28 Jul 2011

Sitting in the Morning Sun

I mentioned before how we had a rough first week with Hannah. The fact that I could barely manage just Hannah by myself did not instill confidence in me that I would be able to manage both kids. But obviously Chris couldn't stay home forever, and I knew that there would be difficult days, but that I would figure out a way to make it work.

During my second day alone with the kids Jayce had an accident on the couch while I was nursing Hannah. Then she cried inconsolably for 25+ minutes while Jayce walked beside me repeatedly asking to go outside. There was another day where both children were extra needy and crying at the same time, and I sat on the couch bouncing one in each arm.

But those two days were the worst (so far), and I have finally figured out something that works for us, particularly when they are both being a bit difficult. I rejected this at first, thinking it would be too hard, but for right now it is perfect. We go outside.

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The temperature has been scorching these past few weeks, but our backyard is shaded all morning and afternoon by either the house or the trees depending on the time of day. The large field behind our house ensures that there is always a breeze coming our way.

While we're outside Jayce plays at his water table. He cooks food and coffee for me, he fills up his squirt gun and squirts various things around the yard and deck, he empties the water and then turns on the hose to fill it up again, or make mud, or spray the deck. Often the neighbor kids come over and participate as well, and it is perfect. He has playmates and I can watch them from just feet away.

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Meanwhile, Hannah and I take to the swing. I spread out a blanket, strip her down and lay her out on it. If she has been fussy, the warmth of the air soothes her and the bright sun coaxes her eyes shut. We swing together and she sleeps. If she wakes up, I can spread her across my lap and talk to her, or put her up on my shoulder to make sure that a burp hasn't gotten in the way of her nap time.

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Once Hannah is deep into her nap, I wrap her up in a blanket, take her inside to finish her nap and head back outside to give Jayce my undivided attention. Then we play until lunchtime. If Jayce is fine with me participating from the sidelines, then I'll keep Hannah outside with us, so that I can enjoy both of my children together.

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I have come to really enjoy this time with them. There is something about us all being outside, with no TV or computer around to distract us from being silly and engaging one another. I've told Chris that these last few weeks I keep singing "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay," because I kind of feel like that's what I'm doing a lot of right now. (The first part anyway, not the rather depressing second and third verses.)

I'm just sitting, watching my kids, enjoying the sun, and loving it.

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Linking to the Weiglands, and Embrace the Camera.

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26 Jul 2011

My Big Boy

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Here is my favorite photo from last week, of Jayce outside playing just after Chris sprayed him with the hose. That haircut makes him look so much older than a freshly minted 3 year old. I may never do clippers again.

Linking to Sweet Shot Tuesday.

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25 Jul 2011

Learning

I saw this old wash basin at a flea market last summer and thought it would be so cute to tuck a little baby into to photograph. It has been in the basement ever since, and I smiled when I brought it back out a few weeks ago. I'm excited for when Hannah is big enough to be photographed with it full of water and bubbles as well.

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In these last few months, I have remembered how there is a real learning curve when you have a new baby.

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It's the time when you get to put into practice all of that advice that you've been reading and hearing for months. It's the time you start trying out all of those new baby gadgets (the Itzbeen has been fabulous for this sleepy momma), and discovering what works for you and your little one.

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We have been surprised to discover that, though we thought we were fairly adept parents, we are more like brand new parents all over again since Hannah has already proven to be completely different than Jayce. We have re-hit the baby books and websites numerous times as we learn about our new little one. It's all new again, as she has different sleep preferences, means for soothing, eating habits, crying habits, etc. I've also had to re-learn to not freak out about everything, and stop comparing her to her brother at the same age.

I've learned that if she'd rather suck on her knuckles instead of the pacifier, to just let her go. I'll just photograph the evidence to show her when she's older.

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Our learning hasn't stopped with baby Hannah. We are learning to parent a 3 year old who is more needy than he used to be. We are learning how to talk to one another when there is only an hour when the children are both sleeping, we are "off duty," and need to be sleeping. We are learning that some of the activities that we enjoyed as a family of three are just as great as a family of four. We are learning that it is starting to get easier, and at the end of each successful day we feel empowered to take on the next.

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I am learning that now that I have 2 children, I will probably never have pictures on the blog from the current week, as these are of my sweet 3 week old baby, and she is now double that age.

I am learning that I will never get all of my photos edited unless I stop taking pictures each day, a trade off that I am unwilling to make. Some day I will learn to be okay with that.

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I am learning that if I need a nap, but instead try to "power through nap time so that I can get caught up on everything," that in the end I will still not be caught up and will need the nap more than ever.

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Hannah is learning to self soothe, and luckily for all of us she is learning quickly! I think she had it after the first 24 hours, but I don't want to celebrate prematurely. I am so glad that there wasn't days of crying involved, because I personally haven't learned how to self soothe without chocolate, and there would have been plenty of that.

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Linking to Picture Me Imperfectly.

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

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22 Jul 2011

Wipeout

I'm sure we aren't the only household that experiences the magical living room transformation that occurs the morning after watching Wipeout. Or the day leading up to Wipeout. Or while watching Wipeout.

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Allow me to introduce the Wipeout course. This starting point (pictured above) had been changed, since the other day Jayce fell backwards off of it and almost gave me a heart attack. He caught himself on the edge of the couch right as he was about to hit the floor, and laughed it off. He immediately told me, "Mom, not worry mom. I'm okay." And I immediately told him, "You are not allowed to stand on there anymore. We need to find a new spot to start on."

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The couch, which you must run across without falling into the "yucky water." You'll notice the obstacles along the way, including the pile of "things I fall into." (Items in "quotes" are Jayce's terms.)

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There is a tunnel to crawl through and a big red ball, that people fall off of and "bonk their heads."

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The ottoman is the alternate starting point or the ending point. If it is the ending point, than there will be a hardback book on top of it, which Jayce stands on when he "gets all the points." He also will tell me, "Mom I winned! I got all the points!" If I respond with, "Yeah, you won!" he will then start saying, "I one." while holding up 1 finger. Apparently he doesn't seem to understand the past tense of win.

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Unfortunately for Chris and I, the Wipeout course is where we used to sit and occasionally talk. Luckily, Jayce will re-direct us if we forget, like yesterday when Chris and I were talking and Jayce said, "Dad, this is the Wipeout course. Sit at the table in the kitchen, Dad."

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Thanks Jayce.

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19 Jul 2011

Rocking, Not Sleeping

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Little Hannah, you have just drifted off to sleep.

You might have drifted off 2 minutes ago, or 20 minutes ago. I'm so tired, and would love to take that advice that is so readily handed out to "sleep when the baby sleeps." I should be sleeping, but I'm not.

Instead, I'm smiling at your little fist that is clutching the fold in my shirt. Your other arm is slung over my arm, swaying along with the rhythm of the chair.

I'm listening to your newborn breaths, quick and shallow, except for the occasional squeak. When I put you down you will start grunting, and I'll start wondering if you're about to wake up and trying to give you the pacifier that you have spit out and rejected. But, for now, rocking keeps the grunting at bay, and we can both relax.

I want to close my eyes, but instead I am staring at your little face. Your eyes open periodically, flick around the room and then close again, sleepily. Your mouth is a tight little line, opening sometimes to get more breath, for your lips to settle into a round O like you're drinking from a straw, or for a sweet smile to appear, slowly spreading across your face from one side to the other.

I am trying to get you to lay flat across my shoulder, or my chest, so that I can get a good burp out of you. But you immediately push against me just enough to tuck your legs up under your body. You simultaneously slide your arms down, stack them on top of one another, and then plop your chin on top. I want to laugh at this baby version of the old school "senior portrait pose," but it actually looks sweet on a baby. It just draws me into staring at you even longer, and rewarding your plump cheeks with kisses.

I know that I won't be able to get a burp out of you like this. You're curled into a sleepy ball on my shoulder, and instead of straightening you out, I settle in to rock.

Pretty soon you'll stop folding your legs under you in that newborn baby way. You'll be too long and too heavy to sit so high on my shoulder. You'll become more alert and less willing to ignore the distractions and drift to sleep in my arms.

So, for now, I'm breathing in your baby smell, singing softly to you, smiling in the dark, and rocking, not sleeping.



15 Jul 2011

Jayce Lately

With all of the excitement (and pictures) surrounding Hannah this last little bit, I hope you don't think I've forgotten about my biggest baby. (Who looks like he's about 8 years old in these pictures.) Unfortunately, I haven't gotten as many photos of him recently as I normally do. This is not because I'm too busy photographing Hannah, but because I'm too busy holding Hannah, who's poor belly is still not completely right, and often needs to be held upright to be comfortable. I love the snuggles, but it's killing my back and not leaving me with any free hands for a camera. So I take advantage when I can, like these from when we were playing outside the other day.

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Here are a few Jayce-isms of these past few months.

Whenever we went to the doctor for the last few months of my pregnancy Jayce would go with us. The first time that he heard the heartbeat, he glanced up quickly and when we asked him if he knew what that noise was, he replied with a smile, "A choo choo!!" We corrected him, but he's right, if you aren't thinking "heartbeat" it really does sound like a train. Also, when I was pregnant he would mimic Chris by checking on me a lot. It would always crack me up when he would run over to me and say, "Erin, are you okay Mom?" Luckily I've nipped the "Erin" thing in the bud.


Chris and Jayce have a new game at the end of the night when Jayce gets his allergy medicine.

Jayce climbs up on the barstool in our kitchen and orders various foods from the waiter (Chris), including his medicine. It is rather elaborate, with "sir" thrown in almost constantly.

Chris: Hello sir, what can I get for you tonight?

Jayce: Hello, waiter sir, I want some corn soup, strawberries, and broccoli, sir.

Chris: Okay sir, I'll get those for you. How about some medicine, sir?

Jayce: Okay sir. (drinks medicine) Thank you, sir.

Etcetera etcetera. With a million variations. It is normally a much longer exchange between Jayce sir and waiter sir, (sometimes called 'Dad sir'), but I need to move on for now.

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He has started singing a lot. I've mentioned before how Chris will rock and sing to him before bed most evenings, but a few weeks ago Jayce surprised him by suddenly singing along. Now this isn't that crazy of a thing, I've posted videos before of him singing and it's not a strange thing for a child to do. But it wasn't the Itsy Bitsy Spider or something simple like that, it was Dixieland Delight, by Alabama. He knows all of the words, and not just the chorus! It's kind of funny, and kind of adorable. I couldn't resist trying myself and came to discover that he knows all of the words to the songs that I sing him too. So now we sing our bedtime songs together, with is super sweet.

He often wants to be carried upstairs at bedtime, declaring that, "the stairs are too heavy!" I think that one of us must have asked him one time when he requested to be carried upstairs, "Oh, are your legs too heavy?" and he is a bit mixed up. But we haven't corrected this yet and I think it's cute.

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Yesterday Chris went to assist Jayce at the end of a trip to the potty. As Chris walked in the room, Jayce said, "Ta da!"

Chris: I don't know where you got that, buddy, but I like it. (Alluding obviously to the "ta da.")

Jayce: I got the poop from my booty, and the pee from my penis.

Now what do we do with that?

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13 Jul 2011

Propped

I showed off this knitted cocoon here last month, courtesy of my friend Amanda and her Etsy shop.   But I never showed you any pictures of Hannah in it, so it is about time for that.

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I love how she's all snuggled inside of it, and just her chubby arms and sweet little hands and fingers are popping out.  Too cute!

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She's 2 1/2 weeks old in these pictures.  Old enough for a big streeeeeeetch,

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and a little smile. :)

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These pictures are with this soft baby bowl.  I wasn't exactly sure how to get her picture in it, so I tried a few different times.

These are from when she was 2 days, fresh from the hospital.

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Then again at 5 days.

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She was just awake enough to want to stretch her legs, and they kept springing from the bowl for pictures like these, which made me laugh.  :

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I tried again at 2 1/2 weeks one day when she was good and milk-drunk, and got just what I was looking for.

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Legs still folded in that newborn way, starting-to-get-round belly, no diaper and luckily her feet were positioned to maintain her modesty. Too sweet.

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What do you think?  Pretty cute, right?

What are your favorite baby photo props?

 

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11 Jul 2011

Such a Rough Week From Such a Pretty Little Thing

Now that Hannah is over a month old I can finally talk about her first week at home, which was a nightmare. Whenever I think that, I have to admit that there was nothing outrageously horrible, and there were no tragedies or emergencies. But it was a rough rough week for us. I debated about just not writing about it, but I do want to remember the good and the bad.

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I think I have said this before, but Jayce was an easy baby. We knew that before and would readily admit that we were lucky, but we have come to realize over the last month just how lucky we were, because Hannah is not quite as easy. She is not difficult, probably more in the normal range, but since we were used to "easy" it seems a lot harder for us. That first week was rough.

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On the day that we came home from the hospital, Hannah went for 8 hours without eating. I couldn't get her to wake up enough to eat and I was STRESSED!

In the past, when people have made comments about not being able to wake up their sleepy baby to eat, I admit that in the back of my mind I just assumed that they weren't trying hard enough. But I won't do that anymore, because we tried everything with Hannah and she just wouldn't open her little eyes. (It gave me a little comfort when we she had her heel pricks to check her bili levels and didn't even wake up for that. If she doesn't wake up when they draw blood, than there is little I can do with a cold towel!)

Anyway, she wasn't latching incredibly well and the sleepiness wasn't helping anything, so as soon as we got home from the hospital Chris headed out of town to the nearest Babies R Us for a nipple shield. We figured we'd remove one obstacle since the main objective at that point was just for her to eat. She did eventually nurse after that 8 hours, but I was stressed about her having missed 2 feedings, particularly in that period where it is so important for regulating milk production, etc, etc. I cried a lot that day.

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That night, Hannah nursed okay. Not great but okay, and the next morning you could really tell. She was so yellow. She hadn't had a problem with jaundice when we left the hospital, but she obviously had one then. I picked up one of my baby books and started reading. It reiterated several worries that I was already aware of: nursing at periods longer than 2-3 hours had an adverse affect on milk production (check), could result in jaundice (check), drop in baby's weight (check), not to use a pacifier because of possible nipple confusion (check), not to use a nipple shield because it would decrease milk production, cause more nipple confusion, delay the baby learning to latch and nurse properly (check). I put the book down, went into our room and cried.

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We called the nurses at the hospital (who had been AMAZING) because they had encouraged us to call if we had any questions or concerns. Actually I made Chris call because I couldn't talk about any of it without crying. They told us to bring her in and they would weigh her and check her bili, so back to the hospital we went. We had only been discharged for about 24 hours.

They weighed her and she had dropped weight. They did a heel prick and she didn't wake up. The results showed that her bili had gone from an 8 (which is no concern) to a 13.5 overnight, and they treat once it reaches a 15. I talked to the nurses about how nursing was going, they watched and told me that I was doing everything right, but she was a sleepy baby, a lazy nurser, and she has some problem with her tongue that kept her from being able to nurse well. They gave us a sheet of exercises to do with her to help draw her tongue out, which might help. I cried and cried at each stage.

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Then we had a ray of hope. While we were at the hospital my milk came in. Hannah nursed much better that evening. We were confident that things were getting better. We had her bili checked that day and it was slightly higher, but the doctor was not concerned. He was confident that, now that my milk was in, things would be better. I still cried, but with a little less despair.

But that evening, around 11 pm, Hannah started crying and didn't stop until 3:30 am. We tried everything to get her to stop. Mylicon, rocking, walking, nursing (which she refused), burping, swaddling, swinging, tv, over and over. Her crying turned to screaming, she was bucking and arching her back and we didn't know what to do. We decided to try some formula, which calmed her for a second, and then she fell asleep, exhausted. We fell asleep exhausted and shaken. And yes, I cried.

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The next day I removed every food that I had eaten the previous day from my diet. We about talked about reflux...and the dreaded colic. I called my friends whose children had allergies to their milk to see how their kids had behaved and tried to assess our situation based on their examples. We got the formula and bottles ready, and Chris bought nursery water in case we'd be making more formula that evening. Hannah was sleepier than usual that day, probably from crying for 4 hours straight as a 4 day old. We dreaded the evening and got more anxious as it got later in the day and night.

That night she cried again. Luckily it didn't last as long and there were periods of quiet in between the screaming, which we took comfort in. We had the formula ready, which she didn't drink tons of, but for some reason the bottle would calm her down enough to go to sleep. We were so glad that she was comfortable enough to sleep, but all of the bottles and formula had me stressed about all of the nursing issues that we had already been dealing with: milk production, not latching, nursing lazily, etc. As she looked sweetly into my face while taking her bottle of formula, Chris breathed a sigh of relief but I burst into tears. Sigh. It almost stresses me out now to remember how much crying I did that week.

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Hannah ate well that day and her color was finally starting to improve. But that night, our dinner made my stomach sick, so we decided that I would just "pump and dump," and we would give her bottles of my previously pumped milk. She ate fine, slept fine and didn't cry at all. Since we were assuming that she was having stomach/gas problems, we put her to sleep in the bouncy seat so that she would be upright. It seemed to work. The next night was the same, no crying.

We were too nervous to celebrate. We didn't know if the nights of crying were a fluke or if the nights of sleeping were a fluke. Chris was still saying the word colic every day, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I took comfort in the fact that we had eventually been able to comfort her, since most of the babies I knew of with colic were completely inconsolable every night. It was a tiny thing but I was holding onto it tightly!

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We ended up at the hospital one more time that week, when her "about to fall off" umbilical cord stuck to my shirt and ripped off. And there was blood. The doctor fixed her up quickly, was not concerned, and I tried not to think about how many times my 1 week old had been back to the hospital since her discharge.

By her 1 week check up the dark cloud had lifted. She was almost back to her birth weight (only 2 ounces to go), her color was good, we had 4 nights of non-crying and the doctor dismissed the nights of crying as "probably just gas." He had no concerns, and strangely, we had no questions. The nights of calm had calmed our fears.

At my 1 week check up my doctor said, "Well, have you had any baby blues? Been crying this week at all?" and I burst into tears. I was prescribed some "get out of the house once a day" and "get more sleep," which worked like a charm.

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That was a bad week, but it seems that we crammed all of the "bad" into one week, because otherwise Hannah has been a joy. We spent the month figuring out her little nuances, likes and dislikes. Though she has a few times a day when she is a bit fussy, they almost aren't worth mentioning after enduring those few nights of screaming. There have been no more prolonged crying fits, and she is eating well and picking up weight steadily.

Aside from those periods of craziness, Hannah is the most beautiful and peaceful little thing. These pictures are all from when she was 4 days old, and might give some perspective to why I turned to Chris in the middle of that week and said, "I think I want 2 more babies." We won't talk about what he said.

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