Friday, October 31, 2008

Operation Un-Swaddle: Day One--wrapped up in exhaustion

Our swaddling days are over. Amelia has long loved the mummy treatment as the only option for sleep. Long beyond the newborn stage, she has continued needing the snug hold of two (yes TWO) swaddling blankets. I read somewhere that this is particularly a means for reflux babies to feel comfortable enough to rest. Even in the hospital and brand new, she was a Houdini baby, but for a while, we had her dialed with the perfect combination of straight jacket action followed up by the traditional wrap of a regular blanket. When she'd wiggle out, you could rewrap her and she's go right back to sleep.

Lately though, the swaddle has created as much trouble as it has rest. Our little stinker is a big, strong baby now and can grope her way out of the tightest of of perfect swaddles (and I do consider myself an expert) and promptly host a party of one in her crib. Recently, we've tried going cold turkey to no avail. The poor child is in constant motion (and has been since inception) and continually jolts herself awake and when not wrapped tight, starts screaming. We tried leaving one arm out thinking that if she had a little mobility, she wouldn't fight it, but also wouldn't wake up. This was successful for a few days. However, over the past couple weeks, she's been getting out of her wrap completely and simply staying awake until wrapped again. She'll fuss for over an hour only to fall silent within seconds of being swaddled.

And then last night. We swaddled her and she went to sleep. Moments later, she had both arms out flailing. We wrapped her again and again, she was free and flailing within minutes. I looked at Justin and said, "It's over," with both relief and panic in my voice. Relief that she won't be going to college swaddled in a giant comforter and panicked because I knew that many a sleepless night were in store from that moment. . . and my prediction did not disappoint. Prior to 7:30 this morning, I got 45 minutes of sleep as she struggled with her new sleeping arrangement. She'd sleep for an hour or two, waking up crying for a few seconds and back to sleep throughout. It was pure misery for me since I was already exhausted from the up and down routine of the previous 7 nights and from teaching a class last night. Since she's been born, I've never had a night with less sleep. Never. Yet all I could think about was that we are making progress. For every short nap she took, she was sleeping with both arms free! Finally this morning, she gave in and conked out for three hours (thank you!). I would hear her in there awake and struggling and then she'd go back to sleep. She'd go back to sleep! Hardly a comfortable night, it's progress. This morning, I found her like this.

She discovered her thumb through this whole process. Unlike a pacifier, it's always with her and does not need someone else's assistance to reinsert. Unlike a pacifier, it can't be taken away before she goes to kindergarten. I will, however, choose to deal with that issue at a later date--like when I have more than a nap separating today from the past four.

In other news, we introduced Amelia to her second food--avocado! One of those "super foods," we figured avocado would be a good next shot at this whole real food thing. I had my doubts after watching this hilarious video of our friend Molly trying her first avo. I should have known that things would be different for us because 1) Amelia continually falls outside of the "normal baby" pool and 2) the baby child eats everything. When she first saw the bowl, full of pureed green nonsense, she tensed her mouth into a straight line and wrinkled her brow at me. Then I gave her a bite and she started kicking her feet and wiggling her body in happiness. She loved it! yay! If she only knew how much better it will taste with some veggies, spices, and atop a tortilla chip! Next up on the menu--winter squash! yum! Well, that's whenever mommy gets a minute to think straight enough to bake, puree, and freeze it. Someday.

Today I spoke with a mommy friend whose newborn is showing the symptoms of colitis and reflux. My heart bleeds for her and her baby knowing where she is and where she still must go. Talking with her threw me back to what feels like a million moons ago and a very dark time for our family. It's so frustrating that there are still doctors who chalk up these ailments to "colic" and dismiss mommy's intuition that something bigger is wrong! I can only offer my knowledge and support because heaven knows that I have been there. Talking her through my findings made me realize how far we've come in our house--and how bad things were. We never thought we'd survive, but had no choice but to keep fighting and holding faith in time. Someday I will write about that experience more in depth, but today, we'll be thankful for our journey--and hopeful for our friends.


Today's pics

This weekend promises to produce a photo shoot or two with our little treat. Stay tuned!

Happy Halloween Pictures, Images and Photos

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Me Likey!

Somebody is a fast learner when it comes to food. A lot can change in 4 days! Check out the difference in today's pics!!
The skeptic becomes the fan.

I'm so cute in my new high chair!

Gimme. Gimme. Gimme.
This was my first attempt at the above shot. I thought I would dangle the spoon in front of her to get her with her mouth open. Instead of waiting for the spoon to come to her, she attacked.
I'm such a big girl!!

Hi Blog Buddies!!

Oops. There's still some on my bib!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Punkins for the Punkin

Big weekend!

Amelia went from tiny chuckles to huge, belly laughs literally overnight--and we caught it all on video! We laughed until we cried and then cried because of her laugh. I've spent too many minutes trying to get the video uploaded, but need a new cable. :-( Otherwise, this would have been the best post ever. We've watched the footage a million times over and laughed and cried every time.

Then we fed Amelia her first food! She of course spit it out and made a mess. It's her job I suppose, as a new eater. Though I was a little shocked that she appeared to hate it. Her face looked like we'd given her raw anchovies. She looked almost betrayed, despite that we mixed her cereal with breast milk so it'd be familiar. Like good first-time parents, we got it on record. Today went better but only a little, so there's hope. We bought a high chair yesterday, so there's no turning back now!

Then today we made a trip to the Punkin Patch. We found the coolest Pumpkin Farm not too far from us. It had hay rides, a petting zoo, loads of pumpkins, snacks, a playground, and on and on. Super cool and definitely a place that we'll look forward to for years to come!

And guess who's 5 months old today? I can't even believe it. I can't even believe where we were for the first 4 months compared to now! It's so awful that the first 4 months literally felt like a decade (indeed my body and mind feel 10 years older at least), and yet the last month has flown by. I used to see moms with 6-12 month olds and wish I was them. Now that Amelia is only a month away from her half birthday, I can't believe how fast she's growing and changing and how quickly her infant days will be by us. I just know that it will be only a couple tomorrows before I find myself planning a birthday party and wondering where my baby has gone.

What does that punkin say?

The traditional shot. . .

Friday, October 17, 2008

For Amelia

The beginning of the year promised an amazing time to have a daughter. Can you imagine having a girl in the year when the first female President was elected? To know that she would never have known a time when it wasn't possible for a (qualified, strong, intelligent) woman to run the country? That women would always be on the ballot when Amelia casted a vote, rather than my tear-jerking experience of seeing it for the first time after 30? The possibilities seemed endless for my little girl and I felt confident that she would never see the barriers faced by so many before her . . .

And now I find myself fighting to keep her existing rights in tact rather than extending them. Worried that new doors are closing in celebration of her birth than opening.

It's for Amelia, my daughter, my friend, my soul that I am voting against Propositions 4 & 8. To think that we are in 2008 and still discussing whether or not the State has a right to exhibit ownership over a woman's body is shamefully shocking. To think that a law could force her future through a narrow hallway with few windows and no doors makes me shudder and cling to her childhood in desperation. While I will do everything possible to foster an open conversation with my daughter about her choices, her body, her future, I cannot guarantee that she will come to me if in trouble. . . and if she needs another outlet, I can only cross my fingers and cast my vote so that she will have a safe place to end an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy. Certainly requiring a parental signature will not stop Amelia and her friends/sisters from seeking abortions if necessary. It will, however, lead some of them to desperate acts of violence, suicide, running away, or dangerously illegal procedures. I can't even imagine the consequences of this for Amelia's generation.

How is it possible that we are back to this topic? That suddenly women no longer own their bodies, their futures, their lives? That my daughter may have this door shut for her when I have had it open throughout my life? That Amelia may have fewer freedoms than I've had??

And while I can hope with all my might that Amelia finds true love in her life, I cannot predict or control or care with whom she will find her happiness. I cannot assume that she will want to marry (she is my daughter after all), but if she does, my heavens, I hope that she will have that right--regardless of her choice of spouse. I can't imagine her growing up in a time and place when she could be criticized or discriminated against for falling in love and expecting equality in her choice to marry because of others' issues with her choice. Don't all parents just want their kids to be happy?! Do we really want to put conditions on their happiness? Do we still want to raise children in a state that discriminates and withholds rights based on a religious misnomer or a quibble over a couple words ("I just don't want them to call it marriage!")? I want my daughter and her generation to know love in all forms, to not judge the love of others, and most importantly, to feel safe, confident, and equal in their choices of love. Heaven knows it's hard enough to find love and stay married as it is. Why make it harder? Why not allow all the right? It does not affect your life who others marry. Why not allow this new innocent generation to make personal choices without the threat of violence, hatred, and discrimination? Why not allow Amelia a childhood and future that actually lives up to the country's promises made in 1776 of freedom and equality? Why don't we finally offer these promises without conditions?!

It's for my daughter that these issues are so important to me. It's for all daughters and sons. They deserve to have parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers, and sisters who will think about their rights in the polling places in November!!

Can Amelia count on you to protect her?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's the Little Things

Amelia has started to hold onto me when I carry her. She puts her little arm over my shoulder and digs her fingers in tight enough to turn white at the tips. Someday I will surely curse the day she learned to cling to me, but today I enjoy it . It's so cute. . . and really just a lot easier to tote her around. Soon, I'll sling her on my hip and off we'll go.
There are so many little things like this that come and go quickly without ever a remark. Like when she stopped howling every time we changed her. When they're brand new, it's a total stress that baby screams bloody murder every time you try to get them a clean diaper and then one day, they stop and you forget how awful it was. She still howls at times, but it's not every time we pull something over her head, thank goodness.
Another little thing is how she has come to recognize and love her parents. No matter what she's doing or who she is with, she has to keep an eye on mom and dad. Every ten or seconds catches her sneaking glances in assurance. I've heard the comment, "Yes, the food is still in the room" and bitten my tongue from saying, "I'm not just the food! I'm her, you know, MOM!" I know it's not as personal as it sounds, but I also know that it's not the food she's looking after when she watches me. When Justin gets home at night, she turns herself inside out trying to find his voice. She can be the crankiest baby ever when he walks in and two minutes later, I'll find her chuckling in his lap.
I just realized the other day that it's been a month or so since her eyes cleared up. They had infected/clogged tear ducts for the longest time. We couldn't see her eyes well, her eyelashes were all goopy, and she woke up with her eyes crusted shut. It was such a pain every day and now that it's gone, we've completely forgotten.
My newest favorite thing is that I'm finding myself with a new best friend. I can't explain it--I mean, I don't even know what she has to say or what's going on behind those eyes. . . but she's my little partner, my buddy, my heart, my soul. When it's just the three of us, it's something so complete and joyous and truly soulful.

There are so many little things that slip through the days and then weeks and months without getting a big howdoyado even though they are momentous at the time.

Lastly, (and off topic) when I was pregnant, I swore that if I had a little girl, I wouldn't treat her like a doll and dress her up for my own pleasure. I don't want a daughter who believes that her clothes are the most important thing in the world or that her value resides in the perfect pair of jeans or a push-up bra. That being said, baby clothes are ridiculous. They are the cutest things ever and the only opportunity that I will have to impose my own sense of her style on this child. If she's anything like me, dresses and skirts will be no longer acceptable by the time she's 3 and she'll be too busy and dirty to put in anything nice. . . so I figure that I may as well take the opportunity now!

These pics may seem a bit repetitive, but humor me. I couldn't edit any more than what you have below because I feign no objectivity whatsoever.

My new hat's a little big, but I love my shirt. In fact, I need to claim it with my slobber.
There's a little face in there!
My whole new outfit!
See my chubby legs?
Seriously mom--how many pics do you need?
My name is Amelia and I'm the Executive Director of Cuteness
Mommy's girls.
It's important to note that when Amelia is on her back on her blanket, Molly also lies on her back. They are tight like that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Good and Bad

The bad news is that ever since the Barium Swallow test, Amelia's been suffering from reflux again. It's so frustrating. . . it was almost a whole month of having a happy baby and our little family has been enjoying every minute. We've been keeping it together, but I am only a few steps away from being devastated. It's so hard to make progress and then get sent back. It hasn't been as bad as before, but it never started out bad to begin with. We spoke with Dr. Emge, who, after seeing the results from the BS, confirmed that Amelia has "severe acid reflux." Duh. We are trying a new dosage of the Pepcid since she has grown considerably since she began taking it, but so far, not much luck. I mentioned to Emge that I was disappointed because I really thought she had outgrown the reflux as most babies do and she mentioned that Amelia may not grow out of this. Though reflux can be common in babies, cases as severe as Amelia's are much more rare and may not be simply an immaturity in digestion. I am not going to think about this possibility for a while. When Amelia goes on to solid foods and begins sitting up, we'll have a much more accurate prognosis for her.

The worst part is that when she is not sick and feeling terrible, we are so happy. We've had pure joy for the last (almost) month in our house. While the first 4 months took what felt like a decade to pass, this past month has skipped away from us without a second glance and we've found ourselves wishing time would slow down. Now that we've had a taste of the normal parenting experience, we love it and would love nothing more than to move past everything we've dealt with before now.

Let's just hope that things are not as bad as they seem and get better soon with our new dose of the medication.

Now onto the good . . . we have a new smile in our house. It's even bigger than the one we've fallen in love with already. Amelia has taken to giggling and smiling at everything she sees. Her laugh is hysterical and she gets herself going until she is laughing at herself. Apparently, she's just hilarious. Of course, when we go out and people try to talk to her, she just looks at them suspiciously and sucks on her fingers as they walk away thinking she is such a serious baby. It's hard to capture this new smile or laugh on any camera because they freak her out too much. This is all I could manage.

And just for kicks, she wore her black cat shirt yesterday and rocked it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Baby Crap--the winners, Gear Category

This is the first in a new series: For Our Pregnant Readers
I was recently informed that several mommies-to-be read our blog often-even some I don't know. Since I know how much of a pain it is to register for gifts and figure out what you'll need all before the person who will use this stuff even gets here, I thought I would post some of our findings. You can talk to many a mom and hear many a different product review, so these are by no means universal thoughts on all things baby, but ours and ours alone. It's also important to note that I thoroughly researched all of our gear products in the book Baby Bargains and through online reviews. I checked out prices, safety, and quality ratings before settling on any items. I'm nutty like that--luckily for you!


We chose the Grace Love-n-Hug swing and it's worked great for us. It's huge and has a lot of settings. It has also worked wonders for hours on end when nothing else put Amelia to sleep. . . and we mean NOTHING. Remember, this baby was on a med that literally kept her awake for days on end. The swing was the only way we made it through that time. She napped exclusively in the swing for probably two months. . . double swaddled of course. Not all swings are created equally, even under the same label, so beware. We learned this when my mom got some hand-me-downs from her neighbors. We put Amelia in the swing and it didn't move much. She looked at us like, "Is this thing supposed to move or what?!" When push comes to shove, all parents will need to plop the baby in a swing now and then and let them be lulled to sleep. . . also important to note that Amelia did not love the swing probably until about 10-12 weeks old. We thought it was a lost cause before it became our life saver.

We got the Zanzibar bouncer for no other reason than it was gender neutral and seemed nice enough. While most new moms think that they need either a bouncer OR a swing, they have very different functions. The bouncer is portable and therefore a life saver. You can take it into the bathroom while you shower, put it on your bed (in the middle of course) while you change, or whatever. We use ours for a ton of reasons. Currently, we use it to keep her occupied while getting the bath ready. Even when she was brand new and tolerated very little, she'd tolerate the bouncer for a while. Then, once she got big enough to realize that it bounced when she kicked, it was time to strap her in because she goes bananas!! She loves it. And I have noticed that she likes the toy bar a lot, so that is crucial--a bouncer needs a good toy bar way more than a sleek look.

Activity Gym
I thought it might be a bit of a luxury item but I was wrong. We have the Baby Einstein gym and it's a gem. When nothing else could hold Amelia's attention (and I mean nothing), she loved laying in her little gym. The Baby Einstein one has an awesome sun toy that sings and lights up. It was one of the first things she smiled at. It helped her learn to track things with her eyes in the very beginning and is now being used to help her grab things by hanging toys really low for her to reach. The toys are easily exchanged with others and the mat itself is great. It all folds up and moves around easily. It's been used every day since she was born. It is still a go-to toy when mommy needs to pee.

Travel System
We purchased the Chicco Cortina Travel System and love it. It was the only travel system that, when the car seat is attached to the stroller and pulled up, does not hang loosely. That is, the car seat snugly clips in to the stroller so if you pick up the bar for the car seat, the whole stroller comes off the ground. I can't explain the logistics on that but it just seems safer, no? The base is easy to install and thanks to a voluntary recall, we got a second base for free. lol. The stroller is bulky, but also can be opened and closed with one hand. Not too shabby. If you have room in your car, this is the best one to get by far (according to others' reviews not just mine) and is also the most expensive. We will someday use a smaller stroller, but this one maneuvers well in tight spaces and has a lot of extras, including an adjustable handle for different heights. LOVE THIS ITEM!

Baby Carrier
We have the Jeep baby carrier. We didn't have much of a choice because it was the only carrier that would fit over Justin's shoulders. He's a big man, you see. We've also heard from another mom that she needed it for the same reason. That being said, we tried on a bunch of these things and this one was by far the easiest to adjust and put on. It has proven very comfortable and usable. We use it often. When Babygirl's car seat doesn't fit into a cart (a hazard of sorts), I put her in this and have never had a problem. When she was tiny, she fell right asleep in it and in the midst of the Screaming Era, Justin would strap her into it and vacuum around the house until she fell silent and asleep. Of course, then she'd scream the moment you took her out, but that was another problem altogether and dads--for whatever reason--don't usually think this far ahead. They consider it a success to just stop the crying, but I digress. It is a Bjorn knock off and totally worth the money. I've heard more poor than rave reviews of Bjorn so we were happy to be pleased with a much cheaper version.

Okay, I'm exhausted already. Next up in the series: Baby Crap--the winners, Sleep and Feeding Category.

Oh and when I feel more motivated, I'll add links to this post too. Maybe. Hey, I have a baby, get off my back!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reflux in the Park

Another doctor's appointment today. This one was at the ultrasound/imaging unit for a Barium Swallow test. The exam includes swallowing pure Barium (a chalk-like substance) while being photographed by the imaging machine to capture on film what happens in the gut and throat while eating. I am not technically sure why we had this appointment at this late date, but our pedi ordered it at the same time we went to the Specialist, so I am assuming that it was to just have our whole story on file, complete with pictures. For the test, Amelia was an angel. The tech was really worried that she wouldn't drink the Barium, but she gulped it right out of the bottle without problem. I believe the kid will eat anything in any form. . . and the fact that she's had so many different medications to take since a young age probably helps with this tolerance. In any case, the foreign bottle and foreign substance failed to upset her as it would for most babies. She laid on the table without a hitch and the whole appointment saw not a single fuss from the girl--not even when we had to strip her naked and change all of her clothes from a very typical carseat-blowout situation. We left her in her diaper for the test since the Barium would stain clothes and the alternative was a teeny tiny hospital gown with Scooby Doo on it. Very cute indeed, but not something I really want to see my baby in. Having her on the table in another specialist's office (and for the second ultrasound since birth) was enough for this momma.

I waited behind the glass while Justin gave her the bottle and watched on the screen as the test unfolded. It was pretty neat to see when not grasping that it was my baby's skeleton wriggling before me. You could see the typical x-ray type image, but with this bright white substance moving through--the Barium. I could see it as she swallowed and how it emptied into her stomach. It came down her throat in thin, long lines as she sucked from the bottle. When the doctor told Justin to stop feeding her, the white line all drained into the belly. Then, maybe 2 seconds later, the white from her belly shot instantly up her esophagus. It filled up the entire width of her esophagus (much more than went down) until it hit the top of her throat and bounced back. If Amelia was a spitter, it would have come out, but being a silent refluxer, she doesn't let it go that far because of pain. All of this happened in a split second and as soon as it happened, the image was gone. Thankfully, the doc snapped the shot and showed us more closely. It was there in black and white--reflux in our baby. Yes, we knew about this, but there is something about seeing her food shoot out of her tummy and into her throat with such force that makes it more real.

What does it all mean? The good news is that we now have the diagnostic proof of her reflux forever and it is pretty severe, according to the doctor (and really, the pic didn't leave much room for imagination), which we suspected. Knowing that, it is also good that we have been managing it well enough for her to eat and live without pain for some time now. It is bad news because I was beginning to wonder if she'd grown out of it and clearly she hasn't. I was looking forward to trying to take her off her medication when the refill was out--as directed by the Upper GI Specialist, but will now wait since she obviously is still struggling with an immature digestive tract.

On the way home, I thought about all the crying and wanted to cry some more myself. She is such a trooper, that girl. She has been through so much already--too many doctors appointments to count, medication after medication, and so much pain. And here she is, a smiley calm baby. Enough to break my heart.

But who has time for broken hearts when the weather is perfect and the family is together? We took a little trip to the park today. It was fun family time and I got a ton of pics!