Sunday, May 30, 2010

(Almost) Free from the Bonds of Swaddling

As many of you know, I am addicted to swaddling my child. It started out innocently enough in the Children's Hospital NICU where The Chub Muffin was constantly in a swaddled state. When we brought her home in the dead of winter, her pediatrician strongly recommended keeping her swaddled so she could stay warm. She was so small, that helping her save energy by keeping her warm would help her to grow. At least that was plan. So for months I continued swaddling her for nap time and at night. By the time 3 months rolled around and Spring was around the corner, I realized it might be a good time to break her from the habit. You can read more about our first attempts here. Needless to say, it did not go well. After a few days of trying, I gave up. I could no longer handle watching my baby on the video monitor struggle to fall asleep and cry for an hour. She was just not ready and neither was I.

It took a swaddling intervention to get me to change my ways. One night at a girls night out, The Hubs put her down for the night and "experimented". I love how men can be so much more spontaneous that way. I came home to see my little girl laying peacefully in her crib with her arms up by her head. It made me wonder why we hadn't tried this sooner. Oh yeah, that's right. I value my sleep. Anyway, everything seemed to be going rather smoothly until about 3am when I heard an outburst of crying. It seemed that although she was able to fall asleep like that in a very tired state, she had a harder time transitioning with her arms there to distract her. So for several nights we put her down for bed unswaddled since we knew she was capable of falling asleep initially like that. Then when we fed her at 10, we'd swaddle her for the rest of the night. After a few days, we let her go unswaddled again to see how long she could go. I was prepared to let her cry a little in the middle of the night but go in to reassure her if needed. Finally, she made it from 7:30pm to 6am unswaddled. It seems like a gradual approach is working (but I feel the need to knock on wood right now, or possibly bang on it).

Now, as for naps, those are still a little tricky. Today was my first time experimenting with an unswaddled Chubadub. I have been hesitant to experiment because she already has trouble with naps sometimes anyway, and she often wakes up after 45 min. as it is. I knew the added arm distraction would probably not help these factors. And although I treasure her nap times as some much needed "me" time, I figured this weekend of all weekends while The Hubs is home, would be a good time to test it out. I am happy to say she did actually fall asleep for about 20-30 minutes, but just as I expected, was roused from her sleep and unable to get back to sleep after that which ultimately resulted in some crying and lots of grunting and squealing. There was just too much excitement in the crib (in other words, appendages to play with).

Because the gradual approach seemed to have worked for night time, I think I'll try one nap unswaddled per day for about a week (or less if it goes well) and gradually move to a bondage free nap routine. Wish me luck. This has not been an easy journey.

Also, I am not trying to leave everyone in the dark as far as my child's health is concerned. Basically there is no new information to report. We have not received any tests back yet and her next appointment is in about a week. I will keep you posted as we find out more. In the meantime we have been in touch with the Early Intervention Program. Our coordinator should be calling next week to set up some in-home physical therapy sessions. Free, at-home appointments = one happy momma.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Bad Blogger Award, and Update

If there was an award for blog slacking, I would certainly get it. The last several days have been a whirlwind and I have admittedly neglected my blog because I just didn't feel like talking about anything.

After our long GI appointment on Friday, I left feeling discouraged and scared. Scared for my baby's health. Discouraged that I couldn't get her the nourishment she needs. Scared of all the possibilities. Discouraged with the "diagnosis" from the GI specialist. Scared of overlooking something serious that may be causing her lack of interest in food. The weekend was hard, mulling over the possibilities. I can't even begin to describe the stress of trying to get The Chubs to eat her daily quota each day, especially when I am the one feeding her almost all day long. 30-40 minute feeding sessions mean that there is very little time for her to play before she's tired and ready for another nap, and also mean that I spend 4.5 hours a day trying to shove a bottle nipple into her mouth.

Monday was her 6 month appointment. I went back and forth about postponing her immunizations because of everything that was going on, but resolved that we should just get them over with and have a blessed 6 months of no shots ahead of us. One saving grace is that she did absolutely wonderfully with them this time. Not much crying at all. Daddy was even able to make her smile immediately afterward. She also didn't have any fussy episodes afterward and hasn't shown any discomfort since. The appointment itself was bittersweet. The Chubs now weighs 10 lbs. 14 oz and is about 23 1/4" long. Still less than the 3rd percentile. She is showing delays in some areas developmentally. On the other hand she is extremely advanced in the social/communication area. I kind of knew that would be the case considering how much she loves people and interacting with them. It was hard to hear about the other delays but the GI doctor has mentioned that her poor eating could be causing some delays because obviously babies need food to grow and develop. Once she starts getting back on track with her eating, she should catch up. For now, we're having a physical therapist through the early intervention program come to our house to help The Chubs with her upper body strength and some other areas where she's lagging.

She had a upper GI X-Ray yesterday and everything looked structurally normal and fine. Her feeding evaluation was good. The Occupational Therapist said she was demonstrating all the classic signs of reflux. So now I'm not sure where we go from here. She's already on a higher dose of prevacid that should be taking care of that, but the OT said that sometimes babies need to be on two medications to treat it. If this is what is actually the issue, I can see why she isn't wanting to eat more. If she does have terrible reflux, she comes about it honestly. Both I and my husband have or have had reflux. I struggled with reflux for years. It is definitely not a pleasant condition and can completely wipe out your appetite.

So now, more waiting. Her weight needs to be monitored every other week so we have another pediatrician appointment on the 7th. The next series of tests will be at the Genetics and Metabolics department at Children's at the end of June.

What I haven't mentioned but you could probably just as well guess, is how stressful all the testing has been. I've literally fought back tears at nearly all of her appointments. At the Upper GI X-Ray they had her laying on her back and were forcing barium down her throat to the point where she was gagging on it. I was about to lay into the lady holding the bottle, as The Chubs screamed through gurgles and coughs. When they drew blood to test for allergies I almost passed out. Not because of the blood or the needle, but because I was so nervous about how The Chubs was going to do with it. When they attached a urine back to her, I felt so bad for her. It looked so uncomfortable squished in her diaper. The bottom line is I'm just not good at this. I hope I never have to attend another appointment alone again. If for any other reason than to have someone to restrain me from lashing out on the doctor(s).

The best thing that has come out of this situation so far is seeing the little muffin in a hospital gown. It was the tiniest little gown I'd ever seen in my life and I have to say, she looked quite cute in it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Not in the mood ...

I'm really not in the mood to post today, but instead of making a bunch of phone calls and sending off emails, I would rather cover everything in one post. Most of our family and friends read this blog anyway so it's the cheater's way of informing the masses. I'm exhausted from taking care of a sick baby all week, and I myself am recovering from a doozy of a cold so this will have to do.

I've mentioned in several of my posts over the past month or two that The Chubs has not been eating well. It's gotten to the point that getting her to even eat 18oz a day is a challenge. Today, we visited a GI specialist at Children's Hospital. I won't even go into the bad memories that surfaced as I entered the building again. As many of you recall, this is where our daughter spent the first 2 weeks of her life hooked up to oxygen, breathing and feeding tubes and a million different monitors that liked to go off every few minutes.

I had to attend this appointment alone because The Hubs has been super busy at work this week. I figured it would be a fairly short appointment but we ended up being there for over 3 hours. This meant that the little muffin missed her morning nap, which under normal circumstances is bad, but considering she's still sick, it made it even worse. I won't go into all the details but they are going to order an upper GI X-Ray to make sure her small intestines look ok. They also drew blood, and collected a stool sample. She is now wearing a urine bag to collect some urine which I will need to drop off at the hospital later when there is enough in there.

They are ordering some genetic and metabolic testing to see why she isn't catching up with her growth. They also suggested physical therapy for her because they don't think her upper body strength is where it should be (not sure what this has to do with GI related issues, but it was a passing comment). Her little legs look great and are extremely strong though. No concerns there. We are also going to see an occupational therapist to have them watch a feeding and see if they can pick up any clues as to why she isn't eating well, and refusing the bottle after a couple of ounces. And instead of using polycose to add calories to my milk, they want me to switch to adding formula because it is richer in vitamins and protein. She had her blood taken last week to check for allergies, and we still have heard no word on that. In the meantime I'm not eating any dairy because it is the most common allergy.

The thing that really shook me up was the discharge forms that stated their diagnosis for this visit. It read:

  • Failure to Thrive
  • Lack of Normal Physiological Development
  • Lack of Coordination
When we were at Children's the first time around we were constantly given the scariest scenarios. I feel like we're back in this same place again. I know they need to cover their bases, but sometimes it's just too much. This has been the longest, most exhausting week and it is definitely ending on a low note. My head is spinning and after watching my sick and tired daughter get poked and prodded all morning long, and trying to console her, I need to mentally check out for a little bit. I will be back to post updates as we receive them. Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Half Birthday Recap (And because I love grossing people out with snot photos)

(Yum... snot.)

(The Chubs first half birthday cake, made with love by Grama and Grampa)

At six months, The Chubs:
  • Weighs almost 11 lbs. We are so close I can taste it!
  • Is eating terribly, which we are still trying to figure out. Usually only about 18-20 oz a day with polycose added to my breast milk to add extra calories.
  • Is not too impressed with solids but will eat better if I feed them to her by finger rather than a hard spoon. Has tried rice cereal, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, carrots, and bananas.
  • Is still wearing 0-3 month clothing, but can fit into some 3-6 month clothing although they're a little loose.
  • Can roll from tummy to back.
  • Does much better with tummy time (we can even get some smiles out of her - major improvement!).
  • Loves to "stand" with assistance. Spends most of her time in her Hop 'n Pop just standing.
  • Can sit for a second or two before toppling over.
  • Loves to suck and chew on her hands. Especially loves sucking her thumb.
  • Is pretty much always smiling until she gets tired. Loves to socially interact with people.
  • Is probably teething. Drools constantly and almost always has her hands in her mouth. All signs point to mouth discomfort but nothing has really helped alleviate it.
  • Has her very first cold, but is a real good sport about it.
  • Just keeps getting more and more fun by the day. We love that girl!
And just a quick recap on the cold situation. A fellow blog momma gave me some great tips for dealing with The Chub Muffin's cold. They have really helped. Last night I slept on her floor again and she did alright. She was definitely congested but I kept giving her saline drops, suctioning her out (which she hates with a firey passion) and rubbing vicks on her chest. The humidifier made that room feel like a sauna but it was great for her congestion. Today (so far) it seems like she is noticeably better. Her nose is still running but it isn't nearly as bad as it was yesterday. I did find her drenched in spit up this morning. How did I miss hearing that episode? I don't know. I think I was passed out like a zombie on the floor. Anyway, I immediately gave her a bath. Her hair was drenched and she reeked of vomit. I think all the drainage from her nose into her stomach has made her stomach a little upset. Other than some frantic crying sessions last night before bed, she has handled everything fairly well. I'm very proud of her. In other not-so-fun news, I think I'm getting sick. A night in my own bed might help me out a little.

Happy 6 months sweet girl.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sicks Months?

What a better way to celebrate your half birthday than to wake up at 3:30am blowing snot bubbles out of your nose? Poor little Chub Muffin is sick. When I went in to check on her last night, snot covered her cheeks, nose and mouth. She was crying and miserable. I spent the next hour rocking her until she was drowsy enough to fall back asleep again and I ended up sleeping on the floor next to her in her room since she had a few phlegmy spit ups that made her gag and made me a little too nervous to leave her alone in her room for the rest of the night. This means we are both exhausted today. But that won't keep me from celebrating my baby's first half year of her life. We are, afterall, party animals.

(I should get a medal for posting a photo of myself 3 weeks post partum)

Celebrating can take on many forms though. It may mean laying around watching Clifford or Sesame Street on PBS because e-e-e-e-elmo likes half birthdays. It's bound to be an eventful day full of kleenex, suction bulbs and mucus. Lodi Dodi we likes to Paaaa(r)ty.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Day at the Park

Yesterday was a perfect day so we headed to the park to get some shots of the Chub Muffin with the Cherry Trees in full bloom. She is going to be 6 months tomorrow, and I might just crawl into a fetal position and cry. My baby is half a year old!

Friday, May 14, 2010

You look great! (for just having a baby)

Let's face it, if you've had a baby, you've probably heard this at least once or twice from well meaning people. They come over, dote all over your tiny infant, ask how old he/she is, what his/her name is etc., then there is an awkward silence that needs to be filled. This is where the outpouring of word vomit begins. It starts out innocently enough with three flattering words, but once that dreaded phrase is tagged onto the end, you have to wonder.... is it in fact a compliment?

Since I had the Chub Muffin almost 6 months ago I get this every so often, to where I smile and thank them warmly. Inside, however, I have to wonder. What does this mean exactly? Once you give birth to a child, does the attractive meter start to slump? Is there a new standard for what "looking great" means? Like before you were capable of achieving a perfect 10 (I never was, but some people...) but now a 3 is acceptable and a 5 is almost unattainable? It's almost as flattering as the "You don't even look pregnant from the back (but woah, when you turn to the side..yikes!)".

And let's face it, pregnancy does do some mean things to the body: pizza dough stomach skin, stretch marks, spider veins, hair loss, extra poundage, and that stubborn linea nigra that just doesn't want to fade, among other unpleasantness. Some of us were fortunate enough to skip out on most, others were burdened with them all. Does this mean we are uncapable of getting back to our perfect former self? In some cases, maybe. But it doesn't mean we can't try, and it doesn't mean that the new "me" is necessarily worse, just different. And if our hormones weren't already running around like a crazy lady in a mental institute, the last thing we need is to feel like the winner of a lunch lady beauty pageant. So even if it's true that the new measurement for looking great has sunk to a new low, it would be nice if others at least pretended that wasn't the case. So the next time you see a woman who gave birth in the last 12 months, tell her she looks great. Period.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thumb Yum Yum

"Goodbye Paci, HELLO Thumb! You are oh so very interesting and tasty. Now if mom could keep my finger nails trimmed I wouldn't be gouging myself in the throat constantly (read: gag reflex)."

To trim or not to trim?

The muffin's hair has grown well past her eyes now when combed straight down. Now the question is: should I give her her first haircut at 6 months? Or should I let her dark long locks grow wild and pin them back if needed? Right now I clip them back in a barrette every now and then or brush her bangs to the side. When she rubs her eyes she often gets the hair in her eyes and it gets greasy pretty quickly, but it's just so darn cute. She's sporting a reversed mullet right now with her hair rubbed short in the back and long on the top and sides. So, what would you do? Cut, or keep?

Social Butterfly, & Social Butterfly Jr.

Our daughter is most definitely social. She prefers interacting with people far above anything else. Yeah, toys are "OK", and she'll humor them for awhile, but a friendly face, smiles, giggles and some chatter is much more stimulating and exciting. In fact, whenever I leave a room I can almost count down to the second when the Chubadub will start verbally protesting my exit.

Where does she get this from? Good guess, but it's not me. It is, in fact, my social Hubadub:

(He thought the rock looked like a giant set of bebuns*. Yes, we both still act like we are in Junior High.)

I tried to find a photo of his ear glued to his cell phone but I guess that's not the most exciting photo op, so I was out of luck. The Hubs is the type that has to call someone everyday on his commute home. His commute is approximately 7-10 minutes long depending on traffic lights.

If we are in a social setting you can find him scanning the room looking for someone he knows to talk to. Once he finds them, he zeroes in and keeps watching until he can get their attention.

Growing up, it was my mom that always held us at church 30-45 minutes past the end of the service just chatting away with friends. The Hubs is going to be just like this in a few years. In fact it's already begun.

When the Chubs is in a room, she scans the room looking at all the faces and always zeroes in on either my husband's face or mine and smiles from ear to ear. She loves to chat and interact. She often can be found flirting with bystanders with her grins and giggles. There's no question where she gets it. She is, in fact, Social Butterfly Jr.

(Supposed to be napping in her carseat, but peeking out to try to catch all the action)

*a baby appropriate word for butt

Monday, May 10, 2010

This one goes out to all the ladies

Yesterday was my first official Mother's Day. I used to dream about what it might be like to finally be part of the "club". The club that I so desperately wanted to join for such a long time. The initiation into this club was just out of reach. I knew so many people that had crossed over to the other side with ease and had been accepted immediately. I, however, stood in the shadows unable to bridge the gap because of what I was lacking... a child.

So this Mother's Day, although wonderful (my husband went above and BEYOND), it was also a day I thought much about all the women who want to be mothers and can't, or haven't yet become one.

Something I've always been frustrated about is the difficulty meeting other couples at our church if you don't have kids. For years my husband and I attended church without the ability to make close connections with other couples. We were lacking the key element. Our best guess was that most people our age don't really attend church unless they have children. My husband was able to bond with other men that were fathers fairly easily. However, as a woman it seems like you need to be in the exact same life spot to form a close connection.

Yesterday I met "me" two years ago. I was in the hall grabbing a donut. (You all know how much I love those) and our pastor (who is incredibly friendly and awesome btw) pulled me aside and introduced me to a younger couple. We had The Chubs dedicated yesterday (I'll have another post simply on that later) so I asked her if she was having a child dedicated as well, thinking that may have been the reason our pastor introduced us. She told me they didn't have children yet. This got the wheels turning in my head. I told her how my husband and I would love to have them over for dinner sometime, especially since we know how hard it is to meet people when you don't have kids. Then I decided to just mention briefly our history about how we went through infertility. Then she pointed at herself, motioning that they were smack dab in the midst of it. So I had just met this girl 5 minutes ago and I immediately hugged her. Then we both got teary eyed. I told her I knew how hard it was to be at church on Mother's Day, wanting so badly to be a mother but have no control over it. She then told me about how she miscarried and hasn't been able to get pregnant since. We talked for awhile, exchanged phone numbers and decided we'll definitely have to get together very soon.

As we stood up on the stage to dedicate The Chub Muffin, I wondered how many other women were out there that were in so much pain, sitting in the crowd looking up at us and wondering "Why her, and not me?", a thought I had many many times. I wanted to let them all know "This didn't come easy, and I know your pain."

So for all the women that want to be mothers and can't, or haven't yet, you deserve recognition on this day. You have the heart of a mother and the love of a mother. You've been through trials, pain, heartache and you are much stronger for it. And when you do become a mother someday, your children will be so incredibly blessed. I love you all.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Solid Effort

I haven't posted much about our introduction to solids because there wasn't much to post. It kind of came to standstill when The Chub Muffin wouldn't even open her mouth to taste anything. She would just sit there with her lips zipped tightly together, so unless we wanted to use a shoe horn, there was nothing that was going to penetrate that gummy barrier. Because of this, we took it as a sign that she wasn't quite ready for it yet and we'd just stick to the bottle for now. However, lately the little Chubadub has been eating poorly from the bottle as well which got us concerned and sent us to the pediatrician to figure out what to do next. He suggested trying some of the yellow squashes first since babies tend to like these most and maybe if she got even just a taste of it, she'd start opening her mouth for the spoon.

Tonight we tried some sweet potatoes with the Senorita and we made progress. She actually opened her mouth a couple of times and smiled, which we're taking as an indication that she likes it. It was a mess, especially when she sneezed sweet potato all over me, but we're making progress.

A moment in time

Do you ever wish you could freeze time? Something is so good, you just wish it wouldn't change, ever? I can think of a few times in my life where I felt this way, but they are few and far between.

Usually I'm the type of person that is constantly looking toward the next thing, and not relishing the present. When I was pregnant I couldn't wait until the day I delivered. Then I couldn't wait until The Chubs left Children's hospital and could finally come home with us. Then I couldn't wait until she was sleeping more than 3 hour stretches, and so on and so forth. But right now, I just want to freeze time. In two weeks she'll be 6 months old. How did that happen? It feels like just yesterday she was a tiny little peanut hooked up to oxygen sleeping swaddled in her swing. Now she's a little person; giggling, smiling, cooing and babbling, finding fascination with everything life has to offer. How can my baby be 6 months old? Half a year of her life has passed and it feels like it's gone so fast. It won't be long until she's crawling, walking and then going off to Kindergarten. I'm so excited for all the stages to come, for different reasons, but I'm not quite ready to let go of my baby. She's my miracle and today, I'm enjoying who she is now. I have a lifetime to look forward to who she will be.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rubadubchubs ...

... one silly chub in a tub

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Is this my daughter?

The one who for 5 months cried the instant she was placed on her belly? The one who refused to even try to lift her head and instead would just bury her head in her hands and cry? You may recall this post. It pretty much sums it up.

But look! The form, the grace, (and dad's hairy arms):

Ok, so clearly it's still not her favorite thing (as you can see by the scowl on her face) but SHE'S NOT CRYING! And she's actually lifting that heavy head off of the floor. Way to go Chubadub! No rolled up towel needed. And yes, I know most babies are doing this with ease at 3 months old, but for us, this is a huge victory.

Happy Cinco De Mayo

Hugs and Kisses,
Senorita Chubs

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Seasoned Traveller

Last week we went to visit my parents in Seattle. It was The Chub's 3rd round trip flight. I am always amazed at how well she does despite being extremely tired and lugged back and forth in her infant carrier for hours. We received many compliments on what a good baby she was. She always seems to be the star of the show when we fly.

We had a wonderful time.

Things I will miss:

1)Spending time with family and friends.
I think this one is self explanatory

2) Having free babysitting.
My parents watched The Chubadub if we needed to run errands and my mom watched her late one night so we could have a date.

3) Being cooked for.
  • I had my favorite home cooked meals on a daily basis, my mom even made me grilled cheese just like she did when I was a kid.
  • Dessert and more dessert. My wonderful father cooked me my favorite chocolate swirl cheesecake and my mom made toffee bars twice.
  • My dad made his traditional cornmeal waffles with strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast the day before we left. It's making me hungry just thinking about it.

4) Having a laundry service.
As you know, having a baby means you go through tons of laundry each week. My mom was constantly washing clothes and spit rags for us. It was a-maz-ing.

5) Downtown Seattle.
  • Still love those ferry rides across the Puget Sound
  • Got to visit our favorite Burger Stop
  • Had a chocolate Croissant at the little french bakery I love at Pike Place Market
  • Had dinner at our favorite restaurant on Alki right around sunset with a beautiful view of the Sound and downtown Seattle.

Things I will NOT miss:

1) The traffic. Oh the traffic!
  • I forgot how terrible the driving was there and how rude people are in general.
  • It doesn't have to be rush hour for it to back up. We sat in bumper to bumper traffic on our way from the airport on a Saturday morning/afternoon.
2) The dreary days and damp cold air.
  • We rarely saw the sun
  • There is something about 100% humidity and 50 degrees that feels so much worse than -5 degree day here in Colorado.
3) The overall unfriendliness of the locals
I grew up in the Seattle area and noticed this when I lived there, but now coming from a different place it's even more evident. People just are not as happy in general. Must be the 9 months of clouds and gloom.

New Chubadevelopments:
  • She loves sucking and chewing on her hands now. She never was really into it before but it must go "hand and hand" with teething (oh giggles, I'm so punny).
  • Is doing so much better with Tummy time. It's almost like once she rolled over she started not to mind it as much. She'll lay there with her head lifted high for a long time (if she doesn't roll over first). It's a major break-through after months of agony for both of us.
  • Is starting to make more high-pitched noises when she talks to herself.
  • Definitely knows her Mommy and Daddy. Can't keep her eyes off of us even when someone else is holding her.
  • Has really strong legs and can support her whole body easily, just doesn't have the balance to stay that way!
  • Has FINALLY stopped spitting up constantly. Still has a few dribbles here and there but it's so much better than it used to be. I would ditch the bib, but now she's drooling constantly due to teething so we're swapping one thing for another. Go figure!
So that's the latest. I hear an unhappy baby on the monitor. Gotta go!