Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Second guessing

I feel like one of the most challenging aspects of motherhood so far is how much I second guess myself. It is both a blessing and a curse that I like to research and plan, but I often think myself in circles.

Take the weight issue. J had an appointment at 7 weeks on Friday, and was only 1.5 ounces short of my "goal weight" for him - he was 9 pounds 4.5 ounces. At first I was still happy, but then the doctor says he is only in the seventh percentile! The doctor (and myself) thinks he looks healthy, he has a lot of wet diapers, is satisfied after he eats, sleeps a long stretch at night, etc.... I don't think I should worry. But I do.

I read too much. I wonder if I should supplement with formula. Or pump all the time. But deep down I don't see the need. I wake him up to feed after a 6 hour stretch, but then I wonder if I'm creating a bad habit to wake up in the night if he doesn't need it. But if I don't wake him how can I get 8 feedings in per day and let him still have naps between feedings? And what if he sleeps too long so it hurts my milk supply? Blah, blah, blah....

Parenthood sure is humbling! So many areas to trust the Lord about. And so many days that I need to avoid the Internet!

I will end this random post with cute pictures, at least!

Monday, July 23, 2012

What is normal?

As time passes we are learning more about our little guy, what he needs, and how to soothe him. We jokingly refer to him as "zero to hero" because he transitions from happy to screaming with no warning. White noise really helps him go to sleep, and a good swaddle helps him stay asleep - really, he needs all the 5 "S's" at once. But we've always thought of him as relatively easy because he's always crying because he's hungry or tired , and I don't think there was ever a time he wasn't calmed by one of those two things. In my mind it would be a lot harder if he were crying and I couldn't figure out why or how to console.

But then the evil of comparisons crept in (and I am guessing will be a temptation for the next 18+ years). I went to a local mom's group and saw a lot of other babies around J's age. I couldn't help but notice how loud his cries are compared to others. And that I was the only one standing outside with a screaming (tired) baby bouncing him to sleep in my baby k'tan carrier. And that when other babies were tired they fussed a little but fell asleep with a little jostling in their mothers arms.

So is crying and fighting sleep NOT normal? I think it's funny that if I never went to a mom's group I would have just assumed it's normal. I know it doesn't even matter, and as I told my husband about it we both agreed we love J's personality, even if we have to work hard to get him to go to sleep. :)

But some days, when I'm tired or it's particularly hard, I worry about it a little. Today is one of those days. And to add insult to injury, my mom told me my grandma is very concerned that J has colic - keeps asking about it - and is going to call me tonight to tell me to take him to the pediatrician ASAP because they "have medicine for that". And "babies don't cry like that unless they are in pain." Oh, and this is based on her seeing him ONCE on the 4th of July. *sigh* Pray for patience for me when she calls!

Obviously if he has colic he has colic - it's not like it means something negative about him. But I keep reading definitions and articles about it and I just don't see it. I see a boy with a loud, passionate cry who needs help getting to sleep for his naps between feedings.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

First smile!

This week I feel like our boy is growing by leaps and bounds. He is more wide eyed, full of expression, long and lean, and when I look at he just looks older. It makes me proud and sad at the se time.

Last night I was bouncing him to sleep after his middle of the night feeding (rocking to sleep sounds more romantic, but this boy requires bouncing :), and he stared up at me for the first few minutes. I felt like his eyes were full of trust, and I loved that moment at 3:00am. Soon enough we won't have that and he won't be bounced to sleep anymore!

Highlights of late:
*first smile at 5 weeks 3 days!! Such a joyful moment as a mom - its like getting some affirmation after lots of hard work :) Over the next few days his smiles have been increasing, and dad got a smile two days later. He even smiled at a toy yesterday!!

*sleep! Glorious sleep! Over the last week he slept a 5 hour stretch 5 nights, a 4 hour stretch 1 night, and a 3 hour 1 night. The night with the three hour I was up with him for quite awhile with two feelings, but the other nights I started my day quite rested!! I don't feel like the crazy zombie I did a few weeks ago. :) I am holding it loosely knowing that things change day to say - and he might not sleep that well tonight - but it is glorious on the days he does!

*my husband has been giving J a bottle of expressed milk before bed and I think it's been a special time for both of them.

*making it to 6 weeks! One of the baby sleep books I'm reading (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child), says the peak of fussiness/ crying is generally at 6 weeks. James hasn't been particularly difficult, but he does have his freak outs so it's encouraging to know it might be down hill from here. I actually thought he was mellower this week already at 5 weeks.


*my only major low is pumping. I keep hoping it's a skill that I am still learning, but I have not been able to pump as much as I had hoped. J is eating 4 ounces, and I'm lucky if I can get that in 2 pumping sessions, but sometimes it's 3. And that's a lot of work for one bottle! I got a double electric pump that does help me get more than I was with the manual - and I don't hate the process as much - but still. I pump at night while J is eating the bottle (the skipped feeding) and on a good night I get 2 ounces. I then pump another time in the morning. I've tried massaging my br.easts before and during pumping, a hot shower right before, changing the settings, pumping on one side while he's on the other (this was pretty good but SO hard for me to juggle), etc. Its been a week and I am getting more than when I started, but not much.

I do think my supply is adequate for him, since he has a lot if wet diapers, is satisfied, and gaining weight, but I don't have any extra milk. But when I do - even when I am very full - I can't seem to get it out! It is very frustrating and makes me stressed when I know the br.east is full but can't empty it.

Anyway, I tried to capture one of his first smiles - it's a little blurry but still precious! See below :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

{one month}

James, in just one month, you grew so much! Here you are as a brand new baby at the hospital:

And at home:

By the numbers: 1 month old. Weight: 8 lbs. 12 ozs. Length: 20.75" at your 2 week appointment. 8-9 feedings per day. 2-3 night wakings. Size newborn diapers (although we are almost out of those and are about to move you up!). size newborn or 0-3 month clothes (we don't have many newborn clothes so most things are a little big on you).

What a joy it has been to get to know your sweet little personality this month! Your dad took almost your whole first month off of work and we tried to cherish every moment we had with you as we learned to be parents. There has definitely been a learning curve, and I am just now starting to feel like I know your patterns and cries. You love to eat, and do so for quite a long time (usually 45 minutes per nursing session). At first you were not gaining weight, so feeding you was a little stressful and structured because I wanted to make sure you were growing and healthy. At two weeks you still weighed what you did leaving the hospital, but you gained 6 ounces in your third week and 12 ounces in the next 10 days! Now I can feed you when you're hungry and it is much more enjoyable for both of us.

Once you are asleep you are quite a good little sleeper, but your dad and I always have to help you get there - you almost never just fall asleep, even driving in the car! We learned that you love to be swaddled, bounced on an exercise ball, and hear white noise to fall asleep. Actually, the place you love to sleep the very most is on our chests, but understandably we can't do that for every nap. But we will miss that when you are older and want to move around (and mom and dad have to teach you to sleep independently of us). Another place you love to sleep is in my wrap carrier. This is what I wear you in during church, and you have slept through most church services peacefully in there. It reminds me of when you were in my belly and I would sing worship songs at church and think about you hearing that - and now you are hearing it from the outside! Thanks to the carrier we have also gone out to dinner a few times, since initially we tried leaving you asleep in your carseat but you always woke up.

You have quite a hearty cry! I didn't realize this until I was in a room full of other moms and babies around the same age, and I noticed how quiet their cries were. A few moms even commented on how loud you were. You always fuss before falling asleep, and you wake up crying to eat, but generally you don't seem to cry much otherwise. It is amazing to be your mom and learn why you are crying, and you are easy to pacify with sleep or food.

You are a beautiful boy! Your dad and I can just look at you for hours on end. It was so fun having your dad home with me this month because every time you made a cute face we could call each other over to come admire you. We always tell you that you are the cutest baby in the whole world! Of course we are a little biased. :) You have changed so much in your first month already! You actually look bigger as a newborn than you do now because your face was much rounder and you looked chubbier, but now you have thinned out and your face has more definition.

You love to stare at us, and we love to stare back! By the end of the month I think you have even been following our faces with your eyes if we move. You are a very alert baby and always want to take in the world around you, which is why I think you fuss when you need to go to sleep - you would rather be awake looking around. You like to look at dangling toys, and in this last week have even batted at the toys. You have also started to grasp - my hair, the edge of my shirt, even a toy - although you can't hold onto anything yet. You have also gotten better at keeping the pacifier in your mouth. Your legs are strong, and you are holding up your head for a bit when I burp you on my shoulder.

I look forward to seeing how you continue to grow and develop next month!

{4 weeks}

* I only cried ONCE this week!! And it was the sentimental kind if crying as my husband and I reflected on these last 4 weeks. He has been home with me the whole time but is back at work this week. I know I am SO blessed to have had this! He had started saving up PTO when we were adopting because we didn't know when we would bring home a baby... and we just haven't taken a vacation in awhile. Anyway, I know we will always cherish this time together as a family if 3 and I got emotional - much different than the melt downs of previous weeks.

* As I mentioned in my previous post, we successfully celebrated James' first holiday and overnight away from home for 4th of July celebrations with family.

* This week he starting grabbing onto things a little - the edge of my shirt, the edge of the changing pad, etc. he can't grasp a toy or anything, but this was certainly a small milestone.

* I think he is a strong boy! I've always thought so but didn't know if it was true because I had nothing to compare it to, but when he kicks or stretches out his limbs it just feels like he is pushing hard. Today a friend with 3 kids commented in it and I felt like it was confirmation.

* We had our first diaper blow out at grandma's :)

* We have discovered an amazing combination of things to put James to sleep: swaddle, bouncing on an exercise ball, and white noise (I use an app on my phone). Often this will put him asleep really fast, but even if he is worked up and wide awake this usually works. The only problems are: 1. I am not very good at the swaddle, which could be difficult when my husband goes back to work and 2. He seemed harder to put down - we would get him to sleep but he would wake when we set him down or a few minutes afterwards.

PS - A few readers have asked questions that I'll answer here.

1. The swaddle blankets seen in a lot of pictures are the Aden + Anais in "Liam the Brave." They are muslin, lightweight, and large which has been perfect for our summer baby. They are stretchy and he busts out of them as a swaddle, but we have found them to be nice for daytime swaddles when we don't need him to sleep as long. And they are perfect blankets to drape over him in the car seat, block the sun from his eyes, etc.

2. Somebody asked if I took a birth class for pain management (ie Bradley) and I did not - my pain management plan was the epidural. :) Sorry I'm no help there!

3. I have loved posting pictures of James for you all! It's ironic because most people go more private after their baby arrives, but for now posting pictures of our little guy still allows us anonymity. My husband does not want to be identified through the blog (ie his co-worker stumbles across it), so I don't name him or post his picture. Likewise, I don't post my picture because most people who know him know me. However, for now, I don't think people would figure out who he is from the baby pictures. I am considering starting a private blog so I can post pictures even more freely, but we'll see (and I'll let you know if I do!).

Pumping questions

One thing I love about the Internet/ blogging is the large variety of advice and support you get. So I come to you know seeking info on pumping!

I currently have a manual pump - I didn't want to get an expensive one before having J because what if breast feeding didn't work out for some reason, he never took a bottle, etc. Also, I am only going to work 10 hours per week and I can bring my boy with me, so I wasn't sure if I would even need a pump.

I used the pump initially when I was engorged. Recently I started using it to make a bottle. I love the idea of my husband getting to feed him sometimes, and I want to be able to leave him with somebody occasionally. I am SO thankful to have this opportunity to breast feed, but I admit I am looking forward to a break from it sometime.

My impression is that my supply is adequate but not abundant. The first time I pumped was the first night J slept 4 hours straight, and I woke up uncomfortable so I pumped before he even woke up and got 2 ounces pretty quickly and thought pumping would be a piece of cake. (Looking back I wonder if I took all his food?). Since then I read that it's best to pump after baby eats, so I have tried to do that but it took SO much effort to barely get just one more ounce across multiple feedings. It just seemed like I was pretty empty after he was done.

Last night my husband gave him that 3 ounce bottle and he took to it no problem (yay !). However, he was still hungry so I nursed him for another 25 minutes afterwards (he eats for 45 minutes normally) - so I was shocked that he might be a big eater. It then made me feel like I would never be able to pump enough for him.

I am thinking about getting an electric pump - would this help me actually get more milk? Should I pump after he eats? How long does it typically take to pump?

If he takes a bottle for a feeding, I read I need to pump around that time. How do you ever get to go out then?

If he sleeps longer at night, do I have to wake up to pump so I don't hurt my supply?

Everybody I know has the Medela Pump In Style and it gets really good reviews. The only thing that makes me nervous is that some people had mold growing in the tubing and inside because it is an "open system." Thoughts or experiences?

I have read good reviews about the Ameda Purely Yours and it is a "closed system" so it doesn't have the mold issue. However, this one you have to change the settings once you feel the let down, but I actually don't feel the initial let down - sometimes I feel later ones, and I feel it between feelings, but what if I can't tell when I am pumping? Thoughts or experiences?

And then as I think through it all I wonder if pumping is more hassle than its worth as a stay at home mom??

Also, not really pumping related, but will he ever eat faster? If so when did that happen for your baby?

Friday, July 6, 2012

4th of July baby

It was quite exciting to celebrate our first holiday with James! Before I had him I actually got a flag onesie from
Old Navy in anticipation of the big day.

We drove to LA (a 2 hour drive) to spend a night and part of the holiday with each of our families, so it was also our first car trip and overnight away.

The car trip was a bit of a fail. I had intended to leave around 11:00am, but after a night with less sleep than usual I laid down for a quick nap at 8:30am while my husband had the baby. I was shocked to wake up 2 hours later (no hungry or crying baby had woken me)- so much for leaving at 11! Then after a 45-minute feeding, eating a quick lunch, packing baby stuff,another long feeding, showering/ getting ready, packing myself, and doing one final feeding, we didn't leave until 2:45... And we knew we would end up going through LA traffic. Instead of 2 hours, it took us 4.5 with traffic and a 1 hour stop to nurse. Whew.

The next morning was the 4th of July. We had a successful night where James woke up to eat but went back to sleep easily between feelings. However, he was pretty cranky and extra hungry that morning, so of course as my family arrived he was either nursing or fussing. Everybody wanted to hold him but nobody really did. I got really stressed out wanting him to be "happy" for everyone, and when my grandma kept insisting he has colic I almost lost it. He really does not normally fuss much!!

We made it out of there and I felt like it was such a failure! Ironically, we went to my in laws afterwards for a party, and wouldn't you know he was an angel baby there! Everybody kept commenting in it. Ha!

Here is our boy on his first holiday:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

{3 weeks}

* I thought James was starting his growth spurt on Wednesday, but now I think it's actually today. He did eat more frequently on Wednesday and Thursday, but he slept great those nights. However, last night I only slept 2.5 hours because he was so wide awake and often fussy/ wanting to eat. Today he has continued to eat like he's starving. Every time I try to lay down for a nap he wakes up hungry. I am so exhausted I cried after my last failed nap...

* Speaking of sleep, it's probably been a harder adjustment because I had gotten a little spoiled. For the last few nights he was going 4 hour stretches and I had to wake him up to eat! I was reading various books to see if I could start letting him go 5 hours, but then he served me humble pie with last night's all-nighter. :)

* Thanks to the relatively decent sleep we were getting, I started feeling like this whole mom thing might actually be do able. I loosely started doing an eat-activity-sleep routine and it was so exciting to see some predictability on the horizon! Not feeling as hopeful today, but I know today's just a tough day.

* James lost his cord stump on his 17th day of life, which then led to his first "real" bath in an infant tub. He didn't like it too much but hopefully as he gets used to it he will!

* It's funny how many "classic" new parent moments we have had - these things must really be universal! We have been peed on, spit up on, and I have gotten poop on me. This week I left James for the first time for about 1.5 hours while I went to a little get together. I fed him and tried to race out the door right after (the feeding clock is ticking!), but just before I left James spit up AND sneezed at the same time, which resulted in a spit up sprayed husband and a freaked out baby. (I still left a few minutes later, but it was hard to leave them like that)

* I want to introduce a bottle soon (our pedi said 3-6 weeks) but I'm really unsure about pumping and how to make it all work. I need to read more about that, but it feels overwhelming right now.

* Oh, I almost forgot that J got his tongue clipped on Monday. My husband held him during the procedure, and we were shocked that he only screamed for maybe 10 seconds and then immediately fell ASLEEP. I was supposed to nurse him right afterwards, but we actually had a hard time waking him up! (he was only given a topical anesthetic, btw). We are thankful that went smoothly! I do think he latch/ suck has improved, and we have had some successful nursing sessions without the nipple shield. I'm trying to wean him off of it but not stressing about it.

* J has been incredibly alert this week for more/ longer stretches. It is so cute and sweet how he just stares at me, and seems to like it when I talk to him or even sing (despite my terrible singing voice).

A place he does like to sleep - the car!