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Archive for July, 2012

8 Weeks

Wow, so my maternity leave is 2/3 over. Just four more weeks until I’m back at work, missing my days on the couch, watching Ellen, and snuggling my tiny (but also BIG) baby. At the same time, I’m craving life at the office, lunching with co-workers, and having a real reason to get dressed and put on makeup in the morning. Let’s just hope that Mr. Adorable is sleeping through the night by that time, otherwise I’ll be using makeup to cover the circles under my eyes.

And since we’ll likely be having our first overnight away from home this weekend, I might as well go ahead and get down his two-month stats now.

Weight/Length:  He was 11 lbs 11oz at his 6 week appointment so I’m sure he’s well over 12 lbs now. Not sure about length but I’d guess about 24 inches.

Sleep: Well, he’s still not sleeping through the night, but I’d say we’re still pretty lucky most of the time. He naps around noon and again around 6pm. I don’t like for him to nap that late, but sometimes he’s SUPER crabby and it took me about a day to figure out that he was just tired and needed to sleep. So I swaddle him in his favorite blanket and bam, out like a light. I’d like to be on more of a schedule but every day is different for us and I don’t want to plan my life around nap times. Yes, naps are necessary, but maybe not at exactly the same time every day. Or maybe they are and I’ll eventually change my mind to adhere to a strict nap schedule. I have no clue. But as of now, he goes to sleep between 9 and 10 pm, wakes up between 2 and 4 for a changing and a feeding, then goes right back to sleep until sometime between 6:30 and 8:30 for another feeding, then back down AGAIN until 10 or so. So I really don’t get up for the day until 9:30, which means I’m technically getting enough sleep, but it’s just not consecutive. Eventually, I’d like for him to go to sleep at 9 and not wake up until 7, but I have a feeling we’re still a few weeks away from that. Any tips for speeding up the sleep-through-the-night process are greatly appreciated.

Feeding: I’m still exclusively pumping and either I’m producing more or we’re just better at figuring out a feeding schedule but (knock on wood) I haven’t had to supplement with ANY formula for more than a week now. He’s eating about 4 oz, on average, at each feeding.  Sometimes 5 or 6, and sometimes only 3 overnight. I’m still not able to build up any sort of supply, but I’m just glad that we haven’t needed to supplement very much. I know that will probably change as he starts to eat more, but for right now, I’m happy. The only problem we’ve had is with gas. This kid farts louder than most grown men. We’re pretty diligent about burping and he only spits up maybe once or twice a day, so I’m thinking the gas has to do with my diet, but I can’t figure out what it could be because he ALWAYS has gas. Always. We pump his legs, massage his belly, and have even started using the infant gas drops, but nothing seems to be working. It’s only a problem when it seems like he’s in pain trying to pass gas or poop. He’ll grunt and cry, especially while eating, which makes feeding him difficult because he’s thrashing about and not focused on taking his bottle. I’m hoping it’s just something he’ll grow out of, but I don’t know.

Firsts This Month:  REAL smiles! Technically, he’s been smiling since birth but they usually happened when he was asleep and probably due to gas. But for the last two weeks or so, he’s been grinning at us when we change his diaper. And we can make cooing noises at him to get him to smile. They’re just so much more obvious that he’s smiling because he’s happy. He’ll even try to laugh or talk back to us and ends up choking on his own breath, resulting in hiccups. It’s so cute and sad at the same time.

Other firsts: First trip to the new Walmart Supercenter that opened in our town. He slept the whole time so it wasn’t so eventful for him. Momma loved it though! First trip to visit my other grandma, who is 90 and lives about 2 1/2 hours away. He slept almost the entire way there and back. And he was such a good boy for daddy while I spent a couple of hours at my best friend’s bridal shower. They killed time by checking out the Popeye statue in Chester, IL, and took a tour of Pierre Menard’s house. I have no clue who that is, but it’s become a running joke around here about things not being nearly as exciting for him as Pierre Menard’s house.

We only got to spend about 2 hours with my grandma, but we set the boppy pillow on her lap so she could hold him and she loved every second of it.

Developments:  He’s got really great head control and can hold his head up and look at us when we’re holding him on our chest. He makes the cutest face when he does this! I wish I could capture it on camera but my hands are usually full holding him. He’s also really started paying more attention to our faces, and watching us when we move across the room. Before, he would only really stare at objects, like the ceiling fan, the black & white poster above the couch, or lights. Even in the car he would prefer to look out the window than look at me (because yes, I ride with him in the backseat). But lately he’s been interacting with us more, usually smiling when he does so, and I just love it!

Likes: Bath time is still his favorite, particularly having his hair washed by daddy. It immediately relaxes him and he’ll either stare up at the ceiling with this zen like look on his face, or he’ll stare up at his daddy with a big smile. He still loves eating too, and I’m pretty sure eating will always be on this list. As soon as we put the burp cloth around his neck, he gets crazy happy, moving his fists and opening his mouth. He also likes diaper changes, which seems strange but for some reason this kid cheeses like no other when we put him on the changing table. Loves it! Also likes being held on daddy’s chest, his swing, his fuzzy blanket, his mobiles, sitting in his boppy, and his Michigan pacifier (he refuses to take the one he had in the hospital).

Dislikes:  Being hungry, cold, bored or tired. Lotion after his bath (probably because he knows his bath is over), waking up from a nap and realizing no one is holding him, being swaddled (though we still have to do it or else he wakes himself up), the sunlight in his eyes, being buckled in his car seat, and the aforementioned gas.

What I’m Thankful For: A happy, healthy baby. Sure he gets fussy, but it’s usually pretty easy to figure out what’s bugging him and fix it.

What I’m Looking Forward To:  Sleeping through the night! (This one needs more exclamation points!!!!) Also, laughing. Sometimes he laughs in his sleep and it’s the cutest thing. I can’t wait until he does it in reaction to something we do. Baby laughs are just adorable.

How Mommy’s Doing: Eh. I still cry almost every day about my grandpa. So emotionally, there’s that. Physically, I feel like I’m still recovering. We went for a walk at the mall last week and my body was just so tired and sore – from walking! I haven’t really lost any additional weight so I still look about 4 mos pregnant. When I don’t have the baby with me, I feel like I need to wear a sign that says “New Mom” or something so that at least I’d get a few sympathy comments, like “You look great, for just having a baby.” Because there’s always that qualifier – “…for just having a baby.”

My boobs usually feel heavy and somewhat sore, like I’ve been doing butterfly presses at the gym. My belly feels like I’m wearing a fanny pack around my hips. And for some unknown reason, my second to last toe on my left foot has started hurting when I walk. Maybe it’s because I don’t wear shoes most days, and when I do I just wear flip flops. And even though I don’t leave the house most days, I’m still on my feet a lot running up and down the stairs from the kitchen to the living room, doing laundry, taking a shower, changing diapers, and standing at the sink washing pump parts, bottles, dishes and fixing lunch and dinner. I’d say I’m on my feet more now than I was pre-pregnancy.

So I’m definitely having some body issues, but I’m trying to cut myself a little slack and give myself some time to figure out a new normal. Then I can turn my energy toward improving my diet and exercise routine. Until then, this beer is mighty tasty.

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My Approach to Parenting

I’ve been reading “mom blogs” long before I ever considered becoming a mom myself. So I’m no stranger to controversy over parenting styles – everything from breastfeeding vs bottlefeeding to co-sleeping and attachment parenting, to cloth vs disposable, spanking vs time-out and everything in between. And until you become a parent, you never quite know exactly what style you’ll follow.

(BTW, I guess this makes me a mom blogger now, huh?)

Something I realized recently is that one’s parenting style really begins during pregnancy. For first-timers, we’re kind of all over the place. Some of us read everything we can get our hands on and follow every single piece of advice to the letter. NOT A SINGLE DROP OF CAFFEINE! NO SOFT CHEESES EVER! OMFG IS THAT A SUBWAY SANDWICH? GET IT AWAY FROM ME! LISTERIA AHHH!!!

Others are content being completely clueless and continue to binge on Diet Coke and cigarettes – although they’ve “cut back” to just a couple of cigarettes a day.

And then there are those of us that fall somewhere in the middle, indulging in a latte here and there, or going for that blue cheese salad (as soon as we’ve double checked that the cheese has been pasteurized), and maybe even stealing a sip of wine or beer when we think no one is looking.

But it doesn’t end there. In fact, the differences are only just beginning. Then there’s the actual birthing of the baby and this is where things really get divided. You’ve got your home births and doulas, your water births, your anti-drug posse, your c-section schedulers, and your typical pain-managed vaginal births. And no mater what your birth plan is, if you’re even the type to have a birth plan (I’m not), then most likely things didn’t go exactly as hoped. And from there, the differences in parenting styles just multiply exponentially.

Before D was born, I couldn’t imagine him. I couldn’t picture having a baby in our house, in our arms while we sit on the couch watching TV. So naturally I couldn’t really imagine what sort of parent I would be. I had no clue. But just like everyone else, we’ve figured things out and I have to say that things seem to be going really well so far. We’re only 7 weeks into this whole “mom & dad” thing but our style of parenting is very similar, which makes us a pretty great team. So what is our style, exactly? What’s working so well for us?

The answer is really simple. Flexibility and common sense.

Here’s what I mean: If the baby is hungry, feed it. And not just what I think is enough. I feed the baby until he isn’t hungry anymore. Sometimes that means supplementing with a little forumla when I’m all out of breast milk, but so what? I’d rather my baby have a full belly than cause him discomfort by making him wait until more of my milk comes in. That’s just unnecessary stress for both of us.

If the baby is tired, let him sleep. Nothing is worse than an irritated, sleep-deprived baby. Except maybe a hungry baby (see above).

If he’s peed or pooped, change him. Even if it means waking him up. Even if I just changed him 2 minutes ago. Diaper rash is no fun for anyone, especially the baby.

It’s good to have a routine, but that routine should be flexible, unless you don’t ever plan on leaving the house ever. I mean, I don’t eat dinner at exactly 6pm every night. Sometimes I eat at 5, sometimes 7 or later. And miraculously enough, whenever that happens, I don’t have a total meltdown when I’m out of my routine. So I don’t want my child to have a meltdown either whenever we go on vacation or go to visit family and things aren’t exactly like our routine at home. And as long as we’re still following the above logic of eating when hungry and sleeping when sleepy, that shouldn’t happen.

Now I haven’t read any baby books, other than the What To Expect series, so I’m not claiming to be any sort of expert at this. I mean, I’ve only been doing this for 7 weeks for crissakes. I know NOTHING. But even so, what we’re doing seems to be working. Our baby is happy and healthy and developing right on schedule. We do tummy time, and play with him, and talk to him constantly – but I’m not going overboard with Baby Einstein, or limiting the length of time the TV is on during the day, or cutting back on the inappropriate humor and conversations I have with my husband in his presence. Eventually I’ll have to do all of those things, but he’s not even 7 weeks old, so not yet.

Really, we’re just living our lives as we normally would on any lazy weekend. The challenge for us now is to become more comfortable taking him out into the world. We’ve conquered big box stores and doctors offices, but have yet to try a restaurant or other public setting – like the zoo. All in due time, I suppose though. We’re just learning as we go, and so far so good.

 

 

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6 Weeks

I’ve been pretty terrible at keeping up on little man’s tiny milestones. Like the fact that he’s been smiling since birth (gas) but around week 3 I feel like he really started to light up when he recognized our voices or faces. They weren’t full-on smiles back then, but raised eyebrows with an open “O” mouth. But now, he really, truly smiles – especially when we put him on the changing table to change his diaper. This kid hated having his diaper changed those first few days at home, but now I’m pretty sure it’s his third favorite time of day (the first being feeding time, the second being bath time).

Speaking of feeding time, I seriously get a kick out of how excited he gets when he knows he’s about to be fed. Before we feed him, we take a burp cloth or wash cloth and put it under his chin like a bib. He gets SO EXCITED when this happens, he opens his mouth wide and starts moving his arms around. It makes it pretty difficult to get the burp cloth to stay put, but it’s just so damn adorable. And he still loves bath time, but only when it’s a sponge bath. We tried giving him a bath in his baby bathtub one night, and he was terrified of the seat, I think because the little hammock made him feel like he was falling. Not a fan. So we went back to sponge baths for the time being.

The night before my grandpa’s funeral, D slept from about midnight until 7:30am. He was exactly 1 month old. At 6 am, I ran upstairs to tell my parents (who were staying with us) – “He slept through the night!!” – and said that maybe grandpa had a hand in soothing him to sleep because he knew we needed the rest. I had high hopes that this was the beginning of sleeping through the night, but alas, he’s still on 4 hour stretches, with a few 6 and 5 hour nights scattered in there. The night before the funeral is still the longest stretch of sleep he’s had to date.

On July 11, we had his 6 week check-up, complete with shots. He weighed 11lbs 11oz and was a little over 23 inches long, putting him in te 50th percentile for both height and weight. The doc said his head circumference is a little on the small side but she didn’t seem concerned about it. We just don’t have huge heads on either side of our families. At the very end of the appointment, the doc left the room and the nurse came in to administer his shots. The first one was oral, which he took just fine. The last three were actual shots – 2 in one leg and one in the other. And OH.MY.GAWD. was there screaming. When she stuck him with the first needle, his little eyes shot wide open and he lost his breath. Then the screaming started. I give the nurse credit for moving quickly to get the other two shots finished before handing him over to me for comforting. Now, my son cries when he’s hungry or uncomfortable or whatever, but it’s really more like yelling or fussing. This was all out crying, with real tears and a quivering lower lip. It was the cutest and saddest little thing. Fortunately, he was over it within about a two minutes and fell asleep on the way home. The doc said that he may be fussy or have a low-grade fever in a few hours so to give him some Children’s Tylenol and she outlined the proper dosage. She said only 8% of babies have any sort of reaction so this was just in case. Um, 8% my foot. About 5 hours after his shots, he woke up screaming and there wasn’t much we could do to get him to settle down. He was inconsolable, so after a few minutes, we popped open that Children’s Tylenol. Worked like a charm.

We’ve started taking him out a bit more, originally starting with trips to the doc and to visit my grandparents (sniff), and eventually graduated to trips to Target and the brand spankin’ new Super Walmart. We’ve also started taking evening walks around our neighborhood and passed another couple the other day out walking their one-month-old baby girl. Wish I knew where they lived so I could take them some cupcakes. (I have cake mix sitting in my cabinet just waiting for an excuse to make it.)

Speaking of food… I’ve been terrible about my diet. For the last few months of pregnancy, I ate pretty much whatever I wanted. I indulged way more than I would normally. And that bad habit has extended into post-partum. With all the stress of my grandpa, plus recovering from a c-section, I didn’t cook or really even set foot in a grocery store for WEEKS. We ate so much fast food and takeout, I don’t even want to think about it. Sure, I was down almost 25lbs from pregnancy, but I still have 15 more to go just to get to my pre-preg weight. But when you combine breast-feeding (i.e. increased appetite) with laziness and junk food in the house, well…let’s just say my weight-loss plan is still just a plan.

All in all though, and the sadness over losing my grandpa not withstanding, I’m starting to enjoy my maternity leave. I feel like we’re getting the hang of this parenting thing and I’m loving all the time we’re spending with our new little dude. Sometimes, I just can’t handle the cuteness and I just shower him with kisses and cuddles and baby talk. I feel like I’m going to say this a lot, but as much as we’re looking forward to him walking and talking, I find myself holding him on my chest, just trying to soak in the moment and memory of him being so tiny. Because he’s already bigger

than he was yesterday and tomorrow he’ll be bigger than he is today and OMG my baby is growing up so fast!! Thank goodness for digital cameras. I take photos every single day. Sometimes for Twitter, but most of the time to send to my mom to help brighten her day a little since she can’t be here to hang out with him everyday or even every week. It sucks not having family in town, but it is what it is for now.

 

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Saying Goodbye

I hope everyone had a better 4th than we did.

On July 2, my grandmother’s birthday, we buried my grandpa. At first, we (meaning my mom and our husbands) were concerned about burying him that day and how it would affect her, but when we asked her if this would be okay she simply said, “He never really did anything special for my birthday. Now he has.”

Well okay then. (Gotta love grandma’s spunk!)

My mom, cousin and I all worked on gathering pictures for the funeral services. I spent hours upon hours going through photos, printing the digital ones from my laptop, and putting together four photo boards. It was definitely therapeutic for all of us and gave us something to do with our hands to keep our minds from going crazy.

Grandpa meets Desmond. This is the last photo of my grandpa. 

The visitation on Sunday was lovely, other than the fact that my grandpa didn’t look anything like himself. We dressed him in the suit he wore to my wedding, which was apparently the last time he wore that suit because we found three copies of my wedding program in the jacket pocket. My mom and I handled the food, serving sandwiches, chips, drinks, cupcakes, and a big ‘ole cookie cake from Sam’s Club (which was delicious). We also put out a few varieties of chocolate (M&Ms, Reese’s mini cups, peppermint patties) because I hear chocolate is a natural mood booster. Personally, I would’ve rather handed out Zoloft but I’m told that’s not legal.

The flowers people sent were all gorgeous. My grandpa would’ve complained that they were a waste of money and would’ve rather had the money go to my grandma, but deep down I think he would’ve really liked them. My aunt on my father’s side sent a nice memory stone for either me or my mom to take with us. I let my mom have it since she mentioned building a memory garden for grandpa in her backyard.

Several of my friends came to the visitation, unexpectedly. I had made a general Facebook posting about the times so that extended family would have the details, but I didn’t expect so many of my friends to show up. It was definitely nice and appreciated. My entire husband’s family also came into town that day. Their visit had been planned for a couple of months already, so it was just unfortunate that the timing happened the way that it did. Or maybe it was fortunate since having them there was comforting to my husband. My FIL and MIL had met my grandpa a few times before, so they wanted to come to the services anyway, which was nice.

The visitation was from 4-8pm and I can’t believe how quickly the time flew. So many friends and family members came to pay their respects and I felt bad for not being able to visit more with each of them. I worried that not everyone would’ve been informed in time since the funeral notice didn’t run in the paper until that morning, but it seems my aunt did a pretty good job of calling everyone she could. There was one friend of my grandpa’s that I knew couldn’t make the services. He lives in Florida and is fighting his own horrible battle with cancer. “Wild Bill” is what my grandpa always called him and he used to manage the merchandise sales for the St. Louis Cardinals. When I was little, grandpa would take me down to the stadium and Wild Bill would let me pick out a souvenir. Last year for my grandpa’s surprise birthday party, I was able to get Bill to record a video sharing some memories of my grandpa. It’s truly my favorite video and if you have four minutes, it’s worth watching for a good laugh.

Anyway, I was worried no one had called Bill so I did. And I could barely get the words out before bawling so my mom had to take the phone and finish telling him. My aunt had already called him a day or two before so he knew, but said that when she told him, he couldn’t talk because he was so sick and depressed over it. He said he was used to being the guy that made everyone laugh, but my grandpa was one of the few people that could make him laugh.

Monday morning was the actual funeral and my husband warned me that the funeral part is always the hardest. I had made it through the visitation with only a couple of crying episodes, so I was hopeful I’d be able to hold it together for the funeral too. Well, let’s just say my husband was right.

My grandpa had requested three songs to be played at his funeral. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, Memory by Barbara Streisand, and Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Due to some time constraints with the cemetery, the minister asked that we just pick two songs, so we cut out Memory, since that was grandpa’s least favorite of the three. What a Wonderful World had been grandpa’s favorite song for years, so one year for his birthday I bought him the CD so he could listen to it on his computer whenever he wanted. We played that one first to start the service. Take Me Out to the Ballgame was one of the first songs I ever learned, and grandpa and I used to sing it on the way home whenever he’d pick me up from daycare. We played that one to close the service, and a few of us – those who could anyway – managed to sing it.

After the service, everyone filed out in front of the casket to say their last goodbyes. Two of my younger cousins (Krissy is 26 and Patrick is 17) and myself (the three of us were grandpa’s favorite grandchildren – and we all knew it) were the last, right behind my grandma, and we just stood there – the three of us with arms around each other – and just sobbed until the funeral director had to ask us to wrap it up, in a nice way of course. I don’t have any siblings so those two kids are as close to a brother and sister as I have, but the only thing we’ve ever really had in common is how much we loved our grandpa.

The burial service was sort of a blur. I remember pulling up and seeing a little baby deer laying the grass, just calmly watching us and looking out over the sea of headstones. My grandpa is buried at Jefferson Barracks, which is reserved for former military members and their families. I believe it’s the second largest, next to Arlington National in DC, and therefore very busy. The funeral director said they bury something like 30 people a day, so you’re given a 10 minute window to say goodbye under a little pavilion. Then it’s a few hours before they actually get around to burying him, so you’re asked to come back either later that night or the next day to visit the grave. And headstones take about 60-90 days to come in. Who knew.

It was so very hot that day and my poor husband was a pallbearer. St. Louis had been experiencing 100+ degree heat for days so I guess I’m glad our time slot was from 10:30 – 10:40 that morning. There was a gun salute and the whole flag folding ritual. There’s just something really special about a military burial. And I cried as I watched my entire family cry, and my grandma place a single red rose on my grandpa’s gray cloth casket.

And that was it. The moment Id’ dreaded my entire life finally happened and was over. And yet, the world keeps turning.

It’s been almost a week now since the services and I’m doing okay. I still cry every day, and I probably will for a long time, but I’m okay. I’ve never really suffered a loss like this before so I’m not sure what’s normal or what’s expected or what’s even healthy, but right now I’m just trying to keep myself busy, which is easy to do with an infant. I also find comfort in escapism – watching movies or mindless TV, reading blogs. And there’s also been some family drama that is too long to get into (basically my aunt isn’t coping well and is handling her grief by lashing out at anyone and everyone). So while annoying, that has distracted me a bit from the sadness. And of course I worry about my grandma. She’s always been very dependent on my grandpa for everything so it’s going to take a village to take over all the things he used to do to care for her. And I also worry about my mom, who was always a daddy’s girl, and now that she’s home in Kentucky without family or friends nearby, is on the verge of her own kind of depression. To put it simply, grandpa was the head of the family and without him, we’re not all quite sure what to do with ourselves. But I know that eventually, we’ll be okay. In fact, I’m going to visit my grandma right now and bring her some lunch. And last night I took a few pictures and video of Dez to send to my mom and cheer her up, which I think worked, because she sent me an email back at 2am (she couldn’t sleep) saying how much she liked them.

So that’s where I’m at.

And as if all that weren’t enough, we had a pretty crappy 4th. Originally, my husband’s entire family came from Ohio/KY/WV area to celebrate my FIL’s 60th birthday. So hubby’s aunt offered to host the party at her house, which was great because she has a pool for all the kids to swim in and with all that was going on with us, there’s no way I could’ve hosted it here. The annoying part was that she invited all of her inlaws over too, which would’ve been fine if we’d actually ever met them before. A birthday party for her brother where half the guests are strangers? Just…odd. So the party was scheduled to start at noon, but the hubs and his sister had planned to take their dad to get a new set of golf clubs for his birthday and the place didn’t open until noon. So we were already late for his own party. My MIL hadn’t been feeling well for the last two days (side note for those that don’t know – my MIL has MS and is in a wheelchair with a catheter so these long trips are really hard on her and she gets infections a lot) and with all the heat and running around, she was just exhausted. On top of that, she was battling a UTI and needed antibiotics. About two hours into the party, she ended up having a seizure. This isn’t the first time and she already takes seizure medication, but it’s not exactly common either and was a pretty scary sight. Needless to say, that cut the party short and my inlaws ended up leaving super early the next morning and took her to the hospital as soon as they got home. She’s fine now and should be released from the hospital today, but still, very scary.

That evening we had planned on watching fireworks somewhere with the whole family, but with my MIL’s health, we decided to just go up and visit with them at their hotel so she could rest. On the way there, my stomach started killing me so I had the hubs turn the car around and take me home where I promptly passed out at 9:30pm. I never saw one firework, and frankly, I’m okay with that. But see what I mean about a pretty shitty holiday? So yeah, I really hope yours was better.

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