Monday, November 29, 2010

Walking.

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. We ran through a whirlwind of family gatherings and ate our share of traditional fare. Even Theo tried out his two teeth on turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. He was already familiar with sweet potatoes.

The people we've seen lately gasp in surprise when Theo walks on his own, turns corners, bends down to pick things up and then carries them while maintaining his drunken balance. When asked how long he's been at it, it's hard to say, and I get more shock and surprise that I hadn't announced anything. Truth is, his progress has been gradual and steady for at least 2 months now.

It would be hard to say when he started walking, as he's been doing some form of standing since he was a couple months old and started moving his legs soon after. Theo never liked sitting very much and in fact, it took some direct teaching to get him to learn how to sit. Instead, he'd lock his knees, allowing you to balance him but supporting all his weight on his tree trunk legs.

He also never wanted to crawl. It was only in the past couple of weeks, after he could be said to walk on his own, that he grudgingly adopted an army crawl, or what I call the zombie crawl, pulling himself flat on the floor and moaning, then grabbing for my ankles.

He definitely put the cart before the horse. From standing on our lap with help to standing on the floor with help then to walking with help, keeping your body bent double so you can hold his tiny hands as he does eternal laps around the house. He had no idea how to pull himself up on furniture, and if you put him near furniture he wouldn't even know to grab on, but he was off and running anyway.

His balance steadily improved and soon he was waving off one helpful hand so he could carry a favorite item around with him. So encumbered, he'd travel half the speed and with a quarter the balance, but with the bonus of being able to tap his red cyclindrical building block on every surface he encountered. His squeals of delight were ear-piercing. From there it was only a matter of time before he pushed us away altogether, if only to carry larger items.

At this point he's able to walk around the entire house without touching my hand and without falling. That is, if he doesn't step on anything or get too excited. He still doesn't understand that objects on the floor will trip him up, so these days I run defense for him, removing items from his path as if he were a royal dignitary.

Here's the thing about walking a baby around - it is very, very hard to get video of it. You obviously can't carry the camera yourself until they are walking independently, so you have to tripod the camera in a place the baby will supposedly want to walk through and let it run. However, Theo loves the camera so much that as soon as he sees it, my naturalistic fly-on-the-wall shot is over. Even if he doesn't attack the camera, it seems that any time you have the forethought to have the camera recording, he gives the least energetic performance. The big squeals and bursts of laughter usually go unrecorded (though etched in my memory). When you do get some usable footage it requires editing...which, yeah, I haven't gotten around to.

So, no big announcement, partially because of the steady progress and partially due to lack of visual evidence. This will be rectified...but I can't say when.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween!

Hope everyone has a very happy Halloween.

I decided to go for the Halloween Mom badge and make Theo's costume. As usual, I didn't sew a stitch, just used hot glue and felt.

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I can't help but include this one:

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Rest assured, he did have a good time at the pumpkin patch.

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Check out the latest videos here.

For Halloween itself, we'll hang out at home, carve some pumpkins, and give out candy.

There is, of course, lots of news that I haven't had a second to pass on. Theo is working on standing and walking. He can take a few steps by himself and just today he actually changed direction. It makes him very excited when he does well at it. He's also at the babbling stage, but no words yet. When he sees something he likes, he blows gurgley raspberries, and makes high-pitched squeals.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Portrait time

I guess I'll never keep up on this like I wish I could. In any case, check out Theo's studio portraits. It was hard to not buy an 8x10 of every one of them.

If you haven't been in a while, check out the newest videos.


Briefly - Theo sits up on his own, eats very well, and sleeps through the night nearly all the time. He's a very easy to please baby most of the time, though his inconsistent schedule makes his evenings a wild card. Looks like he'll skip crawling all together as he prefers being walked around.

Hope all is well with all of you!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sitting!


New things all the time

Ack, the time, she flies.

Theo is sitting on his own, mostly. He usually falls safely, just gotta make sure there aren't any hard objects around. He rolls back and forth but hasn't figured out that he could get around with this talent. Crawling is still a ways away, as he can't seem to put that together either.

He does love to walk...that is, while you're holding him up. If we had level floors I'd consider getting him a walker, but with our rugs it really would be a tipping hazard. I've played walker for him all over the living room and his bedroom, and I'm already finding out what we need to baby proof.

For instance, we thought he loved the bunnies; actually, he loves the cage. When he gets close to it he gets very excited, and if he is allowed to he grabs the mesh and tries to suck on it. Yeah, there are some sharp edges. I've figured out how to cover some of the angles but it's still going to need some work.

Theo has adopted a squeal that is so loud and high-pitched it's stunning. Adorable, of course, but you don't want your eardrums too near it for too long. Thankfully he isn't so chirpy all the time, only when he's very excited. So far it seems he is quiet in public but squealy at home.

We started him on veggies this week. Our pediatrician recommended high iron foods, like spinach and beets. However, you can't get those in jars as first foods, so instead we tried peas. Not a fan. After getting him through that jar I made my own jar of spinach - just cooked in water then pureed in the Cuisinart. The homemade spinach was much more tolerable, though the rice cereal is still his favorite.

New videos will be up soon.

Everyone keeps asking how I'm holding up. It sounds silly but after 6 months I think I've finally hit my stride. I know how long it takes for us too get ready for to go places and it doesn't (usually) stress me out. We've been inside for so long that having to face leaving seems more attractive. I'm now trying to get us out of the house once every day for a bit. Lately there have been lots of things going on to keep us busy - out-of-towners visiting, etc.

Theo's been swimming a few times and while he doesn't love it he does have fun moments. Jumping up and down is always fun, whether in or out of the water. I'm surprised there are any times of the day that we can use our complex's pool without anyone in there, but before noon is a good bet. In the past I've never been one to go swimming unless it's blazing hot and the water is nice and warm, but I'm overcoming my picky nature to make sure Theo begins to get used to the water.

Ooh, and we've stepped up the babysitting! My sis-in-law was kind enough to come down last minute to babysit so we could see Toy Story 3 (we're Pixar fans) and my parents actually stayed over at our house so we could attend a large birthday party for a friend. The more we go out, the more we want to go out.

Friday, July 9, 2010

July 4th

Ok, yes, dropped the ball, failed to blog. I better get past this intro or I'll never get an actual post done.

Theo actually watched fireworks on the 4th. It was not in our original plan, for multiple reasons. Theo's bedtime is about 7pm and the fireworks didn't start until 9. If he fell asleep by showtime, there would be no way for him to sleep through it, since my family likes to sit as close to the launch point as possible. Waking during explosions doesn't sound like fun. If he stayed awake late enough, he'd be a disaster anyway and there would be no way he'd enjoy it.

Turned out, Theo had other ideas. He stayed awake all afternoon while we visited family, hours past his naptime. When we drove to the fireworks spot at the park he fell into a deep sleep and slept for 2 solid hours. We had to wake him at 7pm so we could feed him dinner before it got dark (he's at the rice cereal stage now). By 9pm he was doing just fine and we figured we'd give the show a shot. If he freaked out we could always carry him away from the action - historically he's done just fine as long as we are holding him.

So we clamped our hands over his ears and he watched the whole show. For perhaps the first half he was entranced by it. I've seen the same expression when we show him things like screensavers. During one section a long sequence of extremely bright fireworks went off one after the other and Theo blinked quite a bit, finally turning his head away and only looking back after those bright ones went away. After that I'm pretty sure he wasn't too happy but he's not the type to cry in those circumstances - he just waited it out with his big eyes wide.

I know, we're crazy. No one else would expect a 6 month old to watch fireworks. I guess we err on the side of giving him a chance to rise to the occasion, and 95% of the time he does. I only try these things because I know he's usually calm, and because I know I can deal with whatever the worst case scenario would be.

Ok, I'm posting this so it gets done. More soon. Make sure to check the Flip Share Video site. There's a permanent link on the side of my website, or if you want to get emails every time I post a new video there, email me at jenniesloan77@gmail.com and I'll add you to that list.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Easy

Told me it'd be hard
the nights long and the days full
talking to a mute
wishing for a shower
when not bored, stressed
when not feeding, asleep

Is he hungry?
Diaper need changing?
You think he's sensitive to wet
But really he's just bored
been sitting in the kitchen too long

He's so serene
in front of the TV
but never laughs
turn off the screen

Kiss his belly, he lights up
as if you pushed a button
Sing a song, he sings along
soft, throaty accompaniment
Show him his favorite burp cloth
throws back his head and chuckles
Take him out into the sun
that's when he really shines

Yeah, not sleeping through the night.
Yup, going out is always iffy.
There was that one week
where every time he filled a diaper
his outfit needed changing too.
Uh-huh, spent a party with
spit up on my pants
and probably in my hair
and I didn't notice.

But it's easy.
It's easy to start the day at 5 am
kiss his forehead
hold him close to me
bundle ourselves against the morning chill
reading Dr Seuss by the early light

It's easy to spend all morning preparing
to go out that afternoon
diaper bag armed to the teeth
feeding and changing marks hit on time
the countdown starts to come naturally

It's easy to let him scream when he tries to nap
his whimpers are the saddest sound on earth
soon enough he's dreaming
such a tiny person on the monitor
breathing softly, all curled up

Easy to nap when it's time to nap
Easy to get things done whenever I can
Only time to wash one pan and a bowl
Well hey, I got that much done

Hard? Of course it's hard
It's hard until you remember why
Then the choices are clear and simple
and the rest is easy

The month of May

Augh! The days keep rolling on and things change so fast...and the blog remains untouched. Quick, before the baby wakes up!

First, check the Flickr set to see the latest stuff if you haven't already.

Last week, Theo rolled over for the first time, from his back to his stomach. Made it look easy. We were incredibly lucky in that both Greg and I were home and watching him at the time. What an awesome moment! It was adorable, Theo had this "what just happened?" look on his face for a little bit. Since then I've kept the Flip cam close in case he looks like he's going to do it again. No action yet...

Elsewhere on the development front - he's enjoying peek-a-boo a lot more (need to get video of that), and he loves to grab fabric. He'll hold a rattle briefly but anything with a soft texture will be held for far longer, and probably drooled on. The drool is coming fast now, though there aren't any bumps on his gums just yet.

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May means Mother's Day and my and Greg's birthdays! We had a lovely time seeing family at a park potluck, where we were showered with thoughtful gifts and cards. Greg (er, I mean Theo) made me a lovely Mother's Day photo book, including clever chapters written by Theo to me. I got many messages from friends and family - cards in the mail, emails, Facebook posts, etc - and it was quite gratifying. We also got to see some friends that weekend, and with everyone holding the baby, I got some time to relax. All of you helped make my first Mother's Day extra special. (Don't worry, I won't expect anything like this next year.)

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It's no fun bringing the baby in for his 4 month checkup and shots. You know he's in for a painful day, but he dealt very well. The nurse lay him down on the exam bed and holds his legs, while I held his little arms. I think that was the worst part, when he's still happy and you feel awful about what's to come. As soon as the first shot went in his face went beet red. When he screams like that, instead of pulling away, my reaction is to move my face as close to his as possible. Poor little guy. The nurse was quick. I scooped him up, comforting for just a couple of seconds before buckling him in his seat so we could leave immediately. By the time I had picked up the carrier he had stopped crying and gone into turn-off mode. By the time we pulled out of the parking lot he was fast asleep. Babies are well equipped to deal with trauma.

The doc pointed out that he has a bit of a flat side to his head because he usually leans and looks to his right. Since then we've been getting him to look left whenever possible. Surprisingly, it's been easy, at least when he's awake. If he's napping in his carseat it's nearly impossible to make his head move the other way. Hopefully this will balance out by the next appointment.

Once again, he's at the bottom of the range for weight, at 11 lbs 9 oz (on May 10th, though he doesn't seem to have gained much since). He's still fitting into some stuff marked 0-3 months and much of the 3 months size is still way loose. He better do some growing before the 6 month appointment or the doc might give me some grief. To be honest, I think their figures are still mostly based on formula babies from the last few generations. Many of the moms I've been meeting have had the same "problem" with their breastfed babies.

I think the doctors tend to use scare tactics in order to get results. It may not be very likely that the issue will end in the worst case scenario, but a strong mention of said worst case will do the trick to get parents working on solutions. Seeing as how doctor advice is often ignored, it's not a bad tool to use.

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Speaking of other moms - I'm now fully involved in my local MOMS Club chapter. There are meets nearly every weekday at different locations, along with age-range playgroups, playgroups just for boys or girls, Mom's nights out, and other special gatherings. Theo and I have been attending at least one a week, usually at a park for a brisk powerwalk while pushing strollers. Already I am making new friends and absorbing good advice. To ensure my participation I nominated myself to publish the newsletter each month. That way I can't just vanish on this. Should be a fun creative project too, as I can pretty much do whatever I want with it.

Staying active in MOMS Club shouldn't be too tough anyway. The other members seem to be a lot like me - women who used to work and don't know any other people with kids.

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That's it for now. No promises of more frequent posts!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pure happiness

At this point, Theo stays awake for about 2 hours at a time, and during those periods he always has a good long session of happiness. It sounds strange but it's easy to delineate the difference between a 3 week old baby and a 3 month old baby in terms of the emotions they put on display. At this point, you can count on him to smile broadly, twist his whole body, and let out a loud, throaty laugh in response to all kinds of things. We sing, tickle, and play games with him to elicit his happiness as much as we can. Even just looking at something with lots of contrast, like a striped dishtowel, can make him chuckle.



His grins are so big, so genuine, and so easy to create. It was definitely tough to keep a smiling face when dealing with a newborn that wouldn't smile back, but now, acting silly is the easiest thing in the world. I've danced soft shoe tap while wearing slippers, flapped laundry at him like I'm tempting a bull, and copied his nonsense sounds as best I can. His laugh is the only reward necessary.



While enjoying his new personality, it struck me that one day he won't think hitting a rattle is all that hilarious, and that there will be days when little Theo will grumble, resentful of an unfair world. I had my share of bad days as a child and remembering how jaded I could be, even then, it's tough to think about Theo feeling the same way. Fast-forward to the tween and teen years and I can see how parents despair over their babies becoming cold and confrontational. It might be hard to not blame oneself. "He was so open to love and joy - how did I screw him up?" Just as bad, one could end up blaming the child. Can one really believe that the child is mean at heart while the memory of such emphatic joy is still etched in memory?



I look into Theo's beaming happy face and see something there worth preserving. Sure, his current joys won't keep his attention in 6 months. The point is that at every stage, I want to teach him that remaining lighthearted and open is vital to enjoying the everyday. That we all create our own happiness, and that it's well within his means.

While I may have had such a thought before, it has now solidified into something real. Remembering lessons like these will not be easy. In fact, I know that I violate this all the time. Already I can see that this is something Theo is teaching me, and that I'm excited to learn it as well as teach it. It makes me happy just thinking about it.

For now though, I think I'll just stick out my tongue and make fart noises until I can get him to laugh.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The day-to-day

As usual, just when we feel we have figured out Theo's patterns, he changes them. Instead of focusing on specifics, here's a general breakdown of his habits.

Theo usually has two wakeful periods in a day. The morning one starts about 8am and is usually overwhelmingly happy. The evening one starts about 4pm and is usually overwhelmingly cranky. Wakefulness lasts anywhere from 2 to 5 hours. Otherwise, he's pretty much asleep.

When he's in a good mood he's hilarious to be around. Check out all the recent videos here. He's beginning to make some spectacular noises, chuckling and making back-of-the-throat gasps, aka Baby Pterodactyl sounds. His smiles are huge, bigger than any adult ever smiles, taking up his entire being with their intensity. It's hard enough to get the video camera on him at the right time, never mind trying to get the perfect photograph, as these moments are unpredictable. There's nothing like seeing him decide that life is wonderful. Another cliche proven true - his laughter is all I need to keep going.

It's a good thing, too, because the evening crankiness can be very challenging. Just when I want to make and eat dinner, he needs endless attention. Greg and I hand the task of cooking dinner back and forth as his needs require - if Theo's in a good mood, Greg gets him, and if he needs food, I handle him. Quite often he's at his worst when dinner is ready and I have to put off eating. It can be tough to end up with a cold dinner.

"Cranky" means he's unhappy, of course, but here's what his crankiness consists of. I feed him until he wails and then I try to burp him. Sometimes the burp just won't come. It may not sound like much, but just patting him on the back for 15 minutes straight (or longer) is exhausting. Pacing while carrying him sometimes helps the burp happen, or at least calms him considerably, making it extra exhausting. Even if he burps relatively quickly, he can keep eating and burping for hours if he's in the worst sort of mood. He may yell the entire time (except when actually eating) making everything even more wearying. Some nights this marathon has run on for 3 hours, leaving everyone frazzled.

I'm glad to report that all this has gotten better - or at least, we have gotten better at handling it. I happened across the Dunstan Baby Language concept and had instant results applying it. Quite often I can decipher what he needs and provide it quickly. It also serves as a confidence builder. The more capable we feel, the better the baby responds to us.

His naps have gotten longer and longer, often three and even four hours instead of two. His first stint of the night is the longest. Night feedings are short - seems that it's not hunger that wakes him, it's digestive stuff. I'm considering trying the "pat and put back" method in an attempt to get him to sleep all the way through. I'm not overly concerned by it at this point, as I can usually get an afternoon nap in, helping me feel like I'm getting just about enough sleep. It took me a while to allow myself to get very little done on any given day, but once I let go of that and embraced sleeping more, I became happier with everything, and far more able to deal with a possibly cranky child.

That's the most important thing...dealing with stressful crying situations, not from a place of exasperation, but with an even hand and an upbeat attitude. He deserves it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The day we haz a bebe.

Ok, ok - here is the birth story. I do wish I'd gotten it done sooner as remembering details this far out is near impossible. I wanted this blog to carry the full telling, and it took a while to get it down.

Theo Allen Sloan, born January 9th, 2010 at 4:14pm. Five pounds, eleven ounces, 19 inches. Three weeks early.

I know I don't have to apologize for being away, and that everyone understands, but I do wish I could have blogged from the hospital but I just didn't have the time. Getting settled at home has been another adventure.

Anyway - let's get to the story. I'll try to keep it less than graphic, but it is a childbirth and requires a certain amount of, shall we say, squishiness. Also, please excuse the changes in tense and the tons of errors I'm sure I haven't caught - I will never get this thing published otherwise.

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Friday, January 8th was a day I didn't have to go to work (I worked alternating Friday/Saturdays). As usual with my Fridays off, I had plenty of errands and chores I wanted to get done. I took my Honda in for an oil change at the dealer, bought my dad a birthday present (we were to see family on Sunday for that event), and wrapped the gift. A couple of electricians came in to install the ceiling light in the kid's room, and after their quick work, wished me good luck with the baby.

A pretty successful Friday off.

At 3:20am that night, I woke up and went to the bathroom, as I have been doing nearly every night for 6 months. When I got back to bed I realized that it wasn't really a bathroom trip that had woken me up. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions here and there for a while, and the last few days had been pretty frequent. Now, I felt contractions and assumed they must be more Braxton Hicks...though the thought that they were strong enough to wake me from sleep planted the seed that this might be more serious stuff.

Even so, it wasn't painful, just a stretching feeling, like flexing muscles. I settled back in bed and tried to relax. Even if this was real labor (how could it be, it's so early yet!) the advice I was given was to relax and let things progress at home as much as possible. I did not disturb Greg - if anyone needed more sleep before the trip to the hospital, it would be him.

The contractions came and went rather regularly, though I wasn't timing or anything. After 20 minutes, I decided I should get out of bed and perhaps read something about Braxton Hicks, as in, how can you tell whether they are BH or real contractions. I was beginning to suspect this was the real deal and it made me too nervous to continue to lie in bed. I left Greg asleep and went downstairs.

The sequence was short - a second bathroom trip, a selection of pregnancy books, a settling in, opening a book and flipping to the index....and my water broke.

The adrenaline rush kicked in and after a quick restroom check, I tried to gently wake my husband with the news. Took him a moment to get over surprise and shock at the sudden situation.

Remember, we are 3 weeks prior. I have a bag mostly packed, and I have my lists written up, but it had seemed like we had time. We had things planned, lots yet to do. Throughout our night, I kept feeling like I had come unstuck in time and lost 3 weeks. How did we get here so quickly? Even while we know that this isn't something we can schedule, it still never seems like it's THAT out of our control. When else would something this momentous schedule itself, other than the truly unpredictable, such as car accidents and overnight illnesses. Unlike those, we did know this was coming, but didn't know when.

Greg came downstairs and it was less than a minute later that I felt the waters continue to come. Now we were sure it was the water and not bloody show. Breaking your water is like popping a small hole in a water balloon, with the water continuing to trickle out, and that's exactly what I had.

Once your water is broken you are hospital bound, as the baby is now vulnerable to infection from the outside world. On the plus side, this means no hemming and hawing over whether they'll let us in or not. We got to work, Greg packing his clothing, me shoving the laptop in a bag, both of us in a serious get-it-done mode as my contractions continued to come regularly. Thank goodness my last minute pack list was done, as I didn't have to think at all to get everything in the bag. The bunnies were fed and off we went.

We got to the hospital in about 15 minutes. Greg timed the contractions on the way - 30-45 seconds each, 2 minutes apart. Already. By the time we hit the emergency entrance, the pain was beginning to show up.

There was a strange interlude in the emergency entrance, which you will appreciate if you are of our generation. There were only two other people in the waiting area - a man and a young boy, probably 8 years old. They didn't seem ill themselves, and in fact the man was playing some portable video game system, with the boy looking on and commenting nearly constantly. As Greg dealt with the lady at the counter and I held onto a chair for stability, we overheard the boy say to the man, "What kind of Mario games did they have when you were a kid?" Greg and I could not contain ourselves. Oh, future son, what a world I have to show to you...

Then, it was the wheelchair, which was the first of much hospital help to come that I greatly appreciated. It's an other worldly feeling, breathing through contractions as the halls move past you, reminiscent of dolly shots in medical movies. I've never stayed in a hospital before. Not surprising this would evoke film, my only point of reference.

We arrive at our Labor and Delivery room and just getting on the bed makes me feel much better. All the hustle of getting here is over, and we're going to be taken care of. The room is smallish, which I also like, perhaps because I can see everything at once.

They put the two sensors on my belly - one to measure the strength of contractions (just a pressure gauge) and one to measure the baby's heartbeat. They hook me up to the computer, and Greg can see when my contractions are coming on and coach me through them.

We work on the labor for some time. The contractions are painful, but nothing I can't handle. In between, my body is flooded with endorphins, and I feel fantastic. It's almost as if the endorphins make me forget how painful the contractions are...or that the reward for getting through the contraction was so good that the pain seemed worth it.

The nurses come in periodically to check on us and check the machines, and we call them for small favors, but most of the time Greg and I are alone. He does an amazing job keeping an eye on the machines and getting me to stay focused. At some point, Greg's parents show up and stay with us for a bit, and I'm social enough that I hold court with them in between focused breathing. After a while, we had to ask them to leave, as things were getting more serious for me.

At 9am (5 hours after my water broke) they checked me for dilation. I was very excited to see what my progress was after all that time and work. When the nurse said I was at only 1 centimeter, meaning I was going nowhere, I was surprised and dismayed.

There was no option - since the water was already broken, the baby has to come out as soon as possible, and without progression, they administer pitocin. Pitocin makes the contractions happen faster, stronger, harder.

I was dismayed. I'd been excited to do the labor myself, and while the early hours of labor had been challenging they had also been fun, with Greg and I working together to get through it. Once pitocin is administered a natural birth isn't really an option anymore, but there was nothing else to be done. I hoped that I'd be able to handle the pain, but very quickly it was too much for me. I found myself dreading the contractions. As each one built and peaked I felt my disappointment growing - I would not be able to do this without painkillers. I asked what my options were and they offered either an epidural or a general narcotic painkiller in an IV called Nubain, which they said would last about 2 hours. I still wanted to avoid the full epidural so I asked for the Nubain instead. I was glad when it came on fast and strong. It made me dizzy and generally happier and the pain was muted for a while, but after only half an hour things were already getting unhappy again, probably due to my speedy metabolism. I asked for another hit of Nubain and it also didn't last long at all. I was then out of options, and resigned myself to the epidural. I was definitely disappointed in having to get it, as I still couldn't get over that the pitocin was a game changer. In any case, I wanted this to be the best day of my life, not the worst.

So I resignedly ask for the epidural and the anesthesiologist is summoned. By the time she showed up, set up her equipment, and gave me the paperwork to sign, I was ready to beg for the pain-free experience. It didn't help that she asked Greg to leave while she worked, leaving me without my coach, and that I was still heady from the Nubain. I won't say that I was panicked - more that I was focused on the end goal of getting the epidural. All I could think was, "whatever you want me to do, I will do it, just please get me there..."

And then, the nurse said I would probably feel 3 more contractions. I felt one and a half, and then they melted from my perception. It's hard to describe the relief I felt.

If you don't know what an epidural actually is, here's a quick primer. They poke a hole in your back and insert a very tiny tube into a space in your spinal column, then drip amazing anesthetics in, numbing your entire lower body. From my waist downward, I was meat in flesh, which was rather bizarre. To keep the drip in place my back was covered in tape.

Within moments of the drugs taking effect, I was chatting happily with the anesthesiologist and the nurse. Looking back on it, I think they asked me general questions to see how well I was doing. The change in my attitude was instantaneous.

I texted Greg to let him know I was doing great and that he could come back. He showed up with some food leftovers. I had been hungry for hours and had forbidden him from showing me any food, as I wasn't allowed to eat anything during the labor. Now, with the amazing drugs under my belt, I told him he could snack, and if he wanted to watch the football game on our room's TV, he could do that. I was just so happy to be pain-free and have him back. Greg likes to say that he wishes I'd get an epidural every Sunday.

At this point I tried to get some form of rest, and while some time did pass, it really wasn't very long at all before the nurse checked me and said in complete nonchalance that I was fully dilated. Suddenly I felt extremely unprepared. She said she could feel the head, and that since things were going well, we could wait another half hour for things to get even closer and then a few pushes would finish the job. I asked her to dial down the epidural so that by the time it came to push I could feel more of what was going on down there.

She walked out and Greg and I were agog at each other. Only 30 minutes and it would be over, our baby would be here. All I could think was, I'm going to meet him, I'm going to see his face!

Soon enough, the half hour was up. The nurse came back in and had another look. "How about you give me a push?" I did, and this time, even Greg saw the baby's head. "Ok, looks like this is going just fine. Your doctor is still 20 minutes away, though. We'd like to wait for him to get here. Can you hold off for a little longer?" I was still in a very good mood and didn't have any issue with waiting, as long as the kid was in good shape. The idea of him hanging out in the birth canal, already crowning, made me worry for him slightly, but if the nurse was this comfortable with the situation then so was I. Her attitude seemed to be that this was par for the course.

At this point I was feeling the contractions a bit and the urge to push was real. With each contraction I repeated, "I will NOT push, I will NOT push..." with Greg helping as usual.

Then the doctor arrived, and though it took him some time to get set up, it didn't seem long at all to me. Extra nurses came in and our little room was much busier. After things were set and he had a look, the doctor said he wanted to do an episiotomy. I didn't really care at this point so I let him go ahead. I didn't feel a thing, of course.

Then it was time to push. We waited for a contraction, and I gave about 3 big pushes. There was a slight break between contractions. Another push had his head out, and another push got the rest of him.

As soon as he was out, he was crying loudly. He did have some of the cheesy covering on his skin but you could still see that he was a healthy pink color. They put him on my stomach, attacked him with towels and sucked fluid out of his mouth and nose.

I looked at this baby on me and I didn't know what to do. I thought things like "here he is" and "he's healthy" but everything was muffled and unreal. Greg cut the cord, and they put the baby on my bare chest and went to work on me down below.

I had prepared myself for a "gross" baby, covered in goo, with gray skin and a blotchy face. This was not a gross baby. Still, he was brand new, and I was a brand new mom, and the whole thing was still a shock. I don't remember doing or saying much at that point, just laying there and looking at him and being with Greg. After awhile I looked up and said "Is that the placenta?" The doctor showed it to me, and while I'd been extremely curious about it during my pregnancy, at this moment it seemed pointless to spend time on it when I had a new baby in my arms. The doctor sewed up the episiotomy and probably did other things but I couldn't feel any of it and was beyond distracted by the baby, who was warm and beautiful and glowingly healthy.



I just held him and held him and after what seemed like a blissful eternity they wanted to weigh him. After only a moment away for the measurements they gave him back, and I held him for even longer until the official baby clean up nurse came in to give him a full bath and do some standard tests. Hearing him cry while these necessities were performed sounded so alien to me - this is what it was like, hearing a baby in seeming distress, realizing it's YOUR baby, and wishing you could soothe him.

At this point, in came another nurse, with trays of food for Greg and I. Full meals with tea and side dishes and dessert. It had been about 20 hours since I'd last eaten. I nearly cried in appreciation. My first taste of hospital food was well earned and it was delicious.

This was also the point where I wanted to post things to this blog and elsewhere, letting everyone know that it was done and everything was fine. As you probably know I was anticipating this moment when I originally set up this blog. I had tested my ability to post from my phone and even post photos. But...when I picked up my phone I realized this was impossible, as my hands were shaking terribly. Waning drugs and adrenaline had my nervous system in a total mess. Reluctantly, I decided it would have to wait. If my mind were in a more stable state I would have simply typed out the basics and sent it but I couldn't even manage that.

Theo passed all the reflex tests with flying colors and his Apgar score was 9 out of 10, proving that while he was "early" he definitely wasn't a preemie.

Theo after his tests, under daddy's watchful eye:



When all that was done we made the move to the postpartum room - Greg shlepping all our stuff, me and my numb legs in a wheelchair, and Theo in his rolling bassinet.

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Before I get tempted to go further, I'm going to stop here and get this posted. Theo is about 2.5 months old now, and I think that's as long as I'm allowed to let this go unpublished. Suffice it to say that the next two days at the hospital were wonderful and the weeks since have been amazing. Generic happy terms, but true, and there's no way to describe all of it more clearly that you haven't heard before. Our lives are inexplicably changed. Everything else seems small in comparison. He's a joy even while he's a challenge and we're feeling up to whatever comes our way, even as we realize that we know nothing going in. The adventure continues!




Just for fun, here is one last photo of me pregnant. We never did get a comparison pic close to before the baby was born, so this is it, me at maximum size.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Back to reality

There's some new pics and video here.
Flickr


In the six weeks since Theo's birth, Greg and I have been on vacation, hanging around at home, figuring out the needs of a newborn, and the needs of parents of a newborn. Greg went back to work a week ago and it's definitely weird without him. So THIS is how it's going to be, moving forward.

It's interesting trying to get chores and errands done within Theo's requirements. Now, I can't just hand him off to someone when I need my hands, or leave him at home when it's time to go out. I take showers with the monitor in the bathroom. I keep hearing phantom crying in the drone of the bathroom fan and drumming of the shower but the monitor shows me he's asleep the entire time.

I did a full market run with Theo in tow and I have to say, I was pretty proud of it. One of my bigger fears is him melting down in public and me not able to handle it without bailing. I tried to have him asleep by the time we got there but he was cranky when we arrived. It took a few laps in the shopping cart outside the market to get him to sleep, and from then on, I just had to keep the cart moving to keep him napping. At one point he roused a little and a few laps in the bread aisle got him to settle again. Go, mom, go!

I cooked dinner nearly every night last week and plan to do the same going forward. This may not sound like much but for me it's a triumph. Greg used to be the chef around here. I mean "plan" literally, as meal planning and shopping for a full week at a time is the only way I can stay on track.

I didn't realize how little I would get done in one day. Between his feedings and doing the basics of cooking, cleaning, and caring for myself (oh yeah, I have to eat too) there isn't much time for anything else. This blog post took a week to write. A big time eater is my afternoon nap, which is beyond necessary after my long nights.

In the last few days Theo has developed a routine (!) of being wakeful at around 9am for well over an hour. During this time we got the newest video you can see above, of him actually playing with purpose. He's beginning to react to the mirror, too. After his happy morning time he usually has a sleepy day and a cranky evening. His night feedings are shorter and more sleepy as well. (All trends subject to change without notice.)

His cranky periods require diligence. Feed, burp, feed, burp, diaper, feed, burp...it can go on for 2 hours or more. These marathon sessions can be exhausting. It helps if I have a bottle ready to assist, as he conks out quicker from the steady, easy flow of the bottle. It's also less wear and tear on me. When he's finally too ramped up to eat any more, we wrap him up and get him to nap. He responds very well to white noise which we try to keep as a last resort tactic.

In any case I feel I have completely given myself over to my new way of life. Waking up at odd hours and sleeping at others has stopped feeling wrong. Wrestling with him for 2 hours a day has also become routine. I continue to be amazed at human adaptation.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Already growing up

We celebrated Theo's 1 month birthday on Tuesday. By "celebrated", I mean that it was noticed and mentioned.

When he was born, Theo was very small in any of the newborn clothes we had ready for him.

Now, his feet are actually fitting into the footie PJs when he stretches out, and the onesies clasp snugly. He's at about 7.5 pounds now.

His size isn't the only difference a month makes. Theo's grip is improving and he's pulling my hair when he can get it. His hands seem to make it to their goals more often. Sometimes he seems to enjoy being lifted high in the air and swooped around. He is working on lifting his head and getting better at it every day.

The biggest leap just happened in the last day, as both Greg and I noticed he is beginning to smile in response to our smiles. Before now, he's had smiles that were part of facial expression montages, twitches of muscles figuring themselves out. These new ones lasted longer and don't immediately become frowns and smirks.

Ok, it's only been a couple of times, so don't expect him to smile next time you see him. I don't expect to get it on camera for a while either. One month is early for true smiling. Still, very exciting!

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BTW, I removed the links on this website to our gift registries and have replaced them with links to our photos of Theo. These links will be updated with new photos every now and then.

Here are the links for those of you who get this blog via email.
Flickr
Photobucket

Thursday, February 4, 2010

All you can eat

Theo is doing fine. He showed up 3 weeks early but was in no way a preemie. Thirty-seven weeks is considered full term, and he was very nearly there. The only thing we had to keep an eye on was a mild case of jaundice, which is common among any birth, full term or not. We had a pediatrician appointment when Theo was only 3 days old to make sure this was handled. The doc (whom we immediately took a liking to) recommended small amounts of sunshine and a ramped up feeding schedule. His body gets rid of the bilirubin through diaper changes, and the more food, the more messy diapers.

Even though the jaundice is gone and he's past his birth weight, he's still a little guy and still needs his regular meals. Every two hours, we have to wake him up and get him to eat. Feedings last about an hour. During that time, the baby will feed for approximate 10 minute bursts and need burp breaks. He almost always falls back to sleep within those breaks. He's a good sleeper, and it always seems a shame to wake him. Nursing tends to put babies to sleep anyway and there are long lists of ways to keep them awake during a feeding, most of which involve annoying the baby into wakefulness. Over the last couple weeks I've figured out a rhythm to the methods. During a regular feeding, I usually have to take his clothes off, rub his stomach and back, dance him around, change his diaper (easily, the thing he hates most in the world right now), and put his clothes back on, all of which bother him just enough so he will eat. It can be frustrating, but it's necessary.

The stay-awake game can be wearying on its own, but when you got yourself up at 4 am to do so, it's a whole other world of weary. The pediatrician has cleared him to sleep up to 4 hours at time at night but Theo's internal clock is set at 2.5 hours maximum. Doesn't matter if it's a noisy room or a quiet room, morning or night, he's never asleep for much longer.

As soon as a feeding is done, it's as if someone shoots a starter pistol and the clock counts down to my next feeding. If I want to go out, or do some chores, write online, or take a nap - I need to get to it. It's quite often that a simple time waster such as watching a random daytime TV rerun eats up a huge chunk of my time, preventing anything else I meant to do.

I just began using a pump and Greg is now on bottle duty for one of the nighttime feedings. Theo is having no problem switching between breast and bottle. Getting the pumping timing right is complex as well, since I need to be ready to feed him again after the 2 hours are up and it takes time to make that milk. The pumping itself is easy, though admittedly a bit strange, hooking oneself up to a milking machine.

Breastfeeding was a bit of a challenge (and still has its pitfalls) but my milk came in fine and Theo gets his nutrition, and that's what's important.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Emotions

First, some unfinished business. Looks like the emails didn't give the links to the videos in my last post. Click below:

At the hospital
At home

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Three days before Theo was born, a good friend emailed me with an idea for my blog. She said that my posts involved all kinds of practical necessities, but that I hadn't talked much about the emotional preparation leading up to having a baby. At the time, I thought about blogging more about leaving my job, because that decision grew directly out of a commitment to my emotional focus. Other than that, I couldn't come up with a way to prepare emotionally before the actual birth. As everyone says, nothing really can prepare you, and once it happens, things fall into place. At least, I hoped so.

From this side of the great divide, I can honestly say that while we knew what to expect in terms of lifestyle changes, we had no idea what it would feel like to have a baby. From the moment he was handed to us, our emotional state was changed, forever.

I'm glad to say that I fell in love with him almost immediately, and that I haven't had any issues in postpartum. The first week, I did feel the loss of the belly and the life that was inside of me, but all I have to do to counteract it is look at the very real baby I have right in front of me.

I can't quantify how emotional a person I am. I will say that I didn't cry during the birth or even soon afterward, which surprised me. On the second day at the hospital I left the baby with Greg for the first time and went for a walk. I had been a complete shut-in since the birth and needed to get some air. It was a perfect day for it - blue skies, slightly crisp breeze. When I got around to the back of the complex and saw the parking structure, I thought about our car, waiting in the structure, its car seat installed and ready to take our baby home with us. By the time I got back to the room with my husband and son inside, I was a sobbing mess.

Seems to me that being in the eye of the hurricane and simply doing what needed to be done had been keeping me from reflecting on things. Once I had a bit of distance from the situation, it didn't take much to set me off. Since then, the smallest things can put me in happy tears. I don't know if it can truly be attributed to hormones. Seems to me that such a life-altering event should be reason enough to experience hair-trigger mood changes.

That, plus the most intense sleep deprivation I've ever experienced.

Friday, January 22, 2010

FINALLY

Apologies, apologies!

As I was in no shape to blog soon after the delivery, and the news spread through other media, I left this site to concentrate on more important things.

When I did get back here I began constructing a detailed birth story, which is still only half done. It's been hard to spend time on it.

Meanwhile, I'm missing out on telling you all about the fun we've been having these last 2 weeks. Waiting for the overly long birth story to finish itself is frustrating and no fun at all.

So, fresh start. I'm going to leave the birth story for later. If enough people comment that that's what they want, perhaps I'll work on it more. But for now, here are some adorable shots and even more adorable video.















I'll be back soon with real updates.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

We are GO

Woke up this morning at 3:20am with contractions. Hung out in bed for a while. Got up about 3:45am to read and bam, my water broke. Woke up Greg, packed some last minute things, fed the rabbits and got in the car.

It's now 7 am and things are going well. No matter what, we are having a baby today. =)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Test 1

I'm testing a new way to post things from my phone...testing, testing.