Saturday, May 31, 2008

It's 5am and We're Blogging.

He looks all snug and secure, right? Well, maybe not if you check out his frogger legs, planning their escape from my ineffective swaddle. This is about two minutes before he got his arms out and I realized he'd peed out of the back of his diaper (again) and all over the blanket. (Jenna, when you come next week, you need to explain to me how these boys can pee out of the backs of their diapers, okay? I know you know.) Now we are up, me and my little man, while my big man is gone for the night and Tex is doing what I want to be doing--sleeping in my bed. Right now Sawyer is laying in my lap staring alternately at me and the woman in the red dress in my Jack Vettriano painting above the couch. I'm craving a pizza. Are pizza delivery places open at 5am? Maybe we should go on a donut run instead.

Posts to come: one on circumcision and another on the fact that yes, Sawyer has a pacifier in his mouth. Get excited.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Circumcision?

Yesterday Sawyer was circumcised, which honestly may have traumatized me more than him. That sounds awful, considering he's the one that got the snip-snip, but we took him to a Jewish doctor and moil who was incredibly humane and wonderfully gentle. It was a hard decision for us (or maybe just for me) to have him circumcised and I had Lynn go with me, because even the thought of it turned my stomach. The whole time I was about one second away from bawling.

The doctor we took him to only does circumcisions and was wonderfully quick and so nice. The only cry that Sawyer made was for about three seconds when they gave him the anesthetic. I tried to watch the procedure, even though I wasn't sure I would be able, but I couldn't really see because of the doctor's hands. It was about ten seconds and then--done. No crying. They gave him children's tylenol right after and gave us a sample to use every few hours if he got fussy. He was a little fussy the rest of the day, but mostly slept and by last night, seemed totally fine and normal. Today he hasn't been bothered at all.

Changing the first diaper freaked me out. It looks so different down there and it seems like it would hurt, even though he doesn't appear to feel it at all, thankfully. That made me feel better about the whole thing. I really can't stress enough how much I loved the doctor/moil. We even got a congratulations from the nurse and a certificate.

Circumcision isn't as much as a normal thing now as it used to be and there are tons of groups dedicated to protesting the practice. My favorite of those is fictional--H.O.O.P., Hands Off Our Penises from Arrested Development. (Actually, if you google "anti-circumcision," a rather hilariously bad site comes up first with a terrible drawing of the "anti-circumcision baby" and then a halfway literate argument for genital integrity.) The reasons for keeping your baby intact are good ones--circumcising doesn't prevent disease (as previously thought), causes pain to your child, and it may have few benefits other than making your child "fit in" with his father, brothers, or friends.

I really do hate the "logic" that because they're babies, they won't remember pain, so it doesn't matter. This is why we chose to go with the doctor that we did, who only performs circumcision after the 8th day, when blood clotting is better and immunities are up. He also always uses a local anesthetic and then gives baby Tylenol to help them recover.

Those who stand by circumcision say that it can prevent serious complications if the foreskin doesn't loosen naturally from the glans of the penis; it allows the boy to fit in with his father, brothers, friends, etc; it is easier to clean and care for; or that it's of religious importance. We went back and forth on this. As for religious reasoning, the New Testament is fairly clear that circumcision of the heart, not the body is what matters in Christ. Fitting in and cleaning are kind of more surface issues, but what really pushed us over the edge was hearing my midwife's story about her son, who had a serious complication when he was almost a year old from NOT being circumcised that involved prolonged pain and required major surgery.

Ultimately, I think it is each parent's decision and that they should look at the reasons for and against circumcision and go with what they feel is best. I do know that if you're going to circumcise, waiting until after the 8th day and using humane local anesthesia is the way to go. Meanwhile, our little man is back to kicking me like mad when I change his diapers and doesn't seem bothered in the least.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Good Night!

Last night was the best night we've had so far! Sawyer woke up at 3:00am and 6:30am. That's it. And he was all business--eat and go back to sleep. None of that staying awake or crying stuff. In addition, he slept all night in his snuggle nest co-sleeper. Yay! That's progress! Now we're about to go get him circumcised, which I'm terrified about. I'll let you know how it goes...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Strange New Things

Right now it's 6:21am and I am leaning over my coffee table, soaking my breasts in piping hot water with epsom salt from Kelly, Sawyer sleeping in his boppy right next to me. Yeah, not something I saw myself doing in my adult life either.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Messes That Don't Clean

So, we took our first trip this weekend, which is a crazy idea when you have a two-week old. But hey, Rob says that makes us adventurous. Or stupid, I say. Anyway, it was actually really fun being with Rob's family at a lake house, and Sawyer seemed fine with the car trip and all the strange hands that couldn't wait to hold him. He is definitely known now by everyone as frogger, because of the way he tends to perch like a tree frog against your chest while sleeping.

The biggest struggle for me was keeping a shirt on. This is because Sawyer now tends to spit up every few times he eats, and when I say spit up, picture massive quantities of vomit that seem aimed straight for whatever clean clothes I just put on. In addition, he somehow managaed to poop out of his diaper several times, dirtying every outfit I brought for him--and I thought I overpacked. I have now officially washed his boppy cover five times this week. (And while writing this post I found a dried stream of spit up on our leather sofa. Yuck.)

I guess it's just a fact of life now that I need to travel with five times as many shirts for me, and one thousand outfits for him, as well as maybe like a plastic painter's tarp and a strong hose for cleaning. But we do look like we're having fun, right?

The Many Faces of Sawyer

Because you can never have too many pictures of your cute kid...

This one makes me wish I had photoshop, so I could cut out the background and put him somewhere else. I just think it looks like he's jumping and dancing here or something more fun than sleeping anyway. :)








Sunday, May 25, 2008

Vaccines

With different groups claiming and refuting the link between immunizations and autism, vaccines have been all over the news lately. This is something that I wanted to research before giving Sawyer his first shots. Jenna and I just had a discussion about this, talking about the Hep B vaccine I refused in the hospital. Turns out that it's really only important if the mother has Hep B, shoots up with heavy drugs, or is involved with many sexual partners and little protection. I'm pretty sure Sawyer's okay without that shot.

My friend Stephanie just did a great post with her findings and the modified schedule that she plans to use for her son Caleb. I'll still be reading and researching, but she did a great job explaining what she found about different vaccines and some practical ways to avoid likelihood of side affects. Her blog is linked on the right, but the post about vaccines can be found here.

Baths and Belly Buttons

So, Sawyer got his first bath today! We just did a sponge bath, but it was great fun. He made fantastic faces (for more pics, check our photo blog) and really seemed to like the water. He smells so clean and fresh now!


He also lost his umbilical cord. It fell off when I was feeding him. I think the dog actually ate it. I couldn't find it later where it had fallen in the floor. Is that bad?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Co-Sleeping Options

Okay, so after last night where Sawyer slept a lot but I didn't, I think I'm going to try and get some kind of co-sleeping mechanism, whether this is a railing or an actual co-sleeping bed attachment. He sleeps fine in the pack and play, but when he wakes up fussy (but not hungry), being held puts him back to sleep, but me getting up and having to get him makes me really awake. But when I sleep with him on my chest or next to me, it quiets him and doesn't fully wake me up. We're going to try this for a little while.

If you're interested in sleep sharing, here are some products I've seen. I may try a couple and give a review. And like Kia said in her post, I may just try this for the first month or two until we're more used to the whole "routine" of nighttime.

This is a Snuggle Nest, available at Babies R Us and also Baby Delight. I think I might like this option because it could go anywhere with you and folds up easily. It allows baby to share your bed without you having to worry about him wiggling into a pillow or off the bed. I might pick one up today with some of our gift cards.

This bed rail is a pretty simple option and would also work when baby is in his own toddler bed. I must say though, that I'm very tired of having to crawl into and out of my bed from the end, so I'm not sure I want to try this. But it does keep baby from rolling off the bed.

This Arm's Reach co-sleeper is basically like a pack and play, but is tall enough that it becomes and extension of your bed, so you can have baby safe and close, but not actually have to share YOUR bed. Space isn't a problem for us, since we have a king-sized bed, and I don't really want to spend over $100 when I'm not sure how long we will keep Sawyer in bed with us.

I know there is also a type of co-sleeper like the Arm's Reach that is not free-standing, but attaches between your mattress and box-spring, but I can't find a picture right now. I think I'm going to try the Snuggle Nest or the bed rail and see how we do. Also, if you're wanting more information about co-sleeping, there are some informational articles here and here and here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Little Man

Is that not the sweetest face?
Where does he think he is, the Glamor Shots studio?
Practicing the angst-y look for his teenage years.

Sleep Sharing

A sweet night's sleep for me and Sawyer.

There are so many things I said I would never do in terms of having or raising kids. In the past, I had never thought about home birth and planned to get an epidural as soon as possible in the hospital to avoid the pain. Then I planned NOT to get an epidural or an episiotomy, and ended up requesting both during labor. I think the thing that I have been learning is to read as much as possible to be educated about things, plan as best you can for YOU, and then be flexible as your mind or your situation may change.

In terms of child-raising, I always saw myself as someone who would be into the whole get the baby out of your bedroom and on a schedule as soon as possible philosophy. That is, until I started reading books about caring for newborns while I was still pregnant. The one that really started me thinking in a new direction was Christian Parenting by Dr. Sears. In it (and in other books of his) he talks about attachment parenting, something I blogged about previously. If I had to sum it up, I would say that it's a style of parenting that involves bonding with your little one by responding to his/her needs and cries, rather than imposing a more rigid schedule of feeding, sleeping, etc.

While I'd always heard that you would be spoiling your baby by picking him or her up every time he or she cried, this book (among others) discussed how responding appropriately to babies' needs is far from spoiling. Especially in those early months (what The Happiest Baby on the Block calls the fourth trimester) babies thrive on contact, touch, and the security that comes from having their needs met. That really clicked with me and made me rethink things.

Another huge thing that I've really been trying to figure out is sleeping arrangements. We had kind of planned to have the baby sleep in our room in the pack and play at least for a few months since I'm breastfeeding, and then make the transition to the fun nursery that's just waiting to officially be baby's room. But since Sawyer arrived, this hasn't worked as well as I thought. First, it was hard to lean down and try to pick him up to nurse because of my episiotomy stiches. Then I found myself worrying that he was breathing or needing help, so I was constantly waking up and leaning over trying to make sure he was still alive.

I think the second or third day, I found myself really wanting to keep him in bed with me after waking up to nurse. I was scared about the safety of this, but I blocked off the side of the bed so he couldn't roll off into the pack and play and snuggled him up next to me. It was so sweet to wake up and see his little face next to me, and I found that I woke up BEFORE he started crying--his first stirrings woke me. And whenever he started to wake or fuss between feedings, I could comfort him without having to really move, and before he fully woke up.

I felt vaguely guilty about this, plus worried that it wasn't safe. Also, this was another example of something I said I'd never do--share my bed with my kids. We're still not sure whether or not we'll keep Sawyer in bed with us every night, and I definitely don't think that I want to have him sleeping with us until he's two or older, the way lots of co-sleepers do. It's not a decision we've fully made, but I did some reading and wanting to share some of the things I read about sleep sharing or co-sleeping. (These come mostly from Dr. Sears' Baby Book. It's not the only one I've consulted on this, but is the one I happen to have on hand at the moment.)

The two biggest fears are that one of the parents will roll over and smother baby, or that baby could suffocate on bedding. Mothers who share sleep have reported such an intense awareness of the baby's presence that they feel that it would be extremely unlikely to roll over on baby. (The majority of cases--which are rare--where this has happened involved alcohol or drugs.) And as far as suffocation, the same type of safety tips work in your bed as in the crib or anywhere else--sleep baby on his or her back, keep blankets and pillows away from baby's face, make sure there are secure railings to keep baby from falling out.

Napping skin to skin with his Daddy.

Benefits of Sleep Sharing
-Babies sleep better. In the early months, babies enter sleep through a light sleep stage and being held close by a familiar person helps baby wind down more easily.
-Babies stay asleep better. Because of the way babies' sleep patterns work, there is a vulnerable transition state for night waking that may occur as often as every hour. A parent's presence and touch can provide the reassurance baby needs to drift back to sleep without fully waking.
-Mothers can stay asleep better. Baby's and mother's internal clocks often move into a nighttime harmony where their sleep cycles are more in sync with one another.
-Breastfeeding is easier. Often mothers will wake before baby does, anticipating a feeding before baby starts to cry.
-Babies thrive. One of the oldest remedies for the slow-weight-gain baby is to share bed with baby and breastfeed. My friend Stacy was also told for her few-weeks-early baby that skin to skin contact such as sleeping with baby on your chest is one of the best ways to help baby grow and "catch up."

There are definitely other concerns, such as having baby become too dependent on sleeping with parents, or inhibiting your sex life, or just dealing with the criticism of other peole. This post is already too long, but all of those are genuine concerns that a lot of the co-sleeping propenents address. This is for sure not for everyone. I think you really have to have a desire to share your bed and that you have to really know that YOU sleep better that way as well as baby. If you're really worried about safety, you're probably not going to sleep well. Lynn said that she was unable to relax with her babies in bed with her, but for me I'm less worried with Sawyer right next to me. We'll see how it goes--I haven't committed to any one pattern yet and Sawyer seems okay sleeping in bed one night and the pack and play the next. I'm still trying to figure all this out and remember that it's all about flexibility...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cabbage Leaves and Frozen Carrots

I wrote quite a while ago about breastfeeding when I was reading some great books. I had always thought it was a pretty simple thing--have breasts, will feed. Now I am experiencing all the things I read about and learning first-hand the joys and struggles of nursing.

Because Sawyer started out in the NICU, he was on an IV and was not really interested the first time I tried to feed him. What was funny was how adamant the nurses in there were about getting him to latch on. I was more interested in becoming familiar to him, since I didn't see him again until more than twelve hours after his birth, since he was whisked away and I was feeling pretty dead. I figured it would be more of a meet-and-greet and less of an actual feeding. Instead, the nurses basically grabbed my breast and started trying to shove it in his wide-open mouth. Wide-open because he was screaming. Screaming because he was basically being assaulted. I appreciated their enthusiasm, but felt fairly assaulted myself.

By the next day, he was allowed out of the NICU and into my room, where he started latching, even though it was only a few seconds at a time. The first day home, he ate pretty well, though he liked to fall asleep while nursing, but he didn't poop. The second day, he pooped a lot, but didn't eat. Then he started really latching and I was bleeding and sore. Then things seemed to get into a routine. Then he started crying and screaming whenever I'd try to nurse,even though he was obviously hungry--he just wouldn't latch and seemed to be in pain. Then he started eating again. Today he did cluster feeds--three times between 7-10pm. I feel like my nipples are going to fall off.

I had Connie Blokkum, a lactation consultant, come over last Tuesday and that was invaluable--though it didn't help with all the weird changes that occurred daily with Sawyer. (Check out her website here.) My friend Stacy is a La Leche League consultant, so she has been super helpful and encouraging as well. It really is just much more of a struggle than you'd think!

As far as things that help for soreness, I was told in the hospital that frozen, freshly grated carrots are great (and they are, except that we only had baby carrots, which are no fun to grate), cabbage leaves work wonders (but smell), and Lansinoh cream is a lifesaver. The lanolin they gave me at the hospital had to be scrubbed off before Sawyer could nurse, which pretty much negated the whole idea of "relief." And probably my favorite things that Kelly and Beth told me about are Soothies, which are these gel inserts that feel great and also can be frozen for even more relief.

At this point, I'm trying to be grateful for whatever the day brings, but it's hard when what drives me nuts one day (him not latching) swings to the opposite extreme the next (him wanting to eat for three straight hours). Hopefully that extra long nurse might mean an extra long sleep for me tonight...but I'm not keeping my fingers crossed.

Midwife Checkup, Day 12

We went to see Cathy today for an almost two-week checkup. It was hairy getting out of the house--the first time since the hospital that Sawyer took a car ride! I wasn't sure I would ever get dressed and get him dressed and get out the door. Of course he had a poopy diaper minutes before we were leaving. But he slept the whole way there and was fantastic even when Cathy drew blood for the second newborn screen.

Everything looks great, which is encouraging. Sawyer has gained a whole pound since birth!! He's going to be a healthy little chunker. And I (drumroll, please) have lost almost 35 POUNDS. The most exercise I've had is walking three houses down the street, and I'm eating everything in sight, so I think that I must have gained much more fluid than I realized. I kept wondering how I was eating so well and gaining so much, and this makes sense--it was more fluid than fat. It's very encouraging to know that I'm very close to my pre-pregnancy weight without trying yet. Just wait til I'm back in roller skates!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

HORMONES!

Everyone talks about the "baby blues," which is a term I really hate. I kind of always thought it was a pansy way of talking about post-partum depression. But what I've discovered is that they are actually two different things.

The baby blues tend to be the crazy swinging emotions caused by hormone shifts as your body regulates and recovers and adjusts to everything that has happened and is happening. As my friend Stacy says, "When your milk comes in, the tears come in." Post-partum depression tends to last longer and be much more severe. I think one book I read said that you can start to diagnose it three or four weeks after baby.

Those of you who know me well know I cry like once every five years, and it's not pretty. I don't try NOT to cry, it just doesn't happen. Rob says he's seen me throw up more than he's seen me cry, which is kind of sad (and gross). Well, this week I've made up for the past ten years of not crying by crying about anything and everything. From just welling up watching the news about China (and also American Gladiators??!?) to outright bawling when my parents left today. Or the three hour crying spell for no reason the other night when Robbie and I went to bed. I told someone that it's like PMS times a thousand.

I'm trying to enjoy it, as it does feel like a nice release. Mostly. Sometimes though I definitely feel weighed down and heavy with sadness, and that's what I hope really goes away. It's ridiculous because I'm happier than I've ever been. I can handle the crying, as I feel more sensitive about everything (both happy and sad) and that's not a bad thing. But I don't want to even think about some kind of depression lingering and hanging over me.

I wonder if from now on I'll be someone who cries like a normal person, or if once my hormones calm down, I'll dry up. I should take a picture of it, but I'm pretty sure I don't believe Rob when he says I'm beautiful when I cry. :)

Why I Write Fiction

Okay, so I have to start off and say that I really am a horrific poet. I don't "get" lines and where to break them, and just overall don't write nice poems. However, I wrote this one the day I went into labor (and actually think labor was just starting at the time) and so I'm sticking it up here for the sentiment. It's actually how I spent my afternoon the day labor kicked in, which is neat. Please, writer friends, don't be harsh. I ain't no Kia. :)

(Note: I added the "he" as I looked it over today.)

The Work of Planting

I am busy with the work of planting:
peppers, cucumber, watermelon, carrots.
Clearing the stones with a cheap metal trowel,
I hope they will grow as well as the pumpkins,
now fat-leafed and vined. Wasps hover
among the Black-Eyed Susans, only days from blooming.

I trim the elephant palm, breaking the stalks
with my hand because the clippers are dull.
I place them in a bucket of water, balanced
perilously. My mother tells me they will root,
like the top of the pineapple I saved
and planted along the fence, a spiny daggered top.

A tiny foot pushes against my skin, stretching.
There is little room left, curled inside the dark.
I am waiting for the hidden work to be revealed:
eyes, lips, ears, fingers, toes.
The arc and whorl of a fingerprint, wholly its own.
I will stare at each part, at what has been growing
these long months from a seed, smaller
even than those I scattered among the rows
in the garden. At just the right time, he will be ready.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

One Gross Detail I Forgot to Put in the Birth Story

I pooped on the table when the Sawyer's head was descending. It's not that humiliating when you're exhausted and have been in labor for hours. This was a detail that I should probably leave out, but I'm all about honesty. :)

Pictures of My Little Man!

Father/Son nap time.
I love this look on my Dad's face.
Bonding with his Grandpa Turkey.
Check out those little frog legs!
Meeting his cousins Cole, Caleb and Bryce.
'Sup, ladies.
Visiting with Uncle Peter and his Grandma.
Already being dressed like an Aggie, if you can see his hat.

Post-Baby Body

So, a big concern throughout the pregnancy was the giant growing body I was in and how the heck I was going to return to "normal" after baby. I was about ten pounds over where I wanted to be when I got pregnant, and then without morning sickness, I kind of started gaining right away. Even though I knew it was for baby's sake, it was really hard at times to just watch the scale creep up, especially toward the end when I was swelling like Violet Beauregard. (Willa Wonka reference.)

Obviously right now I'm focusing on getting settled in with baby and can't even begin to think about real exercise with my healing episiotomy. I took a walk halfway down the block the other night and felt like my insides were coming out. But even without that, it's been amazing the past week to see my body shrink down. I didn't realize how much weight I was carrying around was literally FLUID. I'm not going near a scale, but I'd say I've lost at LEAST twenty-five pounds. Of course, there's the weirdness of having a poochy stomach that now is weird and squishy since it's empty of baby. We'll hope crunches can one day help with that. For now, I'm encouraged that I have feet again!

Exhibit A: My feet just over a week ago.

Exhibit B: My feet today!! I have ankles!!

This is for you, Chico. :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Labor Photos!

There are some great pictures I haven't had a chance to go through from Denise, so I may post more later, but here are some photos from labor. I'm going to post the major ones of Sawyer on our other blog, per Rob's request. So check out our family photos!!

Here's one more shot of me happy, when I was still having contractions ten minutes apart and they didn't really hurt. Quite a change from later!
Robbie has no idea what is in store...
Cathy and Amanda watching and making notes.
Denise excited as everything begins.
Amanda taking a little nap.
Robbie was the most amazing support.
Tex cheered me up with his kisses.
Everyone doing their part to support me.
Tex in the middle of things, as usual. .
Laboring in the hot tub.
Cathy and Tex checking the baby's heart rate.
This is great. Rob took a brief break in the morning and fell asleep while chewing eggs. You can see them in his mouth.
I love this pain chart. I told Peter I was at an 11 before epidural, and at a negative 3 afterwards.
How you look after having an epidural. I can smile again!!
They kicked everyone out so we could nap for a while.
Rob racked out on the mini-couch.
Napping with Mommy.
This super unflattering picture is just for Ginny--and she knows why. :)
Waiting to dilate with Peter and Robbie.
I think this is when Mom was praying for either the baby to turn anterior, or that I was fully dilated and ready to push.
Resting between pushes.
What pushing looks like.
More pushing. Teddy was there the whole time.
This is a great moment between Krista and Denise.
I love this look on my mom's face.
The doctor's face as we're nearing the end. Not quite as excited as my mom.
You can tell people were distracted by what's going on, but here's a slanted shot of Sawyer seconds after birth.
I wish there weren't a blurry thing in front of me here, but this is a great first moment. It was amazing.
Love the joy here, hate the puffy pregnant face.
Our first moments as parents.
Sawyer's first few moments, getting checked out.
Lynn with Sawyer's footprints.
My little man in the NICU. So sweet!!

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