25 February 2011

Pffft!

Pfffffffftttttttt!
I think this face expresses the mood of the past several days quite eloquently. 


That is all...


Carry on...

18 February 2011

Tired

Smiles
I am so tired. Xander was awake... though clearly tired... until well past his usual down time. He laid quietly in his crib while I pumped milk. Then I tried to sleep. Xander wasn't having any of that! No, sir! *My head hit the pillow and the crying started. I wait a moment in hopes that he'll just quiet down. No luck. I get up, take him from his crib and cuddle him. In moments he is deep asleep. I wait through five minutes of deep sleep... trying desperately not to fall asleep myself... and then place him back in his crib. I head back to bed. Repeat from the * for the next two hours.

Oh!
Finally I wise up and grab his swing. After feeding him yet another small bottle and wondering where he fits it all, I put him on the swing and turn it on. He finally slept... as I stared into the dark unable to sleep because of the annoying clicking noise of his swing. Pure exhaustion finally dragged me into sleep at some point. He woke up about every hour or so, but at least I was getting snippets of sleep.

Today I'm exhausted. He, on the other hand, is wide awake and cheery as can be. I need a nap... apparently he doesn't.

15 February 2011

New Refrigerator

Interior
Well, the big news of my weekend is that we finally got a new refrigerator. It was desperately needed. I'm pretty sure the one we inherited from the previous owners was about ready to start waving a white flag and begging for mercy. I never thought I would be so excited to simply have a fridge with a working interior light... and this one even has one in the freezer! It's all about the little things.

Yeah, I know... it's nothing special, but it works for us. We had planned to get a side-by-side in stainless, but when we began shopping we quickly discovered that the existing space for a refrigerator would severely limit our choices. When we looked at side-by-sides in stainless that would fit in the spot we have, we were limited to two very expensive choices. It didn't make sense for us to spend so much on a fridge that will end up in our garage in a year or two when we do the kitchen remodel. We managed to up our choices to five when we started looking at standard refrigerators. This one, in black, was a scratch and dent that cost a fraction of the stainless options... and it's four cubic feet larger than what was there before. So I'm content until the remodel.

We went grocery shopping after the delivery guys left. It was fun filling it up and finally having room without cramming everything in. I fit an entire ten pound bag of potatoes in one produce drawer with room to spare. In the old fridge, a five pounder didn't even fit. There's so much room in the freezer that we are thinking of shutting down the chest freezer we have in the garage... everything in it could easily fit in the new freezer with room to spare.

If I'm this excited over a cheap scratch and dent, I just may have a seizure over my future newly remodeled kitchen!

14 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

A very special message of love and happiness to all my family, friends and readers. Take the time today to appreciate the ones in your life that you love and that love you.



Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are.

Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.
- Captain Corelli's Mandolin

10 February 2011

Making the Rounds

Nevaeh, Xander and a Friend
Yesterday was a loooong day. Seemed like we ran all over the area!

Nevaeh was Student of the Week, so she was allowed to invite some family to come eat lunch with her at school. Mom, Xander and I ate with her, her teacher and two of her best friends. She has a very sweet teacher who is great with the students. It was fun to see all the new technology available in the classrooms.

Nevaeh was so excited to see that I brought along Xander. Her classmates were ooh-ing and aah-ing all over him and she was walking around holding him like a very proud cousin. Xander proved he is a very social little baby... despite not feeling well from getting his shots and teething, he was all smiles and hamming it up.

Xander and Great-Grandpa
After we left the school, we headed out to Grandpa's and Mary's house to visit... it was on our way in a scenic route way. Grandpa has not really been doing well, so Mom wanted to check in on him. Heart issues, aneurisms, and several other problems have been piling up as he gets older. The doctors have been saying there's nothing more they can do for years now... yet they keep doing and he keeps going. In the event that anything happens, I'm glad we caught some moments of Xander with his Great Grandpa.


Xander and Cousin Nick
While we were at Grandpa's my cousin Nick called to see if Grandpa and Mary were coming to see his new apartment. When Nick found out Mom, Xander and I were there, he told Granpa to have us come along too. He has a very nice new apartment and lots of great plans for decorating it to make it his own. He has some great ideas for making a mantel. I can't wait to see what everything looks like when he's got it all done.

09 February 2011

Breastfeeding Struggles

Drinking His Breakfast
We are really struggling with the breastfeeding. We still haven't had to resort to supplementing with formula, but it has been very close at times. Standing there in the formula aisle last night, picking up some "just in case," had me near tears. It's just not what Ross or I wanted for our son.

We want so much to be able to continue with breastmilk until Xander is at least one... but it seems like Fate has been against us from day one. His stay in the NICU really threw us for a loop. That definitely wasn't in the Ultimate Plan! We always figured we could work on breastfeeding once we got home. There had always been the hope that things would get easier once we were away from the watchful eyes of nurses, doctors and lactation consultants. It was so stressful.

It didn't get easier. Xander tore my nipples with a terrible latch. Nursing brought me to tears. Even with the help of several skilled lactation consultants, we still couldn't get it. He just preferred the bottle. It was easier... for both of us.

Exclusively pumping takes its own toll, though. It's not much easier on the body than baby, really. You also don't get as much through pumping as you do through direct nursing. There is a constant struggle to maintain supply... whether through diet, supplements or constant pumping sessions. I'm losing the battle. My supply is down to the point that I am pumping just before he feeds and what I do pump is just enough to keep him growing.

We've changed our plans for introducing solids because of the breastfeeding struggle. Originally we had aimed for a year ,but brought it back to nine months so that he could be eating solids enough to enjoy a bit of cake on his birthday. A silly reason, I know... but it was a moment we didn't want to miss out on. Now, we are planning to begin introducing solids in his sixth month. I'm following a plan where I introduce actual foods instead of cereals. His first food will be mashed banana. That's a moment I'll definitely need to capture on camera!

06 February 2011

Go Pack Go!

Xanderr is all ready to cheer on the Pack. His first Super Bowl and our hometown team is there!

05 February 2011

04 February 2011

Feeding Baby

Yum. Yum.
It feels like I have been sick almost the entire time since Xander was born. I've had the fall down the stairs, a pulled groin muscle, multiple colds/ flus, and strep throat. I am getting about an hour to three hours of sleep a night. There are so many days I've felt like packing my bags and coming back when he's 18.

The illness, injury, stress and lack of sleep is taking its toll on my milk supply. I had to stay with exclusively pumping, because Xander never took to nursing after we got out of the hospital. Anyone with experience in exclusively pumping (EP) knows that EP alone can make it very difficult to maintain a supply for more than a few months. Toss in stress, medication and lack of sleep and it becomes near impossible. There are so many days and nights I sleep in half hour spurts so that I can pump every two hours. (It tricks the body into thinking baby is feeding more, so you produce more to meet the demand.) When you're already experiencing lack of sleep, it can compound the problem. Even now, I have only enough pumped for his next feeding and it will be an hour until I pump again... he will eat what's ready before I pump next. I simply can't get ahead!

Posing For His Fans
Our "little" boy has almost doubled his birth weight. He eats like a horse! A combination of factors have made Ross and I adjust our plans to hold off solids to 12 months. There is a lot of evidence to support extended exclusive breastfeeding, but I simply can't keep up with the demand. Xander is also showing all the physical signs of being ready... the tongue thrusting reflex is going away, he's doubled his birth weight, he doesn't seem satisfied after eating and he shows an avid interest in what mommy and daddy are eating. He is just under four months now. We will wait until the minimum recommended age of six months to start solids. It bothers me to start solids so early compared to our original plan, but I think it will be the best choice for our current situation.

His first food is going to be mashed banana. After that, we'll try avocado. We'll be giving him just one thing at a time... waiting four days in between to check for a reaction.

03 February 2011

Catching Up: Part 3- The Holidays

Xander and Santa
My holiday season started off rather crappy. Selune had carried around a small stuffed toy of Xander's and left it smack in the middle of one of the steps leading to the family room. I was carrying a handful of stuff, didn't see it and ended up slipping down nearly the entire flight of stairs. My tailbone hit the lowest step at the same time my mid-back slammed into the edge of a higher step.

For a few days I thought it would be fine, but then it started to hurt... a lot. I kept going through the pain through the holiday madness, sleepless nights with a teething baby and various other drama. I finally paid a visit to my doctor a few weeks ago and was prescribed a breastfeeding-friendly regimen of Tylenol, back exercise and rest. Hah! Rest? LOL The good news is that it's feeling much better. The bad news is that the pain went away about the time I caught strep throat from my nieces. *sigh* It never ends!

Matching Hats By Mommy
The holidays kept us very busy. With the new baby, we suddenly became quite the hot commodity. Ross and I did our best to have a calm little Yule celebration between ourselves. We got Xander a few toys and some clothes. We are saving the big purchases for when he's old enough to remember. I knit matching hats for Ross and Xander. Ross got some slippers and a sweater from me. He got me the laptop I wanted so desperately (to replace the one that fried on me)... it also counts as my birthday and anniversary gift.

Christmas Eve was at Mom's house. There was some drama with Angel over the evening. She told us she couldn't make it because she had other plans... yet she wouldn't tell us what those other plans were. She claimed later on to have used the time to wrap Santa gifts for the girls, but I don't buy it. She had plenty of opportunities to explain that to us when the girls were not around, but didn't.

Santa, Bear and Nana
Mom, Grandma, Ross, Xander and I had a very pleasant night. We went out to view lights around town. We came back and had our traditional Christmas Eve feast and opened presents. Xander got an adorable outfit from Mom, another cute outfit from Grandpa and Mary and a gift card from Grandma. Ross and I both got comfy new pj's from Mom. Grandma gave us chocolates and a pumpkin bread kit with a pretty serving dish.

Princess Gazes at Bear
Christmas Day we started with a short visit at Grandpa's and Mary's house where they stuffed us with food from a party they had the night before for her family. Grandpa loved the lumberjack-look flannel I had Xander dressed in. It matches a favorite shirt of his almost exactly and really makes Xander's similarity to Grandpa stand out. We headed out from there to Ross' cousin Michelle's house. My back was really hurting by now, so I really don't remember a lot of our time there... other than their amazing new home. We couldn't stay long because we had to get to Angel's for dinner. It was pretty uneventful there. There was a bit of tension because of the scheduling issues. Angel got Xander a ball pit and some sweet little sleepers.

Collage Frame
The day after Christmas was at Ross' dad's house. Ross' dad, step-mom, sister, step-siblings and nephews were all there. We had our name-draw gift exchange between the siblings. I got a gift card for iTunes and Ross got another cool dragon figure for his collection. Xander got more money and some fun toys from everyone. Ross and I got a photo collage frame that will be a wonderful way to display all the pictures I keep sticking on the fridge.

It was a nice holiday, but I was definitely happy to just stay in my pj's on the 27th and not do a darn thing!

02 February 2011

Catching Up: Part 2- Going Home

Mommy and Baby
On an average day I was at Xander's side from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM with Mom and then back from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM with Ross. During that time I noted that the doctors were there maybe 10 to 15 minutes each day. On the day I requested the car seat test, the doctor who was normally nowhere to be seen after 2:00 PM had left and then come back around quarter to three. She sat at the nurses station and repeatedly moved her watchful eyes from us to her watch to the wall clock and around again.

Nana Reads to Xander
Apparently she realized we were looking a little more settled in than normal for that time of day. We had decided to stay and contacted Ross to just come up to the hospital. Some things that had gone on had us feeling as though they were extending his stay beyond necessary... most likely for financial reasons.... and we were concerned the test would go differently if we weren't there. We'd met some of the other NICU parents and many of them talked about similar feelings. It could explain why they have a strict "no interaction" policy among the NICU patients and their families. One of the parent had four children and all had been in NICU at different hospitals and this was the first hospital she experienced these issues and the no interaction policy... apparently all the other hospitals actually had support groups for the parents. Hmmmm.

Daddy and Xander
They finally started the test about five minutes to three. The doctor hung around the entire hour of the test... and then disappeared for an hour after it. It wasn't until then that we were told he passed. We had seen the nurses tell other patients their children passed, yet we were told we had to wait for the doctor. She came up to us and said that they had decided they would allow us to take Xander home but it was against their better judgement. Really? Are you sure you weren't influenced a bit by us commenting that we would transfer him to another hospital if he wasn't released? For the record, his pediatrician, several people I know in the medical field, and our midwives could not understand why he was still in the hospital at that point anyway.

So, on his three-week birthday and after two hours of baby care "education," we finally got to walk out of the hospital!

Mom took us out for a celebration dinner at a local steakhouse/ sandwich shop we've frequented since my sister and I were little kids. It's still one of my favorite places... and surprisingly vegetarian friendly. Xander got all kinds of attention and all he did was lie there sleeping! He woke shortly into dinner and spent his time quietly looking around and taking it all in. You could almost feel how much more relaxed we all were... even Xander.


Cats in the Crib
We drove home, anxious to see how the cats would take to him. The poor cats had barely seen us for the past three weeks and were growing desperate for attention. We were greeted at the door as usual. Ross set the carrier down on the floor and they both approached it cautiously, sniffing the air the whole time. Xander made a little squeak and the cats bolted. That's pretty much how they reacted for the next week. Pandora still keeps her distance, but Selune took to him pretty quickly. She even gets a bit protective when anyone other than Ross, Mom or myself is holding him. When Mom's little chihuahua mix got near and tried to sniff Xander, Selune stood between them and hissed. It was hilarious!


01 February 2011

Catching Up: Part 1- The Hospital

Snoozing
Wow... once again I drag my journal out of near death to post. Life has been interesting in the last few months and I'm not sure I can capture it all as well as I would have if I'd posted as it happened.

We practically had to kidnap our own son from the NICU... they didn't want to let him go. He was breathing on his own and steadily gaining weight for some time. They were concerned because he wasn't drinking his entire bottle by mouth and because he kept desatting (an indicator his oxygen levels were low).

Grumpy Baby
I was often pointing out that their machines were obviously not functioning properly. At times it would show he had stopped breathing, yet there he laid all pink and perfect. Other times showed his heart had stopped and on he lived. One nurse was new to the NICU and pretty much the only one we liked. She told us outright that the sensors were not designed for babies as large as Xander so there were a lot of errors. Despite this, the doctors kept saying they were holding him until he no longer desatted. Once the doctors realized we knew this little tidbit, they started to focus on his supposed lack of weight gain.

Dinner Time
I had to pump breastmilk right from day one, because they couldn't allow him to eat for a few days. He was sustained by IV for several days and then fed by a tube. He was almost two weeks old before they even allowed him to attempt to eat by mouth and they refused me the chance to breastfeed until they felt he could suck better. When we were finally able to breastfeed, we were surrounded by three nurses, a lactation consultant, a doctor and Mom.

Needless to say, it was a bit stressful and not at all successful. Jill came to visit now and then and tried to help, but it still was a struggle. After so long eating by tube and then bottle, breastfeeding was too much effort for Xander. I continued to pump... and still do.

With Cousin Mackenzie
The doctors started to claim that he was only gaining weight because he was being fed by tube. They claimed he didn't have the tongue motions down for sucking. (I should interject here that we later discovered Xander started teething at this time and that is what was most likely causing the tendency to chew rather than suck on his bottles.) I frequently argued with nurses and doctors that it made no sense to reward him for not eating by giving him the remaining food by tube. How was he to learn to work for food if he never had to work for it? How was he to understand hunger if he never got hungry? I also pointed out that breastfed infants frequently eat every two hours... not the every three they fed him to meet their schedule. (Don't even get me started on the severe diaper rash he got because of their "cluster care!")


With Cousin Nevaeh
It finally came to a point that we were allowed to stay with him in a room in the maternity ward. The doctor led us to believe that we could feed him on our own schedule. It wasn't to be. Once we were settled into the room, the nurse proceeded to explain how Xander must get so many ounces depending on when he last ate (for example: if he last ate two hours ago, he needed to eat one ounce or if he last ate four hours ago he had to eat two ounces) and could not go more than four hours between feedings. They threatened that if he did not get a certain amount in within the span of a nurse's shift that the remainder would be pumped into his tube. We struggled through that weekend... Xander, Ross, Mom and myself... but we met their demands and he gained weight.

All Dressed
Ahhh... the weight gain. I need to explain that further. The doctors were requiring Xander to gain an ounce a day before they would allow him to go home. An ounce per day! The normal weight gain for that age is a quarter ounce to an ounce per day and rarely will a baby gain an ounce every day. Even when we later discussed the weight issue with Jill and Xander's pediatrician, they both had the same befuddled look. Neither could believe the doctors actually expected that kind of weight gain.

So, we get through the weekend. He gained over two ounces over the weekend while in our care. (Poor kid... we stuffed him!) We were told before the weekend that he could go home if he showed consistent weight gain over a few days. We reminded his doctors of this on Monday. They started to hem and haw and babbled on about how he had lost weight on Friday night. I pointed out that he wasn't in our care until Friday night, so his loss happened while he was in the care of the nurses... yet he gained more than they required while in our care over the weekend. I confronted the doctor on the ridiculousness of keeping him simply for weight monitoring, particularly when we live nearly across the street from his pediatrician.

After a Bath
Well, when she can't defend that stance, she points out he hasn't passed his car seat test. *sigh* He had (supposedly) failed the test the first attempt a week earlier. I requested that they do the test immediately and she says they like to wait until evening because babies are sleepy then. I point out that the nurses frequently tell me he doesn't sleep at night... actually he sleeps very little compared to most babies... so they could at least attempt the test. It began to feel like they were stalling. I say this because they kept claiming to be busy even though Xander was one of only four babies in the NICU that day and there were five nurses on. They finally began the test about five minutes before the time Mom and I would normally leave to go prep supper for Ross and ourselves. Little did they know that we had a different schedule in mind that day...