back to sleep.  That was last week.

This week I'm working on being  ALOT more consistent.  I'm taking Weissbluth's advice finally (he has always been right for us, I don't know why I try to experiment a bunch before realizing this again and again).  After 4 months, babies can start adjusting their sleep rhythms to a clock schedule (before 4 months, its best just to watch and respond to their drowsy signals--but have a set bedtime always!)  The past 3 days, Declan wakes between 6:15 and 7:30 (I'm bad, I should be waking him up at 7!), he takes his first nap at 9-9:30am, then 11-11:30am, 1:30-2:00pm, then 4-4:30pm.  And of course bedtime is 7-7:30.  Sometimes I'm tempted to put him down early if he's being a grump, or keep him up if he seems more wakeful, but I am curious to see how a fairly rigid schedule works for him since we've never tried it very consistently so I'm standing firm!  Hopefully between that and the sleep training, he'll stay down after bedtime until his feeding around 2:30am.  And okay, a small part of me still hopes his naps will suddenly grow longer with routine...

I've changed up his feeding routine, too.  I was totally over-zealous with the solid foods thing.  He keeps them down so well and enjoys the cereal so much (plus the whole novelty of it) that I jumped ahead and gave him 2 feedings a day as cereal when you're supposed to start out with one.  I justified it because we started solids kinda late -- at almost 5 months.  I didn't really tie it together because it was gradual - his feedings grew shorter and fussier, but oddly, he wanted to eat more often (I still don't really understand that).  So last week I stopped giving him his mid-morning cereal and just kept the evening feeding.  Within a day, his nursing sessions were more prolonged and relaxed.  His "I'm hungry" and "I'm full" signals are not ambiguous anymore since instead of fussing 30 seconds into the feeding, he will nurse good and then stop, smile, and if I offer him more he will either do so or push away.  So I'm super happy with that.

He's still dealing with the reflux.  Last week I reached 4 weeks of dairy elimination and took him off of the Prevacid to see if things had improved.  After being off of the medicine for a day, the symptoms came rushing back and it was clear that dairy was not the culprit.  I am changing pediatricians, so maybe we'll get some fresh ideas and a GI specialist referral.  Our other pediatrician is an excellent and qualified doctor, it's just that he makes me feel stupid.  He's kinda snippy.  When I felt the Zantac was not working for us, I asked him about what I should do.  He just said, "Take him off of it."  And I was like... well, what about the reflux?  I felt like I was having to drag information out of him.  Anyway, I've always kind of thought that, and that last experience was just enough to make me think we might do better with another doctor.

Doing better all the time, for the most part.  Gotta go make some supper.  Another day gone, but it was a productive one (c:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Listmakers Anonymous

I love the challenge of getting things done every day.  It's fun to me to have a list and accomplish things.  Multiply the thrill when I figure out a new system that theoretically helps me accomplish EVERYTHING by doing a little part daily.  I was sooo excited about getting a new whiteboard and working out my master plan on it, broken down into tasks for each weekday.  It hangs on the wall on the way out of our bedroom, so I face it several times a day and it gives me new motivation.

On the outside, it may just look like I want to have a spotless house.  But if I had a spotless house I would be so bored!  Don't get me wrong, I don't need more to do.  I rarely never get everything done on my list.  It's that constant drive to find a better and more efficient way to do things.  I think about it laying in bed at night: "this takes too long to do, how can I get it done faster?"

I know I'm not alone.  You may be like me if you enjoy making lists, hoard office supplies, over-challenge yourself on housework, or want to spend your Saturday mornings with the windows open, cleaning every room top to bottom, uninterrupted!  You love the feeling of checking something off the list.  Maybe you break down tasks on the lists to be more specific just so you can cross more things off.  Then, at the end of a long day, you enjoy how exhausted you feel as you bask in the improvements you've made.

In the spirit of list making, I wanted to start one of "Streamlining Processes" that helps get stuff done!  I'd love to hear your ideas and add to this list.

• When folding and putting away laundry, I only fold/hang clothes and towels and match socks.  Diaper rags, undies, and pjs just get thrown in a drawer. There's something therapeutic about throwing a handful of underwear in the drawer, but it did take a while to get there.  Sometimes I still want to fold them, but I've learned to embrace the chaos in organized places (c:

• Whenever I go from one room to another, I try to find something close at hand that belongs in the room that I'm going to.  That way I can just put it away later when I'm working in that room.

• I work on one room or set of rooms each week of the month.  With Declan, using every second counts.  When he's asleep I try to work, but when he's awake and playing on his own I do housework.  Having a system and predetermined area I'm going to work on keeps me from fiddling around trying to decide what I need to do.  Then everything gets a good scrubbing on a regular basis (c:

•  Theoretically, I like to keep the sink empty.  Stack your dirty ones on the counter, please.  It makes it so much easier to start cleaning the kitchen.  When the dishes start piling in the sink, I hate having to empty it before starting, what a drag!  Better yet, wash your dish and stick it in the dishwasher (in a perfect world - although I know Laura does this (c: )

My apartment is usually in some sort of mess.  It's small, but there's always something that needs to be cleaned.  I don't think it's ever been tidy all at once, but at least everything gets attention every now and then.  To tell you the truth, I like it like that.  I'm still always looking for a better process, though!  What are yours?

Monday, November 21, 2011

5 Months Old: Cereal, and of course Sleep

Declan turned 5 months old last Thursday.  It's hard to believe he's already this close to 6 months!  We started him on rice cereal on November 6, 10 days before he turned 5 months old.  He loved it and he did so well! 

  He's sleeping better, going to bed at 7:30pm, getting up between 3 and 4 to eat, then going back to sleep until about 7:30am.  The past few mornings he's woken up with smiles and coos.  His naps are getting longer, too.

In the past week, he's gotten better at rolling back to front.  He seems to do well with both right and left rolling.  He'll sometimes sit up on his own for several seconds, but he usually gets interested in his feet and leans so far forward that he topples over.  So he's close, but not quite sitting up yet.

We've got two toys that he can bounce in.  A saucer-thing, and a Johnny Jump Up.  Once he started using these (the saucer at 4 months and the Johnny Jump Up at 4 months, 3 weeks), his core and leg strength developed rapidly.  Within days, he went from being slumped over in the saucer seat to sitting up straight and bouncing vigorously. Jumping is such a favorite activity now that he squirms when you hold him until he's standing in your lap and he'll jump, jump, jump, jump....

Day 1 in the saucer - needed a blanket for core support.

A month later - confident, strong, and loving it!

His hair is thinning out a lot, but he's still got some patches of really long, dark hair, and it's curly!  Under the dark hair, he's got some blond/light brown, thicker hair coming in.  I noticed a little bit of cradle cap about a week ago.  I put some tea tree oil on it, which I do not recommend.  I do think it helped, but the smell was so potent that I think it bothered him and I couldn't get it out without washing his hair - even still it filled his nursery and may have given him a headache - it gave me one!

Vocally, he's a little chatter box.  He'll babble, "Gah gah gah mmmmbah! Grrrrrr-aaaaaaaa-mmm Mam!"  He's also taken to grabbing our mouths and faces (sometimes gently, sometimes notsomuch), and he'll pull our faces to him so he can plant his open-mouthed baby kisses on it.  He's often very aggressive and serious about these kisses and they are accompanied by some growls or "mmm"s.  And I love, love when he wraps both of his chubby little arms around my neck and squeezes.  What an awesome kid!

We've introduced him to some loud noises lately.  I make his rice and oatmeal cereals at home with our Ninja blender.  I thought since I was going to be doing it every 3 days or so, he should be comfortable with the sound.  It took some holding and reassuring words, but he is now adjusted to it and it doesn't phase him.  Today I decided it was time that he got acquainted with the vacuum cleaner - especially with his growing independence and mobility - I will need to vacuum more often!  By counting to 3 before turning it on each time, he grew comfortable with it within a few minutes.  By the time I was vacuuming the 2nd room in our apartment, he was playing happily with his toys and ignoring the machine.

Mom says she thinks he's more into his toys than my siblings or I were.  He does love them and will play with them for much of his wake time.  Some of his favorites are a beanie giraffe that my boss' family gave him, a squishy red truck from work, toys attached to his saucer, a crinkly basketball, and a little music machine that my mom and sister brought him on their last visit. 

This past weekend, we noticed him getting his knees under his body and scooting backwards.  Maybe my mom's prediction is right - crawling by Christmas?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Crashing... Part II

A great book on the biology of baby sleep.
I may have been kind of insensitive in my previous post about crashing.  I don't mean to imply at all that new parents don't want the very best for their babies.  I know they'd sacrifice night after night without sleep if it meant their child got good sleep.

I just want to share the "sleep gospel" - the more the child sleeps, the better quality of sleep he gets.  It sounded too good to be true, but it does make sense.

One happy day when Declan was about 6 weeks old, we were at Goodwill in San Antonio and my mom found this book while we were actually looking for another book that had been recommended to me a lot, On Becoming Babywise.  We couldn't find a copy of Babywise, but after thumbing through Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, I decided I would probably learn something worth $0.99 from it. 

To be honest, initially I didn't like the book.  It was difficult to read and follow.  Admittedly, Weissbluth may not be the most talented writer, but I was intrigued with the actual hard facts he had from his years of research.  He was talking about the biology of baby sleep.  It was refreshing and comforting to know that most non-colicky babies are very similar in their needs for sleep and even the time of day and night that they most naturally grow drowsy.  It was like he knew my kid!  This information is invaluable!  It's like gold!  I started referencing the book for specific problems we were having and I've ended up going back and reading through Declan's age range.  I still return to it if we have a specific problem pop up and it is always helpful.

My main issues at the time were Declan's daytime naps.  I had no idea how much daytime sleep he needed.  I just put him down when I thought he seemed tired.  It was usually after I had nursed him and he fell asleep, because I really hadn't figured out the best way to soothe him yet.  I'd put him down completely zonked and without fail he'd wake up 5 minutes later.  I cringe when I think about how I got him up and just assumed he wasn't tired, or he had cat-napped long enough while eating that he was rested.

I was exhausted and stressed.  I was trying to carry on a part-time job at home, take care of our apartment, and have supper ready when Ryan got home.  I was so far away from that expectation I had for myself that I didn't see how anyone did it.  Little did I know, Declan was tired, too.  Over-exhausted, in fact.  And that's why he wasn't sleeping.

The most revolutionary thing I learned was that infants his age should have a wake time of between 1 and 2 hours.  Weissbluth said to be mindful of the clock, but mostly watch your baby closely.  The first yawn or eye-rubbing, slow blink, or slow down in activity -- that was my cue.  I picked him up from his play - because these cues often occurred while he was still very happily playing - changed his diaper, turned out the lights in his room, swaddled him, and started rocking and singing to him.  Sometimes there was a little crying, but I was surprised at how easily he fell asleep.  My confidence grew and I took it a step further and practiced putting him down drowsy.  This helped him get familiar with falling asleep in his crib.

The next amazing thing that I learned was how to help him to sleep through the night.  Now I have your attention, don't I?  At around 6 weeks, most non-colicky babies are mature enough to sleep 8-10 hours, maybe even 12, with no night waking.  We had been trying to start his bedtime routine at around 9.  Thus began a wake-fest that lasted til 11pm on good nights and 2am on bad nights.  We had been keeping him up - going to Walmart, out for walks -- whatever we could do to try and keep him awake in the early evening hours - and of course he wasn't napping well during the day, so he was hard to keep awake by that time of day.  I remember one time sitting down in the nursery with him.  I propped him on a pillow in my lap, turned to grab an exciting book to read to him in hopes of keeping him awake just a little bit longer, and when I turned back he was OUT. 

When Weissbluth described what our evenings looked like, his book became a page-turner for me.  He talked about babies crashing at around 11pm and 2am.  Ours was a common problem!  His suggestion was to move the bedtime earlier - to about 9.  So we started the routine at 7:30.  Leisurely bath, long nursing, then more rocking and singing til he fell asleep a little before 9.

The first night we tried this, my little boy slept for 10 hours.  Asleep at 9pm, awake at 7am.  No wakings.  This continued virtually without flaw for 5 weeks, when unfortunately the acid reflux came and stole our nights back.

But apparently we might have run into more night wakings around that time anyway.  Three to four month olds get a lot more social and distracted during the day.  They don't eat enough because they're too busy looking around and talking at EVERYTHING, real or imaginary (yes, it's adorable).  So they get hungrier at night.  If this was the only thing we were dealing with, I would have done what Weissbluth suggested: roll with it.  If you realize it's just a phase that will last a few weeks, it gets easier to get up once or twice a night to feed.  Declan has done that the past week or two, and in comparison to the reflux waking him every 3 hours, it was great.  Plus he has blessed me with the way he will lay quietly in his crib after these feedings - even if wide awake.  He puts himself back to sleep, and I probably fall back to sleep before he does most nights (c:

Today we're in a pretty good place with sleep.  Up until recently he has had only 30-45 minute naps.  I felt like there was something wrong with that, but when I read more about 4-5 month olds I learned that their brain matures at this age and enables them to start napping longer.  At almost 5 months old, Declan usually has two or three 1 1/2 hour naps a day.  What a relief!  He still has days where all his naps are short, but those are fading out.

His bedtime the past couple of nights has been 7:45.  He always wakes up again between 8:15 or 8:30, but it's just to be burped one last time and rocked for a few minutes more.  Then he's good to go until around 5am when I feed him again and he goes back to sleep with no soothing until 7:30 or 8.  Weissbluth describes this as a healthy sleep pattern for this age, and says to expect it to last until around 9 months when he'll go back to sleeping through the night.

I should mention that Weissbluth does not recommend using the cry-it-out method until 4 months of age.  That was one thing that kept me reading.  This is sleep training without the heart break.  In truth, we didn't even want to do the cry-it-out that he suggests at 4 months.  We couldn't take it (we did try it a night or two).  And Declan is still a good sleeper, so I am confident that you can do it without letting your baby cry it out, if that's what you want.  I think the important things are having a solid foundation of a good sleep routine (we've had basically the same ritual since he was 6 weeks old), plus having an already well-rested child.

So, if you're feeling like you have to let your baby wail in the crib to learn how to sleep, don't.  Don't think you have to do something that goes against your instincts and breaks your heart.  I'm not against the crying method - it does work for so many, and I'm sure it would have worked for us - but it was way too painful to me!!

I hope you can have the same blessing of sleep that we have had.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Crashing... It's Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

I've got to be honest because for some reason this bothers me too much to keep quiet.  Before I go tearing into the advice of other much more experienced moms and grandmas, I do recognize that I'm not any kind of expert on this subject.  I have read and discussed it a lot and experimented with my own child to find what works for us, but that's it.

OK, here we go.  I want to get on my soapbox every time I hear someone advise new parents to "keep a baby up" in order to get them to sleep at night.  How many times have you heard that?  And how many times have you then heard that person admit through humorous recollection how their baby DIDN'T sleep well? 

I just want to ask the parents of babies to consider this idea: sleep begets sleep.  Do you want your child to be rested, or do you want him/her to be "easy" to get to sleep?  Because if you keep a baby up, you may find it is easier to get them to sleep because they are crashing.  Americans know what crashing is, don't we?  Many of us are crawling into bed wayyyy too late, swearing to go to bed earlier next time.  We wake up with difficulty and function poorly in our tired state.

Imagine how your baby feels when you force him to crash every night for your own convenience?  Because you don't want to take the time to soothe him when he is just beginning to get drowsy. 

Imagine the toll this takes on his or her brain and learning capabilities.  And they don't have coffee to help!

Consider how difficult it has been for you to get your baby to sleep even when you know he's overtired.  I know I have wondered that many nights while rocking or trying to calm him down, "I know he's tired, why won't be sleep??"  When babies become overtired, they get a second wind, just like we do.  Fight or flight.  They physically get a second release of hormones that make them return to a wakeful state.  This is what happens if you keep a baby up past his natural time to fall asleep.

Do you ever find it hard to fall asleep even when you know you're overtired?  Put yourself in your baby's socks!

Instead, if we as parents watch our babies and strive to find that time when they are becoming a little less wakeful, a little more tired, and start soothing them then - we help them fall asleep peacefully and get the rest their little brains need.

More on this, I need to put Declan down for a nap.  Haha.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Eat, Play, {Pray}, Love

Declan is working on his first full day on Prevacid.  His balking at the breast has lessened lately with the use of the shield, so I'm hoping the medicine will help his gagging and spit up, although it's not really supposed to lessen the spit up (shame... my washing machine could use a small vacation).  This morning I found a list of symptoms associated with infant acid reflux on BabyCenter.com.  I was wide-eyed.  Declan has all but two of these symptoms.  Had I found this before, may I have been convinced that it was acid reflux, the very first diagnosis we received?

  • Spitting up – common among most babies, spitting up does not always warrant a reflux diagnosis or require medication.  Your baby’s doctor will consider spitting up along with other symptoms when making a reflux diagnosis and determining if meds are needed for pain management.
  • Gagging and choking - during feeds or after
  • Vomiting – large amounts of spit-up or projectile in nature
  • Frequent or wet hiccups – while many babies get hiccups, it’s especially common in refluxers to have frequent and long-lasting hiccups; “wet” hiccups can be an indication of silent reflux
  • Abdominal pain – indicated by arching back, either during or after feeds or both
  • Bad breath – can occur any time of day but is often most apparent after waking from sleep
  • Poor sleep – inability to sleep soundly, frequent waking, and/or crying in sleep
  • Over or under eating – while most refluxers will under eat to avoid pain associated with feedings, many will comfort eat to soothe themselves
  • Unexplainable, inconsolable crying and/or fussy temperament – especially during or after feeding, while burping or hiccupping, and/or while arching their backs
  • Feeding aversions or refusals – usually related to bottle or breast due to the associating pain with feeding, although is not solely limited to formula or breast feedings
  • Swallowing or gulping – after a feeding or burping
  • Chronic cough – after a feeding or burps
  • Chronic congestion – rattling in the nasal passage or chest that does not appear to be related to illness and that doesn’t seem to clear up over time
  • Hoarse voice – especially when not related to illness
  • Gurgling sounds – during or after feeding
  • Back arching – especially during and after feeding
  • Apnea – trouble catching a breath or stops breathing
  • Wheezing – especially when not accompanied by illness
  • Clawing at breast or bottle or pulling off the nipple
  • Sandifer’s Syndrome – twitching, grimacing, arching, stiffening, and seizure-like symptoms
  • Poor weight gain or Failure To Thrive (FTT)

I would say many of the symptoms have not yet been taken care of with the Prevacid, but one very important one has.  SLEEP!  I don't know if it was a coincidence or the medicine helping to keep the heartburn from waking him, but he took a long morning nap.  Unfortunately, the apartment below us is being gutted this week so the noise ended up waking him after about an hour and a half.  I am looking forward to days ahead as my sweet boy suffers less and less.  I've only had heartburn a handful of times, but it was NOT fun!  And that Sandifer's Syndrome - I didn't know it had a name - that was killer to me.  It really felt like he was having a seizure as I was rocking him to sleep one night.

Some things that are strange:  everyone tells you to keep an acid reflux baby upright as much as possible.  During feedings, for at least 20 minutes after feedings, elevate the head of the crib, changing table, etc. so that he isn't flat on his back too much.  I have noticed that this helps his spitting up issues ZERO.  He can be sitting completely still and calm after a feeding.  I'll talk to him or let him play with my hand or we'll watch TV - whatever to keep him calm and still for as long as possible after his feeding.  Most times, that regurgitation comes right up no matter what.  No doubt he would spill his guts if we bounced him and spun him around like we only dare to do right before a feeding, but still, it doesn't help as much as you'd think.  So, if you've got a reflux baby and you've experienced this, know that you're not alone!

Another strange thing is that he seems to spit up less when I feed him a lot.  Like when I have given him a bottle.  I have read about other moms of 4 month olds feeding their babies about 4-5 ounces.  My kid doesn't stop til 6 or 7 ounces, and even then it's just sometimes that's because the bottle's empty.  The overfeeding may make his heartburn worse (haven't concluded this yet) like what happens when I myself eat too much, but for some odd reason, my husband and I agree: he doesn't spit up on a very full belly.

I am optimistic and relieved!  This beautiful, cool, drizzly day plus cup of coffe + chai frappe have me feeling good.  And Declan's taking another lengthy nap.  So glad he is sleeping better!  Must mean he's feeling good, too.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Great Eating Mystery

Okay, lots of you know that Declan has been having eating problems.  Yes, you probably thought we had it figured out, too.  Well it came back... again.  We are going to see a lactation consultant in the morning, and I will also be seeking out a chiropractor tomorrow. Anyway, my purpose in writing this is primarily to share our journey in hopes that it can help someone else - because I KNOW we will get through this - and secondarily, to seek help!

His main symptoms  center around feedings.  At most feedings (during the day, sometimes at night) he will latch on when I try to breastfeed him.  On a "good" feeding he will eat for 5 minutes, but usually just a few seconds to 1 minute.  He will repeatedly latch on and pull off several times, seems to get less and less patient each time.  Sometimes he will be fussy or even furious, and then other times he will just look around and coo and even smile at me.  Between feedings he is his happy, normal self.  His daytime naps have not been affected too much, but his nighttime sleep has been broken up.  He will usually wake 1-2 times in the night, and I have taken to feeding him then because they have become the only time he actually will take a full feeding.

This behavior began when he was 3 months and 4 days old.  After 10 days of dealing with it, I took him to a doctor (not his normal one) who diagnosed him with acid reflux and prescribed Zantac.  The medicine took up to a week to work.  On the 7th day of taking the medicine, he had a perfect eating day and I thought it was solved with the Zantac.  The next day, everything went back to bad, and he had additionally developed the habit of waking 5-6 times a night.  I got him an appointment with his regular doctor who told me to take him off of the Zantac, which I did.

When Declan was 4 months and 5 days old, I randomly tried the breast shield that we sometimes used (we had started using it a lot less since he was pretty weaned off of it - I just kept it around in case).  He ate perfectly, and continued to do so for the rest of his feedings that evening with the help of the shield.  The next day went well too, with only a couple of minor problems.  Now the problem is back in full force.

So here's the long list of my theories and the supporting facts for them.  However, I can't seem to settle on one because of the contradicting facts that also exist.  I realize that I probably just don't know enough about some of them and perhaps what I consider to be "contradictory" is in fact a support.  Do you know?  Should I be considering another theory?  Can I rule out a theory?  Please enlighten me!

Theory:  Nipple Confusion
  Supporting facts:
  • eats fine from a bottle
  • we used a pacifier early (I can't remember how early, but before 6 weeks for sure), and some bottles too because we had to supplement with formula at the beginning
  • will sometimes do better with the breast shield
  • the weekend before the problem began, we took a road trip and he received 3 feedings in a row from a bottle, and the next day another bottle.
Contradictory facts:
  •  will often nurse fine for 1-5 minutes and then pull off - it sure doesn't seem like he's forgotten how to eat!
  • he went weeks without a bottle (although we did still use a pacifier) and it did not solve anything.

    Theory:  Has he become more efficient and doesn't need the long feedings anymore? 
      Supporting facts:
    • his wet and dirty diaper count have not changed during this whole ordeal
    • he spits up a lot... more than he used to
    • he will often seem content and look around after nursing less than 5 minutes
    • he is normal and happy between feedings
    • he appears to be gaining weight within the acceptable range
    Contradictory facts:
    • he acts hungry shortly after I've tried and tried to feed him and he has convinced me that he's not interested
    • I can hear his stomach growling
    • he sucks on his fists and cries angrily - which I think means he's hungry?
    • is it really possible or normal for him to go from five to six 25 minute feedings a day to six to seven 1-5 minute ones overnight?

      Theory:  Food allergy
        Supporting facts:
      • several experienced ladies have suggested this to me, though I don't know much about it
      • I do eat a lot of dairy, eggs, nuts - those things that often cause allergies
      • many of his dirty diapers are green and gooey, which could indicate a dairy allergy
      Contradictory facts:
      • his behavior seems feeding-centric - he does not seem irritable between feedings
      • he will take a bottle of my pumped milk with no resistance

      Theory:  Bad milk taste?
        Supporting facts:
      • hormonal changes like resuming "Tom" or *sigh* another pregnancy can change the taste of breast milk.  It's still a mystery to me if either of these are to blame, and I am too scared to take a test so I comfort myself with the contradictory facts
      • upon just observation of his behavior when feeding, he sure seems to just really dislike the taste
      Contradictory facts:
      • a change in the taste of milk usually only causes a nursing strike for a day or two, whereas this has lasted over a month now
      • after a month of this nursing strike, "Tom" is not around... and I am on BC thank you!

        Theory:  Low milk supply
          Supporting facts:
        • the problem is usually nonexistent in the middle of the night when I'm "full"
        • he seems to get more frustrated when he has eaten a minute or two, could because he is having to work for it more
        Contradictory facts:
        • on a 2 or 3 occasions, he has refused to nurse even when I am "full"

        Sunday, October 16, 2011

        4 Months Old: Happy Baby, Tired Momma

        Sitting funny (c:
        Declan is 4 months old today!  I'm looking forward to breaking out some of the 4-month gear we have in the closet, like the Johnny Jump-Up and a sling for older babies.  I have started using the Bumbo with him even though I think it's more of a 4-month thing, but I tuck a little rolled blanket around him to keep him from leaning too far over (c:

        He is enjoying tummy time more, although he still has trouble remembering how to roll over.  Our hands are some of his favorite things to hold and stare at.  He'll grab a finger and pull it towards him, then push it out over and over.  He's very vocal and also loves to be talked to.  He'll often stare at me with pure delight listening when I talk to him, which is all the time.  Grandma GoGo started teaching him to make an "aaaa" noise while we pat his mouth -- "awa-wa-wa-wa-wa..."

        His personality is definitely starting to show.  When I'm carrying him around over my shoulder, he will "comment" on what he sees with sudden little outbursts of, "uh!"  or even, "ooooo!"

        He holds his toys pretty well - enjoys the octopus from the Baby Einstein ocean play mat the most.  It has a rattle and a ring in the shape of a fish that is easy for him to hold onto and put in his mouth.  It goes with us everywhere.

        We're still waiting on the baby laugh.  Supposedly, my dad got him to laugh on October 2nd.  Only he and my mom were there to hear it.  We haven't been able to get him to do it again, despite our desperate efforts.

        Mid-September, Delcan suddenly started to refuse feedings and cried a lot.  It was easy to see he was hungry, but something was wrong.  I took him to the doctor who diagnosed him with acid reflux and prescribed Zantac, which took a week to work.  In the meantime, I tried to breastfeed him, but most feedings ended up giving him a bottle of pumped milk because they were easier for him to take (I guess the acid reflux made his esophagus irritated).  4 days later, he and I went to visit my parents in New Braunfels for a week.  The medicine started working while we were there, but by then he had developed nipple confusion from all of the bottle feedings, and although he was not crying in pain from reflux, his cry had changed to frustration because he wanted the easy bottle.  A week later we are still struggling with it, but the past two days he has shown dramatic improvement and we are almost back to normal.  We'll be staying away from bottles for a while, needless to say.

        Sleep has become difficult for him lately, too.  While we were visiting my parents, Declan, who normally sleeps 10 hours a night at home, started waking every 3 hours, then 2 hours, and on the last two nights we were there, he woke about every hour.  I hoped that when we came home, his sleep would settle back into its normal rhythm.  3 nights home, and he has been waking 3-4 times a night.  A great improvement, yes, but I can tell something is still up.  When I investigated Zantac on the Internet, I found that a side affect is insomnia.  His sleep has gotten a little better every night since he has been off of it (3 days).

        I feel like I go through a different theory every day, sometimes several times a day, regarding his sudden change in eating habits.  Most recently I have been reading about nursing strikes.  There are a lot of different reasons why babies do it at this age.  However, I think I've come to realize that since we have ruled out the potentially serious problems like illness, teething pains, ear infection, and acid reflux, the reason is not really important.  The treatment is to keep trying frequently, be patient, and keep an eye on his output to make sure he's not getting dehydrated.  So that's where I'm at (today).  Sometimes it really helps to remind myself that this is temporary.

        Time for his bath!  That's always a good time.  Let's hope 5 months brings about me laughing at how little of a deal all of this hard stuff was!

        Thursday, September 1, 2011

        Studying His Sleep

        Declan has been asleep for 2 1/2 hours for his 2nd "morning" nap (which has now spilled over to afternoon) now.  Considering 98% of his naps are 30-40 minutes long (I think with only one other exception) - this is weird!  A part of me wonders if he's okay (I have checked on him twice in the last 30 minutes) but he's fine - still breathing!  He's going to be one happy - and hungry - kid when he wakes up, which I'm looking forward to... I miss him!

        I've been keeping a sleep log for him since August 10th when I started enforcing naps every 2 hours, and I have used part of the time he's been asleep today to put it in a spreadsheet.  Looking at it all together has helped me to see patterns emerge, and also to help me see how we've improved - little by little - over the past 20 days.

        There hasn't been a drastic change, but the biggest thing I am able to see is his natural sleep rhythm.

        Wake Up:  7:00 - 8:00am
        Morning Nap #1: 9:00am (average duration 75 minutes, most often 1 hour though)
        Morning Nap #2:  12:00pm (average duration 50 minutes, most often 30 minutes).  On day 16 he slept for 2 1/2 hours and today (Day 22) he is going on 3 hours for this nap.  Weird.
        Afternoon Nap #1: 3:00pm (average duration 50 minutes, but most often 30 minutes).
        Afternoon Nap #2: 5:20pm (average duration 35 minutes, most often 30). 
        Evening Nap: 7:30pm (average duration 50 minutes, most often 45).
        Bedtime: 10:30pm
        Night Wake Ups: If his bedtime is between 9 and 10, he will usually wake up twice (around 1am and again at around 5:30am).  If his bedtime is between 10 and 11, he'll just wake up once (around 4 or 5am).  If his bedtime is after 11, he'll wake up around 3:30am and have a rough morning - probably waking again before morning wake up and maybe sleeping fitfully.

        There have been a couple of wonderful nights that stand out.  On Day 15 he went to bed at 10:30 and slept until 7:30am (!!!), and on Day 20, he went to bed at 9:30 and slept until 5:00am.  Day 15 though had only one morning nap, and I think we swaddled him and gave him formula that night.  He was probably fussy a lot and hard to deal with that day.  Day 20 was much more ideal - he took 4 of the naps and was much happier in his waking time.

        I can't believe he is still asleep for his nap.  When I go in to check on him, he has had his eyes open a couple of times, looking around quietly, but will shut them back again and fall back to sleep.  Maybe he's having a growth spurt???  He will have been asleep for 4 hours pretty soon.  I often worry when he does have abnormally long sleep, thinking I have bundled him too warm or that he will have trouble sleeping tonight.  But I remind myself that sleep is important and sometimes difficult to get, so I let him be and it has always made for a happy waker... I can't wait to play with him when he gets up!

        A few quick things we've learned to help him sleep:
        • Start the soothing routine 1 to 2 hours after previous wake up
        • Have a pacifier handy
        • Swaddling
        • Rocking
        • Singing (the same song or two every time)
        • Letting him cry for up to 30 minutes and checking on him every 10.  If he's still awake and crying after 30, I assess if he's hungry again and if not I rock him some more
        • Soothe until he's drowsy - not asleep - and put him in bed.  This used to work with no crying, but he has started to figure out our plan and fights it... hence the addition of the "let cry" method into our routine
        • Giving him a few ounces of warm formula (helps him to sleep longer... sometimes)
        • Daddy magic - Ryan sings to him and holds him tight while rocking and swaddling.
        • Taking him for walks or swimming in the evening to wear him out.  Also making him use his muscles like with tummy time or moving his arms and legs and other exercises to physically wear him out.

        He was even smaller once - proof that he won't be little forever!
        Putting him to bed is not my favorite thing - it's usually a struggle and I just want one thing to work every time so I don't have to think about it so much!  But when I'm rocking him and waiting for those little eyes to go from wide-awake to half-shut, I try to just imagine him getting bigger and not being able to hold him.  Thanks to moms who have gone before me and advised not to take this time for granted, I snuggle him closer and enjoy where we're at right now.

        Monday, August 29, 2011

        Cloth Diapering: One Month In

        I knew I wanted to do cloth diapering when I found out that I was pregnant.  I did a lot of research, but let's face it: there was way too much information out there than I had time for.  It's kind of overwhelming!

        In case you haven't noticed, cloth diapering is a lot different than it was when my mom used them on me.  The thought of plastic pants makes me cringe.  It didn't take long for me to realize that I didn't have to worry about rubber chafing my kid...

        bumGenius pocket diaper w/ newborn insert
        You may remember a previous entry where I was learning about Flip diapers.  Well, the Flip diapers are cool, but I ended up purchasing 6 bumGenius pocket diapers.  Since I was still thinking they worked like the Flip diaper (wash the insert each change, wash the cover as needed) I ordered 6 covers and 36 inserts.  Boy was I surprised when they arrived, I had prewashed them all, and THEN realized that you wash the whole thing, cover and insert every time.  Yah, so, no returns at this point.  I had essentially 1 day's worth of diapers (not including night) and a whole bunch of useless inserts that I couldn't return.

        Tip:  Make sure you know how the diaper works before purchasing...

        Alva cover in denim - so cute!
        Anyway, I used those 6 and washed them pretty much every day.  They really worked for us.  Yes, a little bulky, but really really adorable (and since I like doing laundry, they were all around fun to use!).  It occurred to me that there had to be some way to put those extra inserts to work -- even if I have to make my own covers.

        I really thought about making my own covers, but as the days passed, I realized there is just no way that I'd have time for that.  Let's be real.  I was comfortable using the bumGenius diapers, and I thought used would probably be fine.  Besides, cloth that has already gone through prewash is much more exciting to get in the mail (you have to prewash and dry them 6-8 times before using the 1st time).  I took a shot in the dark and ordered some used covers without inserts on eBay.  In the lot are 3 different brands: Alva, Babyland, and Rainbow BB.  I have only received the Alva ones so far, so that's all I can talk about (although I've heard good things about Babyland and better things about Rainbow BB).

        Alva cover in black
        In comparison to my bumGenius covers, the Alva covers are softer and not quite so stiff so they seem more comfortable.  The snaps are easier to do (in my opinion) and the sizing is great.  I read that the leg openings are too big and that they would probably only fit a fat-legged baby well, but I don't think it's true, Dec has chicken legs!  The leg opening is not super snug but I've had no problems with leaks after using them every day for a week. 

        All in all, I'd totally buy them again, but I'll wait and see how I like the Rainbow BB and Bablyand ones to make a decision on that.  Stay tuned for more on cloth diapering - it's kind of an adventure (c:

        Sunday, August 28, 2011

        Saying Goodbye for a While

        This week I hugged Whitney and her family goodbye for a little while.  Whitney and I were friends in high school and were college roommates all 3 years (even though everyone said we'd get tired of each other).  We were in each others' weddings (us: June 2009, them: January 2010), and we were watching a movie at her house the night she told me that she might be pregnant.  Even though it was (what we thought of as) bad timing for both of us, we joked about going through that next stage in life together, too.  Little did either of us know or expect that about a month after that night I would be texting her with the news that it was happening.

        Now we have our boys, Declan and Micah, 5 weeks apart.  It would be too perfect for them to grow together and have each other to play with, though.  Whitney and her husband have moved to another city in another state for at least a year, and who knows after that?  At least our parents still live 10 minutes apart and we can meet up when we're visiting them for the holidays.  I'll miss you, Roomie, and I hope that Micah and Declan can play together in the future!

        Friday, August 26, 2011

        Things, Moments, and Emotions

        A day or two after we got home from the hospital.
        My Declan is 10 weeks and 1 day old today.  When I think about the past 10 weeks, what stands out to me are the moments.  I've had my heart warmed so many times from day one, whether it was him looking at me with so much interest in the very beginning, cooing contently while he nursed, or giving me his huge, full, open-mouth, toothless smile with a squeal of delight like he is doing most recently. 

        Lots of people ask how it's going.  Honestly, I feel in general like I am adapting to it slower than most new moms do.  I didn't think I would struggle with failure so much.  I knew going into it that it would be hard, but my philosophy was that babies are tough, and my instincts will kick in.  On the other hand, I've had moments of extreme pride and victory, like the fact that he has slept for 6-7 hour stretches since we got home from the hospital (up until recently!... fail).  So I told myself that we really had it easy because that infamous new baby sleep was fairly kind to us. 

        I've struggled with breastfeeding, too.  I want it so bad for him because it's best, but in the hospital he had low blood sugar so his pediatrician had me supplement with formula.  I was heartbroken over this tiny thing, I felt like it was a slippery slope and I would end up with a low milk supply and not be able to give him the best like I had imagined.  We ended up fighting that and winning and he has been exclusively breastfed for 2 months now.  However, just the other day after a couple of weeks of being stressed and overtired, I realized that supply was low again.  He seemed dissatisfied after most feedings and his previously wonderful night sleep had gone from 6-8 hours stretches down to 3-4 (hence the stress and fatigue on my part).  Last night we gave him a little formula before he went to bed to make sure he was full, and wouldn't you know the poor guy slept for 9 hours straight, and went on to have three 1-hour naps and one 2.5 hour nap today (completely new).  So in the name of everyone sleeping well, I might try "topping him off" with a couple of ounces of formula before bed for the next couple of nights.

        Swaddle Me blanket... straightjacket
        Along with utilizing good old biology, there are a few items that really make parenting easier.  At the moment we have fallen back in love with a device that is essentially a straight jacket (I say "back in love" because we used it when he was a newborn and loved it then, too - he barely fits into it anymore - his shoulders stick out the top, but it still works!) - it's a funny-shaped blanket called a "Swaddle Me."  It's great for those of us who suck at swaddling (as both Ryan and I admit we do).  Strapping his arms to his sides is apparently the one little trigger that makes a crying, furious, overtired baby switch to a calm child who will easily and quietly put himself to sleep (it happened 3 times today).  From now on this item will be my gift at all baby showers - it is amazing.

        Dec modeling his bumGenius (c:
        I'm also embracing the cloth diapering.  I now have 13 cloth diapers (7 more coming in the mail).  The first 6 I purchased new (bumGenius).  I got comfortable with those and decided that used ones would probably be perfectly acceptable and save me some cash, so I went to the almighty eBay.  Other than being economical, fairly easy, and environmental, they're FUN!  They come in any color you could want and lots of different prints (camo!).  So we still use disposables at night and on outings, but for every day we just go cloth.  We end up only using about 2 disposables a day on normal at-home days.  Cha-ching!  Cloth wipes, too - we have a wipe warmer that keeps the flannel wipes warm and moist.  The biggest thing I love about those is how smooth they are - it's odd but they really are a pleasure to use over disposable wipes.  Whodathunk!?

        Oh, another product that I love is the Lansinoh manual breast pump.  We thought about it a long time - electric pump?  Splurge and get the best one?  Settle?  Will it even work for me?  We ended up spending $30 on this device and it's been great.  One of the main things I love about it is the portability and simplicity of it.  I have taken it on road trips (a time when you usually need a bottle over nursing anyway) and it's so easy to pump in the car.  Of course it's also not loud like an electric pump.  Win/win.

        I feel like I could write a book on all of the knowledge I have accrued in these 10 weeks, and I am eager to share it with other new moms and swap advice.  But every time I think I have it figured out (pride booster), I am humbled.  Miserably knocked down!  I am surprised at my own inability to forgive myself for getting it wrong when I know that just about any mistake is so tiny in the grand scheme of things.  I didn't know it would be so hard to not be hard on myself.  So I'm working on that.  When Declan gets up from his naps and he smiles and coos at me, it lifts me back up to confidence.  My baby's happy and he loves me. That's enough to get me through til next time (c:

        Thursday, June 23, 2011

        Declan Day

        My mom had the foresight to keep a log of the main events leading up to Declan's arrival.  So glad she did!  Helped me a lot with this entry.

        I had a doctor's appointment on my due date (June 14), and of course I was hoping to hear that I had been in labor all day and had started dilating already.  I wanted more than anything to go into labor naturally, then see how far I could get through it without pain meds.  The last couple of weeks had been so uncomfortable.  The swelling in my feet was getting more and more difficult to control.  His pressing on my organs was pretty painful, and I could not sit or lie down (not to mention get up) without great difficulty and some pain.  None of it was unbearable, but the persistence of the little things was driving me to understand what Sarah meant when she blogged, "By this point in the pregnancy, you do not care if the baby has to leave your ear sideways."

        Needless to say, I was disheartened to learn that I still was not in labor that day.  My doctor felt all around on my belly bump to determine his position and estimate his size.  She said he was a big one - at least 8lbs.  Then she expressed her concern about waiting too long to induce.  She was concerned that the longer I waited, the lesser my chances of being able to deliver vaginally became.  I knew that 8lbs was on the large side, but I also knew that lots of babies are 8+lbs, easy.  Despite that... let me see, how do I put this?  I saw her point.  Large kid - small hole.  I didn't want to induce, but I definitely didn't want to undergo major surgery and a lengthy recouperation.

        The next day (Wednesday, June 15), I slept in, did a little work from home, and double checked my hospital bag.  Ryan had woken up with a sore throat but went to work anyway.  By late morning he decided that he needed to see a doctor.  He went to the clinic and was diagnosed with strep throat.  They gave him a shot of penicillan and told him he would not be contagious after 24 hours.  This meant that he would not be able to stay the night in the hospital with me as I was induced, and he would also not be able to be with me during labor.  Our only consolation was that he would be safe to join us after 3pm, and my doctor speculated that our baby would not arrive before Ryan was able to join us.

        We were to arrive at the hospital between 6:30 and 7:00pm.  I cried when Ryan held me and assured me all would be okay, and then Mom, Ruth and I headed out the door to the hospital, leaving him behind.  This was not how I pictured this going at all.  I had read that its important to be flexible with your birth plans because you never know what complications could arise, but never had I imagined having to do it without Ryan.  I continued to sob the whole way there (still crying now just remembering it - wow hormones).  By the time we arrived at the hospital, I was composed enough.  We went to registration at the ER and I filled out the paperwork.  The lady at the desk commented on how calm I was, and Mom told her I had been upset because Ryan couldn't come and of course I had to fight back tears again (pretty unsuccessfully).

        By 8pm we were in our hospital room.  They put me on an IV drip , put a monitor on my belly to measure the baby and the nurse, Sarah, checked me for dilation - I was still just 1cm.  At 10pm they inserted a tablet behind my cervix to get it to start softening, and I was instructed to stay on my back and that I wasn't allowed to pee until midnight in order to keep the tablet from being dislodged.  At 11, we got the ultrasound that my doctor ordered to get a better estimate of his size.  We had hoped to get a glimpse of his face, but the tech was a rather grumpy old man who apparently didn't hear very well.  He measured and measured.  The screen was turned so I could barely see it, but I strained to see the numbers.  I asked him, "Does that say 8lbs, 15oz?!" He muttered that it did and my mom and I stared at each other open-mouthed.  Nurse Sarah came in around that time and told us the ultrasounds are not always very accurate, but she was going to call my doctor and inform her of the estimated weight, "To see what she wanted to do."  I knew that meant my doctor might want to consider a c-section more seriously in light of this.  I started to prepare mentally, but when Sarah came back she said we were going to continue with plan A and see what happens.

        I slept fairly well, my worst complaint being the IV in my hand (such a pain!).  At 4:20am I woke up with some real pain from contractions.  The nurse had told me I could get some pain relief intravenously before going for the epidural.  I sat up slightly to find the remote to call her when I felt two small pops and a little gush of fluid.  The nurse came in and tested the fluid to make sure it was amniotic and it was - my water was broken!  She also gave me something for the pain that made me feel a little woozy, but it helped me to sleep very well also.  I was also 50% effaced and still just 1cm dilated at that point.

        At 5:15am she started me on Pitocin to bring on the labor contractions.  At 6:15 I got another dose of that wonderful woozy stuff.  I liked it since it really did help with the pain and made my IV less bothersome, plus I slept like a baby!

        At 7am my doctor arrived and I was dilated to 3cm.  The show was on the road.  At 8:30am my contractions were 2 minutes apart.  At 9am I asked for the epidural - the contractions had gotten too bad for my woozy intravenous friend to handle.  The anesthesiologist came in and I sort of broke down with fear of having a needle inserted into my back.  They told me to sit on the edge of the bed, hunch my back, and hold very still.  I was like, are you kidding me?  I don't trust myself to hold still!!!  Whitney  had told me that they had her wrap her arms and legs around Jerod to help stabilize herself for this part.  I missed Ryan so much then!  And since he wasn't here were they really going to make me do this alone?  I asked Mom if she would let me lean on her and they had a nurse step in instead, but it wasn't the same.  I shook and when he was wiping the spot on my back with a cotton ball I practically leapt out of my skin because every nerve in my back was on and it tickled like crazy!  I sat there and tried my hardest to calm down but my control was limited.  I still don't know if it was the rest of my water gushing out or something else...  This was the beginning of my dignity being totally lost.

        After 20 minutes, my epidural had kicked in and I slept solid until 11.  They steadily increased my Pitocin drip during this time, and by 1:30pm I was 7cm and had some nausea.  I struggled with the nausea for a while but at 3:30pm I threw up.  Nothing in my stomach so it was just bile, but again I felt awful for my mom and Ruthie, and now my inlaws who were in the room.

        At 3:45pm I was at 9cm.  My mom's notes end here so I'm not sure at what point I became 10cm, but I do remember that Ryan showed up sometime around this point and I was so happy to see him, but also reminded of how sad it was that he had to wear a mask.  After I was officially 10cm, my doctor and I agreed that we wanted to wait a little bit longer to start the pushing.  Her reasons were different from mine I'm sure... lol.  She had a good medical reason - can't remember what it was.  I was just afraid and wanted a few minutes to again mentally prepare.

        The feeling and muscle control in the lower half of my body were loooong gone.  My mom and mother in law hoisted my legs up into some kind of leg stirrups and Ryan held my right hand and supported my head.  There was no mirror to watch what was going on down there, but it was over so fast I never thought to ask.  I did 3 hard pushes for (I think) 3 contractions.  My mom and MIL's squeals egged me on.  Everyone counted with me together to hold my pushes to the count of ten.  Ryan started leading the counts and his voice broke so we all had a chuckle over him being a little emotional.  Doc looked up and said she thought I might tear and asked if I wanted an episiotomy.  I couldn't decide and I did have some feeling down there so I was just afraid of feeling it.  I hesitantly agreed and was glad when I couldn't feel any pain from it and we were pushing again.  After a total of 15 minutes of pushing, I felt him slide out and everyone exclaiming, he was put on my chest and he looked right at me.  I could not believe it.  He looked so big and beautiful and healthy.  I held him for just a few seconds before they took him to do whatever it is that they do and Ryan cut the cord.  I heard Ryan tell a nurse, "Declan James,"  so that was that, and I was glad he was decisive about it.  It's true, he is a Declan.

        It's 1:43am ya'll, and my son's due for a feeding in an hour, so I'm going to get some sleep and I'll finish up with the details of our hospital stay when I get a chance.  Goodnight!

        Thursday, June 2, 2011

        Week 38: The OFFICIAL Wait Begins

        Most babies, left to their own devices, come between 38 and 42 weeks gestation.  That's why this week is another marker for me.  Now I can really start thinking: any time now.  Sadly, as much as my body aches and I experience other weird symptoms, I don't feel like it's close at hand just yet.  So people, sit back and put me in the back burner of your mind for another week or so, and we'll revisit analyzing each and every pain and symptom.  I wish I could put it at the back of my mind!

        Weekly doctor's appointment was this morning.  She said my cervix is getting softer (like she said two weeks ago) and beginning to get lower, although it could have been the way I was sitting.  So progress, if any, has been slow, but she added that all of that can change suddenly so really there's no telling. 

        As I have mentioned before, she induces her patients no later than a week after their due date because of the risk of the placenta starting to fail at doing its job (delivering nutrients and oxygen).  There is confusion over my due date because, well, I got pregnant within a month after getting off of the pill.  My doctor decided to go with the due date that the sonogram gave (June 18) rather than the calculated one (June 14).  I was glad for that because I wanted to avoid being induced as long as possible, and that set the date for induction way out at June 24.  This week I have been wondering if I am making the right decision.  If my real due date is June 14 (I don't know if it's wishful thinking or intuition) then June 24 seems like it might be dangerously long if we really do wait that long.  I might have started feeling a little anxious about waiting that long, even.

        Anyway, we moved the induction date to June 20.  I feel better about that and after talking to my doctor about the physical differences in labor between natural and being induced.  I still hope upon hope that he'll come all on his own before then.

        For now, I'm trying to take the advice that all moms give me:  enjoy these last few weeks.  I'm trying to talk to him more, read out loud, pat his bottom when he sticks it out (haha), and rejoice in all of his movements because each one confirms he's healthy and strong.

        Last week I made a huge order on Target's website.  Every day since Tuesday we have been getting the deliveries.  We put the crib together last night.  The Bumbo, play yard, mattress pads, some diapers, monitor, and changing pad cover came today.  We have a list of things that we need to do and we're checking stuff off each night, but I know if Mom and Ruthie get here and have a couple of days before baby o'clock, it ALL will get done.  They are awesome like that.  If we run out of stuff to do then maybe we'll paint a wall or two (c:  I can't wait for them to get here.  They're coming on the 10th, so in a way I hope Declan gives us a few days to really get things ready for him.  That would be perfect.

        Thanks for reading! (c:

        Thursday, May 26, 2011

        Week 37: Low Pressure System

        I don't want to discourage any of you out there who have not had children yet, but man oh man am I ready to be done.  I think Declan started to drop last weekend.  I don't know if babies "dropping" is like a "bloop" and they're dropped sort of deal, or if it's a progressive drop, but it is definitely getting more and more uncomfortable each day.  They call it "lightening" when your baby drops, supposedly because you can breathe easier.  I wouldn't have called it that though.  It feels more like a baby's head is settling into my pelvis and pressing on all my guts.  Funny, I feel heavier than ever.

        I'm really not tempted to be angry at him for it.  In a really demented sort of way it's exciting to know we're getting this close.  I'd like to think this means we have less than 3 weeks.  At my appointment last Thursday, doc said he is head-down (has been for the past 2 weeks actually) and my cervix is starting to soften.  That sounded like a big deal to me but so far all my contractions have been just plain old Braxton Hicks.  Other than [intensifying] pressure and a few sharp pains that we will not go into too much detail on, we're still just business as usual.

        Forgive me, I have grown very moody and frustrated the past few days.  I have transitioned to working from home which is nice in that I can put my feet up and stay in my PJs, even take a nap if I need to, but we've had a lot of connectivity problems and it is stressing me out a lot.  Plus my body hurts.  I'm just having a really bad day.

        Happy news is that we made quite a bit of progress in the nursery last night.  We had dumped a bunch of stuff in the large closet in there from the move, and it needed to be sorted through.  Ryan threw a lot of stuff away (personal victory!) and I am just waiting for my energy to be recharged once more so that we can make more progress.  We made a huge Target order the other night to get the rest of the stuff on our registry, so that stuff will be trickling in and it will come together more and more.

        Sorry this is a mostly bad update )c:

        Tuesday, May 3, 2011

        Joys of Week 34

        • Leaning back in my chair - no more slouching without a barrage on my ribs.
        • Laying on my side with a thin pillow under my belly for support.
        • "Cold" heartburn.
        • Stretch marks.  Recently accompanied by itching.
        • Unable to be comfortable on the couch.
        • Heart racing even while sitting down.
        • Inability to catch my breath often and randomly.
        • Cauliflower making me nauseated.
        • Feeling nauseated at other random times.
        • Limited amount of time I can spend on my feet without turning into a grouchy person.
        • Annoyance with my (I'm sure adorable) son's hiccups.  This used to be cute.
        • Random exhaustion.
        • Burning in my legs after going up stairs.
        • Moving slowly.
        • Peeing often.
        • Times of extreme hunger, and conversely times of no appetite.
        • Occasional mood swings (very occasional, thank God).
        • Difficulty getting in and out of our subcompact car.
        • Bursts of outrage when drivers in parkinglots seem to give me the right of way less often than they did when I wasn't pregnant.  That's right, they don't even look my way, just keep on driving.
        • Suddenly wanting to take people up on their offers to help me out rather than trying to do everything myself.
        • Increased body temperature.  I still carry a jacket with me everywhere, but I never need it anymore.  Also, sleeping with just the sheet or no covers.
        • Switching bed sides with Ryan so I don't have to crawl over him on a midnight pee run... this has been the weirdest.

        Monday, May 2, 2011

        Week 34: The Day Before

        Okay, so I'm not officially 34 weeks until tomorrow, but let's fudge it a little bit.  I doubt the baby will mind.

        Doctor's appointment this afternoon.  I'm sure it will be the usual measuring everything.  I don't have any concerns to voice this week - I am disconnected from this doctor since I will be changing doctors soon since we're moving.  I'm happy about the change - I don't know if I would have had the gumption to change even though I'm not entirely comfortable with her.  I could tell when I asked her how life was with the arrival of her own new son in February that we had different values.  I won't go into detail because she is a wonderful person, she just does not seem to place the same miraculousness and wonder on this childbirth thing that I do.  And who can blame a person for that if they deliver babies for a living?

        After talking with Whitney this weekend about her (we have had the same doc all this time) my decision is more confirmed.  Whit is bravely sticking with her, ready to put her foot down if she has to, but I think I would be very uncomfortable in the hands of someone who jumps to medication as the solution for everything.  Whit has her mind made up and she is going to fight for what she believes is right for her and Micah, but I don't think I could do it.

        Did you have a doctor that you felt comfortable and shared values with?  Or does it really matter that much (afterall they just come in and catch the baby)? (c:

        Shortly after I turn 36 weeks pregnant, we'll be moving about 300 miles south west of here to stay with my parents for a very short time (no more than 6 weeks) to save money while we're transitioning.  In the next 8 weeks, Ryan will be starting a new job, we'll be moving again to our own new place in a new city, we'll have our brand new baby, and - oh yeah - and I'll have started working from home.  It might sound crazy, but to me it feels right.  Ryan would rather skip the "living with in-laws" part, but their help during this time is the only thing that is making this doable and will enable us to be in the area we want to be and start this new chapter in the best way that we can.  We are really very, very blessed.

        Friday, April 29, 2011

        The Training Has Begun

        Two days ago, I was sitting in the car with Ryan on the way to church.  Suddenly my whole bump seemed to be contracting.  No pain, just a little uncomfortable.  I wondered if I was going to have Braxton Hicks contractions, and if I was even going to notice them.  I had two in a row that day, one that I noticed yesterday, and then one this morning and another this afternoon.  I don't plan on blogging about each one (; but yeah, it's kind of exciting for me because it is a sign that my body is preparing for the most loved and hated milestone to mark womens' lives: labor and childbirth.  Yay!...?

        Tuesday, April 19, 2011

        Week 32: Rumbling and Rolling

        Had another routine doctor's appointment yesterday.  Everything is still textbook: belly size measuring right on, weight numbers good, blood pressure perfect (I am a little too proud about that...), etc.  Rockin' and rolling.

        Speaking of which, I have had the pleasure of carrying an extremely active kid.  Since this is my first pregnancy and I haven't followed pregnant women around with my hand on their bellies all day, I can't be sure.  It does seem though like from my general surveying of other women's experiences, my kid seems off the Richter scale-wiggly.  He has been this way for months.  I am a little bummed that as he gets bigger, he supposedly will start to move less for lack of room.  I'll miss his rumbley tumbley routines.  One of my favorite things to do is lay in bed and watch him draw a limb across my belly.  Sometimes he goes back and forth, trying to get comfortable I guess.  I don't know why but I just want to laugh when he is doing that.  Something about it is funny.  Maybe it's just my pure joy.

        I haven't really had any pain or discomfort due to his movements.  I've been told, "Just wait until he gets a foot in your ribs."  We'll see if I change my tune in the next 8 weeks.

        I've had two amazing baby showers this month!  We have received a lot of what we'll need, though there are still a few things that I need to get before he arrives.  A lot can wait until afterwards.  I'm experiencing this feeling of surreality and having a hard time buying anything that we still need.  I guess I feel like it's too soon or I'm afraid I'll change my mind about it.  One thing that I am so thankful for is that Mom and Ruthie plan to come spend a week or two with me to help out.  I feel like other than a few basic items of clothing (in both newborn and 3-6 month sizes), a stock of disposable diapers (also newborn and 3-6 month sizes), the bathtub, and some breastfeeding gear, we'll be prepared to get through well enough until someone can go to the store for items we'll really need.  The biggest mystery that I'm sure all expectant families face is, "Is he going to bypass newborn sizes altogether?" rendering all newborn clothing and diapers useless.

        We are postponing the crib purchase until after he comes.  We might wait until right when he needs it - like 3 months old?  Considering our volatile situation (Ryan looking for a job) we could be moving at any time in the next few months, so anything we can postpone would potentially make the move easier.  Also, I kind of like the idea of purchasing on an as-needed basis.  I am learning that about myself - I've trained my brain so well to analyze need vs. want that I have a lot of trouble buying something I don't need right now [this is with the exclusion of clothes and jewelry and frozen yogurt of course (c;].  And back to being glad about getting that help from Mom and Ruth - I feel like we'll be a lot more able to run out and get something with so many hands around to help.  Really takes a load off - so I will put my wallet away for now and rest in the fact that Target is just 10 minutes away (c:

        Thursday, April 14, 2011

        Little Things to Live A Little Better

        1) Hang a bundle of eucalyptus in the shower.  The steam activates the smell.  The article suggests doing this when you have a cough or cold, but I kinda want to do it all the time (c:  I can get a sprig of this stuff at Hobby Lobby for a few bucks and the article claims it lasts for a few weeks (c:

        2) Make t-shirt pillows.  I do have a LOT of tshirts.  Maybe some of them would make worthy pillows... most of them I'd rather turn inside out and do my own design (bleach drawing makes for some neat effects!).  You know, for some day when I feel like getting my hands dirty and have nothing else to do.

        3) Herbal fire starters.  Neat idea.  We don't have a fireplace [yet], or a huge garden with an abundance of herbs [yet], but one day I would love to make these.  They'd also make nice gifts! 

        4) Dishwasher soap squirt bottle.  Genius!  I have a glass pump for my dishwasher soap now, but the pump is plastic (painted to look like metal...ew).  It has held up well and it looks nice (especially with bright red/orange grapefruit-scented dish soap), but the mechanics don't screw on well to the bottle anymore and I have a feeling it won't last forever.  When that thing dies, I'm getting that tough little squeeze bottle, seems just really practical and easy to keep clean.

        Source: article on Whole Living called 25 Eco-Chic Ideas for Your Home

        Monday, April 11, 2011

        Gathering The Gear: Travel System

        Since last weekend, we have gone from having one drawer of baby stuff to a large corner of our living room dedicated to this small person's needs.  While in Tyler yesterday, we decided to go to the Babies R Us since we don't have one in our town and put our hands on some of the larger items we had been looking at online.  We read a ton of reviews on infant seats because that seems to be the one thing that you really do want to get new for safety standards.  We had actually decided to try to find a not-too-old used one on craigslist and had quite a few options there, but after looking at them at the store and pushing some strollers, we fell in love with a travel system.  All of the research and reviews were very helpful because we had a much better idea of what to look for (considering we have never had any first hand experience, we didn't really have an opinion).

        Here is the travel system we ordered.  Yes, it's a sexy beast.  Hope it's a good choice!  It's not a strong name brand, but I think it's a good value.

        And it has speakers (c:

        Wednesday, March 30, 2011

        #ThingsInMyDreamNursery: Construction Equipment

        My boy is not like any other baby boy, mind you.  He's better.  Cartoony jungle animals and friendly-looking race cars are not good enough for him.  He's much manlier.  That's why when we see the clean, cute little onesies with the muddy bulldozers on them, we grab them up!

        Wanting to grab these up, too!

        Wednesday, March 23, 2011

        Pregnancy Brain!

        Who knows why it happens.  Maybe we just don't feel like ourselves, maybe it's hormones, maybe our minds are distracted with baby stuff, but one of the symptoms of pregnancy is having moments of completely losing your common sense.

        It starts out subtly at first, and for me began as soon as the first trimester.  Forget something here, say something weird there, nothing too out of the ordinary.  At 28 weeks along, though, pregnancy brain has struck me... hard!

        Yesterday evening I was cooking supper.  I found a crepe recipe and decided to try it (first time for me).  When attempting to crack an egg, I mindlessly dropped the perfectly-cracked egg yolk right down the sink drain.  It was not until a split second later that I realized that the egg should have gone in the bowl.  Woops.  The possibility of blaming Pregnancy Brain crept into my mind, but I ignored it.  Just a silly mistake.

        About an hour later, I had cooked up a pile of crepes.  There was still some batter left, but we were hungry so we started eating while I got up every few minutes to flip the next one.  Suddenly, I felt like I had been woken up after being unconscious for an unknown amount of time.  Ryan jumped up and went to the kitchen... the smell of burnt crepe came to me.  I had completely forgotten about that one until it was burned to a crisp.  Strike 2.

        Once settled into dinner and the stove turned off, I was enjoying a grape jelly crepe.  I made sure not to load them up with too much jelly so they wouldn't be a mess to eat.  I was careful to eat each one over my plate in case there were drips.  Then, recklessly I lifted the last bite of my mustang grape crepe from my plate across the few inches chasm to my mouth and [you would think I would have learned by this point in the evening] drip!  Grape jelly right on my faithful, clean, white, maternity v-neck t-shirt. 

        So I had a bad night.  Pregnancy Brain was definitely the diagnosis.  Surely I can overcome this, I thought.  Mind over matter.  Wednesday is a new day. 

        Here I am after lunch.  I just finished my Arby's sandwich.  Why didn't I eat the mashed potatoes, pork loin, baby carrots and apple that I packed for myself last night you ask?  Because I definitely grabbed the Tupperware container of cookie dough instead of my lunch this morning.  *sigh*