Thursday, January 31, 2008

On Tuesday, Daniel surpassed the 200 diaper mark--pretty impressive for a kid who is just three weeks old today! In addition to just how tiny a 7-pound baby is, one of the things we'd forgotten about a newborn is what it's like to change 10 or more diapers daily. We're not really counting--I just noted the 200 milestone because I realized I was opening the sixth package of Huggies Newborns and there are 40 in each package.

Not too much to report. We're back in the deep freeze, and Daniel and I haven't left the house since Sunday. I'm going a little nutty on the post-surgery activity restriction. I feel completely fine, but have to abide by the "no lifting" restriction for another 1 to 3 weeks--the standard discharge instructions say four weeks, but my doctor said six. John is the enforcer and he thinks we should go with what the doctor said.

So Daniel and I stay home for such exciting activity as arm waving and head lifting. This is much more exhausting for a three-week-old than a 34-year-old so after a performace like the following, he usually requires a few hours sleep. I'm a fan of the nap myself, but usually only once a day.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The banner headline on our weekend reads:

Brothers snooze until 7:30 a.m.; parents luxuriate in post-dawn wake-up

Of course "sleeping in" and 7:30 a.m. really don't belong in the same sentence, and I'm not sure it counts when you've been up three times since your bedtime. But we take our victories where we can find them and this one meant we actually felt fairly well-rested for the first time in two weeks. We're not sure what made Edward sleep that long. If he keeps it up, we could be in trouble on weekdays, since that's the time he and John are supposed to be heading out the door. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it tomorrow.

In the last few days, Daniel has shifted to eating every three hours or so rather than every two to two and a half. This means three to four fewer feedings per day, including one fewer in the middle of the night. A welcome sign of growth! He also has more awake/alert time during the day, which is good for "playing" on his new blanket from Aunt Janet--warm and soft on our cold floors. Tummy time is more comfortable now that his umbilical cord stump has fallen off (as of yesterday.)

We had a great visit from Aunt Ann Thursday and Friday. Record cold temps were a good incentive to stay in and cuddle a snugly baby. Since Ann has two girls, Daniel thought she needed a lesson in parenting boys and managed to pee on her three times during diaper changes. He's also hit John a number of times. I had been feeling silently cocky, having avoided similar fate, but last night during a post-feed change, he caught up with me. Minutes away from heading back to bed with a full, dry baby, I had to detour to a naked baby, clean him up and dress him again.

Edward has a new tool for everyday life--a set of steps that allows him to climb in and out of bed and that gives him access to our tall bathroom sink. He loves to climb and is very proud of his new independence. Since I'm still on lifting restriction following my surgery, this also allows me to be home alone with him and not worry about having to pick him up. The independent streak is not as fun in other areas--we're experiencing an unwelcome bit of sass now and trying to nip it in the bud. Time-out works to some extent, but we think he's starting to think of it as a game in and of itself. Other tactics may soon be invented and employed.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Daniel weighed 7 lbs. 6 oz. at today's doctor appointment--back to his birth weight and beyond at 13 days. Speaking of birth weight, we've learned that the grams to pounds conversion we were first given, and which we reported here, was incorrect. His actual weight was closer to 7 lbs. 2 oz. Today's doctors still thought Daniel looked yellow down to his waist, but since it's not getting worse and since he'd gained an impressive amount of weight (44 grams per day since Friday) they decided they didn't need to take any blood for a bilirubin check. They'll see him again in February for his one-month check up.

In other news, I am wearing pants that button at the waist! Granted they're a size bigger than I've been wearing the last few years, a relic from a heavier period in life, but still, no elastic. For around the house I'm perfectly comfortable in my sweats, but it's nice not to look like a total slob on my infrequent forays into the real world.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Timing is a beautiful thing. Today Daniel had a nice long meal just as Edward was going down for his afternoon nap. Daniel was out like a light after he ate (and burped) so I swaddled him and laid him in the crib and headed straight back to bed myself for a two-hour nap! This was much needed after Daniel's 5:30 wake-up call morphed into Edward's 6:05 wake-up call. Daniel probably had something to do with Edward's slightly early rise. John was changing him before I sat down to feed him and Daniel decided to launch his first open-air pee in Dad's direction. This necessitated a change of clothes before the feeding so he was plenty hungry (i.e. screaming) by the time he actually got to eat.

One more funny nap story: yesterday, Edward was so exhausted from his morning of fun with Aunt Nora that he was still sleeping at 4:30 after going down about 12:45. We decided to open his door a crack to rouse him. The door opening did not wake him, but a few minutes later John went to check and came out doubled over in laughter, beckoning Nora to come take a look. I was feeding Daniel and not in a position to get up. Edward was sitting up in his bed with his "teeny blankie" (a soft blanket about 1 foot square that is his required bedtime sidekick) over his head--just sitting there, not saying a word. John finally stopped laughing enough to go in and inquire, "Edward, what are you doing?" Then renewed the laughter when the response came:

"I hiding Daddy!"

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I started this blog post on Thursday. It’s now Saturday morning, and I think I can get it done while Aunt Nora has Edward out on an adventure and Daniel sits peacefully in his car seat in a sunbeam.

Here’s the quick summary: we spent the week battling Daniel’s jaundice (hence the sunbeam), which required doctor visits every morning except Thursday. We’re now headed in the right direction though and we don’t have to go back until Wednesday for his two-week check up. Although I reported last Sunday that nursing was going well, by Monday afternoon Daniel had decided to become Bartleby the Breastfeeder (he "preferred not to") and it took until Thursday to get him fully back on track. In the meantime there were many frustrating attempts to get him to nurse directly so that I wouldn’t have to pump milk to feed him by syringe. Also early in the week, Edward, who is still very tender toward Daniel, decided that he did not have to interact with his parents in quite the same way. Several bedtime battles ensued leaving more than one member of the family in tears. But we think we’ve found a solution to that as well and haven’t had trouble the last few nights. We hope we’re back to his routine of post-dinner play time, bath/pajamas, a pile of books to read, a bit of juice and then off to bed with no fuss.

And for those who want the full report, here’s where I started on Thursday—skip this section if you’re squeamish about breastfeeding:

Daniel’s first week—what a whirlwind! Lots to report since the last post—the good, the bad, and the truly ugly. We took Daniel to the doctor on Monday for his post-hospital check up and he’d lost a little weight, but nothing alarming. He was looking a little yellow so they drew some blood to check his bilirubin level. They didn’t have us wait for the result because they didn’t think it would be high enough to warrant further treatment, but they called later that afternoon to say it was just below the level at which he’d need to be admitted for phototherapy (nothing invasive, just a therapeutic light—Will had this off and on, which was why he wore the purple goggles.)

So they decided we should have it rechecked on Wednesday instead of waiting until Friday to come back. In the meantime they reminded us that if he wasn’t eating well or was acting more lethargic/sleepy, we should call in and probably bring him back. Up to this point he’d been nursing really well, but this changed on Monday and into Tuesday morning. My milk really came in between Sunday and Monday, which would seem like a good thing for a kid who needs to eat, but it actually was too much. Even when I pumped to get things flowing for him he just wouldn’t latch. We ended up feeding him by syringe all through the night and we had to wake him to eat. So Tuesday morning I called to report that he was sleepier and not eating well, and they said to bring him back in. Luckily the bilirubin was not severely elevated from the previous day—just .3 higher, so no cause for alarm. Just keep doing what you’re doing and he’ll get back to direct breastfeeding.

Tuesday was a really hard day for all of us. Toward late afternoon the lactation consultant called to check on us—good timing, as she had some helpful tips for getting feeding back on track and easing my discomfort. She noted that both engorgement and jaundice peak at about 5 days of life, making things extra difficult—the breast is too large and hard for his tiny mouth and he’s too sleepy to make the effort. Plus, she said, despite his general good health and size, at 36 weeks he’s still only “near term” which means he needs more time to catch up to full term babies. While extremely helpful, the tips she suggested made each feeding attempt stretch to nearly an hour, so not much sleep to be had on Tuesday night. And that’s how I came to be standing over the sink at 2 a.m. Wednesday washing bottles and breast pump parts with an ice pack strapped to my chest with the belt of my robe. (Remember, I said at the beginning that things got ugly!) But we had a major break through at 4:53 a.m. when he latched on and nursed for a good 15 minutes. I felt like dancing, but was afraid to move even a millimeter from the extremely awkward hunched over position perched on the edge of the couch that I happened to be in when he finally started guzzling it down.

Since then he’s been nursing well, though it was Thursday before he was equally adept at latching on both right and left. Because of that I still had to do some pumping to ensure continued production when he wouldn’t nurse directly. That’s how I learned that I am again in the “super producer” category, when at one point I pumped three ounces in less than five minutes. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand and right now he would only be demanding about an ounce or maybe two. The lactation consultant was quite impressed—or was it shocked?

Notwithstanding the cuteness of this photo of Ed playing with the Boppy pillow, Tuesday was also the day he decided to assert his right to be 2, refusing to let John change him for bed. He was screaming and rolling over on the changing table, making it impossible for John to get his diaper on. I ended up holding him down at the chest while John battled the kicking legs and finally got the diaper on. This battle became so emotional that two out of three of us ended up in tears and Edward went to bed without any stories because he couldn’t settle enough to be held and read to. I was beside myself that he was so upset and there was nothing I could do to comfort him since I can’t pick him up. I even laid down on the floor next to him trying to soothe him, but to no avail. He finally calmed once he was in bed.

The next morning, I invented the “magic changing blanket.” Since I can’t lift him to the changing table and he clearly was having some sort of problem with it anyway, we’re now laying a soft fuzzy blanket (thanks Aunt Janet!) on the floor and he willingly flops down to be changed—almost every time. I don’t delude myself that this is the end of it, but at least we’ve reached a temporary detente.

We had a day off from doctor visits on Thursday, but were back again Friday, where the combination of cold/flu season along with the arctic forecast and the Monday holiday had every nervous parent with a borderline ill child trying to squeeze in to see a doctor and avoid a weekend trip to the ER (we SO need an urgent care clinic for nights and weekends!!!) Our appointment was at 9:45. We arrived on time and took a seat in the “well child” waiting area—the hallway outside the clinic. We were the fifth in a row of infant car seats. People kept coming out of other offices along that hallway to see the “baby row.” Not a single person was called to go in for the first 30 minutes. I had the misfortune of having selected a seat next to a man who felt the need to maintain a constant narration of the world—sometimes spoken and sometimes sung—for his three-month-old, including such gems as “We’re at the hospital,” “Your brother has a cough” and “This is the university” repeated over and over and over until I thought I would throttle him.

Finally things got moving, but we still waited about 45 minutes just to get in the examining room. By then it was well past feeding time, so Daniel started chomping away just as the resident came in and wanted to check his yellow coloring. She did the best she could while he kept nursing. I was so mad about waiting so long I wasn’t in the mood to be accommodating. He finished nursing while she consulted with the attending doctor and they both came back to report that they wanted do repeat the blood test to be sure the bilirubin was decreasing. They thought he looked “less yellow” but it wasn’t obvious enough that they were comfortable going with their gut, especially given the aforementioned long weekend ahead. Also, even though his full week weight gain was within the expected range, he’d lost two ounces since Wednesday.

So back to the lab, where, for the first time all week, there was not a full waiting room of people ahead of us. It was our turn in short order, and we finally got out of there at about 11:30—just enough time to pick up some lunch for ourselves and then get over to the daycare to pick up Edward at noon. The doctor called mid-afternoon to report that the bilirubin level was indeed on its way down--a full point lower than it had been on Wednesday, so we'll hope that continues and maybe we won't have a yellow kid by next week. Which basically brings us up to date. Aunt Nora arrived shortly after Ed woke up from his nap and he’s been having a ball with her ever since—impressing her with his constant conversation and ability to count to 10.

My sitemeter report indicates that there were more than 500 hits on the blog this week—about double our usual traffic. I assume that’s multiple checks by the same people seeking updates. We’ll try to keep things current, but it’s amazing how fast the time slips away. John heads back to work next week—in the office in the mornings and at home (as much as can be accomplished amid the chaos) in the afternoons.

And to show that we did have moments of levity in this stressful week, here’s Edward’s attempt to remove his own shirt, for no apparent reason other than he discovered that it was possible:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

We were very glad to be home in our own bed last night, though we didn't get to spend a great deal of time in it. As we recall from Edward, babies take time to adjust to their new sleeping places and Daniel is no exception. He wasn't too keen on staying in the cradle, even when swaddled tightly to create boundaries. So each of us took a turn in the chair holding him while we slept. Not too onerous a task, but still not the best position for restful sleep. Anyway, we made it through the night with a couple of feedings and then woke for the day with Edward's call this morning.

Gram and PopPop came back with a bagel breakfast and then took Ed to the grocery store for a few supplies before they headed back to Evanston. We were sorry to see them go, and so glad for the extra help these last few days. But we're trying to return to some sort of routine family life, incorporating this new little person, so we had to go it alone at some point!

Daniel is doing well with breastfeeding...I think. He's been eating about every two hours for at least 20 minutes and making all the right sounds and signs to indicate that he's actually getting milk. Though I'm committed to breastfeeding, I do sometimes wish for the security of measuring the proper number of ounces and watching them disappear from a bottle. I guess we'll find out more when we take him to the doctor tomorrow. They can weigh him and do a general check. We're particularly curious about jaundice, since it was part of Edward's early challenge.

Edward has been very tender toward Daniel, and we felt confident enough to let him "hold" Daniel for the picture above. This was accomplished with precision timing--we have lots of outtakes with my hands and arms in the frame! He was very concerned that Daniel did not enjoy his first home bath tonight--screamed bloody murder, in fact. He watched carefully and pointed to the pacifier at one point, suggesting it might make Daniel feel better. They both seemed quite relieved when it was over and we got him dried and dressed. When Daniel is eating we take off his swaddle and hat to keep him alert. Edward is concerned about the hat and always asks to put it back on. He also decided that the thin cotton cap we picked for today was not good enough and went back to the office where we'd stashed the car seat to retrieve the blue penguin hat. Then he demanded that Daniel wear only the "blue hat." We showed him how many other hats he had to choose from, but there was no deterring him.

That penguin hat picture of Daniel ready to leave the hospital really reminds me of Ed in the early days. Daniel will be his own person, but seeing him in all of these baby clothes really gives us a flashback to two years ago. So much to look forward to, even as we look back.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Just a quick note to say we're all home tonight. Both Daniel and Mary were doing so well that it didn't seem worth it to spend another night in the hospital away from Edward (and our own bed), so they checked out and we came home (Above he's in his car seat ready to go). Daniel didn't have an infection after all, so they removed the IV and stopped the antibiotics. He's figuring out nursing pretty well, and getting some formula beyond that to sate his growing appetite. We're glad to be home and together with Edward again, and he seems happy to have us back, if a bit curious about this new addition. Now we all need to get some rest.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Some who know Edward have scoffed at reports that Daniel has a lot of blond hair. They seem to think that because his older brother was follicly challenged that he couldn't possibly have been blessed with significant locks. Well, here's proof:

Of course, there's no guarantee it will last (what little Edward did have at birth fell out soon after, only to be replaced over the next several months), but for now, he's looking good. Several of his nurses have commented on his cute 'do.

Otherwise, we're all doing very well. Mary has been up and around a lot, got to take a shower this afternoon and has been deemed fit by the docs. Daniel is enthusiastically working on nursing and seems to share his brother's calm demeanor. We got a lot more sleep last night than we thought we would ("a lot" defined in this case as 4-6 hours) and are starting to chomp at the bit to get home.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Here's Edward's first encounter with his new brother. So far, so good. He's already mastered saying "Daniel," and has already declared him "my baby."

We're happy to welcome Daniel Martin to the family. He was born at 10:41 a.m. today. He weighs 7 lbs., 4 oz., and is 19 1/4 inches long. He and Mary are doing great, resting in her room at UI Hospitals.

Here's the first of what promises to be many, many pictures.

He has an IV in his right hand because he's getting antibiotics as a precautionary measure because some initial blood test showed he might have an infection. If he does have one, they'll give him more antibiotics for a few more days; if not, he's good to go.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

If yesterday's post was a heart-warming look at a father-son seasonal bonding moment, today's is the "through the looking glass" version of what happens when a month's worth of ice and snow all melts in two days.

While Ed was napping yesterday and just as I was about to take advantage of the quiet time for the same, John came from the bedroom to the living room to announce, "We've got a big problem." I followed him back to the bedroom where he showed me a steady stream of water dripping from the window frame. We'd seen outside earlier that there was melting from the roof line, but didn't consider it further until it was encroaching on our bedroom. John went out and borrowed our neighbor's ladder (which he helpfully stores along side his house) and after some awkward maneuvering that resulted in a torn screen, but thankfully not a broken window, secured it against the side of the house so that he could climb up to witness firsthand the solid blocks of ice that our gutters had become.

Suffice it to say that our afternoon of peaceful slumber never materialized. John tried chipping the ice himself, but was getting nowhere. There are stories in the paper every winter about ice dams and they always say the same thing: don't try to clear them yourself or you'll end up making things worse. I got through to a local roofing company who said they'd send someone. Two hours later, two 20-something guys showed up with ladders and ice chippers and set to the amazingly loud work of cutting through the ice and removing it from the gutters. They also pushed all the remaining snow from the roof to eliminate further melting/draining issues. Listening from the inside, I could only envision our yard full of our former gutters, but apparently they knew what they were doing because in about an hour they cleared the ice from the east and west gutters, took our $65 check and left. The inside dripping subsided and as we gathered up the wet towels for the laundry we felt pretty lucky to have escaped that easily.

Not so fast. This morning while snuggling with Edward as he emerged from the last bits of sleep, I could hear a steady "drip drip drip" in the living room. I crossed my fingers and hoped it was melting hitting the downspout just outside the window. But then John got up, investigated, found a soggy curtain, and we were back at square one--this time through the living room window. So that's how John ended up on a ladder at 7:30 this morning. The front gutter was not completely iced over as the sides had been, but he chipped it away anyway and I secured more towels in place to catch the dripping. Later, as the towels became overwhelmed, John hung a bucket from the curtain rod. It's still hanging there 12 hours later, though the dripping has slowed substantially.

Who knows what the full fall-out from this weekend will be. We surely will have to have someone check for rot in the two windows and in the soffits, but the last thing we need is major reconstruction when our goal for the spring/early summer is to sell this house and find one with more space! Guess we'll just cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime, I guess you could say our last weekend as a one-child household was far from restful. Now we have three days to gear up for the big event on Thursday. And lots of laundry to run between now and then.

Two funny Ed stories to lighten the mood. We went out to dinner last night with John's parents. We'd been planning to spend some afternoon time with them, but that didn't happen since we were occupied with the ice. When the salads came, Ed rejected my attempt to share some lettuce but moments later reached over to grab a ring of red onion. He inspected it a bit then put it in his mouth. I expected a sour face and a tongue full of onion to emerge from the mouth, but no, he ate that bite, finished the ring and then reached for more. He ate from both my plate and John's. Raw onion at age two. The other incident was this evening as I was lazing on the couch while John and Ed played chase and other assorted games. Ed ran into the kitchen at one point and started pointing up. John said, "Oh, he's looking at the smoke alarm" which has a flashing red light that he likes to check on from time to time. Ed said, "De-tec-tor!" No smoke alarms for this kid--only smoke detectors.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Just a quick post to share a photo and video taken this morning. After 19 inches of snow in December and temperatures that never made it out of the single digits earlier this week, it's already 40 today and things are melting big time. That means, of course, that the snow is primed for snowmen. Edward likes snowmen quite a lot, from his Frosty book to his sweater with a big snowman on the front. So, we figured he'd really like the real thing. He was happy to have a new friend, but was insistent that he have a carrot nose. Luckily, we had some.

As for the snowman himself, it's not the most attractive thing in the world, but I haven't made one for at least 25 years, so I'd say it's not a bad first attempt as a Dad, and things can only get better from here.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

What a week it's been! We were exhausted from the Christmas/birthday extravaganza--back to work/daycare for three days and then the weekend. We took Edward for his two-year portraits on Saturday morning and got some really nice shots. The other times we've gone the prints were ready the same day, but this time it was considerably more expensive that way so we opted to send them out for printing. Our return date is January 11--rotten timing. I think I'll have a few other things to do that day. Well, maybe we'll send the grandparents.

We got more snow on Friday--just what we needed. John and Ed went out to play for a little while on Sunday morning, and when I went out later to head to the grocery store I was amused to see a little body imprint in the snow next to our walk where John had taught Ed to "flop." Apparently he couldn't move in that position, so not quite ready for snow angels, but it was still very cute to see the little outline.

On Monday I had an afternoon doctor appointment so Grandma and Grandpa were planning to pick Edward up from daycare. We expanded that to a New Year's Eve sleep over, which then grew into a New Year's Day party. They didn't bring him back until after his nap today. That left us free to celebrate New Year's with some friends last night (nothing major, but we DID stay up 'til midnight!) and also go to a movie this afternoon. What a treat! It seems that everyone had a great time.

Over the two holiday weekends, I've managed to wash all the tiniest baby clothes as well as the carseat cover and bunting, so it feels like we're really ready to go. I could not believe how many clothes we had in the 0-3 month size--two full loads of laundry!! This child will be well-outfitted for several changes per day. If this is a girl, she will wear blue with no hesitation on our part, along with plenty of yellow and green, as there honestly is no room in the dresser for anything else!

My Monday doctor appointment went fine, but required an unexpected extra ultrasound after the nonstress test was inconclusive. Since my blood pressure and other vitals were fine, the doctor was fairly certain that she could explain the unusual test, but just to be sure, she ordered a biophysical profile, a type of ultrasound taking 10 specific measurements (including amniotic fluid, a check for flexion and extension in the baby's limbs, and heartrate/breathing.) Passing just eight of the 10 measures is considered a good result. We passed all 10, so we were definitely OK. The doctor was thrilled/relieved. We'll do another nonstress test on Thursday and again on Monday, then start the countdown to January 10!

Speaking of birthdays, I'll leave you with a few choice shots of Edward enjoying his.