Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Babywearing 101

I was not going to be one of those mothers.
I was not going to "cave" and carry my child around as much as he desired.
I was not going to spoil him and train him that he had me wrapped around his pinkie
I was going to let him "cry it out" from day one
I was going to teach him that he was a part of our family, not the center of it, by teaching him how to self soothe from the very beginning - by giving him forced alone time in his crib (during which I assumed he'd play quietly. As a newborn. what was I thinking?)
By this method surely he would become socialized, he would be pleasant, he would rarely cry, and everyone would comment on what a well behaved baby he was. Right?

The truth?
This child cries (a lot) more than I expected. Especially between 5pm and 10pm. Usually all of those 5 hours are spent trying to get this child not to cry. Now, mind you, the remainder of his day is spent sleeping, but those 5 hours are, without a doubt, the most difficult of our day. So what do we do? we cater to this child as much as we possibly can. We carry him, bounce him, swaddle him, bathe him, and yes, wear him... and the wearing part - well, I love every minute of it (until my back and shoulders remind me it's probably time to put him down)

We are now the proud owners of three babywearing devices. See below:

This is a moby. Levi HATED the moby at first (until we realized he really didn't hate it, he was jus desperately hungry. Problem fixed) then we learned to put him into babywearing devices while he is assleep. Wow, that worked!

This is an Over the shoulder baby holder. It's a sling. Old school, I know. But this devise allows me to sit down while wearing him. It gets uncomfortable after a while, but in the short term it's a great pick.

This last one, thanks to my sister Shelly, is the well known baby bjorn. Probably the easiest of the three for me to maneuver all alone, this carrier is great for walking around. It distributes weight evenly and fits him well. The downside? it's not as snug and womblike as the previous two so he doesn't tend to sleep as long (that is the goal, you know, more sleep for him and more getting-things-done for me).

Do I wear my baby all day? obviously not. You've seen pleanty of pictures of him in the swing, the bouncy seat, his crib, the bassenet, etc. But what these carriers do (like the swaddle) is keep him from starteling himself with his hands. That alone is pricesless. Just priceless. As are these few moments I'm using to update you all on the goings on of a new family. It's amazing what can be done in just a few short moments. Cheers.
- Melissa

The power of the swaddle

So you may remember me mentioning (or if you've been here you've likely seen) the miracle blanket. This blanket, affectionately referred to in our home as the "baby straight jacket" (see link for video demonstration) has true power, I kid you not. Take this morning as an example:

Levi awakes at 5:15 (normal for him) to eat. Upon pulling him out of his crib I find that he is soaked in - well, what else would he be soaked in - pee. Likewise, the miracle blanket we religiously swaddle him in is soaked. This, in my mind, was only the beginning of the end. Trying desperately to find a viable alternative I scoured the closet for a good swaddling blanket. Husband wakes, swaddles child in alternative muslin blanket, and Levi gets fed. Now, after this Levi usually goes back to bed for 3 hours giving mom just enough time to set up for the day. bottles washed and re filled, lunch made (for myself and hubby) and a bit of breakfast down the hatch. Laundry started (including that precious blanket...) But no. He wouldn't have it. The alternative, while wonderful as a lightweight blanket, simply wouldn't keep those pesky hands at his sides. So there sat Levi, screaming in his crib. SCREAMING, while mom and dad ate eggs and toast with grimaces on their faces. This is not how mornings usually go all thanks to that soaking wet miracle blanket.

And then the clouds parted. Dad took that alternative muslin wrap and secured our son so tight I could swear he was actually a burrito. Awake, he placed him in his bouncy seat (we can so rarely put him down when he's awake without suffering the consequences) and would you believe what happened? The child fell asleep promptly. fast asleep. Thank you daddy, for saving our day.

Laundry is in, mommy is fed, lunches are made, hopefully more milk is being produced in preparation for the next feeding and yes, the day will go on. Which is good, because we're going into review professional photos today to pick out a birth announcement. Keep an eye on those mail boxes (assuming I get them sent out in a reasonable amount of time).

Oh, and in case you want to enjoy it as much as I am right now, below is what our sleeping child looks at at this very moment. Very nice, very nice.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Not Me" Monday

"Not Me Monday" was the idea and creation of blogger "MckMama" (see her fascinating blog here) and so, in cooperation with she and a large following of other guilt reducing mothers, I plan to participate. Below are a few of the things that I certainly did NOT do last week. Doing these things would have been simply improper, lazy, un-motherly, and in so many other ways, just wrong. So, here we go.

I did not eat a chicken leg and an oreo for breakfast yesterday because they were easier to grab than a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast. No, those things hold little nutrition and I certainly wouldn't have done that. I also did not have a bowl of pasta salad for lunch - forsaking all notions of vegetables and fruit. Had I done that I would surely have had something healthy by now (a whole day later).

I did not swaddle my child in our only miracle blanket which was only slightly damp with what had leaked out of his diaper. That would have been gross. I also did not attempt to continue feeding him practically all day yesterday because he fussed (or slept) practically all day. Doing so would surely show a lack of coping ability on my part and likely some form of neglect for his other, non food needs. Saying this, I must also confirm that I do not associate every one of his cries with hunger. Not me. I know better.

I did not turn the baby monitor off because Levi's cry was just too loud. I also did not turn it up later on to try to hear him breath after he stopped fussing and then procede to request that my husband go in and check on our (no longer fussing) son, risking a potential wake-up. No, I'm confident that once the child stops crying it's because he's assleep, not because he's stopped breathing. What a silly notion that would be for a first time mother to have!

I did not balk when my dear husband wanted to take the (finally) sleeping baby out of the sling he was wearing him in because he needed to use the bathroom. that sure would have been insensitive and rude.
I did not eat tost over my nursing child, douseing him in crumbs. Later I did not eat a grilled cheese sandwich over the same nursing child.

And most of all I am not wondering how in the world I will manage with this newly fussier baby once that dear husband of mine returns to work today after 5 days off.

And, now you know about all those things I certainly haven't done this past week. Whew, feels better, cleansing almost!
Happy Monday everyone.

One month old today!

It's true, our little man has been in our an entire month. Sometimes it feels like it's been far longer than that (the middle of the night, for example) while other times I look back at pictures from the day he was born and it seems like only yesterday.
Speaking of yesterday - we had to adjust our carseat for our extra-long son before we went out and about yesterday. He's pretty skinny still but, man, his length is incredible! I've got him in 3-6 month clothes to accommodate his length and his puffy cloth diapers. He's finally filled out enough that we can put him in his [more convenient] snapping and velcroing cloth diapers (which, by the way, we love). True, they are very big on him, but they contain SO MUCH more mess than disposables. They have a fleece outer layer that's next to his skin and an absorbant microfiber core that sucks all that pee away from his bottom. The diaper can be FULL and still feel dry next to his little bottom. We love them!...and aparently so does he. Hey, who wouldn't want super soft fleece next to their bottom all day?

So, happy one month birthday little Levi. You present us with daily joy and daily challenge (ahem, breastfeeding, ahem) and we love the bajeebers out of you. Keep growing, keep sleeping well at night, keep enjoying your bathtime routine, and we'll keep loving and learning about this parenting thing.
- mom and dad

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

To my 9lb boy

Nine pounds! little man you are growing so fast! Now, mind you, we're doing one heck of a lot of work to get you to grow. Between all our breastfeeding, formula feeding, finger feeding, bottle feeding, and everything else we've tried, aparently you've managed to get a good load of calories in that little body of yours. Good for you!

Levi, you are already outgrowing your 0-3 month clothes, but not because you've got any chub on you. No, you're just so darn long we can't get the snaps to fasten. Now I'll admit, part of that is due to the puffy cloth diapers we have you in, but you are very very long indeed. While bath time has become a bit more enjoyable for you, diaper changes are your least favorite. Maybe that's because we change you right before you eat. it seems like you're ALWAYS hungry.

Grandma and Granddad are visiting you this week from their home in Seattle. Man, have you been pampered or what? You can most often be found sleeping in the arms of one of your doting grandparents - unless of course you're eating, did I mention that you do a lot of that? All your grandparents love you so much they're all coming out here to see you. Mommy and Daddy are getting a little more sleep while they're here to coddle you and make you happy as a clam. The only question is, what will we do when they leave?

So far it appears as though you like car rides (what baby doesn't?) but the carseat is not your favorite. We strap you in and you scream bloody murder - until we get that car going anyhow. You also aren't a fan of being put in your crib. The bassenett is the only thing that will do and, unless you're swaddled tightly so you don't startle yourself with your hands, you don't really like it there either. Nope, we done spoiled you!

Little Levi, I'm so anxious for you to grow and develop. I long to see you smile, to reach for things, to soothe yourself and to have extended periods of being both awake and happy. At the same time though I want you to stay small and wrinkly. While I can't wait for you to hold your head up on your own, it really is cute the way you flop it around. We love you so very much Levi and we pray every day that this 9 pound boy will grow into a heavyweight man of God - he loves you more than we do you know.

For now, keep growing Levi. Keep packing on those pounds and for goodness sake keep improving that suck of yours. It's getting better, slowly, but it could still use some big help. Not sure yet how we'll manage feeding you, but fear not you will be fed. We love you little one!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ecosensitivity has its limits

We have less time than we've ever had before.
You shouldn't be - we have a newborn. But you knew that.

We bought our house just over one year ago and with it purchased a number of items that every homeowner needs. Things like a weed-wacker, a lawn mower, and a ladder. Rewind - lawn mower? well, actually what we bought was this.

It worked quite well for us. We mowed twice a week. I did it once and Jonathan did it once. I'll admit, I had high aspirations for us as we embarked upon life with a newborn. I imagined myself out mowing the lawn while little man was napping. To borrow a couple phrases from the movie Clueless: Right. as if.

So, as a wonderful fathers day gift for my wonderful husband (ok, it was purely coincidental that we happened to purchase it on fathers day) we bought the lovely item pictured below.

So, did we cave? Unequivocally, yes. But I must remind myself (and you, too) that when life changes you must change with it in order to maintain your very own sanity. That's not to say, however, that you won't see us out doing the following again, our "snipper clipper" is far from retired:In other news it looks like our little boy is enjoying his granddad - or is it the other way around? Decide for yourself
- Melissa

Saturday, June 20, 2009

playing the waiting game

Blood work came back Friday - well, half of it did anyway. Apparently there is a slight chance that my thyroid is acting up, but I emphasize, that is a slight chance. If my milk troubles aren't caused by my thyroid then we're at a complete loss for understanding why in the world this is all happening. I'm kind of numb to it now though. I want to make sure my little guy gets fed, that's really my bottom line. At this point I'm not sure I care so much how he gets fed. That said, I've discovered that my entire "need" to breastfeed him is almost as much for me as it is for him. Yes, I want him to have the "best", but I also want the experience, the bonding, the satisfaction, and the pride.

Pride. doesn't it all come down to pride in the end. I was talking to my little man sometime around 4:00 this morning over a nice early meal of milk from my dear friend Dani (gosh, I should tell her she's made it into my blog shouldn't I?) and this verse came to mind: "Micah 6:8 And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to lover mercy, and to walk humbly with your God". Humbly huh? what God - do you expect me to give up some of my deepest desires for your glory - do you expect me to walk humbly with you when I haven't a CLUE why you're headed in a given direction? I have a very good feeling the answer is yes.

I am aware that I am in need of some perspective about this whole issue. I'm grateful for those few who have "been here" and have recently shared their stories of grieving and guilt with me. I am grieving. Does that sound odd? I never imagined I would feel like this because, after all, this whole thing is about feeding the child right? incredibly, as I said before, it really is important to me that I"m able to do it, as it is important to me that he can benefit from it. Stemming from a bit of selfish pride, I have no doubt there are a few things for me to learn here.

For now, I need to let this go. Eventually of course I'll need to decide how feeding this little guy will work. Not just how he'll get nourished (that's rather easy, actually), but how that will fit in with my sanity. I do have to be able to leave the house after all. I figure within the next week or so we'll have it ironed out, although I'm not sure at all how it will look yet.

In other news Jonathan is in the car right now headed for Omaha to pick up my dad and Mimi who are waiting at the airport there. Their connecting flight from Denver to Lincoln was canceled last night so they spent an unexpected night in Colorado. They'll be with us for a week, admiring their grandson and hopefully getting us some much needed rest. I'll be sure to post pleanty of pictures from their visit.

Our little man is chunking up beautifully as you'll see below. I'm not eager for him to grow out of his wrinkly newborn skin, but it's wonderful to know he's putting on a healthy amount of weight .

Oh, and yes ineed, that is a lovely cloth diaper isn't it? I have a load of them the was at this very second actually. Newborn prefolds are great for a variety of uses not the least of which is acting as changing pad covers when all of ours have been pooped or peed on (ahem, daily)

- Melissa

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The mystery of the missing milk

Remember when I said I regreted having looked down upon the decisions of other mothers? decisions such as whether or not to breastfeed for example... well, lets just say my perspective is completely different than it ever has been because of the place I currently find myself. In past years I would have looked upon a bottle feeding mommy with a bit of distain. Why, WHY would a mother choose to bottlefeed her child when she obviously has two breasts? I mean, naturally, she should breastfeed that child to give it the best start possible right? Well, come to find out, it isn't always that cut and dry.

Yesterday Little Levi and I went to see a doctor. This doctor, a special kind of MD, focuses on lactation and milk removal (i.e. my ability to make it and his ability to take it out of me, because the two processes are intimately related) What we discovered is, not only is Levi's suck quite disorganized (he has trouble with even the easiest of bottles), but my ability to make milk is what they call "marginal". I make about half of what he needs. So today, Levi in tow, I went to a lab to have four blood tests. One specifically will look at how much "prolactin" (milk making hormone) I make, while another identifies if i may have a thyroid problem. It is unlikely that, at this point, any of these issues could be fixed enough that I could achieve my "dream" of giving my son 100% breastmilk from his mommy, but at this point we're just trying to figure out what could be going wrong.

In the mean time I have to admit it's quite a struggle to feed this little guy. Each feeding is a one hour affair with a 1-2 hour break afterwards. We start with breastfeeding, 10 minutes on each side. I'm drained before that 10 minutes is up (which frustrates me to no end, every time). Then we shift to the bottle which usually holds liquid gold from my dear friend Dani. Sometimes I have some pumpped milk from myself that I'll give him first. Initially he'll suck vigerously and then, like a light switch, he'll become very discorganized and appear as though he doesn't know how to suck on the bottle at all. The This part lasts about 20 -30 minutes, either until he is zonked out, or until I simply cannot get any more food into him. Why don't I stop feeding him when he becomes discorganized and won't suck? well, because it isn't as though he isn't hungry. He is. I know he is because when I remove that bottle, however disorganized he is, he continues to root around and cry. Besides that, even if he isn't hungry the more we can get into him the faster he'll grow and there is a good body of evidence to prove that the bigger and stronger he is, the faster his suck and ability to get milk will improve - this is our primary goal.

So Here I am for another day. My life really does revolve around feedings. I'm dissapointed, I really wanted things to be different - I really wanted to ENJOY this precious time more and not be quite so irritable. I don't know what God is trying to teach me through all of this but my friend Dani may have put it best when she suggested that this whole experience may be occuring so that I can be of support to someone else down the road. We'll see I guess, but for now it really does suck (no pun intended - there is very little sucking going on)

I'll post a couple new shots when I get a chance later on. The camera must be in the office and I'm firmly planted in the livingroom trying to make sure Levi doesn't lose that Paci that's keeping him calm in his bouncy seat. I was just SURE I was going to teach my son how to "self soothe" but until I figure out just how that's done (suggestions??) I'll stick with what I know will buy me a fey precious moments.
-Melissap.s. Did I mention our little one HATED baths for his first 3 weeks? Well, thanks to a friend, we found out that if we keep a recieving blanket on him in the tub (or sink, in our case) he does MUCH better. He slept through his entire bath last night. I smell progress!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Getting Stuck

I never thought I'd be the type of mother who couldn't watch her children get immunized but, alas, I am "that mother". That mother who must turn away and bite her lip as the nurse puts that tiny needle in her son's thigh. That tiny needle which should, theoretically, protect him from Hepetitis B and other nasty diseases. Why can't I watch? Oh, that one's easy. My son, my offspring, is in pain. Yeah, I'm a softy I know. You see this is the same woman who, while pregnant, swore she would allow her baby to "cry it out" in order to teach him to self soothe, yet now she melts into a bucket of tears when he wails. It's funny how different your viewpoint becomes when the little defensless individual counts on YOU for nearly everything.

Which leads me to another realization I've had recently. In past years I've admittedly been rather hard on other mothers. No, not out loud, not to their faces - but in my own mind I've been both condescending and judgemental. Why would they choose to do A or B when C is obviously the best choice? In the past three weeks I've begun grieving over those past feelings, and truly understanding how difficult dicesion making is when it comes to your kids. Issues such as circumcision, vaccination, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, cloth-diapering, baby-food making, scheduling, breastfeeding and formula feeding become personal decisions. Decisions about these issues quickly shape your parental identity and can bring feelings of guilt and shame when the people closest to you dissagree. Knowing what I know now I am certain I will think twice before I dismiss the careful decision of another mother - it's a lot harder than it looks to decide what's best for your family and your child.

Speaking of cloth diapering, our little man has been in cloth for nearly two weeks now. I wish I had a picture of his cute little cloth covered butt, however the camera rarely makes it into the nursery. Soon enough, soon enough. For our family cloth is working relatively well. Right now we're just using plain old pre-fold diapers with fasteners and plastic velcroable covers. Yeah, he has a pretty puffy butt, and yes, it's more effort to both diaper him and wash his diapers, but we like the concept. He's so little still that he doesn't fit into any of what Jonathan calls his "space diapers' (the bum benious and the fuzzybunz), but that will come in time. We haven't had any leaks or blowouts and, even though we've bought a few packages of disposables for outings etc. I'm sure we've saved some major dough. I'll keep you posted on how this works out as he grows and gets ready to dirty a LOT more diapers.

Little man is sleeping in his carset in fromt of me. It's funny how much is face has changed in just a week. Well, he has gained 14oz in the past four days, so I guess it's believeable that he's a bit chunkier, but I guess I didn't think it could happen so fast. The picture of the day is one of Levi with Daddy last night on the couch. Enjoy, and stay in touch!

Monday, June 15, 2009

To my 8lb boy

My little Levi -
well, you aren't so little anymore I guess. You were born at 7 and a half pounds and today, after dipping to nearly 6lb 13oz, you're at a full 8 pounds. Wow.
I should preface that by first acknowledging that we've worked VERY hard to get you there. Yes, mommy and daddy have been burning the midnight oil to fatten you up. You see, little Levi, you were born with a very poor suck. Since your suck stimulates my milk production (and, as I've noted, you suck quite poorly) I have very little milk. Needless to say this has been a HUGE anxiety producer for your mommy. I have been at milkworks (our local lactation consultant clinic) nearly every day weighing you between nursings. It has been a TON of work. We've also been "triple feeding" you. Do you know what that is? Well, first I breastfeed you for 10 minutes on each side. (probably my favorite part of the whole gig, even though it HURTS due to that poor suck and poor latch of yours), then I give you another 1-2 ounces of formula or breastmilk by bottle or by syringe - whichever you'll take. IF you settle down at that point I hook myself up to the milking machine (aka the hospital grade pump I've been renting weekly) and extract what little I can from myself to give you at your next feeding. It's utterly exhausting (no pun intended). But Levi, we'll do anything for you little buddy.

Your Daddy has been intimately involved with this whole process. He's up with us each night even though he has to go to work each day. I don't know where we'd be right now without the love and support of your daddy. What a blessing he is to us - I think you'll agree.

Mommy has been so frustrated lately and most of that has revolved around your inability to nurse. Why is it that so many women think this comes naturally? It really truely doesn't. Only a week ago we were struggling to get you enough to eat (because I certainly wasn't producing enough) when along came a blessing from the Lord. My dear friend Dani, who has a 4 month old of her own, has offered to share her milk with you! So now, you get everything I can make for you, plus some of hers as well. Ever since she came last Wednesday you have been a MUCH happier camper. You sleep better, you have happy awake time, you are much more of a joy to be around. Praise God for answering our prayers for you to have a full tummy - even though it wasn't the answer I expected.

Yes indeed, your little frame is filling out quickly. You are still sleeping in the bassenet in our room and we love to hear you snore at night. Why? well, it reminds your mommy that you're there & breathing. She's a worry wart you know. Oh Levi, how we love you. I'll write to you as often as you'll sleep here in the sling & let me type. Now though you're waking & it's time to eat. Suck it down my little angel, we'll get better at this together!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Our precious bundle arrived on 5-28-00 at 10:59pm, just one day late. Head to my facebook page for more pictures!= Melissa