Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My almost 17 month old :)

I want to do a quick post about all the things Ryan is doing now.  There are a lot of things about this age that are challenging, but I still love it. He cracks me up and amazes me every day with the things he does and the things he is learning.  Little things that someone else would probably not see the humor in or find all that amazing are funny and amazing to me.  His personality is coming out so much; after having a baby for so long, all the new things he does now are so fun to watch.

He has 15 words now, maybe more if I am forgetting some. I keep adding to the list as I remember new ones. Right now he can say: mama, dada, nana, hi, belly button, cat, thank you, poo poo, hot, baby, uh oh, balloon, boo, apple.   Most of those, anyone but us probably would not know what he was saying, but I guess that's perfectly normal for toddler-speak.  I can really tell his vocabulary is about to explode though!

Every morning when he wakes up, I bring him into bed with us for about 20 minutes. He nurses, then jumps on daddy to wake him up, and then proceeds to be a total goofball.  Last week, he pulled up my shirt and started blowing raspberries on my stomach like we do to him. It was absolutely hilarious and he thought so too!

Whenever anyone comes over to the house (often this includes Todd or I coming home) he has to run and grab something, anything, to show them. Usually whatever toy is closest - he just needs something to show them. He will start to run toward the stairs where the front door is, then stop halfway, turn around to grab a toy, and then finish running to the stairs.

If you sit him in your lap and ask him "what stinks?" he will nonchalantly lift his foot up to your face. Or, if his timing is really good, he'll fart lol.

He claps whenever an audience on TV claps, someone finishes a performance on TV or in real life (like the magician at his friend William's birthday party), or when a song finishes on his CD in the car.

He claps for himself as soon as he goes on the toilet, every time, and looks at you like "come on, I just peed, aren't you going to clap?!"

He kicks his right shoe off nonstop, it's impossible to keep it on.  It's not that he doesn't want it on, because he'll give it to you and want you to put it right back on, he just likes to kick it off. This exasperates me in the food store because I have 2 options the whole time, 1) constantly put the shoe back on or 2) respond to every fellow, well-meaning shopper that yes, I know he's missing a shoe, it's in the cart, thanks! lol.   His shoe has also been returned to the courtesy desk.  As I type this, I realize I should just take both shoes off in the food store. Then he can't kick one off, and nobody will think he's missing one...duh!

He has 10 teeth now.

He can sign "more," "please," "water," and "milk."

He just learned to throw kisses and it's adorable.  He also just started bringing his lips to mine when I ask him for a kiss, it melts my heart.

He is into everything - I can't keep up with him. Thank God I do not have one of those husbands who comes home and says "what do you do all day?" when the house is a mess, there are dishes everywhere and piles of laundry. Some days it's amazing how little I can get done no matter how hard I try.

We just broke ground on our new house!  Closing date is set for 8/28. I can't wait. We will have so much space, and finally a backyard for Ryan.

He has started to climb. He can get up onto some big toys, and the chairs to his toddler-size table, and stand up high. I alternated between running over and making him get down, and letting him be. If I see that there's nothing around that would really hurt him if he fell, and he's not up high, I try to take a deep breath and let him be, because he does need to fall a few times and learn from it.

He loves to help me with laundry. He can unload the dryer into a basket, and will also load it if I hand him the things from the washing machine one by one. He is very precise about it. If something falls on the floor or is hanging out of the dryer, he quickly fixes it.

He loves to take his toys and pitch them over the baby gate to watch them bounce down the stairs. This drives me crazy. Any toys he throws down there he doesn't get back for the rest of the day. He has 900 toys; this doesn't phase him.

He loves his daddy. He says "dada" constantly - at least 200 times for every "mama."  He mainly says "mama" in the middle of whining of he's upset about something, or impatient for a meal. When you come in our door downstairs, the alarm beeps, and as soon as he hears that beep he yells "dada!" even if it's not him. He looooves when dada gets home.

He understands so much of what you say.  You can ask him to find a certain toy, ask him to find his cup and bring it to the table, ask him if he wants a snack, where the vaccuum is etc. etc. and he knows how to respond.  The other day I was putting his toys back together and told Todd "I'm looking for the thing with the little apples in it" and Ryan jumped up, signed "more" and ran over to his table and patted it - he knew he had been having apples as a snack earlier, and wanted more. It's little things like that that amaze me because it's just such a big change from the baby stage. It's amazing to watch them learn and see all the things they understand!

I will post some pictures soon!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

14 Month Milestone - Broken Leg!

Okay, I truly need to just jump back into this thing. I will try to do some "make up" posts in between (first birthday, first haircut etc.), but if I keep waiting until I have time to make up all the posts I SHOULD have written, I'll never get anything written! Thanks Lauren and Laura for the encouraging comments on my last post! :)

My poor pickle broke his leg on March 3rd :( I still can't believe it! He is in a cast until the 27th...hopefully no longer.

We had just gotten home from a nice lunch at Applebee's and Ryan was exhausted, so I grabbed a diaper and told him it was time to go upstairs for nap. Todd had gone back to the car to grab the dry cleaning we had picked up because we had a party to go to that night. As we were walking toward to upstairs, Ryan heard Todd coming in the door downstairs. Whenever he hears him he always goes over to the top of the stairs to see him, so he veered off that way and I was just a few feet behind him. One of his rubber toy balls was in his path, a ball a little bit bigger than a softball. He was walking and waving a big wooden spoon around. I don't know if he stepped on the ball (kind of hard considering the size of it) or saw it and tried to kick it or what, but I did see the fall. His right leg went left with the ball as it spun out from under him and he fell to the right, first onto his side and then onto his back. He also hit his head on the floor but it was carpet and he's hit his head worse than that.

He started screaming, but I thought the fall the just scared him. It was a very "fast" fall because of the momentum of the ball spinning out from under him. I picked him up and went and sat down with the usual "you're ok, you're fine..." but we realized pretty quickly that he wasn't. The screaming was not subsiding at all and he wasn't calming down; it was definitely a pain cry. We immediately started looking at his legs and his right leg just didn't look right and looked like it was starting to swell - maybe in the ankle, maybe in the knee, it was hard to tell. He would not bear weight on it at all.

This is where we started to panic a little. We knew his leg could very well be broken. It's not a life-threatening injury, so we shouldn't call an ambulance, right? But if his leg is broken, is it a good idea to try and strap him into his carseat and drive the 20-25 minutes to the hospital? I was afraid of doing more damage. Todd wanted me to just hold him in the car and I understand why but I said no way; if he's going in the car, he's going in his carseat. We also grabbed the phone to call the pedi and ask what we should do, but they were closed. Within a few minutes we just ended up in the car driving to the hospital. He was screaming bloody murder, but he was also still exhausted, so he actually alternated between screaming and dozing off in the car.

To make a long story short (because what ER visit isn't a long story?), they took X-rays of his leg and did not see a fracture. They were about to send us home (after 4+ hours) which made me a little nervous because he couldn't walk. Before they discharged us they sent a pediatric orthopedist in. I don't think they knew he was available earlier. He said that kids bounce back quickly and that he doesn't like to cast if it's not necessary and a cast would probably be overkill, but before he made a decision he wanted to see if Ryan would walk from me to Todd. When I set him down, he again wasn't putting weight on it but would set it down a little. I felt the only way to really see how bad it was was to let him go and see if he would even try to walk. I felt terrible, though, because he took a couple steps while falling forward at the same time, it was so painful for him. He didn't want to take the steps but it was like he didn't know what else to do when I set him down. He basically collapsed screaming. Right away the orthopedist said "you just bought yourself a cast." He said even if there was no fracture, whatever he had done could get worse if not casted. He said it would probably be on for no more than 2 weeks and that we needed to go to the orthopedic office in a few days and they might even take it off then.

"Daddy, it hurts!"

Handsome Blue Cast

He was very good while getting his cast on and didn't start fussing until the end. The Dr. let him play with the supplies while he did it, so he was happy. My mom and Brenda got to the hospital to see him shortly before we left and brought him a teddy bear and toy truck and that made him happy also.

I was most worried about the fact that he didn't understand why he couldn't walk - I just couldn't imagine being a 1 year old and your favorite thing to do is run around and all of a sudden you have a big heavy thing on your leg and can't get up. I was worried about that, and how he would be able to sleep (he has always been a tummy sleeper). When we got home it was bedtime. He actually went to sleep very well and slept good for the first 3 hours. After that he was awake and upset and the rest of the night was spent in our bed just trying to keep him comfortable all night. A lot of waking and crying. After that night though - he has been great! Many nights he is sleeping from bedtime to morning with no wakings. The next day it was time to see how he would really manage with the cast. He was extremely frustrated and there were a lot of tears. I sat on the floor to play with him most of the day and he was content if he was engaged. If I got up to do anything, he was upset and wanted to be picked up. He could crawl, but not very well.

We went to the orthopedist a couple days after it happened. We waited 2 hours to see him (in the waiting room was another little boy, almost the same exact age, whose name was also Ryan L, and had the same injury!). When we finally got called in we waited another 10 or 15 minutes for the Dr. to just come to the doorway, tell us that with good magnification, they found the fracture (they were looking at the same x-rays they had taken in the hospital) and it was near his knee. I am curious where, but he wasn't specific and didn't show us the x-ray. We have copies of them but of course we can't see anything except some really cute bones. He said to come back in 3 weeks and it sounded like they were pretty certain they could take the cast off then. Cross your fingers!

It's amazing how quickly he has adjusted now. He can crawl very quickly, pull himself up with it, and over the last couple days has even taken a few steps with it! That's the most pathetic but cute thing you've ever seen. His leg is bent in the cast, so his right foot doesn't reach the floor if he stands up straight. He hunches over and ever-so-carefully takes these tiny steps. When he wants to dance, he just stands very carefully and flaps his arms! My poor boy who loves to shake his hips to a good beat, or really any beat at all. I look at him and think "do you even remember you once knew how to walk?" He can still sit on the toilet fine - and, by the way, here he is in his big boy training underwear!!

I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is actually a pretty minor injury, but I still feel terrible for him. I really hope he gets right back to walking when it comes off. I know it was probably what would be considered a freak accident, he has fallen so many times, plenty of them over balls, but his leg went just the right way this time. While I wouldn't say I feel "guilty" because it's not as if I wasn't watching him and he fell down the stairs, a part of me still feels a little sick over it. I mean, you've failed in SOME way if your 14 month old breaks his leg, right? No, I know that's not true, but it just doesn't seem right. :(

Friday, February 10, 2012

I have a 13 month old.

I have a 13 month old. You know what that means? I haven't blogged in over 7 months and I am SO mad at myself for that. It would be one thing to not be getting our memories into this blog but getting them into the baby book, but I'm terrible with THAT too. What is wrong with me? Every day I say I'll get to the baby book, find the camera, charge the camcorder...yet time is flying and I'm not keeping up with any of it. I will never be able to remember all the things I would if I had kept up, and I feel like I am letting Ryan down. I get determined to do better and then I think "but what's the point if I've already let so much time pass?" and I know that's not the right attitude. I hope that I really can do better and that I can start by going back, looking at pictures, remembering as much as possible, and getting it down in the baby book, and here. If I was going to be diligent about one thing it should be recording memories for Ryan, cataloging our days...why am I such a failure at that? :(

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why I Don't Sleep

Ryan used to sleep so great that he completely blindsided me when he all of a sudden went from sleeping 13 hours a night (The first 8-9 hours in a row with no waking) to very, VERY suddenly waking up constantly at 3 months. This began our cycle of frequent night nursing that I am now trying to get under control since he is at the age where it is no longer physically necessary for him to do that.

I logged this one day/night last week. It's a pretty typical 24 hours for us.

7:30 am: Awake for the day

9:40 - 11:10: Nap (1.5 hours)

1:30 - 3:00: Nap (1.5 hours)

5:00 - 6:00: Nap (1 hour)

Note the awesome naps. These are usually predictable, we can count on them and they are perfect for his age. He'll probably drop the last one soon. Love him for his naps.

7:45 pm: Bed (this is usually closer to 7pm)

10:45: Fuss (this means we go up, pat his butt and shhhh him, and he goes back to sleep)

11:10: Fuss, nurse, back in bed in 15 minutes

12:50 am: Fuss

1:36 - 2:22: Crying, crying, crying, soothing back to sleep (This time is always a feeding, but this is the first night I didn't give it to him, hence the crying and extended awake time).

2:30: Crying - I give in, nurse, back in bed in 15 minutes

4:03: Fuss

4:50 - 5:15: Cry, nurse, diaper

6:30: Fuss, bring to bed with me, sleep (I can usually change his diaper and put him back in his crib with his crib toy on at this time, he will talk to himself awhile and fall back to sleep, but sometimes I just bring him in with me.)

7:30 am: Awake for the day

Rinse and repeat.

Try to find an hour in there after 10pm when I wasn't's hard.

Despite the way-too-frequent wakeups, we do have some things going for us, like the fact that he takes appropriate naps and goes back down in his crib within 10-15 minutes of nursing most times at night (that was a battle for awhile, but now he usually goes back down without objection).

His naps are by design. I know what's appropriate for his age and don't let him get overtired - EVER. He is in his crib asleep before he ever reaches exhaustion. I plan things around his naps whenever possible. It may seem unnecessary but to me it's not. I believe in doing everything possible to make sure kids get the right amount of sleep for their age - it affects so much. Babies and even older kids crave routine and normalcy, it makes them feel safe and secure, and he has this. Despite his constant night fussings, he gets exactly the amount of sleep he should, and he doesn't really even "wake up" for these feedings.

What his Pediatrician told us is that they can usually go 10 hours without eating at this age (actually, that was 2 months ago that she said that). From his bedtime at 7pm to his wake-up anywhere between 7am and 8am, it's 12-13 hours, so I have no problem feeding him once, maybe twice a night, but I know that he is not always hungry, he just wants the comfort of it. You can't blame him, but we still need to make changes. Usually he wakes for his first feeding between 11:30pm and 12:30am. I believe he may genuinely be hungry at this time and have no problem nursing him. He may also just want some physical contact and reassurance that I'm there, since it's been 5 hours - OK by me. Now, when he wakes at around 2am, I know he's not hungry, but he will not settle down until I nurse him. The night I cataloged above is evident of that because he eventually went back to sleep, and if he was truly hungry, I would have been able to tell. He also will nurse for just a few minutes before he's back to sleep - not a whole feeding.

Last night, I also did not give in to this feeding, and he went back to sleep for another hour before waking at 4am. 4am is another common feeding time for him, and I did not argue with him for this one (one battle at a time), so he did essentially skip the 2am feeding and was fine. He then woke at around 6:30 and at this time I normally feed him, put him back in his bed wide awake and he plays for a bit and falls back to sleep. I decided to see if he'd go back down without eating - and he did, with no problem. The next time he nursed was 8am and he was not even that hungry! Which really reassures me that I can cut out 2 of these feedings. Definitely the 2am, and then either the 4am or 6am. I believe that if I'm not nursing him back to sleep at these times (just 2am for now) that he will ultimately stop waking at this time. We shall see.

One last thing I'll add is that I never leave him in his crib to just cry, that's not how I "deny" him the feeding. We walk, rock, cuddle, sing, soothe in any way possible, and Todd helps me. He will cry less if Todd is holding him because that way the milk isn't so close that it's ticking him off as much to not be able to have it.

I was originally just going to post this with the title and the sleep log for that 24 hour period, but decided to expand a little. I'd better stop now - it's 11:40 and I await the beckoning of my baby bear :).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ryan Right Now

Ryan Right Now

I apologize in advance for the blurriness in a lot of the pictures. Most of these were taken on my phone, but I promise we take plenty of pictures of him with the good camera!

It is the easiest thing in the world to make him smile. Unless he’s in a really bad mood which is rare, all you have to do is look at him and smile and he breaks out in a grin from ear-to-ear. You can do it over and over and over and he’ll smile every time. It melts my heart! Here’s a winning smile while helping mom with the laundry:

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to make him laugh, but he does laugh! It’s fun to see what does it for him. You can do something one day and he’ll think nothing of it. You can do the same thing the next day and he’ll think it’s the most hilarious thing he’s ever seen (and vice versa). One thing that’s guaranteed to make him laugh is if someone new or someone he hasn’t seen in a while talks to him – he thinks it’s hilarious! He loves new faces. Here’s a great video of him laughing, this was just taken today:

He wakes up constantly at night – we’re still working on it. From the time he was 11 weeks until 15 weeks he slept through the night like a dream. Now he wakes and cries at the very least 6 times a night, and won’t go back to sleep without eating at least 3 of those. We’re working with some methods from the book “The No-Cry Sleep Solution.” On the upside, he is now sleeping in his crib for both nighttime and naps (this transition was actually quite easy), is swaddle-free, and at naptime he will usually put himself to sleep with very little, if any, fussing. This is major for us because while staying asleep for naps was hardly ever a problem, getting to sleep had become a huge problem and had me stressed to the max at times. He takes 3 naps a day, and while they have somewhat shortened in length since moving to his crib for naps, I think they’ll be back to normal soon. Here’s my sleepy naptime boy:

We are working on our next milestone – sitting up on his own! We practice all different ways and he is doing great. He can hold it for at least a few seconds, probably 10 seconds a few times. The other day he sneezed and didn’t fall over, and at one point when he started to tip, he put his hand down to catch himself. We have skipped the “rolling over” milestone for now, his Pediatrician said she can tell he is plenty strong enough to do it if he wanted to so she isn’t worried and he’ll do it when he wants. He doesn’t like to stay on his tummy long enough to try, but he has come close a few times this past week. She said that sitting up is more important and he should be able to do it around 6 months. Here he is sitting up!

Sitting up is slightly impeded when you have a fluffy butt. In the last couple weeks we have started to transition to using cloth diapers. When I was pregnant, I wasn’t interested in cloth diapering because there was already too much to think about and it was overwhelming. I didn’t want one more thing to research and figure out. When Ryan was sick toward the end of May, he was sleeping a lot during the day and I was bored. I somehow ended up looking at cloth diapers online and haven’t looked back. We are still trying to figure out which ones we like best and don’t quite have a large enough stash to do it full-time, but we will soon. I wish I had started when he was a newborn, but better late than never. I first wanted to try them because they looked so comfortable compared to disposables, and that’s still my main reason for doing it. [If you are my husband, please skip the next sentence]. I don’t think it’s going to save us much money because I’ll always want to be buying new prints and trying new kinds, so it’ll end up costing us more than disposables. But they ARE comfy! This week we are also starting to use cloth wipes. This is something I never thought I’d do – that is, until I realized how yucky it was pulling the dirty wipes out of the poopy diapers to throw out before washing the diaper. It’s much easier to use a cloth wipe and throw it in with the diapers to be washed. One of our newest diapers, “Camosaurus Rex:”

Ryan is drooling like a slobbery dog and his hands are always in his mouth. He also sucks (or more like chews) on his thumb everyday now, too. He doesn’t have any teeth yet but I think he may in another month. When you hold him close to your face, he opens his mouth as wide as he can, pants like a dog and tries to lunge forward – he wants to eat your face. I want to eat his little face, too, so I understand. Here’s a picture of he and daddy trying to eat each other’s faces:

Car rides are so, so much easier than they were in the recent past. He is usually content for quite some time now, and doesn’t really do the panicked, inconsolable scream he did as a confused, scared, newborn passenger. He has a toy on the handle of his carseat, a star with a smiley face that lights up all different colors, and he thinks it’s the greatest thing ever. He will laugh it at and then when it goes off, I will look in the rearview mirror and he’ll be staring at it with a sad little face waiting for it to come back on – it’s quite sad to see! This is him laughing up at his star:

A couple of weeks ago, he learned to yell/scream for fun and it’s actually pretty funny! It’s usually when he’s lounging in his bouncer or laying on his playmat – he just yells and screams until he sounds like he’s going to be hoarse. He’s doing it because he’s learning to test his voice and his range; his Pediatrician said he would start doing that and she was right. This can only be shown by video!

Also a few weeks ago he discovered his own feet. Now every time he is being changed he will immediately reach for his feet to hold onto them (makes diaper changes a little difficult though). I wonder when he’ll realize they reach to his mouth (because they do!). It might sound gross but one of my favorite things to do is smell his little feet – they’re yummy! My mom loves it, too, so either I’m not weird, or I just get my weirdness from her. Here’s a piggy picture:

Ryan started going to daycare 2 days per week, Wednesdays and Thursdays, when he was 12 weeks old. He really likes it there because it’s a change of pace – different sights and sounds and people. He is only there from 9:15 – 4:45, and sleeps half of that time. His teachers are great and every time I pick him up they go on and on about what a good baby he is. I am so relieved. The first day that I left him there I felt like I had ripped my heart out and left it there. I felt like I had abandoned him and was the worst mother in the world. Now I love to see his face light up in a smile when we get there and he sees his teachers, and I think it gives us the perfect balance that we both need. I feel like just yesterday I was in grade school. Now I have a son having “school pictures” taken and bringing artwork home. I know he’s still an infant and he’s not in elementary school or anything, but there is still something surreal about it. This is his first “school picture” and a picture of him doing some “plastic wrap painting.”

Occasionally if Ryan wakes up early from a nap for whatever reason, I will lay down on the couch or in the bed with him, cuddle him against me and he’ll go back to sleep instantly. If I let him nurse while he sleeps, he’ll sleep a loooong time. Although I don’t want to make it an every day habit, I adore these cuddle naps. He lies on his side facing me with his head on my arm and his little face near mine, and I just breathe him in. There is no time in the world when he is more comfortable and peaceful than these times. Secretly, I want him to sleep in bed with me like this at night, every night, but not only do I know it’s better not to start that habit, but I honestly can’t stay in that position, or any workable position, long enough. I need my space to sleep on the rare occasion that I even get to sleep. Here he is during one of our cuddle naps:

The craziest place he’ll fall asleep is in his carseat. Not that crazy, you say? You’d be right. He’s not the kind of baby to just fall asleep anywhere. If he’s not on us or in his carseat, he’s in his bed. You’ll never see him fall asleep at play. And so:

Taking him out of this house now, compared to just a couple months ago, is completely night and day. When we used to take him out he would be much the same as he was at home – just not content for very long. He would get overstimulated very easily when we went out and would not stay happy. Once he was big enough to sit in the regular seat of his stroller, he started to get a lot better, and now we’ve started venturing out more and are amazed at how good he is, even if what we’re doing runs into a naptime (which is hard to avoid when we do go out, because he is always ready for a nap after being awake for 2 hours). I do try to get home in time for naptime if at all possible. He is just so much more interested in his surroundings now, and never really cries unless something is really wrong. This is when we went to Best Buy to buy a video camera to capture the cute videos above:

He has just started being able to (or wanting to) content himself in his crib, either while falling asleep or after waking up. It’s cute to watch on the monitor. While he’s falling asleep at night, if he’s not already asleep when I put him down, he’ll usually do this little repetitive moan until he falls asleep, but sometimes it’s more of a sing-song. In the morning, he likes to scream and yell (playfully) and stare right into the monitor camera and talk. It’s adorable (although it makes it hard for us to get any more rest) because he looks like he sees me and is talking right to me…like he knows. This picture is of when he just woke up – ignore the huge puddle of drool underneath him:

He has had 3 long, yucky colds since starting daycare (and I do blame them for every one of them). I know it’s building up his immune system but by the 3rd time, I stopped caring about that because he is so darn miserable when he has them. I realize it’s just a cold and I am thankful it’s nothing worse, but it’s sad to see him sick, especially when he can’t sleep at night. We have to alternate between his swing and crib so he gets some upright time to clear his nose. I can always tell when the colds are coming now. For a couple days leading up to it, he will cough just once or twice. A tiny little cough or two that you’d normally think nothing of, but now I know it means a cold is on the horizon and often by bedtime, it’s in full force. This has honestly made me consider pulling him out of daycare and getting a sitter for just those 2 days, but I don’t think it’d be easy to find someone for only 2 days per week, and I don’t trust having someone in-home (without us mounting cameras) after things I’ve seen on TV. I still think daycare is good for him, but the sick part really stinks. Here’s a picture of my sad, sick baby with his most recent cold (which was surprisingly short-lived compared to the others):

We recently put up his highchair in the kitchen. He’s not eating solid foods yet (just a few more weeks, though), but I thought it would be nice to get him used to sitting in it and it’s a different place for him to play while we’re doing things in the kitchen. As you can see, he likes it!

That is all for now, but every week there is something new and I know we have a lot of exciting milestones coming up, so I’ll definitely be doing more of these posts (or maybe I’ll be really good, and post enough to talk about each one separately!).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The first few weeks...

The first few weeks were pretty crazy. I honestly don't know how this post will turn out because, well, I don't know if I've forgotten what it was like or not.

We didn't get home from the hospital until close to 11pm the night we were released. I didn't envision coming home that late and something about it bothered me, but really I was just relieved to be coming home together. Todd and I brought the baby in our car and my mom followed in hers; she would be staying with us for his first week. We were starving so we hit the McDonald's drive thru when we were almost home.

When we got home, we ate, passed around the baby, let him sleep in his Pack 'N' Play and on us...nothing too exciting because at that point all he did was sleep. I pulled out my pump and got to work. Before we knew it, it was time for bed...and I was nervous. He was 5 days old and it truly seemed all he did was sleep. At the hospital that day we had to keep waking him up to feed him, but he had been asleep for pretty much the last 11 hours. In all our time at the hospital, I don't remember having him ever wake up crying and wanting to be fed, so I was afraid he wouldn't wake me to eat (and he was supposed to be eating about every 2 hours). I said to my mom "So, now what? I just got to bed and wait for him to cry?" Her response was "Yep, pretty much." I look back now and laugh that I honestly thought he would just lay there and quietly starve. Now I know there is no such thing as a quiet, hungry baby.

I don't know what time it was, but sure enough I was awakened by a blood curdling scream that scared the hell out of me. The way I jumped up in bed you would think an air raid siren had gone off. Cue the first of hundreds of nighttime feeding routines to come, on what would at times seem to be an infinite 2-3 hour cycle. I have to say, although there was always something nice about seeing his sweet face in the middle of the night, I really hated those night feedings for his first 6ish weeks. There was a special kind of exhaustion (and by this I mean I'll be contrasting it to nursing) that came along with having to get out of bed, bring him to the nursery to change him, bring him downstairs to get the bottle and heat it up (whilst the kitchen lights sealed the deal on his wide-awakeness), 9 times out of 10 while he was screaming, going back upstairs to feed him (which took forever because they drink so slow at first, and keep falling asleep), burp him and keep him upright awhile, put him back down to sleep and then, as I mentioned in my last post, I would often have to pump to make the bottle for his next feeding which took 20+ minutes. By the time I was done, I had maybe 30-45 minutes to sleep before he would wake up again and we'd do it all over again.

My mom would often come to the doorway and ask if I wanted her to take him, or when I went in to change him in the nursery where she was sleeping, she would always offer to help so I could sleep. I don't know why, but I never really took her up on her offers during the night (yes, I sit here kicking myself now). I just felt like I should be doing it, that I'd have to do it myself when she was gone, so it didn't seem right to pass him off to her. That's not to say when I couldn't take the exhaustion anymore I didn't wake Todd up and beg him to get the bottle ready, or feed him. I usually did once a night and he was great about it, but I didn't really sleep while he helped, I just laid there exhausted and watched or closed my eyes and listened.

I remember feeling so anxious the first couple weeks, during the day, that I couldn’t sleep whenever my mom or Todd wanted to let me. I was so exhausted but so afraid to sleep because I couldn’t let myself “check out” and not know what was going on at any given time. I didn’t know what Ryan would do or need and when (looking back, all he did was eat/sleep/eat/sleep so I don’t know why I felt this way), and it wasn’t that I didn’t trust Todd or my mom, but the only way to describe it was that I was terrified to be asleep and not know what was happening every second. Once the first few weeks passed, after Todd went back to work and I was home with Ryan 24/7 and got to know his rhythm, I was more able to relax. If he went to sleep, I would make Todd promise to wake me as soon as he woke up, and then I could rest. A couple more weeks, and I was comfortable with making plans that would allow me more sleep. I would go over the “plan” with Todd – such as going to sleep as soon as Ryan did (during the day), then knowing Todd would change him and give him his bottle when he woke up, and put him back to sleep, and then wake me as soon as he woke up after that. All with the understanding that he’d wake me the second Ryan got upset.

The first month after Todd went back to work were rough. Honestly, I don’t know why. Ryan slept so much, but I still felt like I never had a free second. A lot of time was spent pumping and trying to nurse and keeping him happy while I pumped because it never seemed to fall during his sleep times. I remember one day I took my shirt off to nurse him and didn’t get a chance to put it back on until 4 hours later. Again, looking back, I don’t know why it was so hard. Right now everything is second nature so it’s hard to bring my mind back to that flustered state and remember how it felt – but it was hard.

I want to try to revisit his newborn stage again, but in the interest of starting more current entries, I’m just going to publish. Ryan is now 5 months and growing faster than I’ll ever record in this blog if I keep trying to play catch up. I need to skip ahead to “right now” because he is changing every single day and I know I will forget so much. Tonight or tomorrow I will start talking about now. I wish I stayed more current before, but it’s more important now that he’s got such a personality and is starting to learn and do so many things!

I’ll give myself a deadline of next weekend to post…

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The first 4 months...Part 1

Well, I am pretty disappointed in myself for not posting the last 4 months, but all I can do is try to be better about it now. Even if it's just short posts here and there, I need to keep up. Ryan is growing and changing so fast, I'll just never remember the things that I want to if I don't get them in writing.

So where do I start? I love this kid to pieces. I can't even describe it - at all. When he goes to bed at night, I don't even want to put him down. During the day, I smother him in kisses to the point where he sometimes gets ticked off but I can't stop myself, and every day, I really do love him more. Everything about him is my favorite thing. I don't just love his smiles, his coos, his adorable face...I love his pouty lips, his stinky hands and feet, the way he yells "mah!" when he's mad, his milky baby breath and even the smell of baby puke lingering on his cheek, burp cloth, or dirty clothes. Yes, I said I love the smell of my baby's throw up (hey, it's just milk). Sometimes I am afraid I will actually eat him up because I can't contain how much I love him.

Don't get me wrong, he has his moments and I have had mine. There have been a few breakdowns, but mostly before the 6 week mark which is when I felt things really started to fall into a routine, get easier, and I "knew" my baby - what he wanted and when, what soothed him, what ticked him off. At this point in the game I can really say I am 100% comfortable with his needs and it's rare that there is a time I don't know why he's upset. He throws a curveball every now and then, but for the most part I can say he's predictable. But yes, those first few weeks were hard. It will be easier with future kids because then you know that everything (everything!) really is "just a phase" and there is light at the end of the tunnel when you feel like you'll never sleep again, or like 10pm - 2am will be a screamfest every night for the rest of your life. Everything changes, and fast. Unfortunately sometimes that means the good things are short-lived too (more on that, later).

Breastfeeding. This was originally going to be its own post - oh well. What once was a chore is now the easiest, most convenient thing in the world for us, and I am so thankful it turned out to be that way because the first few weeks, I really didn't think it would. Our problems started in the hospital. It's highly recommended that you first breastfeed your baby just minutes after their birth. I didn't go in with my heart set on this, I just knew I wanted to breastfeed. I didn't have the opportunity to nurse him right after he was born because of the "repair work" that I had to have done and if you read the birth story in my previous entry, you know why I didn't get the chance that night, either.

The next day a nurse came in and asked if I wanted to try. To be honest, I wanted to say "no, thanks." I was in so much pain and so, SO tired from the pain medication that I didn't want to do anything, let alone something with a learning curve, but I said "yes" because I knew we needed to get it figured out sooner rather than later. She brought Ryan in and tried to help him latch on, but he wouldn't, and I was useless because as it turned out, I could NOT stay awake. I kid you not, I was completely non-participatory in our first attempt to breastfeed. The pain meds I had were so strong that I literally just sat there, while the nurse tried to get him to nurse, and continually fell asleep. I tried so hard to listen to what she was saying and watch what she was showing me, but my eyes would not stay open. She tried for about 5 minutes and then said we'd try later and that she'd send one of the LCs (Lactation Consultants) to see me. When the LC came later that day, I had the same problem - I could not keep my eyes open for the life of me. After just a few minutes of trying with no luck, this LC proceeded to tell me "well, you'll probably just have to pump." Not as in "pump until he learns to latch" but as in "only pump, forever." Really? It takes some women months to get their baby to successfully breastfeed and after just 5 minutes you're already concluding it's not going to work and I should give up? She also said something to imply that it was no different than breastfeeding because he's still getting the milk. Well, there's nothing wrong with EPing (exclusively pumping), but having had to do that the first few weeks I can say it's not the same as BFing - it's harder, doubles the time it takes to feed them, and it is extremely hard to keep up with pumping enough to feed around the clock.

On Day 3, a different LC came in - Nurse Lawrence. Just a few hours earlier, they had started Ryan under the bili lights, but they brought him in with this LC. The timing couldn't have been any worse; I had JUST been given another dose of my pain meds in the IV and I knew that meant about 22.7 seconds before I crashed. Todd told them it wasn't a good time because he knew what those meds did to me, but I couldn't pass up this chance because he was already 3 days old and hadn't nursed and we [thought we] would be going home the next day, and then I'd have to figure it out completely on my own. Somehow, I was able to fight through the meds (the dosage was lower than the first 2 days) and this LC was AWESOME. She spent so much time showing us exactly how to put the pillows/blankets for the right support (PSA to any moms-to-be, just buy the My Brest Friend pillow, it takes the work out of positioning), undressed Ryan to his diaper for skin-to-skin contact, and showed me exactly what to do, and it worked! He nursed for about 15 minutes which was great, and a really amazing experience. She then showed me exactly how to pump and how often (every other hour) to establish a supply since I couldn't have Ryan with me. She gave me a chart to keep track and I pumped around the clock like it was my job and Todd washed and prepped the parts and delivered the milk to the nursery for Ryan every other hour like it was his. It's basically all we did for 3 days (and nights). The the next day Nurse Lawrence came back to check on us and gave me a hug when she looked at my chart - apparently a lot of women say "eff that" to all that pumping.

Unfortunately, after that first time, I couldn't get him on again myself. I only had a couple opportunities to try in the hospital and couldn't make it work. The main problem is I was in SO much pain, still, that I couldn't get myself into a good position, or set up the pillows/blankets the way the LC had for me. By probably about day 4, my milk had come in and I was able to send more and more to the nursery for him, so when we went home, they had a few bottles for us to bring home with us. As soon as we got home, I pulled out my pump and hit the ground running. For the next 3 weeks, and the majority of the 2 weeks after that, I pumped around the clock to have enough milk for every feeding. It was tiring at times, especially the times when, despite my best efforts, I couldn't get enough bottles lined up for his nightime feedings and would have to wake up, heat up a bottle, feed him, put him down after 1/2 hour or he'd throw up, then get everything together and pump a bottle for his next feeding. By the time I'd finally get back to sleep it was almost time for him to eat again. My nights were on repeat - feed, pump, feed, pump, feed, pump. I was exhausted. Eventually I got to the point where I'd have enough bottles lined up for the night, and a couple servings frozen, so I finally felt "safe." I was proud of myself for not having to supplement.

During those first few weeks, as much as I wanted to be able to nurse him, I hardly ever wanted to try. Every time I tried, it just ended up with a screaming baby and was so frustrating that I dreaded the attempts. Don't get me wrong, I actually never once considered giving up and I didn't think it would never work. I assumed it had to work at some point because, well, it's supposed to work, and because we had had the one successful feeding at the hospital. I guess I was just OK with dragging out the learning curve. What I had to do was force myself at least once every day to just try to get him latched on. I would always assume it wasn't going to work and I'd have a bottle ready, but I would try. I used the My Brest Friend pillow to position him and I really wish I'd had it in the hospital, it was a lifesaver and completely eliminated the work of positioning him right (I was still in severe pain). At around 3 weeks was when I started being able to get him on sometimes. At 5 weeks, after seeing that he had gained enough weight at his 1 month appointment, was when I tipped the scale and started nursing him more than bottlefeeding. Before I knew it, I was nursing him around the clock and he only had bottles when necessary.

Now, I can't even imagine getting up in the middle of the night and heating up a bottle again. I hated that. I love how easy it is to just pull him out of his cosleeper and nurse him, not to mention it's a great way to comfort/calm, not just feed. The only thing we haven't really been able to do is nurse under a cover in public because he hates being covered up, and he is pretty fidgety and constantly needs to be relatched, so it's just more hassle than it's worth and I bring bottles of pumped milk when we go out. He's never had a problem taking a bottle since that's what he was first accustomed to. I still pump anywhere between 2 and 4 times a day and have a freezer stash of close to 400 oz. right now. I bank way more than I pull from the stash so I should probably reevaluate how much I need to be pumping sometime soon, but I am trying to keep supply up now that I am back to work 3 days per week and on those days, can only pump once during working hours. We recently got a deep freezer to put in the garage to store it all. I know a lot of women hate the pump, but I guess because I got used to doing it so much at first, I don't mind it. I think my brain still equates pumping with having enough to provide for him, because of those first few weeks, so I'm afraid to cut back. In the end, I may just end up having to donate some of it.

(To Be Continued...4 months is just too much to cover in one post!)