Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nothing can ever be easy...

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Jacob's feeding has been a little crazy lately. During the day he actually hasn't been bad, but evenings have been awful (sometimes feeding only an hour apart, multiple times) and nights haven't been much better. Last night I fed him around 10:30, put him in bed before 11:30, and he was wide awake at 12:30. Back to sleep around 1, up again at 4:15, back to sleep around 5, awake again at 6. Not very conducive to good sleep, unfortunately. The craziest part is that when I sleep soundly during the long stretch, I'm that much more tired when I actually have to wake up. I could hardly keep my eyes open for the 4:15 feeding, so when he started crying again at 6, I was so incredibly frustrated.

To make matters worse, it has been seeming like he's not getting enough to eat despite feeding for up to 40 minutes sometimes. He's also been really fussy when feeding lately, doing this odd bouncing off the breast thing where his mouth is wide open but he just can't seem to latch on. If it goes on long enough he gets extra cranky. It was so bad this morning that I decided to get up and break in the new breast pump. Much to my surprise, I only got about an ounce out of each side, which was less than I was getting during my first week. Based on his growth I would think he's getting a heck of a lot more than a couple ounces at each feeding, so I'm not sure if the pump just wasn't at the right setting (finding the right suction level can be challenging...stronger isn't always better), the last feeding had drained me, or if my new method of birth control is having an effect. Yes, I am back on birth control because Jacob doesn't need a sibling quite yet. Not that there's a heck of a lot of opportunity for creating a sibling just yet, but I got the prescription at the doctor on Monday and figured I'd just get it going. It's a pill that only has one type of hormone, and it's generally what breastfeeding women use. It's possible that it can cause a reduction in milk supply, though according to the nurse at my doctor's office, it's supposed to just be temporary. Neither the nurse or the lactation consultant thought it should be a significant decrease, so I'm just plain stumped about the pumping this morning. That could explain why Jacob has seemed incredibly hungry all the time, though. He also may be going through his six-week growth spurt (6 weeks as of 2:40 am Friday...hard to believe), so that could be adding to it as well. Bad timing all around, if nothing else.

I'm a little frustrated because I wanted to pump enough milk today to take some with me on a couple outings tomorrow. I wanted to stop by my office and show him off, and maybe go to lunch with my Friday lunch buddies (two guys from the Amerks game production staff) if Jacob cooperated. I also wanted to take him to his first sporting event tomorrow night, the Rattlers game, and show him off to people there. However, I'm not sure I can pump enough to have bottles available for both trips. I suppose I could find places to nurse in both cases (there's generally enough empty seats at the Rattlers game that I could climb to the top row somewhere and cover up), but it's a scary prospect all around. We shall see. I'm going to try to pump again before Jacob wakes up for his (hopefully) last feeding of the night, and maybe things will be better now that I'm less stressed than I was this morning. Just when I thought I had this breastfeeding thing down...ugh.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The good side of parenthood...

Let me say it right off the bat...parenthood is exhausting. It can be frustrating at times, and I'm sure that's made that much worse by sleep deprivation. I won't lie...hearing Jacob screaming at 3am isn't my favorite part of the job. When he screams inconsolably from hunger despite having eaten an hour earlier (like our past few evenings), it can get incredibly frustrating. I'll admit I like when he falls asleep during the day because it means I can either fall asleep with him, or get some stuff done around the house. Dragging him out on errands is tough because the carrier is so heavy...like today, when a quick run to the doctor's to drop off paperwork and to the post office for a couple things took way longer than it would have pre-baby just because I had to pull him out of the car each time. Darn those people who leave their kids in the car for hours on 90 degree days and ruin it for the rest of us who would love to do it on cooler days for one minute (Does that make me a bad parent that I would even think of doing it?). The diaper blowouts and spit-up episodes can be trying, and there are days I half wish we could go back to the old days, where we could go out to dinner on a whim and not worry about what to do with a screaming baby in a restaurant.

But parenthood definitely has its better moments. Jacob is getting cuter by the day, and I can tell we're on the cusp of real smiles sometime soon. Once in a while he smiles when he's not falling asleep (the only time he'd really done it previously, other than passing gas), though it's not based on any stimulation so I think it's still just a reflex...but it's progress. And he seems to be getting this bright look on his face more often, like he realizes who he's seeing and is happy to be there. He's adorable when he falls asleep, and even his faces while he nurses are cute. He has his cuddly moments, which are great, and we're both looking forward to when he's willingly cuddly. Sometimes I just look down at him and marvel that we created him. Babies are truly miracles...that with minimal human intervention, babies start out as a single cell and generally come out perfectly formed. Amazing. And ours has the added bonus of being incredibly cute! It's funny...I go back and forth between seeing this tiny little baby and a big boy. There are times I look at him and he still looks so little...but then other times I can't believe how much bigger he is compared to when he was born. It makes me realize all the more how fast kids grow. Even over the course of a couple weeks things can change so much! It's been quite the adventure so far, and I know it's only going to get more interesting!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mommy's Afternoon Out

Yesterday I finally got to go out for a decent amount of time, for the first time since Jacob was born. I think I left around 3:30 or 4 and didn't come home until 6:30. Craig got to feed Jacob some of my frozen breastmilk (from the week he was still in the hospital) from a bottle for the first time. It went ok, though he got fussy near the end. He's been doing that breastfeeding lately, too, so I guess it wasn't surprising. But at least he ate out of the bottle...one less thing to worry about when he heads off to daycare two weeks from today (yikes!).

I went to the mall, primarily to make a couple exchanges, shop a little for myself, and do some scouting for future purchases. It was nice to be out without having to worry about Jacob screaming or having to tote his carrier around. That thing is heavy. I felt a little bad that I didn't miss him more, though most of my shopping somehow involved him--either because it was for him or because of him (in the case of the new clothes for me, having to fit my post-baby body). I decided that it was okay that I didn't miss him too much, because we've pretty much spent the last five weeks attached at the hip and I was overdue on "me time".

Shopping for new clothes was a little odd. I will say that with clothes I look pretty good right now, all things considered. I still have a little belly that's tough to hide, though my chest tends to balance that out. Of course, the chest also tends to make me look a little bigger overall, but there isn't much I can do about that. The belly, however, I really need to get rid of. What few clothes I have that do work with my chest tend to show my belly a little too much. I'm not saying I need to look like I did before I got pregnant, but the jelly belly just hangs there and I don't like looking at it. It's too reminiscent of those gross, wrinkly, hanging skin pouches some women get...it's not like that, but the way it just hangs there reminds me of it. I'm definitely looking forward to getting back in the gym with a goal. I may just get one or two opportunities a week to work out, but I want to make them count. Anyway, the shopping wasn't awful but I'm definitely dressing a different body right now. I was a little baffled by empire-waisted shirts...too maternity-ish, or a style I should just embrace now that I've spent months getting used to it? There are way too many tops out there that are supposed to camouflage a bigger belly that just made me look bigger. Half the shopping trip was like an episode of "What Not to Wear", because I kept looking at stuff that I might have worn before and thought of Stacy and Clinton standing there saying, "You're a mom now. You don't have to look old but you shouldn't look like you're trying to be a teenager." I still need a new bathing suit (my bikini days are over, at least until I figure out if I can get rid of the belly and until my linea nigra (the skin pigmented line a lot of pregnant women get) fades away), and that was a bit of an adventure, hoping my boobs didn't leak while I was trying a suit on. In the end, I did get a couple things, but I'm hoping that my return to the gym will do me some good! Maybe I'll even lose weight out of my chest...isn't that where most women lose it first?

Today I'm hoping to start laundering all of my maternity clothes and start putting them away. I also need to figure out that pesky breast pump that I bought on Saturday. It's my key to freedom! We'll see if Jacob cooperates :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Visitors and more...

It's another busy few days for all of us this weekend and heading into the new week. Today Craig was working, but Jacob and I had visitors! My former co-worker (at two places) Erin and her husband Mike came over to see Jacob. Erin worked with me at the Amerks for part of a season before I left for my current job. At the time she was looking for a change as well, and I referred her to the same employment agency I used. A couple weeks after I started my new job, she joined me at the same company. She just left a month or two ago for a new and better opportunity, and it was fun to see her! Jacob was a hit as always :)

We're hoping Jacob will get a chance to meet our friend Dave this weekend while he's in town from North Carolina. He worked for the Amerks as well and left a year ago to work for a soccer team in Cary, NC. We miss him a lot but are happy we got a new start away from the teams here. On Monday we may get a visit from my friend Heather, who I've known since I was five. She just had surgery a couple weeks ago so she's been advised against driving here herself, but she may have the opportunity to hitch a ride with a friend of hers and stay here for a few hours in the evening. It would be fun to have her here.

Tonight Jacob and I took a quick trip to Babies 'R' Us to pick up a breast pump (thank goodness for a big gift card we got from Craig's co-workers!). Tomorrow Craig has off and we may give Jacob his first bottle (from us, anyway...he had a couple in the hospital). We're two weeks away from the world of daycare (I decided to take an extra week of vacation at the end of my maternity leave), and they suggest starting breastfed babies on bottlefeeding a couple weeks ahead of time to make sure they figure it out before they're stuck somewhere all day without mom's milk factory. I'm going to head off to the mall to shop for a while, which I've been dying to do for weeks. The experts actually suggest that mom be out of the house and have someone else offer the first bottle. Babies can smell mom, and if the boobs are in the vicinity, they're less likely to be satisfied taking a bottle. I'm a little nervous about leaving Craig alone to deal with a potentially frustrated, hungry little boy, but hopefully he'll take to it ok. He's been taking a pacifier a little bit in the last couple days, so a bottle shouldn't be much different. For the record, I'm not a fan of pacifiers, but when he's inconsolable and/or I'm trying to put off a feeding for a bit, the pacifier can work wonders. Half the time he falls asleep after a couple minutes of sucking. Not planning on making it a big habit, but when it comes in handy I'm not afraid of it. And honestly, there are few things cuter at this point than when he uses his clumsy little hand to keep it in his mouth! I'm not looking forward to getting back to pumping, but being able to do bottlefeeding will hopefully make us a little more mobile! We'll see how that goes!

Monday morning it's time for a doctor's appointment for mommy, for a change! It's time for my six-week checkup to make sure that all has healed well. I'm hoping to officially get clearance to start working out and get rid of this belly I have left. I'm hoping that I might lose a little weight out of my chest as well, so my shirts fit just a little better. I'll keep my fingers crossed! As of last weekend I was only up five pounds, by the way!

Anyway, I'll leave you with one of the cuter pictures I've captured of Jacob, taken this afternoon.

Have a nice weekend!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Nursery improvements

For those of you who survived yesterday's post, you're rewarded with some pictures today :)



He's been a little cranky while awake (hence why I'm typing this post with one hand--looks like I need to go back to no cereal in the morning (because of the milk)...he's gotten progressively worse this week since I started eating it again), so the sleeping pictures are the cutest I have right now. I love the second one where his tongue is just sticking out :)

In other news, the nursery has had some improvements! I finally got around to doing the "crib bumper as wall decor" project I had been wanting to do since before he was born. It's a little odd, but it serves a few purposes: 1) Not wasting a perfectly good crib bumper (no bumper or breathable ones are recommended these days due to SIDS); 2) More themed decor for a pretty bare nursery; 3) It prevents the chair in the picture below from hitting the wall. It covers a good portion of two walls. It's basically like a 3-D border.


Now for a cool story...In my room at my parents' house, there used to be this big yellow shelf. It was probably about 6-1/2 feet tall, with a big cabinet in the bottom and three shelves up top. It held a ton of stuff over the years, from all of my toys (big enough for a laundry basket in the bottom, which was great for small stuff--the old school version of today's bin obsession) to my many books as I got older. When Jacob was born they got a crib for free and wanted to put it up in my room so he had a place to sleep when we visited. However, it meant the shelf had to go. I really wanted it for Jacob's room here because it was so great for storage, but when we checked the measurements, it was really just a little too big. It could have worked, but might have been a little overwhelming for the room. Darn. Well, the other day our neighbor across the street came over to ask if I could bring Jacob down to the sidewalk to show her mom, and as we were walking down the driveway she was telling me about a toy box that she had in her basement that was free for the taking. I went over to see it and pretty much instantly knew it was exactly what we needed! Good storage capabilities on a scale more appropriate for the room. It serves a great purpose right now, holding Jacob's books and some of his stuffed animals, as well as a CD player for some of the calming music we have (but haven't used yet). When he's older it will be great for larger toy storage in the bottom, and the shelves will be at the right height for him to pick out a bedtime story or grab his favorite animal. Not bad for free, eh? Just shows God provides, even for something as little as this...I couldn't use the one from my parents, but we got something just as useful, and still for free! Our neighbors are really great. Anyway, I thought it was a cool little story. Better than yesterday's, right? ;-)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My Retrospective on Labor

Since I never really got into specifics about my labor experience, and because I'd like to document it for posterity, I figure I'll just get it out there today. I'll try to keep the icky stuff to a minimum, but inevitably there will be some, so I apologize in advance. Defintiely a TMI (too much information) post :)

So...it was the evening of June 18th, just after 11pm. Craig and I had just finished watching "She's Got the Look", one of our guilty pleasure reality shows of the summer. I made a trip to the bathroom, partly because I had to pee and partly because I felt a little "damp" down below. Pregnancy tends to bring on a discharge now and then...basically the body getting itself nice and lubricated for delivery. Anyway, this one seemed a little more than usual, but I didn't think much of it. After I peed, I stood up and felt more liquid exiting my body. Again, not to be gross, but pregnancy also screws with your bladder. The baby rests on it the further it drops, and it can make things interesting. For about the last week of pregnancy, I had to pee a lot and just changing position on the toilet might shift things internally and allow me to pee just a little more. Originally I thought that was what was happening, but when I had exited the bathroom, went to get into my pajamas and had it happen again, I knew something might be up. The fluid was clear and had a little more substance than urine might, so when little trickles kept happening, I finally told Craig that my water might be breaking. Hello, panic. Craig wanted me to call the doctor, and when the on-call doctor called me back, she suggested that I hang on until the morning to see if contractions started. If they didn't, I should come into the office in the morning to get checked out. At that point it was about midnight and I had begun packing my hospital bag. Nothing like the last minute!

It was a pretty sleepless night, since I would leak a bit every time I moved. I had plenty of waterproofing going on on the bed, but it still made me nervous. Labor didn't start, so the next morning I called the doctor's office and we went in for a check. They confirmed it was amniotic fluid leaking out and that I was now four centimeters dilated. They sent me for a non-stress test, which basically means that I had to sit in a chair and have my belly monitored for a while, to see if I was contracting and to make sure the baby was okay. I was having contractions that I couldn't feel, but they weren't regular yet. Fortunately, everything looked fine. The doctor suggested we keep ourselves busy for a while and wait for a call to find out when we should go to the hospital. So, since we had one car for the two of us, I dropped Craig off at work and went into work myself. If nothing else I figured it would be nice to get my desk cleaned off and get my out-of-office messages up and running. Just as I was starting to do a project, I got the call that we should go into the hospital right away. Yikes!!

I called Craig, wrapped up things at work, and left. We drove to the hospital, had to wait a bit to get checked in, and finally got settled in our room in the early afternoon. By then my fluid was leaking pretty steadily so I changed into the lovely hospital-issued undies (disposable cotton mesh) and maxi-pads (HUGE--though after a while even those couldn't contain the fluid leakage). They started me on pitocin to get my labor going. I still wasn't feeling anything, but by around dinner time (when I posted my last blog before the baby), I was starting to get really uncomfortable. The contractions felt like bad menstrual cramps, and mine were mostly in my back. Eventually they were using hot packs to try to give me some relief. My parents stopped in later that evening, as everything was starting to get unbearable. They left pretty quickly and headed out to my cousin Lori's (just five minutes away) to sleep for the night. Shortly thereafter I got the epidural. Next time I will know to get it sooner because it was really hard to relax my muscles as they were giving it to me. I was having camelback contractions, which means that they were strong, then they'd back off a bit, and then get strong again before ending. It didn't leave a lot of time between contractions to recover, and it was hard to know when one was really ending, which made it difficult to give me the epidural.

The epidural didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would, and I felt relief almost immediately. It was unreal to go from horrible pain to complete comfort in about five minutes. The feeling was pretty surreal, though. I was still aware that my legs were there, but I couldn't feel anything that was being done from about the waist down. It was so odd. It gave me a bit of a loopy feeling, though, and from that point on I pretty much didn't care what happened to the lower half of my body. Need to check me? Ok. Put in a catheter? No problem. Honestly, at that point you just don't want to know! I felt pretty good for a decent amount of time (past that point I think I lost all concept of time), and eventually I started feeling a lot of pressure. It started to bother me almost as much as the contraction pain did before the epidural. By the time it was getting unbearable again, they checked me and I was fully dilated. Time to push!

The first hour of pushing wasn't bad. We had a good nurse who cheered me on, and once Craig got through his initial freakout (totally unnecessary since I wasn't in pain at all), that hour wasn't bad. Lots of talking and joking in between contractions, and as a whole it just felt good to do something about the discomfort. All seemed to be going well, but then it just seemed like I was doing a lot of pushing without making much progress. The pressure was getting worse, and by the third hour of pushing they started talking about doing something to my epidural (sort of a refresher, I think...up the dose for a bit), just to give me a break and regain my energy to push more. However, that didn't seem to do much, and eventually they decided to use the vacuum to get Jacob's head past my pelvis, which was what was holding things up all along. That last bit of pushing was pretty awful. It was one of those dig-down-deep moments in life, finding the energy for those last couple pushes. I hoped to feel relief the second he came out. Not so much. It was great to know he was out, but I was in some pretty nifty discomfort, which I later found out was from a hemorrhoid. Yippee. That turned out to be the worst part of the recovery, too.

Craig was the one that broke the news that it was a boy, and by the way, for those of you who remember my posts about his reservations about labor, he saw way more than he wanted to. For all his best intentions of avoiding seeing things and not wanting to cut the cord, he ended up doing and seeing it all (and he's still eager for the six-week healing window to be over! Whew!). He was most surprised at how much coaching he really had to do (the nurse would leave and he'd have to count me through contractions).

Once Jacob was out and they were checking him over, Craig was busy fiddling with the camera and filling me in on things. I was in agony, which I initially thought had to do with them stitching me up but was actually the hemorrhoid. I feel bad because I never had that happy relief moment that you see almost every mom have on the baby shows...the discomfort was that bad. Still, holding him for the first time was pretty cool, even if he was screaming his head off. Eventually they transferred us to our room for the next couple days, and I eagerly scarfed down a meal at about 4am. That was the best turkey sandwich and cookies ever!

The whole experience was pretty surreal. The next day or two was just weird...not a lot of sleep, Jacob going to the special care nursery, dealing with the discomfort, being happy it was all over...just a boatload of emotions. A good few years or so will dull the memory of the pain and help me get up the guts to do it again. Obviously the end result is worth it. Hard to believe he'll be five weeks tomorrow!

Ok, sorry for the icky post, but I hope it was informative for anyone who was wondering...back to happier stuff tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Baby's First Hickey

So, yeah...Jacob has his first hickey :) Yesterday afternoon I looked down at his arm and there was a mark on it. It was sort of purple. I thought maybe it was just an indentation in his skin from how I had been holding him, but the more I looked at it it just didn't look that way. Then I started thinking that maybe it was a bruise. He wiggles around a lot these days so I thought maybe his delicate skin just bruised from him being held too tight when he tried to wiggle out of my grasp. I felt bad, obviously, but he didn't seem phased by it when I pressed on it a little. But then I started thinking...hmmm...if it was a bruise from holding him, it should be higher up on his arm, around the bicep...not on his forearm. And then last night it hit me...it was from him sucking on his arm! Yesterday before we went to the doctor, Jacob was hungry. He'd already been fed but he's been eating a lot lately (hence the weight jump, I suppose), and I was planning on feeding him right before we left anyway. I just wanted to get myself ready ASAP so Craig could get back to the air conditioning people (still no A/C, by the way...our furnace's fan apparently wasn't A/C friendly so they have to add a part...supposed to happen today...though right now we really don't need the A/C anyway) and I could just feed him and go. Well, Craig was doing everything he could to keep Jacob from screaming while I was finishing getting ready (he's inconsolable when hungry), and had him on his belly on the Boppy pillow. He was sucking on his arm, which he tries to do a lot, but rarely gets a good suck going. Apparently he got a pretty good grip on it this time, because he left a mouth-sized purple mark on it! I knew babies can give themselves sucking blisters (one of the babies in the special care nursery had one on his arm, and I saw on a baby show where a baby was born with blisters on both arms from sucking on them in utero), but I couldn't believe he'd managed to give himself a baby hickey!

Knock on wood, he's been pretty good (though very hungry) the last couple days. He's had a couple diaper blowouts recently, which probably means he's almost ready for the next size diaper...and based on his weight yesterday, I suppose he is. Of course I just bought a new pack of the small ones, so we might have to suffer through them for another few days. The other ones seem so huge (we have a huge box of them waiting in the wings!), but I guess he'll grow into them! Even though the changes I see in him are subtle, I can definitely tell he's changing fast. He's a lot chubbier than he was when he was born, even though he still looks pretty skinny. He's definitely more of a handful. I feel like I need to be taking more pictures of him because he'll never be this size again, you know? I just can't wait until he starts smiling so the pictures have a better chance of looking really cute. At this point he's got two looks--awake or sleeping--so the pictures are tough to make interesting, but I know I should be taking them nonetheless!

Speaking of which...he's getting fussy so it's time to go. Have a great day!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Busy Few Days

It was quite the weekend for Jacob. Craig was on the road for work so I took Jacob on his first roadtrip, down the thruway to Buffalo. We stayed with my parents on Friday and Saturday night. Jacob has his own crib there, in my old room. My cousin Lori came along with us. We had a good time hanging out with my parents...they just find him so fascinating! Friday night he got to meet his Great Grandma Ellman, and Saturday morning we went to the Canal Fest Craft Show with my mom, my aunt, and Lori. Jacob slept through the whole thing, thank goodness. We didn't have enough faith he'd stay asleep to stop and eat lunch there, but we got through all of the show before he started to fuss. After a stop at home, I packed him in the car and we headed out to Hamburg for his cousin Grant's first birthday party. He met his Nana and got to see his other set of grandparents, as well as his aunt, uncle and cousins. We had a nice time and Jacob was very well behaved, sleeping and being quietly alert when he was awake. On Sunday he survived his first church service. Luckily it was short. He slept through most of it, just piping up with a few of his grunts. They never lasted long. He started to cry once and I stepped out quickly, just in case, since we were right by the door, but he stopped pretty fast. He met two great uncles and a great aunt yesterday afternoon, and a friend of mine on the way out of town, before we finally came home. Here's our classic picture of the weekend, when he was sleeping in the boppy on my parents' couch...notice the almost-smile he's got on his face :)


This morning we went to the doctor. Everything looks good, and he is definitely a growing boy...he weighs 9 lbs., 10 oz.! Almost three pounds in a month! All of my questions came back as normal, so we're good for now.

We're also getting our central air today, so that will be nice to no longer worry about him getting overheated. Now if it could just stop raining...

Lunchtime for Jacob...and soon for his mother, as well :) Have a good day!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Looking back on pregnancy

Now that I'm nearly a month removed from it (yeah, a month...can you believe it? Jacob's four weeks old today, and a month on Sunday!), I've been thinking about the whole pregnancy thing a lot. My daily intake of baby-related reality TV has had a hand in that as well, I guess.

I know that I was lucky to have had a really great pregnancy. No complications, nearly eight months of working out, a cute little belly and a butt that stayed in check, and one less week of suffering in the crazy heat near the end. Jacob was never in the right position to kick me in the ribs, and I really wasn't that uncomfortable until the last month or so. I had minimal swelling and even got my wish of a nice, private water-breaking. I was truly blessed.

Do I miss pregnancy? Not especially, because I know it had its less fun moments, but there were parts of it that were cool. Watching your body change like that was really amazing and often entertaining, and although I'm not one for attention, it was interesting to see people's reaction to my big belly. Pregnancy doesn't last that long in the grand scheme of things, and all those pictures I have of me pregnant (though I don't have as many as I'd like, nor did I ever get one of my bare belly...darn.) are extra precious because I won't be like that again for a while...and next time it may not be as cute!

Although my summer maternity clothes were limited, I'm probably in worse shape now because so few of my old clothes fit. It's getting better because my belly continues to shrink, and I think my hips are finally shrinking a bit as well, but the nursing-enhanced chest still leaves most of my shirts too short to look nice. I don't miss having to go out and buy maternity clothes, but shopping for normal clothes really isn't an option at this point either because my body will continue to change.

I'm not sure if I miss work yet or not. I suppose I miss having intelligent adult conversation on a day to day basis, but I've been so busy at home that I haven't really had a chance to miss work. Despite being home all day every day, I feel productive if I get one or two things done that aren't directly related to Jacob. I can't believe I only have two more weeks left.

This may be bad to say, but I miss having a direct link to Jacob without having to be on call 24/7. It's obviously amazing to have him here, but it was nice to feel him move in my belly and not have to worry that it would be immediately followed by a cry and a half-hour feeding. It's not like we didn't sign up for this, but his needs are almost constant and that can get exhausting, particularly when you're already sleep-deprived or he's been extra fussy all day.

As much as I tried to savor pregnancy, I wish I would have done it even more. Losing that last week and a half probably prevented me from getting a few final pictures or preparing quite as much as I would have liked. It's a lot like when I said goodbye to my old car. While I knew the end was coming eventually and I was excited about it, the way it happened so suddenly (the accident that totaled my car compared to my fluid leaking a week and a half early) made the change happen much differently than I had anticipated. The final farewell was sad just because the mental preparation wasn't exactly how I had expected it to be. In the end, though, everything turned out for the better, in both cases.

It still amazes me to look back and think about carrying around that baby, how he fit in there and how awesome it is that babies form so perfectly with very little intervention from the outside world. Sometimes I still can't believe my pregnancy is over and Jacob's been around for almost a month. On the bright side, it's nice to sleep on my stomach again, wear some of my old clothes that I had been missing, eat and drink mostly what I want (still trying to cut down on the dairy...missing milk and cereal a LOT--but enjoying more things with artificial sweeteners and getting my fill of cold cuts!), and have my bladder back under my domain! And, once our house isn't so hot and we have a little more alone time on our hands, it will be nice to fit on the couch with Craig again! This whole thing has definitely been an adventure. Labor wasn't fun (I'm hoping to post more about that sometime soon, just to document it all for posterity, if nothing else), but based on my pregnancy, I'm able to look forward to doing it all again in a few years... :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Unintentional Avoidance

Back when I was in high school, I used to have to get up very early to get ready for school. I hated it. The sound of an alarm clock that sounds like the one I used still sends shivers up my spine. I remember having a couple issues that prevented me from getting up promptly. First, there were times that I would integrate the alarm into a dream. There's still one dream I remember where I was frantically running all over the place trying to figure out what that sound was...and sure enough, my alarm had been going off all along. Second, there were times that I would dream I had gotten up and started to get ready. I'd be feeling good, and then suddenly realize, oh crap...I'm still in bed and haven't actually gotten up, and now I'm extra late!

Well, now that I have to get up at all sorts of crazy hours with Jacob, I seem to have picked up those bad habits again! Quite frequently I've been thinking I've gotten up, only to finally wake up and realize I dreamt it...and poor Jacob has been crying that whole time. I haven't incorporated the cries into a dream much, but I did last night. On the bright side, that happened at about 4:45am, and that was Jacob's first and only time up! I think he ate around 10:30-11, fell asleep around 11:30, might have made some noises around 3:30 that woke me up, but he stayed asleep and didn't start screaming until 4:45...at which point I apparently only half heard him and briefly experienced the cries in a dream. I think I figured it out pretty quickly, though, was up for an hour, then went back to bed until Jacob woke up again around 8:45. I didn't sleep that whole time since Craig was up and about, but it was still nice.

And here I thought I'd be one of those parents that hears a pin drop and sits right up in bed.
To be fair, Jacob makes a LOT of noise all the time. He grunts a lot as he's waking up, so I generally wait a few minutes to see if it turns into an all-out cry or if he eventually drifts back off to sleep. So I guess I don't react to every noise because some of it is Jacob "crying wolf"...but not waking up the second I hear him is throwing me off a bit. I don't want to unintentially neglect his needs with these dreams!

In any event, it was nice to only get up once in the night...and it makes me wish he'd start sleeping through the night more often, and start doing it soon! It leaves me more refreshed and in a better mood for a potentially long, hot day at home. Monday's central air can't come soon enough :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Photo Shoot Rejects

Until I get a new picture of Jacob to post, here are a couple rejects from the many photo shoots I did to get his birth announcement photo...



I would have used the one below if he didn't look so much like Popeye. It showcases the infamous dimple and one of his little smiles that he gets when he's falling asleep. How cute is that?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

General Updates

Today was a good day for Jacob. We got up this morning and went to the day care to get him officially signed up. Everyone there thought he was adorable, and they laughed at how his squeaky little cry sounds like a laugh. Of course, then he got really upset and did his usual thing where he stops breathing momentarily, turns red, starts clicking, then lets out a loud scream. That freaked out the one woman when she noticed he wasn't breathing. It doesn't exactly sit well with me either, but he does it enough that I know he comes out of it ok. May be something I have to ask the doctor about, though. But they're excited to have him (and our money, no doubt).

We had a nice day where he alternated between naps and adorable wide awake time. He ate every 3-4 hours (nice change of pace from the past few days) and we got a great nap in this afternoon together, which was nice. It killed my plans to take a walk in the nice weather, but we'll probably have to have some outside time the next few days to escape our hot house. We're getting our central air a week late, based on this week's forecast :-P Tonight he was a little fussy, eating in short spurts before falling asleep and waking up a few minutes later crying. I don't know if it was gas or what. The gripe water definitely seemed to calm him down these last few days, to the point that he could sleep a bit during the day. The last couple days I've skipped my usual cereal for breakfast in favor of a less dairy-filled option, and I think that has helped as well. I'm still eating other forms of dairy, but I figured ditching the biggest dose of it (in its purest form, no less) might at least help. In fact, I didn't give him any gripe water today until he got fussy this evening. I may have to try soy milk to see if he reacts to that, because I will really start missing cereal if I can't eat it until I stop breastfeeding. Every day is different, so we'll see how tomorrow goes.

When we have a good day like today, it's so easy to just fall in love with the little guy. He can be so cute, and each day he seems to get a little more aware of his surroundings. Days where he's a little fussier, obviously he's still loved, but it's harder to really get all mushy about it. I end up more tired and cranky, and I get a little too caught up in wishing he'd just go to sleep to think about how awesome he is. However, even tonight when he was cranky, it was nice when I'd pick him up and he'd immediately stop crying. Makes you think you're doing something right.

I'll try to post some new pictures sometime soon. We've started tummy time on the boppy pillow, and sometimes he falls asleep (supervised) in the cutest positions like that. Hopefully I can catch it one of these days...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Reality TV...post-delivery

I posted on this blog a while back about how reality TV has impacted the childbirth process. Having seen shows like "A Baby Story" for years, I had at least a slight idea of what the process would be like...more than someone would have, say, 20 years ago. Since I've been home all day every day and TV generally stinks, I usually just leave the TV on TLC for their daily run of reality TV shows. A Baby Story, Bringing Home Baby, Jon & Kate Plus Eight, What Not to Wear, 10 Years Younger, each for an hour...then the first four shows each get another hour, with an hour of Take Home Chef somewhere in there (I don't watch that. The guy is really cute, but I'm just not a cooking show person.).

Since giving birth, I have a whole new appreciation for A Baby Story. People think I'm nuts that I watch it, but having been there, I now understand so much more what's going on, what the couples are going through, and the emotions involved in it all. C-sections are still a little out of my realm, but I did have a moment mid-labor where the thought crossed my mind...when Jacob's head was stuck somewhere in my pelvis around the end of hour #2, I wondered at what point they'd have to opt for a C-section, and how I'd feel about that. After all the pushing it would have been a bit of a disappointment, but by that point I think I was pretty desperate to get rid of the massive pressure I was feeling so I'm sure I would have been ok with it. Anyway, I just find the show that much more interesting now that I've been through it and can relate to much of what happens.

Bringing Home Baby chronicles the first 36 hours having a new baby at home. It's mostly new parents, but they do feature some couples that already have kids and need to get their kids readjusted to life with a sibling. It's a lot of the same stuff, from sleepless nights to feeding problems to figuring out how to change or bathe or dress a new baby. This morning a couple was freaking out about swaddling their baby because the SwaddleMe (great invention) was too close to the baby's mouth. I did the same thing, though have since figured out how to avoid that. Again, I can relate to a lot of what the couples go through. Some are more experienced than others, though, so sometimes I feel a little awkward when I'm still having issues with something that a couple conquered in the first 36 hours.

Both shows have a little segment at the end that fast-forwards about 6-8 weeks to see how things are coming along. That is where I find myself back where I was before I went through this process--uncharted territory. By that point, most couples seem well adjusted. Their babies are pudgy and smiling, and they're taking them somewhere, be it their first swim, first trip to the playground, or off to a picnic in the park. Having stuck very close to home this whole time, that is something to shoot for...a life where the baby doesn't have me chained to our living room couch. I know it won't always be like this, that he'll get his immunizations, his schedule will get more consistent, and I will be pumping breastmilk so I don't have to worry about nursing in public. We'll see if we can get that plan in motion a little more after next week's one-month checkup at the doctor. I have an appointment tomorrow at the day care center we picked, and I am freaking out about taking him there...if only because he's still not on a consistent schedule and I haven't really had much practice getting up and getting somewhere on time yet. We have the doctor's appointment next week and I have a dental appointment a couple days after that, so I will be forced to get things moving a bit by then. It will be a relief, but yikes!

Anyway, I'm probably rotting my brain by watching this stuff all day, but for whatever reason I can't take my eyes off it sometimes. Having been there gives me a whole new perspective, and it never hurts to keep it fresh for next time ;-)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tough Decision

So, Craig and I hit our first tough decision as parents yesterday. This week has been a hard one for me, with Craig back to work and Jacob showing more signs of being a bit colicky. It was horrible yesterday. I could hardly put him down without him screaming, and that was assuming that he wasn't already screaming when he was in my arms. While I don't mind holding him, it really didn't allow me to do much of anything. He was wanting to feed a lot (like every hour and a half sometimes), and he just seemed miserable in between. He wouldn't sleep for more than 15 min. or so, and even that didn't happen too often. And that was on top of a rough night, as well. He had been getting in good four to five hour sleeps at times overnight, but lately it had trickled down to two or three hours at a time. He'd be wide awake at the end of feedings and it would take forever to get him to go to sleep. On top of that he'd been really gassy, to the point that you could hear it running through his system. He was spitting up quite a bit and just seemed generally miserable. You feel so helpless when your little baby is screaming, red in the face. Quite often yesterday he'd do the thing that pains me the most, where he stops breathing, makes this little clicking sound, then breaks out with the most painful cry. He spent a lot of his time stretching and grunting, and when picking him up didn't seem to pacify him, it was time to call the doctor.

I'd heard about this stuff called gripe water. It's a natural remedy, used for ages around the world. Some early formulations used some stuff that isn't good for babies, but based on what I read on the internet and from what I've heard through the grapevine from people who have used it, most of the stuff that's out there now is safe and works like a charm. I called the pediatrician and talked to the nurse. She said that the doctors there don't recommend it, but she couldn't really give me specifics as to why. A lot of pediatricians DO recommend it, so I don't know if they're just worried about throwing down a blanket approval when some of the stuff out there isn't good. I felt completely dejected after that conversation, because the nurse really couldn't tell me anything I didn't know. She gave me all sorts of obvious suggestions for helping him, like rubbing his belly, burping him more, and bicycling his legs, which was stuff I was already doing, to no avail. She did suggest (like I'd read on the internet) that I could alter my diet, which generally means giving up dairy, since it's what most babies seem most sensitive to (it's the protein in cow's milk that bothers them). The thought of giving up dairy is extra daunting to me. Not to sound selfish, but do you know how many things have cow's milk in them? Milk, cheese, ice cream, chocolate, and numerous other things that I eat a lot of. And the worst part? It takes two weeks for all traces of dairy to leave your system, so we'd have to go through two more weeks of misery before we could even figure out if that's what was causing the problem. Yikes.

So with the few minutes I could steal yesterday in between crying fits, I hopped online and did every possible search to find negatives to gripe water. For example, when I was pregnant I did exhaustive research on the effects of artificial sweeteners on a fetus. I used to drink a lot of diet soda, and although there seemed to be no conclusive evidence that it was bad in moderate amounts, there were enough websites out there that convinced me I should at least cut down my intake. I wanted to search for sites like that for gripe water, ones with horror stories or warnings, and honestly, I couldn't find one. In this alarmist society I couldn't find one website saying bad things about gripe water. So, there was one brand that I found that looked good and was available at Wegmans, so last night I went and picked it up. We just couldn't take the screaming anymore. I decided to hold off on giving it to him until this morning so I could better monitor him for any adverse reactions (I think at this point it would have been some random allergy to one of the ingredients in it), so after one more rough night, I gave him his first dose this morning. So far, so good. He still has his fussy, gassy moments, but it seems to give him enough relief that he can nap for a decent amount of time, which he really hadn't done in a few days...other than when I took him for walks, which really tends to knock him out.

When we have a doctor's appointment in another week, I will definitely talk to her about it, but for now it just seems more important to give him enough relief that he's not constantly miserable. It was a tough call to defy the non-recommendation, but for our sanity and Jacob's, right now we have to give this a shot.

Have a nice weekend :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ups and Downs

Well, Jacob turns three weeks old tomorrow. Amazing how time flies and yet it feels like he's been here forever. It reminds me of my first week of college...that week took forever, but by the end of it we felt completely at home and things pretty much fast-forwarded from there. I know that looking back on all of this I'll wonder where the time went and wish he was a sweet little baby again.

Being a parent has definitely had its ups and downs. It's exhausting but it has its little rewards along the way. Lately it's been easy to get frustrated, because Jacob seems to be having some major issues with gas and he cries a lot. His sleeping patterns are even getting screwed up a bit, and his frequent bouts with hiccups are turning into major spit-up episodes. It's hard, because I'm simultaneously frustrated and annoyed by the crying and fussiness, while completely pitying him because I know he's uncomfortable and there's nothing he can do about it. You can't reason with babies to get them to calm down or go to sleep, and that becomes extra difficult when you're so tired you can hardly function as a parent. Last night he was up for at least a couple hours. I tried feeding him twice, rocking him, swaddling him, and nothing was working. Eventually I pretty much gave up and Craig sat up with him for a while. I felt bad about that because Craig has a long day ahead of him--a big meeting at work and a trip to Batavia to play in a golf tournament with his brother and dad--on top of an extra long day yesterday (Why he decided to put together a series of wing-eating player appearances this summer, I have no idea...other than that he's very dedicated to his job and wanted to do something different). We'll have to split the duties more when I go back to work in a few weeks, but for now I have been handling the overnights pretty much solo...until I can't take it anymore, like last night.

Still, the little smiles here and there--even if they are gas or weird reflexes when he's falling asleep--melt your heart. When he's wide awake and content, he's fun to play with, even if he's not really interactive yet. When he cuddles up to you or quiets the moment you pick him up, it's nice to know he feels secure with you. I always laugh because he gets this funny little happy face right before a feeding, like he knows exactly what he's doing. Even some of his monumental man-farts and man-burps have been a source of humor in the midst of the exhaustion, even if their results aren't always pleasant.

Going into all this I knew we'd never really be ready for parenthood until it happened, and I've definitely found that to be true...though sometimes I'm still not convinced we're ready for it all even though he's already here. That's a scary thought, but I know all new parents go through some of that at some point. Maybe us more than others (or maybe not), but there are times when I'm impressed that I didn't freak out when something happened, or the freakout was minimal, which makes me think that some maternal instinct has filtered in somewhere along the way. I know we both still have a long way to go, but we're learning.

Jacob's awake and screaming, so it's time for me to go...happy Thursday!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Home Alone

Today marks the first day since last Wednesday that Jacob and I are home alone. Craig is back to work and I can't believe I only have four more weeks off. Jacob's been very gracious today, eating and sleeping really well. The heat might be knocking him out more than anything, but as long as it's not adversely affecting him, I appreciate it because it's an opportunity to get a couple things done around the house. I know, I should be sleeping, but right now I actually feel ok. The prospect of progress must provide a shot of adrenaline.

We had a good weekend with visits from lots of family. It was nice to see my brother and his wife, who were in from Portland, OR, and Craig and I took Jacob on a couple walks to enjoy the weather and keep him out of our hot house. We're going to be getting central air ASAP, so that will take a load off our minds on days like today (and nights like last night) when we're afraid Jacob is getting too hot.

His circumcision finished its healing process over the weekend, so we had another milestone. Diaper changes are so much easier now that we're not having to work around/worry about the umbilical cord and circumcision ring (it's this newfangled thing that keeps the maintenance to a minimum...it falls off on its own in a week or so)...now it's just avoiding any spray/projectile poop and making sure his little wee-wee is pointed down. Not too bad. Since both the circumcision and umbilical cord were healed, Jacob had his first real bath yesterday. Mommy and Daddy aren't too good at it yet, and Jacob hates it, but I'm sure we'll all get better with time.

That's about it from here for now...stay cool, everyone!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

First Milestone

Jacob hit his first milestone today...his umbilical cord fell off! He's got a very cute little belly button, though it's a half-innie, half outie. It doesn't have anything sticking out of the middle like most outies, but it's not cavernous like a normal innie, either. It looks like it still has a little healing to do, but I have no idea if the belly button continues to change after this point to become a more obvious innie or outie. In any event, it was a relief to see it come off, because it's much easier to diaper him (he's squirmy enough without having to worry about folding down the top of the diaper) and it makes his belly much cuter :)


Now if his circumcision would finish healing, that would be even better! The little plastic device that they put on it to heal it is hanging on by just a thread, so it's got to be getting a little uncomfortable...probably like when you lose your teeth and they're hanging on by a little string and everything you eat pulls on it. That should be happening any time now, as well.

Not much else to report. I'm still on a quest to get a great picture of him for his birth announcement. Seems like it's overdue, I guess, but we really want to get a good picture that captures his essence, you know? He's so cute, but not the most photogenic at this point. Hopefully soon, though. We've gotten close and he's getting cuter by the day!

Have a nice weekend :)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th!

Definitely an atypical 4th of July here today. It's still pretty early to cart Jacob around anywhere, so this 4th we're staying close to home. I did manage a trip to the grocery store and Craig did a little yard work, but normally we'd have probably done a LOT of yard work (the weather is beautiful and there's a ton of stuff I'd like to be doing out there) and found something fun to do today. Instead we'll finish off the day with a walk and a movie. No doubt the neighbors will give us a bit of a fireworks show, so maybe we can sit outside and enjoy that, too. It's a far cry from last 4th of July, when we went to my office downtown to watch the fireworks from the 16th floor. We were also eagerly awaiting news from my cousin and his wife on their impending arrival. They spent the 4th in labor. Now here we all are a year later...Anna turns one tomorrow and we have our own baby! Wow.

It should be a fun weekend with visits from both sides of the family. Craig's brother and his whole crew will be visiting tomorrow. My brother and his wife are arriving in Buffalo from Portland today and will be here with my parents on Sunday. It'll be a busy couple days, but a nice break from just sitting around the house watching TV in between feedings and crying spells.

In other news, some of my old clothes are finally getting close to fitting (I know, it's only been two weeks...). I'm back to the stage I was in back in the late winter-early spring, where some bottoms need a ponytail holder to do up the button. I haven't braved actually doing that yet, but it's good to know it's an option. I'm in this in between stage right now where I've shrunk down nicely...but that means my maternity clothes are too big and my regular clothes are a little too small. I discovered that a lot of my old shirts aren't going to fit me for a while because (get this) my chest is too big. They all look too short because my nursing-enhanced chest takes up a bunch of material that it never did before. I don't know if it's cheaper to go out and buy new clothes or give up nursing at some point and start paying for formula! I know the benefits of nursing are huge, so it probably wouldn't be any time soon, but it's interesting to be on the back end of the maternity clothes issues!

That's about it for now...Jacob's starting to fuss...but what else is new? At least today he's slept a bit and has hopefully dispelled our colic fears a bit. Two days of complete crankiness had us worried, but today's been better. Keeping our fingers crossed.

Have a Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sleep

Sleep is an amazing thing. It's really surprising how getting some can dramatically alter your attitude and energy level. More amazingly, the amount of sleep we're talking about would barely render me functional before...although I suppose it doesn't take a high level of functioning to feed and change a baby and watch TLC all day. Not exactly brain surgery. But having sleep helps me do that stuff with a much better attitude than I would otherwise. Last night I fed Jacob between 11 and 12, and then went to bed. He was up again for an hour around 3, and then for another hour or so around 6:30, but then I got to sleep in until 9:30. I suppose that was merely equivalent to one good nap during the day, but for whatever reason it really helped.

I've decided that lack of sleep now manifests itself in different ways than before. I do tend to get extra tired around 9pm or 10pm, which makes evening TV watching a little hit or miss these days, but being tired seems to show up in more subtle ways. In some ways that's good, because I still manage to keep up my energy during the day, no matter how tired I am. However, it's also bad because it sneaks up on me and clobbers me before I even realize what's happening. That's how it was when I had my mental breakdown when Jacob was still in the hospital, and it seems that any frustrating moments I've had since then have also spawned from being overtired. Having a baby is stressful, but going through all of that tired can really make things extra difficult. It's a delicate balance, because no matter how tired you are there's still a baby to take care of, and when the baby's crying it's tough to get sleep. However, there's a point where you cease to be an effective parent, and hopefully you can find a way to get the recovery you need to bring yourself back to functionality. Craig is off for the weekend (other than one thing he has to do tomorrow evening), so it will be nice to have a little extra backup over the next few days. He can't do the middle of the night feedings, but he can get up and comfort Jacob when I've already been trying for an hour and am running on fumes. When he's working I feel a little bad asking him to do that, because I know how hard it would be to get up and be functional at work on such little sleep. Going back to work will definitely be a challenge, but luckily I still have another 4-1/2 weeks to figure all that out.

I hear some cries from the other room, so I'm off...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Few Pictures...

I finally have a few minutes to blog after a trying day with Jacob. He wouldn't really eat or sleep today. His meals lasted on average about 5 or 10 minutes before he fell asleep, got cranky, or lost interest, then he'd pretend to conk out for a bit only to wake up the second I tried to lay him down. He's also continued his problematic diaper changes, shooting whatever he can wherever he can. I tried to nap for a bit today but that didn't last long, and once he finally had a decent meal and a clean diaper at the same time, I decided to venture out for my first walk with him. It went pretty well, I guess, and he's been sleeping ever since. It's allowed me to get some household chores done that had been sitting and waiting for a while. Not quite as fun as sleep, but I feel better regardless. Probably will have to wake him up soon to eat, though...he's been stirring a bit so it probably won't be long anyway. Better having him awake now than in the middle of the night, I suppose.

Now that it's pretty much done (for now--I'm sure the holes will fill in on their own as time goes on), I wanted to share a couple pictures of the nursery. Not much to it, but it's pleasant. The Baby Snoopy stuff still makes me smile.


And here's a cute picture showing Jacob's more angelic side :) No matter how hard we try to swaddle those hands in, he still manages to get them out!